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NC couple taking on StubHub over ticket markup

Posted December 1, 2011

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— A North Carolina couple is taking on StubHub, the online marketplace where people buy and sell tickets to sporting events, concerts and other live events.

The Greensboro couple, Jeffrey and Lisa Hill, bought tickets on the site in 2007 to a sold-out Hanna Montana concert only to find out after the fact that they paid $93 above face value – along with a 10 percent fee.

At the time, a North Carolina consumer protection law prohibited scalping and capped service fees at $3 per ticket. So the Hills sued StubHub.

The California-based company was in a Raleigh courtroom in front of a three-judge panel Thursday appealing a prior ruling that they violated a state law.

StubHub argues the law did not pertain to them because the seller is the person who listed the tickets, not them. They say they are just the medium that brought the two “willing” parties together. Citing a federal statute “designed to protect ‘Good Samaritan’ internet operators from liability,” StubHub is arguing they have immunity from liability and may provide a for-profit service that relies on outside buyers and sellers.

Is StubHub scalping? Is StubHub scalping?

Lawyers for the Greensboro couple believe StubHub is clearly a seller in this deal.

“They're the one you contract with to buy the tickets,” said Charles Coble, lawyer for Jeffrey and Lisa Hall. “They're the one that charges your credit card. They're the one who you deal with if there's a problem. They're the one who makes arrangements for delivery. They're the one who bears the risk of loss. It's sort of every way you want to look at it in our view.”

The plaintiffs argue that unlike sites such as Craigslist where third parties enter into transactions of “their own choosing,” StubHub, as a single entity, contracts with buyers for the sale of tickets on the website. StubHub collects 25 percent per ticket transaction – 10 percent comes from the buyers fee, the seller contributes the other 15 percent.

A bill proposed in the North Carolina Senate in March of 2007 and passed in 2008 said that “a person may resell an admission ticket under this section on the Internet at a price greater than the price on the face of the ticket,” unless the venue itself prohibits the action.

The new law maintains a capped service fee of $3 unless the venue and a first-sale agent agree upon a greater amount. One stipulation placed on the seller allowing the above-face-value sale is that a full refund and ticket guarantee be offered – something that StubHub does.

“When they bought those tickets, North Carolina law was very clear that you could not sell tickets above face value and you could not add a service fee of more than $3,” Coble said of the Hill’s purchase.

The Greensboro couple also sued the person who listed the tickets on the site and agreed on a settlement. Their lawyers would like to make this a class-action lawsuit. The Court of Appeals on average takes about 90 days to make a decision.


This story is closed for comments.

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  • SmarterThanAvgBear Dec 2, 2011

    Everyone knows that sites like Stubhub often charge more than face value. If you don't want to pay over face value, then stand in line when they go on sale. If you can't stand in line, stubhub offers a great alternative. I travel a lot for business and I have been able to see a lot of sporting events that I woudl have never been able to go to without a service like stubhub toprovice last minute tickets. The guarantee they offer makes paying a little more money far more attractive than buying from a private seller and potential scammer from Craig's list or similiar site.

    And, when I have a little notice I have had good luck getting tickets below face value. Saw the Celtics last year at the foul line, row 14, for $60 a ticket. Face value was $150.

    About the company buying all the tickets when they go on sale, that is not the case. The tickets you buy from stubhub are purchased by people who stand in line or have season tickets.

    In summary, stubhub offers a great service. If you

  • BIlzac Dec 1, 2011

    I suppose this couple had no idea that people sold tickets on StubHub for over face value.


    So when they paid $93 on StubHub, they had not already looked at the cost of these tickets on other sites I suppose?


    This is just one more example of people looking to make a fast buck, or to get someone else to pay for their mistake.

    If you actually agreed to pay $93 for tickets to a concert, then at some point you decided you were willing to pay that much. It's nothing short of disingenuous on the part of this couple to NOW pretend that they have somehow been wronged by StubHub.

  • Big Mike Dec 1, 2011

    I know there's some principle issues here..but a Hanna Montana concert?..Was anyone even there?...Sounds like a deal..the whole arena for $93...There's no singer that is worth the rip..

  • vraptor Dec 1, 2011

    Here is how the scam works. These ticket companies buy most of the tickets when they go on sale. Then they can charge you what they want. It is called scalping. Scalping is illegal for you and me. But not for these companies.

    This couple needs to go to the general assembly and get the NC laws changed.

  • JDNCSU Dec 1, 2011

    I have paid high $ for tix on StubHub but like everyone else it was my choice. Take responsibility for your own actions. I agree with Bubba...GET A LIFE.

  • SirWired Dec 1, 2011

    kikinc; This was a Hannah Montana concert during her peak. You would have had to buy your tickets within about a 90-second window (if that much) after they went on sale to get one at face value.

  • kikinc Dec 1, 2011

    If they wanted tickets, should have gotten them sooner. I bought tickets to the Panthers/Giants game a few years ago through StubHub. Paid more than face value. I didn't sue. I had fun at the game and made a point to pay closer attention to the schedule next time so I could buy tickets earlier.

  • bubbba Dec 1, 2011

    Get a life.