We’ve all had that moment when buying tickets where suddenly at checkout, those $30 tickets end up costing $50. Hidden fees right before checkout are unexpected but chances are, you’re still going to go through with your purchase. This past February, customer Susan Wang filed a class action lawsuit against StubHub for unexpected hidden fees during a purchase. Ticket prices can often increase 20-30 percent during checkout which is known as ‘drip-pricing’. Ms. Wang describes this tactic as misleading and a “bait tactic” for consumers.
In her case, Wang states that Stubhub has knowingly violated California’s unfair competition and false advertising laws. In further detail, she states the company “lures consumers into purchasing tickets for concerts, sporting events, and other live entertainment from StubHub’s website by advertising artificially low ticket prices while hiding the amount of added fees that Defendants charge for each sale.”
Further on it says, “Only at checkout does StubHub for the first time list a total amount that includes hidden fees — after consumers have already selected seats at a lower advertised price (that does not include fees), created a StubHub account or entered login credentials, entered credit card information, and clicked ‘go to check out.’
Ms. Wang’s lawyers argue that StubHub hides these additional fees through a separate link, difficult for customers to find prior to purchase. If customers did click through the price details, they find “service and delivery fees” that can range from 24-29 percent, each ticket! Many believe these service and delivery fees are entirely for profit, as most tickets are sent electronically, requiring no shipping expenses. The complaint argues this point further saying, “There is no reason why StubHub would incur expenses of over 20% of the ticker price to deliver a digital download,” and “StubHub also does not do any work or suffer an expense listing tickets for sale.”
Class-Action Lawsuit Can Proceed
StubHub put in a bid to have the lawsuit thrown out entirely, arguing that it has never mislead or taken advantage of consumers. They stand firmly with this argument and add that they do not have to respect advertised discounts because their terms of agreement state they can legally charge additional fees. San Francisco Superior Court Judge Harold Kahn told Wang her argument was sufficient to get “past the pleading hurdle” but may not go much farther. Judge Kahn also advised StubHub to list transaction fees upfront for consumers in the future. Now that a judge has ruled for the lawsuit to proceed, StubHub will have to rethink it’s pricing structure. We’ll see how this all turns out but what, if any, is considered a fair add-on fee when purchasing tickets?