THE technical meltdown surrounding the company tasked with selling tickets for this summer’s Commonwealth Games claimed another victim yesterday after the launch of half a million tickets for next year’s Rugby World Cup was postponed.
Ticketmaster, the ticketing agent behind the collapsed sales system for Glasgow 2014, was forced to delay today’s planned sale for the flagship event until 29 May.
The firm intends to carry out tests on its beleaguered network to avoid a repeat of the farcical scenes that have characterised ticket sales for the Games.
With pressure mounting on Ticketmaster to fix the faults, Shona Robison, the minister for Commonwealth Games and sport, said Glasgow 2014 would this afternoon announce plans to relaunch the sales site, but it is not expected to go live until next week.
The latest developments came as Games organisers apologised to customers who were charged while waiting for hours on a telephone hotline in the hope of securing seats.
Some would-be spectators ran up bills of more than £100 while queueing to purchase some of the extra 100,000 tickets that were released on Monday.
Organisers said the charges were the result of a “human programming error” and they were working to refund those affected “as soon as possible”.
Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson warned yesterday that the situation risked “damaging the reputation of our Games”.
Ms Robison, who met David Grevemberg, Glasgow 2014’s chief executive, and Chris Edmonds, chairman of Ticketmaster, said she had been reassured “every effort” was being made to find a solution.
The website and hotline have been closed since Tuesday evening and could remain shut for days to come while investigations continue. Around 55,000 tickets have so far been sold from the latest ticket release.
BT has started contacting members of the public who ran up excessive bills. Some were on hold for hours, while others hung up and repeatedly called the main number in the hope of getting through.
Laura Bakali, 32, from Inveraray, made 72 calls over the course of 14 hours as she tried to secure tickets, only to discover they incurred a cost of £117.
She said: “When BT rang me, I said I can’t understand [the bill] because I never even got through to anybody. I didn’t see anything about a charge and did not expect to get charged when I wasn’t connected.”
Responding to anger over the hotline charges, a Glasgow 2014 spokesman said: “We can confirm that some callers to the ticketline who received an engaged tone on the ticketing phone lines were charged in error by TalkTalk Business, a supplier of Ticketmaster.
“We apologise unreservedly for this and are working now with Ticketmaster and TalkTalk Business to ensure customers affected by this are refunded these charges as soon as possible.”
A TalkTalk Business spokesman said: “We apologise unreservedly to all affected customers, Glasgow 2014 and Ticketmaster. We will refund each and every customer who has been incorrectly charged.”
BT said it had contacted a “very small” number of customers about their calls to the hotline after it emerged their calls were connected to the receiving number, despite the fact they did not speak to anyone.
Customers who think they may be eligible for a refund should e-mail a scan or photograph of their bill, showing the dialled number and call charges to BookingRefund@TalkTalkBusiness.co.uk.