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Event tickets bought from online marketplaces, not always a sure thing

ORLANDO, Fla. — A central Florida man scored tickets to see soccer superstar Lionel Messi when his Inter Miami squad faces off against Orlando City later this year.  Then weeks after he ordered the tickets from StubHub for a great price, he says the company pulled the rug out from under him and canceled the sale.

Rafael Torres grew up going to soccer matches and watching them on television with his uncle who got him into the sport.

Torres told Action 9, “Watching it for me has always just been a passion because it’s, it’s the world sport.”

Last month, when he learned international soccer superstar Lionel Messi could join the Major League Soccer team, Inter Miami, he reacted quickly.

“I did what everybody did, I bought tickets real quick. I purchased tickets to see Messi play the morning that it was speculation,”  Torres said.

He purchased the tickets for the September 24th match at Exploria Stadium against Orlando City from the second hand ticket marketplace StubHub.  He paid just over $50 each, plus fees.

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Later that day, the official announcement was made, Messi was going to join Inter Miami CF.

Torres was ecstatic.  He said, “I thought to myself, ‘Oh man! I got it. I got a steal of a price and I’m going to see him (Messi) play live.’”

But five weeks later, he received an email from StubHub that reads in part:  “…due to unforeseen circumstances, your order has been cancelled by your seller…”

By then the price of tickets had skyrocketed by hundreds of dollars.  Consumer investigator Jeff Deal found some seats in his section going for more than $1,000.

StubHub issued Torres a refund.  It also gave him a voucher for 200% of what he paid. Still, Torres said it wasn’t enough to buy even one ticket.

Holly Salmons with the Better Business Bureau told us, “Consumers should be aware that before the tickets are actually in your hand, until they’ve been virtually delivered to you, they are still in the hands of the seller or the third-party ticketing platform.”

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Salmons suggests trying the original ticket seller first, but know the risks if you have to use a secondary marketplace.

StubHub’s user agreement states: “We have no control over and do not guarantee the existence, quality, safety or legality of the tickets.”

However, StubHub does have what’s called the “FanProtect Guarantee.”

When Deal reached out to StubHub about this situation, it sent a statement that reads:

StubHub’s Fan Protect policy ensures our buyers are protected - it guarantees that a buyer will get in the door with the same or a comparable ticket, and in rare instances when this is not possible, provide a full refund, but our goal is to get the customer in the door. We empathize with this customer who didn’t receive the tickets he purchased for the Orlando City FC v. Inter Miami game, and have issued a full refund, in addition to a StubHub credit equal to 200% of his original purchase. Sellers who fail to deliver tickets are fined, in accordance with our policy.

Rafael Torres called what happened to him a disappointment.  He believes it was nothing more than a cash grab with the seller likely wanting to re-sell the tickets for a higher price.  He wants others to be aware it could happen to them.

“Likely nothing’s going to come from this unless people like you give people like myself a voice and raise this issue, to the point that, you know, change is made,” he said.

According to the StubHub website, the fine for a seller who drops a sale is 100% of the purchase price or the cost the company pays to remedy the situation, whichever is more.

Jeff Deal

Jeff Deal, WFTV.com

I joined the Eyewitness News team as a reporter in 2006.

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