StubHub shifts refund policy to store credit only

Prominent ticket resale marketplace StubHub has changed its policies in the US and Canada to stop giving cash refunds for canceled events, another fallout from the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.

The company for years forged a key part of its reputation on providing buyers a firm money-back guarantee for canceled events or other issues involving with ticket purchasing. But as more than 23,000 events have been canceled, postponed, or rescheduled in the US alone over the past three weeks, StubHub has shifted its policy to a store credit model. 

Ticket purchasers who find their event canceled due to the public health crisis instead will receive a StubHub coupon equal to 120 per cent of their original purchase for a future purchase.

StubHub said it has made the change because it can no longer handle the volume of reimbursing buyers for canceled events before collecting money back from ticket sellers.

“Under normal circumstances these processes are manageable,” said Sukhinder Singh Cassidy, StubHub president, in an open letter posted March 30. “Given the impact of the coronavirus, it is not possible to sustain this practice in the near-term. We are facing significant timing delays in recouping funds from the thousands of sellers on our platform, and expect these challenges to continue in the coming months. At the same time, buyers expect immediate refunds.”

As the virus outbreak first began to spread, StubHub first offered the 120 per cent store credit as an option for buyers. Many other ticket outlets have made similar offers amid the Covid-19 situation. But as approximately 70 per cent of StubHub buyers opted for the store credit, the company has since made this the standard policy for canceled events. 

Refunds, however, will still be available in certain jurisdictions where required by law. Outside of the US and Canada, the default option for buyers remains a cash refund.

StubHub was less clear about how it handle dispersing funds to seller and recouping money from now-canceled events.

“We are working with the thousands of sellers across our platform to understand options and timing for repayment to us for tickets of cancelled events,” Singh Cassidy said. 

StubHub’s refund policy change, however, has drawn strong public rebuke from both fans and industry executives, not at all surprising given the fast-increasing economic strain many consumers are experiencing during the pandemic.

“So…you’re offering customers the wonderful option of StubHub keeping the fees and $ from the original transaction. On the next purchase, you’re still charging fees….making the 120 per cent a break even for the customer,” tweeted Jeff Goldklang, president of The Goldklang Group, which owns and runs several minor league baseball teams. “Trash. Long, long way from when guys like [co-founder] Jeff Fluhr were running things.”

Rival US-based ticket operator Ticketmaster is still providing full refunds, including fees, for canceled events.

European ticket marketplace Viagogo last month closed on its $4.05bn all-cash deal for StubHub.