Tuesday, 7 August 2007

Buying Tickets

My letter to Spurs' Chairman. I wait for his reply more in hope than expectation.

Mr. D. Levy
Bill Nicholson Way
748 High RoadLondon N17 0AP

Tuesday, 07 August 2007

Dear Mr Levy

I am writing to you in the hope that this letter will actually reach your eyes and you will have the time (and inclination) to read to the end. I think it’s imperative that the man at the top hears why there are grumbles from the terraces about the new ticketing system. This isn’t typical moaning about prices; it is about the system and how it makes supporters feel less than valued by the club they have been loyal to all their lives. At the friendly at Orient on Wednesday, the problems with buying tickets seemed to be a more frequent topic of conversation amongst the supporters than speculation about who Jol will play up front or whether we will finally overcome ‘you know who’ this season. The only way I can give you some idea of the troubles I have had, and perhaps a rough estimate of the number of grey hairs I got in my frustration and eventual rage last Monday, is to tell you about what I went through on the 30th July.

At 9.15 am I logged on to the internet and cued up the Spurs site. I logged into the ticketing section and made sure I had my own, my son’s, my girlfriend’s and my mate’s membership details.

Like thousands of others (no doubt) at 9.28 I started refreshing the page hoping to get up the availability of Arsenal tickets.

30 minutes later: I am in and it appears tickets are available. I try to choose four in a row but there’s nothing anywhere in the ground. With the old system I could have chosen four seats roughly near to each other- this is important with my son who is only 13 and, indeed, for my girlfriend. I couldn’t risk being too far from either of them though I have no complaints about being a couple of rows back or a few seats away. I even tried the 70 pound seats even though this is pretty much out of my price range. You’ll see from my address that I have a bit of a petrol bill these days when I come to White Hart Lane. None of those seemed available. Then I found two and two not far from each other. I typed in three membership details and when I did the fourth it took me to the loading page. This page, by the way, has a ridiculous grammatical error/ typo on it that was there when I booked Derby tickets- I can’t believe it hasn’t been changed- it sort of underlines the shoddiness of the whole thing.

So…I wait for the bar to load. There’s no way I can come out and try again as the warning about losing your place is clear (and grammatical!). Of course I knew that the demand for Arsenal tickets would be high but by 11am I was getting very frustrated. I called my girlfriend who logged on to see if she could get in, just in case it was a problem with my PC. She struggled so I assumed it was volume of inquiries. I NEVER had these problems last season by the way.

At 11.30 I am appreciating the fact that I am not at work and can spare the time to do this. I wondered then and now what I will do when I am back at work. I can’t spare three hours on a Monday morning to buy tickets. I foolishly decided to try calling. I urge you to try calling the ticket office on ‘on sale’ day. You go through an odd selection process, get put in a queue, hold for 10 minutes then a recorded message comes on telling you that you’re to be cut off due to volume of calls. I would have held. It cost me a lot to hold but I didn’t get anywhere. This happened to me at least five times before I gave up with, if I recall correctly, the launch of my mobile across the room.

So I continue to wait and watch the loading bar which every so often goes near to the top then flicks back down to half way. 12.15: message comes up on screen: ‘your session has timed out; your basket has been cleared’. You can imagine my frustration.

By 12.30 I manage to find two individual tickets in section A (pretty much the worst part of the ground from a supporter’s viewpoint) but can’t get any more. So I have two tickets. I can go and so can my son. Judging by what some of the people told me at Orient last Wednesday, I should count myself lucky! But I can’t sit next to him and mate and girlfriend don’t get to go at all. It isn’t good enough.

To add insult to injury, I checked my loyalty points and find they are zero! Not even the Derby game this season is shown. No doubt I’ll have to spend ages sorting that out.

The biggest flaw (and I do know the justifications) is not being able to choose seats, especially when taking children to matches. Also the limitations of the technical side of the system are there for all to see. There is no excuse for this in this day and age. Demand is no longer a reason for an organisation of Spurs’ wealth and stature to justify an inadequate booking system.

Supporting your club is different to loyalty in virtually any other walk of life. If my mobile provider starts overcharging me I’ll switch. I’d even change my friends if they started getting on my nerves. But you and I know that (proper) fans will never do this with their club. It seems to me that this knowledge is being exploited at THFC.

I look forward to hearing your comments on this matter

Yours sincerely

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