What You Need to Know About ‘White Label’ Ticket Sites
When hunting for tickets to live events, many people begin the process by using an internet search engine to comparison shop across the websites that offer tickets for sale.
Search results include links to the event’s actual box office website, as well as other reputable, well-branded websites like www.StubHub.com that consumers are familiar with – more and more we are seeing these sites get hidden behind advertisements for websites that use text, images, and URLs designed to mimic a venue’s box office and deceive consumers.
Below, a search for Madison Square Garden tickets results in the first four listings (which are paid search results) as advertisements for websites with URLs suggesting they are the actual box office for Madison Square Garden, when in fact, none are affiliated with the box office or venue at all.
This practice has led to consumer confusion and frustration. On the Better Business Bureau website, high numbers of individuals have complained about deceptive domain names and how they purchased tickets believing that they were on the event’s official ticket website. Here’s a sample of one consumer’s negative experience with Tickets-Center.com’s misleading domains (April 3, 2017):
“I was on the legitimate venue site and was maliciously misdirected to tickets-center.com to purchase tickets for [Artist]… Because of the rush to procure a very hot... ticket, I didn't notice that I had been maliciously misdirected and then also charged 10X more than I was expecting. They leach off legitimate sites somehow and mark up the price, because they know people are in a rush get a ticket and then they fall back on their "no refund policy."
The industry refers to these websites as “white label” or “private label” sites. Typically, these websites source their ticket inventory and all of their fulfillment services from an affiliated resale marketplace – although the affiliation is never disclosed to the consumer. The affiliated resale marketplace manages the white label’s ticket inventory, provides seat maps, and handles all payment processing and customer service.
While these white label ticket sites may appear as legitimate, independent ticket sites, in actuality they are simply advertising schemes designed to manipulate web results in an anti-consumer manner. White label sites provide no added value and often lead to higher prices for consumers. When comparing the exact same tickets listed on white label sites to their affiliated marketplaces, the prices on the white label site are almost always higher.
Despite numerous complaints, plenty of white label sites continue to deceive buyers. A computer software company, Brain Diesel, put together this “Scam Watch” video on YouTube to educate ticket buyers about paid search results and how to spot white labels verses the organic search links to official venues. Here’s a list of some of the white label sites that often appear in paid search results:
StubHub does not work with white label sites and believes the practice is deceptive and anti-consumer. As we begin to educate policy makers about this harmful practice, we want to hear and share your stories. Please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and share your own experiences with white label sites.