Customers who bought tickets to events through StubHub on or before March 25, 2020 will now be able to obtain a cash refund from the company. StubHub had drawn intense scrutiny and several lawsuits after an abrupt policy shift last spring, issuing only credits towards future ticket purchases on events that were cancelled due to the pandemic rather than cash refunds – with the exception of purchases made in states where law required cash refunds in such an event.
“The return of live events, the input of customers, partners, and reulators, and the opportunity to finally consult with our new parent company, viagogo, all contrbuted to StubHub’s decision to make this move now,” the company said in a statement. Tickets to events purchased after March 25, 2020 will still only be eligible for a future purchase credit from StubHub.
As the pandemic clamped down on live events across the globe, most ticketing outfits had to make rapid changes to keep from being overwhelmed by the sudden stop to cash flow coupled with the cancellation of events. Most quickly instituted policies of issuing account credits good towards future purchase greater than the value of the cancelled event tickets as a first option for customers, with the option for a cash refund remaining at the customer’s request. StubHub went a step further and simply halted cash refunds altogether.
The reaction was quick and decisive – sports business reporter Darren Rovell referred to the policy as “not only absurd (fans deserve their $ back), [but that] it’s unethical and likely illegal,” in a tweet. StubHub countered that criticism with its contention that it was simply impossible to provide cash refunds due to the volume of money involved, and the need to claw back payments from ticket sellers on their platform who had already been paid out for the events that were subsequently cancelled.
“With the coronavirus impacting 28,000 events and the associated magnitude of challenge in recouping monies owed by sellers over the coming months, it is currently impossible for us to offer immediate cash to buyers,” StubHub said at the time. StubHub was sued in a class action over the policy change, and saw its public image battered, all while its purchase by viagogo was being picked apart by regulators in the UK before being approved with contingencies, further hindering its ability to take action to survive the pandemic. While predictions of the company going bankrupt appear to have been overblown, the damage to the pre-pandemic leader in ticket resale marketplaces in the U.S. has been substantial.
Customers who are due refunds for pre-March 25 2020 events will be paid out by the end of May according to StubHub. They also have the option of keeping their credit for future event ticket purchase on the marketplace if they would prefer. The credits issued by the company are valid through the end of 2022.