Indiana has reached a settlement with an online ticket provider allowing Hoosiers to get cash refunds for tickets they purchased to concerts and sporting events that were then canceled because of the COVID-19 public health emergency.
The Indiana Attorney General’s Office Consumer Protection Division reached a settlement Tuesday with California-based StubHub Inc. At issue was the company’s failure to provide cash refunds to ticket holders for canceled events as promised under its “FanProtect Guarantee.”
At least 6,800 customers either living in Indiana or purchasing tickets to an Indiana event were impacted, but an estimate was not provided as to how much money will potentially be returned. However, a civil penalty of $382,500 will be enforced if the company does not comply with the settlement’s terms.
“StubHub’s refusal to pay refunds to consumers who bought tickets under terms that included its FanProtect guarantee when the events for which they purchased their tickets were cancelled substantially harmed consumers,” the AG’s Office stated in its complaint. “Consumers could not reasonably avoid the harm because they did not know StubHub would not honor its refund guarantee. Guaranteeing refunds to consumers and then refusing to pay the promised refunds is a practice that does not benefit the marketplace.”
The complaint, State of Indiana v. StubHub, Inc., 49D06-2109-PL-030897, was filed in Marion Superior Court No. 6.
An investigation of StubHub was undertaken by the attorneys general of Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Indiana, Maryland, Minnesota, New Hampshire, Ohio, Virginia, Wisconsin and the District of Columbia. Each filed according to their respective consumer protection laws.
Indiana asserted StubHub violated the Indiana Deceptive Consumer Sales Act, Indiana Code § 24-5-0.5-1 et seq.
According to court documents, when the pandemic caused wide-spread cancellations of events, StubHub reassured customers they would be receiving cash refunds, but they could opt to get a credit instead. Then in late March 2020, the company changed its policy and stopped the refunds.
StubHub announced in early May it would provide eligible buyers a cash refund.
The judgment notes StubHub attributed its inability to return ticket holders’ money to the “unforeseen impact” of COVID-19, which included “a near complete loss of revenue and an inability to recoup cash refunds from ticket sellers … .”
Under the terms of the judgment, StubHub will honor the refund policy. Also, within 60 days of the company verifying an event has been canceled, it will return the full amount of the customer’s payment, including any taxes and fees.
By mid-December, StubHub has to submit to the Indiana Attorney General’s Office a detailed report regarding the refund program. The report must include the names and address of each eligible buyer, name and date of the event for which a ticket was purchased, and the price of a ticket and amount of refund.
In September 2022, StubHub must submit a compliance report.