Buying a ticket for a City game? Confusion and no little anger for many . . .
It’s becoming a well-known story at Hull City. It goes like this.
- The club institute changes. The changes haven’t been fully thought through, nor has any consultation taken place.
- Supporters don’t like the changes. Some walk away from the club.
The latest chapter of the story comes with amendments to the way match tickets are sold. The club (or the SMC – since the same family have executive control over both it doesn’t really matter) has been developing an online ticketing system.
Now, that in itself is an excellent thing. We all remember the farrago that was the sale of FA Cup Final tickets at the KC. City fans queued for hours, whilst eligible Arsenal fans could pick out their Wembley seats online. It was a situation that was, frankly, embarrassing.
The new online system is developing quite nicely. You can order your tickets from the comfort of your own home and also buy them for friends and family, if they are registered on the club’s system. The club doesn’t charge for using credit or debit cards, and the charge for posting the tickets out is entirely reasonable.
But in trying to push its customers onto this system it has gone several steps too far. Charging people extra for buying tickets over the counter or on the phone doesn’t seem equitable – it’s certainly not for disabled supporters who can’t buy their tickets online. Many supporters – evidently far more than was anticipated by the club– haven’t the opportunity to buy online. This was exemplified by the Brighton cup match fiasco, when people were queuing for over an hour to buy a ticket for a match where the crowd was less than half the ground’s capacity.
Of course, in that situation many saw the size of the queue and walked off. Will they bother returning?
The result of both the name-change saga and the exorbitant cost of season passes has been lower crowds than we got in the fourth tier. In this situation you would think the club would want to attract more people. Yet its latest initiative does the opposite, with confusion about the arrangements, what can be purchased and the cost of doing so for each method of buying tickets.
The club and the SMC looking to streamline and reduce costs is understandable, but the application of this has been poor. Had the powers-that-be done their research, including asking customers, the latest furore could have been avoided, or at least ameliorated. But as usual they didn’t. It’s the same lesson, but it isn’t being heeded. We are writing to the club and the SMC over this particular issue, and the wider one of the need for supporter consultation.