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UK’s CMA threatens StubHub with court action

The regulator, which is separately investigating Viagogo's acquisition of StubHub, believes the company's UK site is in breach of the law

By IQ on 29 Jan 2020

CMA chief executive Andrea Coscelli

image © Competition and Markets Authority

The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has demanded StubHub make changes to its site change or face court action, after identifying several problems it believes could be in breach of UK consumer law.

As part of its “regular monitoring”, the British competition regulator says it has identified issues with the information provided about some tickets for sale via StubHub’s UK website – and is now concerned the secondary ticketer is not complying with commitments it made following a previous CMA investigation.

According to the CMA, it believes StubHub is still:

  • Failing to adequately warn people that tickets may not get them into an event
  • Using misleading messages about ticket availability
  • Targeting UK consumers with tickets for events listed on overseas versions of their websites, which may not comply with UK law
  • Failing to ensure people know exactly where they will sit in a venue
  • Failing to take sufficient steps to ensure that the full addresses of business sellers are displayed

The watchdog says StubHub has already agreed to make said changes – and it expects they will be made “swiftly” – but if the site fails to comply it will continue taking action through the courts, as it has previously with Viagogo.

“It’s unacceptable that we have now found these concerns”

The chief executive of the CMA, Andrea Coscelli (pictured), says: “StubHub had previously committed to make important changes to the information on its site, so anyone buying a ticket would know what they were getting before parting with their money. It’s therefore unacceptable that we have now found these concerns.

“We have demanded swift action to resolve these problems and are pleased that StubHub has said it will make changes in response. We will closely monitor the firm’s efforts and, if it does not quickly implement changes that satisfy us, we will take further action – potentially through the courts.”

However, Wayne Grierson, NEMEA regional manager for StubHub UK, says the CMA’s demands are “additional asks” beyond its 2018 obligations.

“StubHub UK has complied with everything that the CMA requested following their investigation into the online secondary ticketing sector in 2018,” he says. “Our compliance with our undertakings was confirmed through a compliance audit in 2019. We have always collaborated closely with regulators in the interests of our fans, and will continue to do so.

“The CMA has now made additional asks. We remain in open dialogue with the CMA to address both these new asks and any remaining valid concerns about disclosure of information on our site. We are working closely to resolve these as quickly as possible, and in the best interest of our customers, the fans.”

“StubHub UK has complied with everything that the CMA requested following their investigation”

The CMA says it is also continuing to monitor Viagogo, which before Christmas agreed to acquire StubHub for US$4.1 billion.

Adam Webb, campaign manager for anti-touting group FanFair Alliance, welcomes the CMA announcement, which “again highlights continuing dysfunctions in the secondary ticketing market,” he says. “StubHub have had years to comply with UK consumer law: they were forced to sign legal undertakings in April 2018, and yet they still fall short of expected standards.

“If StubHub and other secondary ticketing platforms continue to mislead UK audiences, we would urge the CMA to take decisive action through the courts. Today’s developments should also provide yet more impetus for regulators to thoroughly investigate the proposed merger between Viagogo and StubHub.”

A separate CMA investigation is ongoing into Viagogo’s purchase of StubHub, which has sparked concern from the wider live music industry.

 


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