StubHub has made a U-turn on its previous refunds policy and announced it will no longer be issuing refunds for shows that have been cancelled.

Earlier this month, the US-headquartered ticketing firm assured its customers that refunds would be honoured in the event of a cancellation as the Covid-19 crisis began to pick up pace.

StubHub president Sukhinder Singh Cassidy told fans that its FanProtect Guarantee would remain in place to refund all tickets purchased on the site in the event of cancellation.

Now, the policy states: “When an event is cancelled, you will receive a StubHub coupon worth 120% of your original order.”

An unverified document posted on Twitter by self-proclaimed ticket scalper Don Shano suggests StubHub will only offer a refund on events after March 24 if a complainant’s billing address is in one of 14 states where refunds are enshrined. Those states include California, Florida, New York and Minnesota. The document also says StubHub will only offer refunds to brokers or if a buyer threatens to sue the company for a refund.

A StubHub spokesperson told TheTicketingBusiness that its policies vary by region, in line with local guidance, adding that, in the last few weeks, more than 28,000 events have been cancelled, postponed or rescheduled – 23,000 in the US alone.

The spokesperson said: “Given the unprecedented impact the coronavirus has had on the live events industry, we have adapted our policies in the US and Canada while continuing to go above and beyond for our customers.

“As a marketplace, we act as an intermediary for buyers and sellers. In normal times, we’ve made the decision to refund buyers before collecting money from the seller to offer buyers more convenience. And under normal circumstances, this works well, even with StubHub taking the risk of timing delays and some losses when we are unable to collect from the seller. With the coronavirus impacting 28,000+ events and the associated magnitude of challenge in recouping monies owed by sellers over the coming months, it is currently impossible for us to offer immediate cash refunds to all buyers.

“When the volume of cancellations accelerated a few weeks ago, we were the first in our industry to offer a coupon worth 120% of the ticket value. This will now be our default option in Canada and in the US. Outside of the US and Canada, fans are defaulted to a refund. Due to the exceptional circumstances the music and sport industries are currently facing, some refunds may take a little longer than normal to process. We greatly appreciate our community’s patience and understanding during this extraordinary time.”

StubHub – which is in the process of being acquired by Viagogo – earlier this month changed its payout processes to withhold funds until after an event has taken place. The move has meant brokers are not granted access to the revenue from a ticket sale as quickly.

The ever-growing number of event cancellations has heavily impacted the firm, which last week saw it furlough most of its North American employees.

A source close to the matter told that the furloughed workforce had been asked to take an unpaid leave of absence until June 1, at which point the measure could be extended.

Image: Ajay Suresh