Saturday, 5 October 2013

Glastonbury gives ticket buyer the brush-off

It’s the festival of peace, love and mud. You’d expect the people running ticket sales for the Glastonbury Festival to reflect the general hippy ethos – but Restless Consumer reader Lara Hogan has seen a much harder side to the organisers.

Glastonbury tickets are now so in demand – and so vulnerable to being snapped up by touts – that you have to register in advance to be in with a chance of buying a ticket. That’s what Lara duly did, registering well in advance so she could try to buy tickets when they went on sale.

But then an unexpected email arrived.

"Glastonbury" <> wrote:


Your registration has been deleted from our system. Please note you will not be eligible to purchase tickets when they become available. You may register again using the link below.

Regards, the Glastonbury team.

Lara replied within minutes to ask why her registration had been deleted. The helpful reply:

Your registration number [redacted] registered to postcode [redacted] has been deleted from our system. Please note you will no longer be eligible to purchase tickets for this year's festival.
You may register again using the link below.’s been deleted because it’s been deleted? Thanks for clearing that up, guys. Also, she couldn't really "register again using the link below" because registration was closed.

Lara asked for her original registration to be reinstated. After all, she didn’t ask them to delete it, she didn’t want them to delete it and she’s desperate to buy a Glastonbury ticket. Why should she miss out on buying a ticket because of their mistake? But computer says no:

We're sorry but it isn't possible to reinstated deleted accounts.

Registrations can only be deleted if the deletion is verified by the registered email account.

But this can’t possibly be true, because Lara did not verify the deletion of her registration. System errors do happen, but she shouldn’t have to miss out on tickets because of the ticketing system’s mistake. She asked if they can do anything to help. The reply:

There is nothing we can do Lara - registration is closed.

Lara asked to make a formal complaint and the ticketing team claimed that her complaint had been logged, but added:

Ultimately it is your responsibility to check you have a valid registration in time to submit a new one should that be necessary.

Yes, and Lara followed the steps to obtaining a valid registration. Then a system error deleted her registration, completely out of the blue, just two hours before the tickets went on sale and after registration had closed. How exactly was she supposed to “submit a new one”?

She pursued this but the last email she had from Glastonbury Ticketing said:

As we have explained, the verification of a deletion can only come from the registered email account. No one else could have deleted this other than you, Lara.

That’s quite a claim to make. Especially given that Glastonbury Ticketing can’t actually produce any evidence that she confirmed the deletion.

Thinking about it from the human angle, you can see there’s no reason why a longstanding fan who’s registered for tickets in advance would suddenly delete her registration hours before tickets go on sale.

And this is the problem: Glastonbury Ticketing are not behaving like human beings. Lara has reached out to them as a Glastonbury fan who loves the festival, goes every year and has tried her best to buy tickets. She’s asked for help. Their reaction has simply been to keep repeating that their systems couldn’t possibly make any kind of mistake. They’re ignoring everything Lara has told them about the situation and they haven’t showed a scrap of sympathy – sympathy which would be due even if the stupid mistake was hers and not theirs.

Almost all humans and organisations make mistakes. The real test is what you do about them. I would expect the fluffy, hippyish Glastonbury brand to admit any mistakes and try to help a true fan who’s been loyal for many years. Instead they’ve gone for the hard, nasty “computer says no” approach.

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