Ticketing system is new but it's same old problems for Fringe
ANGRY festival fans have hit out after they faced lengthy queues to buy tickets at the Fringe's under-fire box office.
Customers had to wait at least 90 minutes to buy the first tickets as much-hyped new systems failed to cope with the first proper day of sales yesterday.
Tempers frayed on Edinburgh's Royal Mile, with people claiming they had turned up after failing to buy tickets online or over the phone.
Kath Mainland, the new Fringe chief executive, was harangued as she tried to reason with members of the public, insisting the new system was working well and was merely busy.
But The Scotsman saw several people who had waited more than an hour abandon the queue amid claims the Fringe had failed to provide enough staff.
The Fringe's website was inundated with complaints throughout yesterday, although there were fewer than over the weekend, when people who had paid to secure priority booking said they were unable to buy tickets.
Yesterday's first day of full sales was, though, a marked improvement on last year, when people faced a wait of more than five hours for tickets.
Officials say more than 35,000 tickets have been sold since sales opened to Friends of the Fringe members on Friday and insisted the first full day of sales had been busier than ever. But The Scotsman revealed yesterday that scores of Fringe supporters – who had paid 18 each – had complained at either being unable to buy tickets or having to cope with lengthy delays.
Alison Campbell, from Portobello, who was trying to book seven shows, said: "I had a terrible time with the box office last year and lost around three stone with all the running around town sorting everything out.
"I tried both phoning and booking through the website today and neither was working, so I thought it would be easier to just turn up. I've now been waiting almost 90 minutes and I'm nowhere near the front of the queue. It's very disappointing.
"I'd assumed there'd be a super new system in place this year, but it doesn't seem so."
Liz Pow, who travelled from Dumfermline to buy her tickets, said: "It's a disgrace. The Fringe just doesn't seem to have put enough effort into getting this right and there has been no-one to speak to here to update everyone on how long they're going to be waiting for."
But Ms Mainland insisted: "Things have genuinely been going well. We've just been extremely busy on our phonelines and online, and many people who have turned up in person are buying for multiple shows."
But one ticket buyer, who posted a comment on the Fringe site, said: "Are the people running the Fringe ex-British Rail? I sense a 'wrong kind of snow' excuse coming to explain yet another ticket booking fiasco. It's an annual event. It shouldn't be difficult to get your head around that fact and hire enough people to make this work."
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Saturday 18 May 2013
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