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The Ticketing Fiasco

By Pete Dawson :  15/04/2009 :  Comments (27) :

Much has already been said about the ticketing arrangements for the semi-final at Wembley but I think my own experience highlights the incompetence of Everton's management team and their arrogance towards the fans.

I live in Liverpool but have a group of relatives and friends who travel home from far-flung outposts such as London and the Isle of Man to see their beloved Everton. We're Evertonia members because we don't mind paying for priority on the few games we manage to get to. That priority has applied on every league and cup game this season but was suddenly dropped for the Wembley match. Why? Everton of course haven't answered that question because they're happy to take our money but don't have to justify themselves to us the poor fans.

Like many others we didn't think about the importance of putting every ticket on our membership cards, probably because we've forgotten what it's like to have a good cup run. So if we didn't need to use Evertonia the game wasn't credited to us and we ended up with only 3 credits for more than twice that number of games. We won't be so stupid next season, but Everton could do more to highlight the issue.

On 1 April the club announced that fans who had 4 credits could buy tickets from 6 April and that 'any remaining tickets will go on sale to supporters who have attended three or more .... home games from Tuesday 7 April'. On 5 April they announced that 'the criteria is set to change dependant on tickets remaining and tickets will be allocated on a first come, first served basis'. It wasn't until late on 6 April that they scrapped that plan and said a statement would be made the following day. I was lucky that I saw the announcement, but I believe some unfortunate fans queued through the night to be told at 8:00 they'd wasted their time.

As we all know, on the Tuesday they announced the ballot and this even included fans with 4 credits who hadn't been able to get to the box office on the Monday and had now missed their chance. The statement said that all successful applicants 'will have been notified by the close of business on Tuesday April 14' and that non-successful applicants 'will be sent an email confirming the status of their application'. All this time fans who need to make travel and possibly accommodation arrangements were left up in the air, but of course that's not Everton's problem. It's clear the reason they did this was because they'd rather make fans wait another week for their tickets than have a few fans being turned away at the Box Office, but if you're honest with fans and keep them informed they don't cause trouble.

I'm afraid that an hour before the close of business I got a bit impatient and so rang up the club to see how they were getting on. After all they'd only given themselves 5 days to press the button on the computer which would do the job for them. Oh joy - 40 minutes of 'Z Cars' on a number which BT actually advertises to business as helping to generate that extra bit of revenue for only £10 a month line rental. Eventually the bloke at the other end told me that the ballot process had been completed. When I told him that I had had neither phone call nor email he realised he'd been rumbled and admitted they still had a few to process and might not finish that night.

It's now Wednesday 15 April - 4 days before the match. I rang the club again at 8:15 this morning, unbelievably getting through in about 10 minutes. They still hadn't finished but it wasn't their fault of course - he blamed fans for giving incorrect email addresses. Listen mate, you have no idea how many times I checked my email address and phone number before I pressed 'Submit', so don't blame me. It's now midday. Still no word from the club. No announcement on the website explaining what they're doing and why it's taking so long. No announcement that might stop idiots like me phoning them up all the time and preventing them from getting on with the job. All we've had is that smug sod Robert Elstone telling us yet again that it's not their fault.

So who's fault is it, Robert? Is it the FA's fault for not allowing us to print our own tickets? Is it Goodison's fault for being too cramped and restrictive? Is it the phone system's fault for not being able to cope? Or is it your fault for not having the vision to plan for and work around these issues before they impact on us the fans? For the £20 a year I pay for Evertonia, the over-inflated ticket prices and the fortune I spend listening to Z Cars I expect to get something back. It would be nice to be shown a bit of respect rather than be treated as just another revenue stream to be presented to the shareholders at the end of the year.

So one last try before I submit this article. A mere 15 minutes wait before a nice young lady tells me not to despair. She says they're still phoning people but that season ticket renewals were taking up a lot of their time (hang on, what's the priority here?). They hope to finish by close of business tonight, which is of course Wednesday 15 April not Tuesday 14 April. But I can wait. I'm only a supporter. I don't matter, do I?.

Reader Comments

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Kevin Davies
1   Posted 15/04/2009 at 18:19:48

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Pete, what a fantasticly written article! I was thinking the exact same thing, and am glad I?m not the only idiot that has been hanging by the phone and checking his e-mails constantly!
Kevin Davies
2   Posted 15/04/2009 at 18:37:24

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The trouble is, that the hierarchy know that we (menial supporters) will keep coming back for more despite the way we sometimes get treated!
Leigh Heywood
3   Posted 15/04/2009 at 18:55:59

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I have been purchasing my tickets for both me and my daughter on my account, when I requested a ticket for my daughter I was kindley informed I can only have 1 ticket. She then informed me I should've set up more than 1 account to make purchases.WHO EVER DOES THAT? NOW GOT 1 VERY UPSET DAUGHTER. Thanks, Everton.
James Hiles
4   Posted 15/04/2009 at 19:56:34

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I couldn’t agree more with this post. I have also entered the ballot having only credited my account with 3 tickets despite being to more games including aways. As I type this I have received no phone call from the club nor have I received an e-mail telling me I have been unsucessful. Its a shambles yet again by Everton FC!
Dave Wilson
5   Posted 15/04/2009 at 19:39:00

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When T Marsh alerted this people on this site to top end of the market tickets disappearing couple of weeks ago he was slaughtered for mischief making, I decided to wait and see how things panned out.
well the trickle down effect that was predicted now seems to be happening and some poor sods are missing out

The Os told people they were entitled to tickets only to retract the promise shortly afterwards.

Can anyone explain why ?
Kawolski
6   Posted 15/04/2009 at 21:11:24

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I had great service from the club. No ticket fiasco from my perspective; a good performance from the club,
Stephen Williams
7   Posted 15/04/2009 at 21:26:07

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As season ticket holders and with all the home FA Cup games under our belt, my Dad (who is close to 80) waited for 4 hrs for our tickets only to be told he could have my ticket but not his own, as I had booked both tickets for the Liverpool replay on my ref No... so he was told come back Wednesday ? oh and by the way you won't be able to sit next to your son at Wembley.

In the end, he was so upset I had to go for his on the Saturday. After explaining this to the manager, a kid of 20, his only reply was "Check our Terms and Conditions"... deffo a customer comment not a supporter of 50 yrs comment. PS I am not a customer

Tony Williams
8   Posted 15/04/2009 at 21:49:25

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For the sake of balance, I had absolutely no problem getting my ticket. My mate did the same and bought the Standard Liege ticket after the cut off date for his own seat so had to wait an extra day, the moral of the story is to simply put the ticket on your customer number and that of anyone elses put on theirs. How many people could turn up and say that they had bought 6 tickets but had not?

The whole ticket sale would be on computer and in the Little Britain stylee, "Computer says No!", nothing the poor sap on the ticket window can do about that. Everyone knew the criteria for the tickets so it is their fault not Evertons.

No idea about the ballot thing, as I had no need to follow it.
Stewart Littler
9   Posted 16/04/2009 at 02:25:48

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I have to say that I agree with some parts of the post but not the overall theme. For a starter, I agree that the club needs to advertise certain things better, not least the rules on getting tickets in your own name. Sometimes, it seems they forget their own rules too!

I am a season ticket holder, but as I work in Liverpool, I often get tickets for family members. Back in October, I got tickets for my dad and brother. Upon receiving them, I informed the man behind the counter that he had done them wrong, and that they were both in my brother?s name ? he said no problem, as it was an adult and junior ticket and would show as one of each for credit purposes ? therefore, I continued to order further tickets in my brother?s name.

In the end, it wasn?t a problem, as the club honoured this, and my dad and brother are both in possession of a ticket for the semi, but the club should have clearly stated that tickets, even for kids, need to be in individual names. However, I have to also say that the club have, IMO, done things very fairly and done an admirable job in the circumstances.

Evertonia members haven?t been given priority because there simply weren?t enough tickets to go round them all. Why shouldn?t those who have been to the most games get the chance for a ticket?

Further, the money gained from the sale of tickets goes straight to Wembley, not Everton ? hence why season ticket sales continue, especially given the fact the early bird deadline looms (though they could have moved this deadline admittedly). The ballot was announced on Monday evening ? I was checking for my other brother ? and all announcements clearly pointed out to keep checking the official website for details so those who queued obviously didn?t do this.

And according to a source, at COP on Monday, there were less than a thousand tickets remaining, and around 3-4 thousand with 3 or more stubs, hence why they chose to hold a ballot - what would Everton gain from making people wait??? Better than to have a coupla thousand people queue for nothing.

Finally, as Mr Elstone has stated, it is impractical to take on extra staff/phone lines/RESOURCE for the sake of two weeks of the year. In terms of the results of the ballot, I cannot comment as I had my ticket weeks ago and my brother didn?t enter in the end.

Dave Wilson
10   Posted 16/04/2009 at 05:17:49

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Tony/ Stewart ? Guys I?m not sure if you read the post a couple of weeks ago about the corporate seats disappearing, but it was obvious then that if this was true, there was going to be a knock on effect. You say you have no idea how the ballot works, sorry guys but that smacks of fuck you jack I?m alright. The club have quite clearly broken promises to people at both ends of the queue. How would you feel if it was your turn to miss out in the final?

I can't get my head around this "impractical to take on extra staff for two weeks" shite. If you or I need to get a job done and we didn't have the resources we?d simply pick up the phone and bring in temp staff, nobody is going to convince me it would take more than a few minutes to train people to sell a ticket, not getting the work done is simply not an option.

People have been disappointed over cup tickets since the days when Dixie was playing, I accept that. There has to be a pecking order. But promises are being broken because as predicted on these page TWO WEEKS AGO the figures are just not stacking up.

I can't accept that.

Dave Wilson
11   Posted 16/04/2009 at 06:01:41

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Just another quick point:

Google semi final tickets. All the ticket agencies ? 1stfortickets, ticketsolutions etc -are ALL selling tickets for the Everton end at roughly twice the pricwe they are selling them for the Man U end.

Now I know we are a sleeping giant, but is the demand for tickets from Evertonians really twice the demand for tickets from supporters of the biggest club on earth?

Chris Thornthwaite
12   Posted 16/04/2009 at 08:15:44

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Entered Ballot. Recieved phone call. Gave details. Got ticket posted to me. What's the Problem?
Kevin Jones
13   Posted 16/04/2009 at 08:58:35

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Everybody has different experiences with our beloved ticket office; however, on this occasion, I personally think they?ve done OK. I went on my due date of Saturday 4 April at 9am and queued up for about 2 minutes, got 6 seats together at a total cost of £107.00, and was away by 9:15am. Happy days.

However, I do feel very sorry if you?ve not got a ticket and are desperate to go; we?ve all been there at some stage ? it's part of being an Evertonian

Dan McKie
14   Posted 16/04/2009 at 09:55:39

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From what I remember, all Everton promised was that every season ticket holder would get the chance to buy a ticket, which they fulfilled! The rest was unforseen and they had to make quick decisions to try and make as many people as possible happy.

They were never going to be able to please everyone, so they made sure the fans that go to the most games and that make the biggest financial outlay (and by that I mean cash that actually goes to Everton, not petrol money or away games) get the chance to go first! I don't see the problem!

Kevin Davies
15   Posted 16/04/2009 at 10:20:47

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Dan, one problem is the lack of comunication from the club. There are a few of us that go the game regularly and each of us easily met the criteria of 4+ home games. The problem is, until the semi, we were blissfully unaware that each time someone bought tickets, they were supposed to give individual customer numbers for each ticket, and it was never explained by the person taking our money... until now!!!

Also, at least 6 other loyal fans could have been lucky in the ballot, but no, the club put them into competitions that anyone (touts, people already with tickets, non EFC supporters, fans that have attended no games etc ,etc) can enter!! I think its disgraceful but, as someone else has already said, its all part of being an Evertonian.

Tony Williams
16   Posted 16/04/2009 at 10:49:31

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"You say you have no idea how the ballot works, sorry guys but that smacks of fuck you jack I?m alright"

Or maybe it is a case that I will not comment on something I know nothing about.

As said above, the only "promise" Everton made was that all season tickets holders who want a tickets will get one, to my knowledge they held up that promise.
Joe Clitherow
17   Posted 16/04/2009 at 10:38:00

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To add my own experience, briefly:

I hold two season tickets and have attended every Cup game with credits against my season tickets.

Since I don’t live in Liverpool any more my mother kindly offered to queue for tickets.

The first time she queued it turned out that they had incorrectly credited the correct amount.

She queued again and was told the second time that one ticket had more credits than the other - which was wrong. Apparently the box office had booked cup tickets against only one ticket and not both. Eventually, after much arguing my mother was told to come back the following day to get the tickets which would be put aside. The box office person duly forgot this and had to be reminded.

Eventually I got two of the cheaspest tickets, so I’m going to the Semi.

But it’s not what I was entitled to based on my ongoing support and it doesn’t say much at all for the amateurish level of customer service and support operated by a medium sized company with a large client base.
Al Jenkins
18   Posted 16/04/2009 at 12:20:28

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Everton always quite clearly state you need to give customer reference numbers of everyone. If you can?t read then it?s tough. For once, Everton allocated the tickets absolutely spot on.
Dave Wilson
19   Posted 16/04/2009 at 15:27:39

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Al ? What about the people who can read and read on the OS that they were entitled to a ticket, only for the message to be taken off and they were put into a lucky dip instead ?

Tony / Dan ? Try to see the difference between the only promise they made and the only promise they kept. If we get to the final I?ll get a ticket come what may; hope you guys are as fortunate, I would hate to think anyone was dismissing your complaints so readily.
Steve Taylor
20   Posted 16/04/2009 at 16:03:21

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Leigh Heywood ? you shouldn?t have accepted that, as the info you were given was incorrect. I purchase tickets for myself, partner & son on one account ? & was allowed to purchase the tickets that my purchase history said I was entitled to via that one account number.
Lue Glover
21   Posted 16/04/2009 at 18:45:30

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God help us if we reach the final as there?ll be even less tickets to go around!
Ian Campbell
22   Posted 16/04/2009 at 21:00:35

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Entered the ballot. Still waiting to hear. No email. No phone call. To be honest, I gave up checking at 6 on Tuesday when I spotted that all links to ballot anouncements had disappeared off the OS.

Also anyone know many people who have £55 tickets. I get the impression that they never went on sale.
Nathan Ward
23   Posted 16/04/2009 at 22:16:40

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The unfortunate thing is that demand was always going to outstrip supply.

Having given up my season ticket a few years ago and turning to the Evertonia scheme, I did so under the knowledge that, if our turn for semis & finals ever came, I would be very low on the list for getting a ticket. And so it is.

The club have done their best, and will learn accordingly should we make it to the final ? where there will be even less tickets available.

Just think what would have happened if the semi wasn?t at Wembley....
Stewart Littler
24   Posted 17/04/2009 at 02:11:30

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Dave ? I can?t comment on the ballot cos I didn?t enter so have not had any experience of how it worked. Simple as. I didn?t read the post a couple of weeks ago I?m afraid so don?t know what is being referred to there.

You then say: "we?d simply pick up the phone and bring in temp staff, nobody is going to convince me it would take more than a few minutes to train people to sell a ticket, not getting the work done is simply not an option".

More to it than that mate. Who we phoning? Are we doing security checks or we gonna let a bunch of temps loose with the most important tickets of the season? Who?s paying? The FA? FA chance more like. Where they working from? The Park End car park? Fact is ? the work got done, it just took a bit longer than anyone would?ve liked. Just like when anywhere is busy, the queues get longer ? fact of life.

And as I originally stated, the club did not have enough tickets to sell to 3+ as more were sold on the Monday than forecast. Those same fans who were disappointed at not getting one through the ballot would have been far more pissed had they queued up for the same result. So again, correct decision by the club.

I missed out in 95 cos I was 12 and my Dad had not taken me to enough games ? I understood that, as a kid! Same goes this time ? if you?ve not been to enough games, you don?t get a ticket.

Mistake made by club was not being explicit enough in terms of each supporter having their own reference number and crediting tickets to that number ? as I stated above. Too late to correct now, but lesson does need to be learned from that, and I have a lot of sympathy for people who?ve missed out cos of that. Otherwise, once again, I say well done to the club.

One final point ? I think, and I stress the word THINK, that the club are obliged to put tickets up for grabs in competitions as part of the FA?s football in the community campaign ? if anyone has any CONCRETE evidence otherwise, please share it.

Art Jones
25   Posted 17/04/2009 at 07:08:46

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Ian Campbell ? I?ve got a £55 ticket, I?m a season ticket holder and had 12 credits also, so was able to buy my ticket on the 2nd day. I was given the impression then by the young lady I phoned that, even at that early stage, most of the dearest priced tickets had gone.
Dave Taylor
26   Posted 17/04/2009 at 19:00:42

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I'm in the same situation as leigh heywood and purchase tickets for both me and my daughter on my account. I was also informed I could only have one ticket and should have purchased my daughter's on a separate account.
Alan Willo
27   Posted 18/04/2009 at 11:25:35

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I thought the allocation was sensible. If you attend every game including away why panic and wait 4 hours when we have 31k tickets. if most people read the instructions and understood them no body with a season tickets had to wait that long. We took less than an hour and found the staff very helpful. Rules are required to make it fair and some people want it both ways and that cant happen, selling 31k tickets is not easy so all wind your heads in and get a life. Some people just like to slag of the club we all love, give it a rest and enjoy the day at Wembley!! If we do win i would gladly wait all day for a final ticket, i dont care about the wait i care about us getting the final!! EFC


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