StubHub Under Fire: Lawsuit Claims Deceptive Fee Practices

StubHub hidden fees

Consumers Allege Hidden Costs and Bait-and-Switch Tactics on Ticket Prices

Popular ticket seller StubHub uses deceptive tactics to trick consumers into forking out more at checkout than they expected to pay, a new proposed class action lawsuit alleges.

Plaintiff Brian Hong filed the complaint against StubHub Inc. on April 22 in a California federal court. 

StubHub operates a website where sports fans, concert enthusiasts, and theatergoers can buy and sell tickets. But, according to Hong, the company runs a deceptive practice on the site whereby consumers don’t realize they’re paying more than the ticket price they were originally quoted. 

As a result, Hong is looking to represent a nationwide class of live event-goers who bought tickets on the platform and were deceived into splashing extra cash.

StubHub runs a ‘bait-and-switch’ scheme, lawsuit alleges

StubHub runs a bait-and-switch scheme on its website that violates state and federal consumer laws, and amounts to fraud, Hong alleges.

To do this, StubHub provides users the opportunity to filter their searches so they can view the tickets’ prices with “estimated fees.” However, that is an “intentionally misleading statement,” Hong alleges, as StubHub routinely underquotes the “estimated fees” of the tickets, by the same exact amount each time. 

“StubHub knows exactly how much it will tack on in fees. And when users turn on the Estimated Fees Filter, Defendant consistently and systematically understates the estimated fees it charges users according to a strict computer algorithm,” the lawsuit alleges.

Investigating the algorithm

Hong claims extensive testing revealed a systematic pattern – StubHub allegedly underestimates the total cost, including fees, by a specific amount for each ticket. This alleged discrepancy applies to tickets exceeding $20, with a consistent underestimation of $3 per ticket. Tickets priced below $20 are also said to be misrepresented, with underestimations ranging from $2 to $3.

The lawsuit further alleges that StubHub uses manipulative tactics to exacerbate the deceptive pricing. Hong claims that the final checkout screen, where the true price is revealed, utilizes a prominent 10-minute countdown timer to pressure customers into completing the purchase before they fully grasp the increased cost.

“Even when customers reach the final checkout screen, the price increase is not obvious and requires quick-witted memory and mental math.”

Hong says he would not have purchased a ticket to the When We Were Young Festival in 2023 from StubHub.com if he realized the fees had been inflated.

StubHub’s history with legal action 

StubHub has been sued before. In a pandemic-related case, the ticket seller was hit with a proposed class action lawsuit for allegedly refusing refunds to people who bought tickets for events that were canceled as a result of COVID-19.

Prior to that, StubHub agreed to pay up to $2.5 million in cash and provide $20 million in credits toward future transactions in a class action settlement after a group of California consumers alleged it charged hidden fees on ticket purchases on its website and app. 

Hong seeks to represent a nationwide class of individuals who purchased event tickets on StubHub using the estimated fees filter and guest checkout. The lawsuit pursues class certification, damage compensation, legal fees, and a jury trial.

The plaintiff and proposed class is represented by L.Timothy Fisher, Stefan Bogdanovich and Emily A. Horne at Bursor & Fisher P.A. 

The StubHub deceptive fees class action lawsuit is Hong et al, v. Stubhub Inc., Case No. 2:24-cv-03318 in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California. 

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