StubHub’s Covid-19 policy shift against allowing refunds for cancelled events may run afoul of Massachusetts law, according to consumer rights activists. More than 100 consumer complaints have been received in the state, according to a report by WCVB.
The ticket resale marketplace changed its terms in March as thousands of events were being postponed or cancelled, going from guaranteeing the consumer their money back for an event that is cancelled to offering only a voucher good for a future purchase – with exceptions for states where law required refunds. While Massachusetts has no such law, the policy change being applied to existing sales after the fact could have the company in hot water.
Massachusetts has clear rules on returns and refunds. Companies doing business in the state can have any policy they choose, but it must be disclosed and can’t be altered after a transaction. State law says it’s a deceptive trade practice “to fail to perform any promises made to a buyer in connection with the refund.”
“You can’t change the rules midstream,” says Edgar Dworsky of Consumerworld.org, a former assistant Attorney General. “These consumers made a deal with StubHub. Under state law, it’s actually illegal to fail to honor any promises made in connection with the return policy or to misrepresent it. These people are entitled to their money back.”
The story uses as examples two customers who purchased tickets to events taking place this year – a Bon Jovi performance and a staging of Les Miserables. Both bought tickets believing that the company’s “Fan Protect” guarantee would protect them in the event of any issues. But the Viagogo-owned resale platform’s policy change in late March removed that ability, and both were offered only a 120 percent credit for their cancelled tickets.
“Pretty unfair, almost unethical on their part,” one said.
StubHub’s policy change drew fire from the outset, as most other ticket resale platforms began offering credits to customers holding tickets to cancelled shows, but still allowed refunds for those who asked. StubHub has already been targeted by a $5 million lawsuit over the change.