Wednesday, 22 June 2011

Olympic ticketing disgrace reaches new depths

Well, with the revelation of what I've been 'lucky' enough to be allocated in the great Olympic ticket Fucky Dip, they've somehow served to make me even less happy with the way things have been done. Having applied for tickets for a wide range of sports, across a wide range of prices, across a load of different dates, I've been given precisely one pair of tickets for an early round of the handball. Nothing else. For the privilege of posting me these tickets, which they won't do until next summer but for which they've already taken the money, I've paid an additional £6. That's about as outrageous a piece of profiteering as you could expect to see anywhere.

But worse - in the same email, there was the reminder that there are 'still tickets available in football, wrestling, handball, volleyball and hockey', and that I can apply for tickets in those sports in the 'second chance' application process in the next few weeks. Well I'm intrigued that there are still tickets left in those five disciplines, given that I applied for tickets in four of them. There is no indication given as to whether the tickets which will be available soon are unallocated tickets from the first ballot, which I simply didn't get, or are new tickets held back from the first lot and only being made available now. Either way, it feels like they're gleefully rubbing my nose in it. My mind again goes back to the insistence of the organising committee that this is a process about which the public know more than any previously. What utter bollocks.

My partner has been similarly 'lucky' to have got two tickets for the closing ceremony. A fortunate woman, yes - plenty of people would be happy to get them, and indeed she is. But she's received absolutely none of the tickets she applied for in the actual events which make up the bloody show that the closing ceremony is closing. So we'll get to watch a bloody great parade of athletes, none of whom she'd have seen in the previous two weeks doing what they came to Britain to do, and possibly some highlights of the whole jamboree on the big screen, just, again, to rub her nose in what she's missed.

So, having completely disenfranchised everybody without a Visa card, anybody without access to the internet and anybody on a low income who would not have money in the bank in advance for these things, they're now going about disenchanting the very people with the actual damn tickets. What a terrific way to make the ticket holders feel good about the whole thing - handing out tickets scattergun to people in some bonkers lottery which leaves football fans watching dressage and archery fans watching wrestling, because that's how the draw came out for them. People will, as is often the way, have to sort this out for themselves, and get tickets for sports they actually want to see, through the ticket exchange website which will no doubt be set up by LOCOG for the ticket holders to deal with a mess which is not of their own making.

What an utter, utter fucking shambles. Expect to hear more declarations of how happy the organisers are with how it's going in the media any day now.

Tuesday, 14 June 2011

Olympic ticketing farce is a peculiarly British affair

Don't get me wrong - I was absolutely ecstatic when London won the bid for the Games, and I'm entirely pro having them in the city. I even tried bloody hard to work for LOCOG, and almost succeeded. So none of what will follow here means I'm changing my mind about having the Games here - it's an all-round good thing. It'll bring regeneration, tourism, optimism, all the things we all know about, to London. The facilities will be done on time, built well, and they'll be well organised, with an army of volunteers giving up their time to make it happen.

None of that, though, can excuse the shambles that has been the sales of tickets, and the typically British, nothing's wrong, ignore the stench of the dog farting in the room response. I think, in most cases, when you buy a ticket for any event, you want to know only three things: when it is, where your seat is, how much it is. Unless you happen to have been lucky and got a ticket for a final or something, none of those three things are known to anybody at the moment. People left with hundreds, or thousands of pounds taken from their accounts with absolutely no idea what for.

Can you imagine this at Top Shop? Or Sainsbury's? "Here's your bill, we'll let you know if you've got the men's trousers you wanted or a bikini in the next three weeks." You'd tell them to fuck off. Most irritating, though, is the typically British response, which has arrogantly insisted that this is the best way, that in fact it's the best Olympic ticketing process there's ever been. Paul Deighton, LOCOG's Chief Exec, even said, “I don’t think there has been a ticketing exercise where potential buyers have had so much understanding of the process.” Well you could have fooled me, Paul. I have not the faintest idea how much money you're going to take from me yet as, not knowing weeks in advance how much money I'd have in my bank account on whichever random day it was eventually going to be emptied, I had to give them my credit card details. As I don't yet have the statement for the period covered by whenever they take the money, I not only don't know what I've got tickets for, if anything, but nor do I know how much they'll cost.

What I do know is that some people already seem to know what they've got, as there are stories circulating in the media of people who have applied only for men's 100m final tickets, and got them. So how all this constitutes the most transparent, most understandable, fairest way of distributing the tickets is utterly beyond me.

The arrogance, the insistence that all's well, the complete disregard for the legitimate complaints of people who can see the inadequacies of the system, are typical of the response which always seems to come from big business in cases like this. They know they'll sell the seats, and they certainly know they'll fill the corporate seats they've kept back in such numbers, so they simply don't give a shit. That's why they're able to be so complacent, so indifferent to the complaints.

So I'm still looking forward to the Games. I'm still hoping to have got tickets for some good stuff. But there had to be something to make the Olympic nay-sayers feel like they were right all along, and in this case, it's the ticketing.

Thursday, 9 June 2011

Praise be

It's not often you'll read praise for the Church in these pages, or for individual members within it, but one member of it I do have a bit of time for is the Archbishop of Canterbury, and his comments, shortly to be published in the New Statesman, are an indication as to why. As a supposed moral guardian, or whatever you want to call him, for our society, I of course have a fundamental problem with him being strongly guided by his faith. But that doesn't, of course, make him always wrong. Some issues are plain to anybody with a functioning moral compass, regardless of the source of the 'magnetism' to which it points.

He's never been afraid to speak out, which is important for a man in his position, but never before has he made such a scathing and wide-ranging attack on government, at least never that I can remember. He's pointed particularly to the coalition's peculiar notion of what constitutes a democracy, given that the government is introducing sweeping changes which, in his words, people did not vote for. I've already, in this blog, had a pop at the government's plans for NHS reform, a direct contravention of a Conservative manifesto promise, and this is one of the plans attracting his ire. But he's also had a pop at plans for education, at the cuts, at their seeming lack of empathy with the public, pretty much everything.

Though I don't expect them to, they would do well to listen to him, or at least pay heed to the fact that he's felt the need to speak out. He may not be my idea of a moral compass, but he is a decent barometer (sorry about all the meteorological devices) of society's thinking insofar as, if he's pointing at 'stormy', they would do well to pay attention. The next general election is already only four years away maximum, and could be sooner if they're not careful. They may not like what he's saying, but they should in fact be very grateful that he's said it. Check out the New Statesman website for the whole thing - they're already on there.