The UK’s Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has warned StubHub that it could face court action unless it gets its act together.

The watchdog suspects that StubHub is failing to comply with undertakings it gave back in 2018, when the secondary ticketing provider promised to give better information about tickets being resold through its platform.

Despite those assurances the CMA is concerned that StubHub has been:

  • failing to adequately warn people that tickets may not get them into an event
  • using misleading messages about ticket availability
  • targeting UK consumers with tickets for events listed on overseas versions of their websites, which may not comply with UK law
  • failing to ensure people know exactly where they will sit in a venue
  • failing to take sufficient steps to ensure that the full addresses of business sellers are displayed

StubHub has promised to remedy the issues but the CMA has kept the pressure on, stressing that unless satisfactory changes are implemented quickly it will take further action - potentially through the courts.

StubHub would be wise not to consider the CMA’s threats as hollow as the watchdog has precedent in enforcing against other industry heavy-weights. In 2018, the CMA commenced court proceedings against viagogo, securing a court order that provided the foundation for contempt of court proceedings against the same.

Contempt of court proceedings are not something to be taken lightly - parties that disobey or fail to comply with a court order risk penalties including an unlimited fine, seizure of assets or up to two years imprisonment. Whilst those repercussions are some way down the line, it is a chain of events StubHub will nonetheless want to avoid.

A more immediate concern for StubHub will be the timing of the warning – the latest development in the CMA’s investigation into breaches of consumer law in the online secondary ticketing market. It is especially inopportune for StubHub as it arises during the investigation into its planned acquisition by viagogo, an investigation by - no prizes for guessing this one - the CMA.

So long term or short term, there’s plenty of motivation for StubHub to appease the CMA.