Saturday, August 28, 2010

OC Kept its Honor By Delaying Games Ticket Sales

Last Friday, the Organizing Committee of the Commonwealth Games had announced with great fanfare that over-the-counter ticket sales to the public would begin on August 25. And so, Pushpender Sharma, a student and an athlete, reached OC headquarters at 9am sharp to buy a ticket. Nine hours later, he still hadn’t got one.

‘‘Officials at the OC headquarters sent me to the Central Bank, Parliament Street branch. The tickets were not available there either. They told me to come back at 3pm, then I was told to return at six. This is no way to treat people who wish to be a part of the CWG,’’ fumed Sharma. He wasn’t the only one complaining.

Officials at various outlets of Central Bank of India and Hero Honda the OC’s official ticketing partners admitted that many customers turned up in the morning, but had to go back disappointed. Said B S Harilal, assistant general manager at Central Bank of India (Parliament Street), ‘‘We kept sending people back through the day. More than 100 people turned up at our branch. We had to inform them that tickets were not available and they would have to return at 3pm. Finally, at 7 pm, we were able to sell tickets.’’

The scene was repeated across almost all the outlets designated by the OC for ticket sale.

OC cites tech snag for mess

The much-publicized sale of tickets for the Commonwealth Games was bit of a dampener with most of the designated counters turning away buyers as they were yet to receive the tickets. In fact, the Central Bank outlet in the organizing committee headquarters was summarily sending every customer to the Parliament Street branch without any explanation. B S Harilal, assistant general manager at Central Bank of India (Parliament Street) said they kept sending people back through the day. More than 100 people turned up at our branch, he said.

Yet again, it was the organizing committee the gang that can’t shoot straight to blame. It was still synchronizing the online ticket purchases that had been made till date with the stock of tickets available.
Said a senior organizing committee official, ‘‘Since the opening and closing ceremony tickets are numbered seats, synchronization of tickets that have already been purchased with the available stock is necessary. Besides, a lot of other back-end programming had to be performed, which is why tickets were not available till 6 pm.’’

So why was the organizing committee still performing ‘backend programming’ on the day the sale of tickets was to begin? No one in the organizing committee had a clue. Secretary General Lalit Bhanot brushed off the matter, saying the system was under maintenance and that tickets were ‘‘now available’’.

‘‘The tickets were made available as soon as the system was updated. There’s no problem,’’ insisted Bhanot. Sanjeev Mittal, head of the ticketing function, added that ticket stocks had been sent to outlets already.

Ironically, the sale of tickets till date is not exactly in numbers that should have taken any decent system much time to update.

Of the 17 lakh tickets that organizing committee hopes to sell for the upcoming sporting event, a little above 1 lakh have been sold till date. Sources admitted that the ceremonies for which 50,000 tickets are each available have actually managed to sell around 12,000 tickets: in total.

Ticket sales of the sporting events are even more dismal. The only sport that has managed to get spectators is hockey, for which a mere 8,000 tickets have been sold. The rest haven’t even managed to generate more than 5,000 ticket sales each, added sources.