Online ticket resale marketplace StubHub and the Philadelphia Phillies are being sued over the practice of not disclosing the face values of Phillies tickets bought on the site.
The lawsuit, filed this month in U.S. District Court in San Francisco, is similar to one filed by the same attorney, Randall Newman, earlier this year in New York. Newman lost the first case against the company and the New York Yankees.
At issue for Newman and his new client, Joseph Fabozzi of New Jersey, is StubHub’s established practice of not displaying the original face value of tickets that are listed for sale on its Web site. StubHub does not own any inventory, but instead is a marketplace where resellers and buyers can interact.
StubHub is the official online ticket exchange for Major League Baseball and its teams, and it has access to ticket barcodes which the lawsuit claims StubHub can cancel if new tickets need to be issued.
“The written agreement between StubHub, the Phillies, and MLB manifests consent by the Phillies that StubHub would act on its behalf and under its control in: (a) cancelling previously-issued tickets to Phillies’ games at [Citizens Bank Park (CBP)]; and (b) re-issuing tickets to Phillies’ games at CBP with a different barcode, but without the ‘established price’ or the ‘maximum premium’ printed on the face of the re-issued tickets,” the lawsuit states.
Earlier this season, Fabozzi bought two tickets from the StubHub site for a Phillies home game against the Washington Nationals for $75 apiece. With fees and electronic delivery, the total for the transaction came to $170.20.
The face value for the tickets was listed as “N/A” for not available, so Fabozzi claims he had no way of knowing how much the tickets originally cost, and had he known he might not have bought them.
A StubHub spokesperson did not return a message seeking comment.
In the earlier StubHub/Yankees case, the judge ruled in favor of the two essentially because he said that neither StubHub nor the Yankees could be held responsible for every resale transaction. And, the purchaser in that case, New York resident Andrea Weinstein, did not have to buy the tickets if she did not like the price listed on StubHub.
At the time of that victory, StubHub expressed gratitude about the ruling. “We are pleased by the ruling of Judge [John F.] Keenan, but ultimately this is a victory for consumers. Over our 11 year history, StubHub has clearly shown that its services benefit fans by providing the most choice and access to live events,” Glenn Lehrman, spokesperson for StubHub, told TicketNews in a statement. In addition to the win in this case, TicketNetwork, a third-party ticket exchange similar to StubHub, was also victorious in a related lawsuit filed by Newman.
Newman told TicketNews that he filed the case in California because he believes laws governing event tickets in that state could potentially be interpreted more broadly. Newman claims StubHub is violating the state’s Unfair Competition Law (UCL) because not listing the original ticket price is “inherently deceptive and misleading.”
“We believe the law would apply to any event, whether the tickets were sold on the primary or secondary market,” Newman said.
TicketNetwork is the parent company of TicketNews.