StubHub: ‘Not Enough Tickets’

In a rare interview, StubHub’s UK country manager, Wayne Grierson, said tickets are sold with a markup on secondary sites chiefly because of “a supply and demand issue.”  

Speaking to the BBC, Grierson said: “There aren’t enough tickets in the first place. There’s a supply and demand issue which means prices will go up,” suggesting that prices would automatically drop if the demand let up.

He said half of tickets sold on StubHub went for less than face value, and added that 98 percent of sellers on StubHub were individuals who couldn’t make it to an event and therefore tried to sell their tickets.

He suggested that StubHub was in the position to become the industry’s standard for reselling tickets, and emphasized the site’s transparency, adding that it was primary sellers that lacked transparency. “It would be good to know how many tickets are available from the off. That means fans can see whether they have an opportunity to access that event or not.”

Asked what he would tell artists who criticize the practice, Grierson said “we’re providing a marketplace.” Asked about fans who become annoyed when tickets to sold-out events immediately appear on secondary sites, he replied: “I can see it’s frustrating, but we don’t control the supply.”

StubHub takes center stage in the revelations made by the recent leak of the so-called Paradise Papers, which expose the tax-avoidance schemes of individuals and companies. The papers reveal the business practices of Canadian big-time scalper Julien Lavallée, who claims in his resumé to be working in partnership with StubHub.

Regarding so-called super touts such as Lavallée, Grierson said: “If an authority presents us with the information that there is evidence that illegal activity is going on, we will of course investigate. To date, we haven’t been presented with any evidence.

StubHub, which has a partnership with AEG, and other secondary ticketing sites have been under intense scrutiny by large parts of the live entertainment industry over the past years. Last week, the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) announced plans to take enforcement action against secondary ticketing websites suspected of breaking consumer protection laws.

The announcement followed a secondary ticketing investigation launched in 2015, when four secondary ticketing sites – Get Me In!, Seatwave, StubHub and Viagogo – formally promised they would improve the information given to customers of their respective offerings.

A compliance check revealed that most websites had kept their promise, bar one – the name of which wasn’t revealed to Pollstar as the investigation is ongoing.

Another organization working closely with the CMA and concerned with trading standards in the UK, National Trading Standards, today announced that raids conducted as part of an ongoing secondary ticketing investigation led to the arrest of four people suspected of breaching consumer protection regulations.

In a statement, National Trading Standards said the ongoing investigation is “looking into unfair practices in the secondary ticketing market and particularly the practices of businesses that buy and sell tickets in bulk.”

Local police, specialist police officers and the North East Regional Asset Recovery Team supported National Trading Standards in the raids. In addition to the arrests, a range of equipment including computers, mobile phones and storage devices have been seized as evidence.

Since the investigation is ongoing, National Trading Standards won’t answer further questions.