Watchdog sticks boot into Hearts over cheap ticket offer
AN advertising watchdog has ruled that Hearts misled their own fans with a controversial sales drive that claimed to offer cut-price tickets.
The marketing campaign, which urged supporters to buy early for cheaper briefs, was deemed to have breached ad regulations following a four-month investigation by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA).
It is understood the watchdog received five complaints about the club’s “dynamic pricing system” that promised “the lowest season ticket starting price for four years” but left fans furious when prices rose sharply just hours after going live.
Hearts later apologised for the campaign, broadcast on radio and via direct mail, expressing “regret for problems that arose”.
The ASA has ruled that at the time of the radio advert, none of the lowest priced tickets was available. It also found the direct mail advert was misleading over the availability of tickets at the advertised starting prices. It ruled the direct mail advert failed to make clear that a donation to the Hearts’ Education and Community Trust and an administration fee applied to bookings.
The ASA said its aim was to “help ensure compliance with the advertising codes, rather than punish advertisers” but can impose sanctions on those failing to comply.
One supporter, who complained to regulators over the advertising but wished to remain anonymous, said: “It was never my intention to tarnish the club’s name in any way but this whole system was deeply unfair and was promoted in a misleading way.
“I’m pleased the complaints have been upheld but I just want to forget about it now and support my team in the coming season.”
In March, the News told how a record-breaking day of sales at Tynecastle had been marred by complaints from fans over the pricing system that saw scores take advantage of a bargain offer on season tickets only to find they were paying up to £70 more than was advertised.
Hundreds took to online fans forums to vent their anger, with many vowing to give up their season book, but at the time a club source said fans had been given correct information over ticketing.
Hearts then held a summit with fans’ groups insisting they had not set out to “cause the problems” and vowed to make the season-ticket purchases “much more manageable”. A spokesman for Hearts declined to comment on the ruling.
Another irate supporter said at the time the club had “failed to act on any of the feedback given by disgruntled fans”.
“The club have been boasting about how popular this pricing structure is when fans are so aggrieved by it, with many now choosing not to renew at all.”
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