The sale of tickets for the Students’ Union’s annual Graduation Ball descended into confusion and chaos yesterday after tickets sold out before problems with the online payments system could be fixed.
Some students queued from 5am to buy the £68 ‘Dinner Tickets’ which were available only from the box office at 8am.
However, many of those who bought the £38 ‘Entertainment Only’ tickets online at 9am were faced with what the SU has called an “online payment system problem” which meant that some payments were unsuccessful.
Many of those who tried to buy tickets were informed that their payment had failed, yet they received a confirmation email from the SU, leading to confusion over whether or not tickets had been secured.
The ‘Roaring Twenties’ themed Graduation Ball, described as the “biggest black tie event of the University calendar”, is planned and run by the Students’ Union who are responsible for the ticket sales.
Within 40 minutes of tickets going on sale, the SU posted a message on the event’s official Facebook group reporting that there had been “a huge volume of people trying to buy tickets” and that they had taken the Ents tickets off the website whilst they sorted out “some glitches in the system”.
They added: “We’ll let you know when they’re back on sale.”
However, just 15 minutes later, they posted another message informing students that although Dinner tickets were still available from the Box Office, all the online Ents tickets had now sold out.
In response to the angry messages that followed this announcement, the SU stated: “We did sort the problems out but because of the sheer volume of people trying to buy Ents tickets they did sell out really quickly.”
Students took to the Facebook group to vent their frustration at the ticket process. Many raised questions over the fact that students were able to purchase 1 table (seating 5 or 10 people) per person and up to 10 ‘Entertainment Only’ tickets per person.
Yesterday, Hannah Siófra Casey commented on the group: “It’s pretty ridiculous that people were able to buy up to ten tickets each. It’s now going to turn into a huge bidding war, with people selling on their spares for as much as they can get – and it could turn pretty nasty! I understand people doing that (I’m sure I would too) but it seems unfair on those who could only just afford £38.”
A large volume of students posted to ask for spare tickets, and these requests were answered by students claiming that they had spares they would sell for upwards of £100.
At 11am, the SU posted a message urging students not to buy these overpriced tickets: “We are working on getting some more Ents tickets made available (TBC). If you have bought too many tickets online due to a failed transaction error message, we will refund you for the tickets you did not want.”
In addition to these problems, some were angry that there was no priority system for final year students over other guests. A total of 2100 tickets were available, less than half the number of final years.
Some disappointed students even decided to create their own event – an ‘Alternative Graduation Ball’ – to make up for those who missed out.
Final year student Anthony Goeritz, who was left without a ticket, commented: “The SU has made a complete mess of this – It is hugely disappointing and quite frankly, it is embarrassing on their behalf. The Graduation Ball is supposed to be our final send-off before everyone moves on to the next stage in their lives. As the SU explains, it is the event of the year! If this is the case, why has everything been so badly organised?”
The SU has apologised for the inconvenience caused by the ticket problems, but have stated that the issues were an unforeseeable, external “systems problem”.
This morning they emailed students who experienced problems to confirm the status of their tickets, but for those final year students who missed out on tickets to their Graduation Ball, it is not yet confirmed whether any more tickets will be made available.
Fiona Crosby and Lorna Stone