SBD/January 18, 2012/Olympics

LOCOG Relaunches Website, Offers To Buy Back Unwanted Tickets Through Feb. 3

LOCOG will buy back unwanted tickets through Feb. 3, will resell them in April
Organizers for the ’12 London Games “reopened their ill-starred ticket resale website on Tuesday, changing the system to buy back any unwanted tickets upfront -- but those who want to purchase them will now have to wait until April to do so,” according to Owen Gibson of the GUARDIAN. In an admission that the original system “was not fit for purpose,” LOCOG has “outlined a new plan.” It will "purchase any unwanted tickets at face value and add them to those to be resold in the final ticketing rounds from April, when the final batch of around 1.3m tickets across all events will be released for sale.” Those with unwanted tickets “will now have until" 6:00pm local time on Feb. 3 to sell them back to LOCOG. The original scramble when the website, operated by ticketing partner Ticketmaster, opened on Jan. 6 “led to a string of complaints as prospective purchasers complained of repeatedly attempting to buy tickets that were no longer available.” LOCOG was “forced to close the website later that day and it has remained closed for more than a week, while Ticketmaster was said to be working on a solution” (GUARDIAN, 1/18).

DAMAGE CONTROL: The GUARDIAN’s Gibson wrote the move is “a commonsense solution and one that should perhaps have been arrived at earlier.” The risk of LOCOG “being left with piles of unwanted tickets is extremely small such is the demand that has already been demonstrated across all sports.” LOCOG officials yesterday were “putting a brave face on their volte-face.” But it “couldn't hide the fact that the latest significant bump to hit their ticketing process has been among the most damaging.” The initial, “hugely popular, ballot process was heavily criticised by disappointed applicants.” Even if the final stats “show it was largely fair and organisers could hardly be criticised for pricing tickets in such a way that encouraged millions to apply, it risked encouraging the perception that LOCOG's first priority was getting cash in the bank by allowing individuals to apply for up to 20 tickets for some sessions and taking their money weeks before informing them which tickets they had.” Then “came the problems with the website in the second phase, which were brushed off as simply the result of excess demand.” Then the “blunder with the synchronised swimming tickets, which, while amusing, was far from fatal.” But the episode with the resale platform “is more damaging because it risks confirming some of those existing prejudices.” Any goodwill engendered “by offering a resale scheme in the first place -- a first among Games organisers and a quid pro quo for putting tickets on sale 18 months from the Olympics -- has ebbed away” (GUARDIAN.co.uk, 1/17).
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Olympics, Ticketmaster

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