No, StubHub. I didn’t mean to spend $390 on theater tickets!

It was a simple request. My wife asked me to pick up tickets to “Annie” at the Walnut Street Theatre in Philadelphia if the “price was right.” So, during a free moment at work, I pulled out my smartphone and opened the StubHub app, where I usually can find a decent price for tickets being sold on the secondary market (from someone who was reselling tickets they already had purchased), and I browsed around the theatre.

I thought I had my application settings set to display prices that included fees so I wouldn’t get my hopes up about a seat location, only to find out that with fees added on the cost would be prohibitive. But that’s not what happened.

I came upon two decent seats and saw that the price was only $154 each, $308 for the pair. I assumed that this price included fees, so I confidently added the seats to my cart. However, when I advanced to the payment section of the app, I discovered that the price with fees skyrocketed to $390. Too much!

I exited out of the app and went back to work. A couple of hours later, I checked my email, only to discover, to my horror, a PayPal receipt for $390 from StubHub. I quickly fumbled through my phone to look for StubHub’s customer service phone number and tried to cancel what I thought was an accidental purchase.

I pleaded my case with StubHub’s customer service representative, who read me the company line over and over:

StubHub does not own these tickets. We are a third-party seller for the people who own the tickets. Therefore we cannot refund your money. I’m very sorry

I persisted, “I did not mean to purchase these tickets.” (Repeat rep’s quote several times.)

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He said all StubHub could do for me is relist the tickets I had already purchased and waive their 10 percent service fee for sellers. Calculating the fact that someone else would have to pay a service fee anyway (for a price of about $430 for the two tickets in order for me to break even — isn’t ticket reselling a great business!), it didn’t sound like a good deal for me.

Finally, I asked to speak to a supervisor. The representative said that the supervisor was on another call and asked me to hold the line. A couple of minutes later, he got back on and told me that as a courtesy, StubHub would also take $50 off my order and no more. So I’d be out $340 for $390 worth of tickets that I only meant to pay $308 for. And I just might be able to sell them for about $375 and break even. Not a great deal, but I accepted it, temporarily, knowing that I would continue my self-advocacy elsewhere.

As a writer and editor for this website, I am familiar with the success of readers who have taken advantage of the executive contacts section. I went there and looked up the executive contacts for StubHub.

It was there that I found the contact information for Stubhub’s manager of customer relations. I wrote her a brief, polite email explaining the situation and asking that StubHub help me cancel the order:

I was on your site this morning browsing for theater tickets for my wife and son when I found a pair to my liking. The amount came to $308 for two tickets to “Annie” at the Walnut Street Theatre in Philadelphia, which seemed reasonable. I believed that to be the total cost, including your fees. I was surprised on the next screen to discover that the actual cost, including fees, totaled $390. Not interested in paying that amount, I exited out of that screen and looked elsewhere.

Imagine my surprise about a half hour later when I discovered an email from Paypal confirming a $390 payment to StubHub for the tickets I was no longer interested in purchasing.

I immediately called your toll-free number and spoke with a representative, who explained (which I already knew) that you are merely the “middle man” and not the owner of the tickets. He offered to relist the tickets for me and waive the 10 percent service fee. However, I explained repeatedly that I had not intended to purchase the tickets and that it was an accident. I asked to speak with a supervisor. While the manager never came on the phone, your representative told me the manager agreed to refund an additional $50 for my trouble and to re-list the tickets for me with no fees.

I reluctantly agreed to this settlement, but I am not satisfied with the outcome. I would be grateful if you would please find another way to take back the tickets or to compensate me for this terrible misunderstanding.

Thank you in advance for your assistance with this matter.

A couple of hours later, I received a phone call from a representative in executive customer service, who apologized for my predicament and explained once again that StubHub is a third-party seller. However, he offered me an additional $32 credit to bring the cost of the tickets down to $308. I thought about jumping at the settlement, though I was not 100 percent satisfied. But I pushed back a little to see if I could get anything more out of the deal.

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Surely enough, the representative came through. He said that StubHub would refund 50 percent of the order in order to keep me happy. I gratefully accepted.

A couple of days later, a credit for $195 hit my PayPal account, and my wife and son enjoyed a matinee performance of “Annie.” Actual retail cost: $195.

It’s great to know that “The Sun Will Come Out Tomorrow” if you just know how to advocate for yourself. And, if all else fails, turn to our advocates here at Elliott.org.

Mark Pokedoff

Four-time Emmy-award-winning television sports production specialist and frequent traveler. Longtime freelance writer and travel blog enthusiast. Proud papa of four amazing kids who have been upgraded to first class more than all their friends combined. Read more of Mark's articles here.

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