ST. LOUIS — Countless concerts and events were delayed or outright canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. For many ticketholders, no refunds are coming. That's because one popular ticket-seller recently changed its policy to keep itself afloat.
StubHub changed its refund policy about a month ago. The company is now the subject of two class action lawsuits from ticketholders in the U.S. and Canada. They're upset StubHub is refusing to offer cash refunds for canceled or postponed events.
Eight months ago, Peggy Brewer had her whole summer planned out, and country star Kenny Chesney's Busch Stadium concert was going to be the highlight. It was originally scheduled for mid-June.
"He is a great entertainer. Somebody dear to my heart was a big fan of his and he's no longer with us. So, I'm an even bigger fan now," explained the O'Fallon, Missouri resident.
Brewer had no problem dropping $330 for seats through StubHub back in October. But then the concert was canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic.
"I called on Thursday or Friday to StubHub before the concert [was supposed to take place] and said, 'I know it's canceled', they said, 'It's not canceled, it's postponed and we're not giving any refunds,'" said Brewer.
According to a statement from a StubHub spokesperson: "50,000+ Events have been cancelled, postponed or rescheduled in recent weeks and it is currently impossible for us to offer immediate cash refunds to all buyers."
"I was a little... I was a lot upset," said Brewer.
Yet there seemed reason to be hopeful. She found news releases from Chesney and Busch Stadium that said she could get a refund within 30 days.
"Kenny Chensey said you could get a refund, Busch Stadium said you could get a refund. So, I then called StubHub again and they said, 'No, not true. Not giving refunds'," said Brewer.
StubHub reps told Brewer she could try to resell her tickets on their website.
Something she is not comfortable taking on.
"I'm not extremely computer savvy. I don't feel like it's my responsibility to go online and resell the tickets," said Brewer. "I think them holding onto millions of dollars for over a year and making interest on our money is not fair to everyone. To just say that's the nature of their businesses, that's not fair. I don't think it's a very good business practice."
For canceled events, the company is offering a StubHub coupon valued at 120% of the original purchase value, which can be used for future events.
5 On Your Side dug a little bit deeper and found in about 18 states, cash refunds are required by law and StubHub will comply with that. Unfortunately, Missouri and Illinois are not among those states.
Here is the full statement from StubHub:
"StubHub is a global marketplace and our policies vary by region, in line with local guidance. In the last few weeks, 50,000+ events have been cancelled, postponed or rescheduled – 40,000 in the US and Canada alone. 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 try 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 so many 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 months ago, we were the first in our industry to offer a coupon worth 120% of the ticket value. This is now 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."