Acknowledging that paperless tickets can present certain challenges for ticket buyers, StubHub has started using a pop-up disclaimer on its Web site that stresses...

Acknowledging that paperless tickets can present certain challenges for ticket buyers, StubHub has started using a pop-up disclaimer on its Web site that stresses the company will find alternative tickets or issue refunds for some paperless ticket sales.

Exactly when the company began using the disclaimer is unknown, but the company is perhaps the first resale marketplace to offer such a disclaimer. Earlier this year, StubHub President Chris Tsakalakis told Sports Business Journal that the company was still formulating its paperless ticket resale policy, but that it would continue to inform consumers about some of the drawbacks to the new technology.

“People often talk about the virtues of paperless ticketing, and there are some, but there are also two main negatives: It takes away fan rights and eliminates resale competition. And with no competition, you usually get a lower level of service and higher prices,” he said. StubHub is the nation’s largest ticket resale marketplace, according to TicketNews’ exclusive industry rankings.

On the Web site as a customer goes through the process of buying a ticket, the following disclaimer pops up (see the screen shot below for a Justin Bieber ticket purchase):

“In a few cases tickets may be restricted to Paperless Ticket Delivery. Should this be necessary, StubHub may cancel the order and attempt to find suitable replacements according to our Fan Protect Guarantee or your money back.”

A company spokesperson did not respond to questions concerning the disclaimer. StubHub’s FanProtect Guarantee reads, in part: “You will get your tickets in time for the event. Your tickets will be authentic and valid for entry. You will receive tickets comparable to or better than the tickets you ordered, or your money back. You will be refunded if the event is cancelled and is not rescheduled.”

Paperless ticketing technology primarily is being pushed by Live Nation Entertainment’s Ticketmaster division and by Texas-based company Veritix as a secure, easy to use alternative to traditional paper tickets. When using paperless tickets, to gain entry to an event, the ticket holder often swipes a credit card or magnetized identification card.

John Mayer’s upcoming summer tour will utilize paperless tickets, and last year Miley Cyrus’ tour was completely paperless. Despite the touted ease of use, the technology has been criticized by Tsakalakis and others for its lack of transferability across multiple platforms. Both Ticketmaster and Veritix allow for tickets to be transferred through their proprietary systems, but not over each others or different systems.

The lack of transferability is designed in part to cut down on ticket resales through the secondary market, though brokers have often resold paperless tickets and simply accompanied buyers to the gate and swiped them in in person.

Computer giant Apple is also reportedly interested in patenting and launching a digital ticketing system through its iTunes store.

(Click on the image to enlarge it)



Cheap tickets with no service fees at

By Alfred Branch Jr.

  • Anonymous

    April 23, 2010 #1 Author

    Some more truths about paperless tickets. I find it ironic that you are pushing Flash seats on here – and that you consider these tickets to be paperless – when you get to the venue they print you out a piece of paper. If everybody used this system you would find the problems of longer lines at venues since all parties must be ready to enter at the same time. Hello! Try and get a party of 8 together to enter the stadium all at once. Not as easy as you think. As these companies try to figure out how to hoarde every penny they should really consider the convenience factor. I use the flash system and it has a lot of room for improvements. The first time I used it I waited an hour at the box office with 20 other fans to get in for the second half, becuase it did not work. I am all for competition and creativity. The more ticket platforms available the better, but make them convenient for the user. Apple should end up taking a big chunk from everybody – is my prediction.

  • Anonymous

    April 16, 2010 #2 Author

    if this is true it’s only a matter of time until stubhub is f*ucked

  • Anonymous

    April 16, 2010 #3 Author

    I take it you don’t know what you’re talking about. StubHub will be just fine with paperless tickets, assuming Congress doesn’t get their act together and stop Ticketmaster’s repeated raping of consumer rights…oh, sorry, I meant Live Nation AND Ticketmaster. I give StubHub kudos for putting the consumer first and giving them the head’s up at the risk of losing a potential sale. That’s more than shady sites like TicketsNow and/or TicketNetwork are doing.

  • Anonymous

    April 16, 2010 #4 Author

    You think the same attorneys general who ripped TM a new one for Springsteen will allow LN to try to reduce all competition? Nope.

  • Anonymous

    April 16, 2010 #5 Author

    You really want to bet against the eBay-StubHub government affairs team that got ticket reselling laws liberalized in more than a dozen states, despite the efforts of TicketMaster to take power from the fans?

  • Mike

    April 16, 2010 #6 Author

    There are TONS of websites to buy paperless tickets and the wind up is that they are more expensive.

  • Anonymous

    April 16, 2010 #7 Author

    Is just for a way fro greedy artists like john maayer to price fix their ticket prices

  • Jeff Kline

    April 20, 2010 #8 Author

    StubHub has a niche in the ticketing space with a business model that works well for Ticket Brokers but almost no one else. The disclaimer they recently started using on their web site for paperless tickets appears to be an attempt to dismiss the entire movement toward paperless ticketing. The disclaimer seems to be an uninspired guarantee that subtly discredits their paperless ticketing competitors. We’re left wondering why they need to issue this disclaimer. Why should fans ever have to worry about getting tickets in time for an event?

    Whether StubHub wants to acknowledge it or not, paperless ticketing is here to stay, and the fact is that it benefits parties that StubHub’s platform does not: fans and teams, venues and artists. VeritixTM knows this first-hand—our paperless Flash Seats® system has processed more than two million paperless tickets at various venues across the county with features and results that are difficult to ignore:

    • Our paperless ticketing system is convenient and secure. You can access your password-protected online account with your paperless tickets from anywhere you have Internet access—a computer or web-enabled phone.
    • Fans can buy, sell, or transfer tickets right up until the start of an event, and in some cases, even after an event has started. There is no waiting around in parking lots to meet a broker or having to stop in at an off-site location to pick up your tickets. You always have access to your tickets.
    • Flash Seats provides an open and competitive secondary marketplace, a fact that directly disputes StubHub’s contention that paperless ticketing has higher prices. In our system, buyers and sellers set the prices they are willing to pay or take for tickets. This consolidated marketplace provides convenient price discovery, improves competition and is the epitome of dynamic pricing. And what could be more convenient than having one marketplace to find inventory and competitive pricing? Eliminating the need to jump to multiple sites to find tickets is a huge benefit for fans.
    • Because Flash Seats is endorsed by the team, venue or artist and is part of their ticketing platform, customer service actually increases. In fact, our clients report a customer satisfaction rating of 95%. Flash Seats ensures that fans get the tickets they paid for instantaneously, and both Flash Seats and the team, venue or artist have a vested interest in making sure fans orders are filled correctly and quickly.
    • Because Flash Seats is an extension of the team, venue or artist, event owners can collect and take advantage of valuable marketing data about who is actually buying tickets and attending the events. This information is extremely valuable to the teams, venues and artists as they work hard to know their fan base and really extend the lifecycle of the fan experience — something StubHub cannot do.

    Understandably, StubHub is concerned about the increasing viability of paperless ticketing and the threat it poses to their business because it hasn’t had any real competition up until now in the secondary market. We believe the focus of the ticketing systems of the future—like Flash Seats—will be on providing better service, better features, and competitive pricing for fans and teams, venues and artists alike. We welcome debate over legitimate issues, but let’s stick to real, proven facts, instead of stoking the fears of fans and teams, venues and artists with unfounded negative statements about paperless ticketing technology in general.

    At Flash Seats, we’ve seen first-hand the power of paperless ticketing, and you can bet that we’re here to stay, not because of what we tell people we can do, but because of the tangible benefits and advantages we provide to our customers and their fans.

  • Jeff Kline

    April 20, 2010 #9 Author

    I neglected to sign the above comments, but I am:

    Jeff Kline

  • Anonymous

    April 20, 2010 #10 Author

    TicketsNow doesn’t sell paperless.

  • Jim Goodman

    April 20, 2010 #11 Author

    Of course StubHub says taht paperless ticketing is a problem. They will say that other ticketing concepts are a problem too…. Why do they say all of this, well because they see the writing on the wall, and the secondary market (of which StubHub is the leader) is going to take it in the shorts in the near future….

    As a former Ticketmaster employee and a single digit employee of, with lots of work for other ticketing companies as well, I know what I speak of…. Ticketing companies are making changes to accomodate their clients (venues, teams and promoters) so that they can squeeze out every dollar they can in a market that has very tight margins. How will this be done? Vairable pricing, or what other’s would call “Yield Management” is coming, and it’s right around the corner. So what used to be a $35 ticket that would then be sold for $600 in teh secondary market is going to become a $500 ticket in the primary market, reducing the vig available in teh secondary market (StubHub, brokers, etc.). It’s this shrinking of profit margin that has StubHub in a tiff.

    StubHub doesn’t have access to quantities of inventory. They aren’t a primary ticketing source, and without that, they have limited possibilities to get inventory and make money. Their market, niche or not, is going to shrink in the coming months/years and they will need to find a way to replace it.

    With Veritix’s paperless ticketing solutions, Live Nation/Ticketmaster’s “GI Joe kung-fu grip” on the inventory and many if not all primary ticketing providers moving towards a variable/yeild management pricing models, there isn’t much of a business left for the secondary market… which is why they get a bit defensive and couch the discussion as “paperless ticketing” being the problem, when in fact they have a bad business model that they can’t control. Sucks when your inventory isn’t under your control… you can get squeezed out of the market.

    Jim Goodman
    Ticketing Consultant