We paid for a BBC Error – make sure you don’t

We paid for a BBC Error – make sure you don’t

EDIT 22/09/16: After managing to get hold of a BBC representative (they make it very hard), we may have some token gesture. While it does not in any way compensate us for the expenses incurred and disappointment due to the BBC error, it does soften the blow. We’ll release more details soon, but if you were affected by the error, please contact us Asap so we can give you details.

EDIT 17/09/16 12:04: We’ve also been informed that to rub salt in the wound, many had to wait to get their tickets scanned, so that they aren’t blacklisted for not turning up to a future event!

Followers will know that we’re big fans of Professor Brian Cox and have listened to every episode of the great ‘Infinite Monkey Cage’ podcast series. So when we heard that both Brian and Robin Ince from Monkey Cage were going to be recording a Christmas special on 17th Sept at Elstree Studios, with such stars as Eric Idle and Warwick Davis – we had to apply for tickets.

The process was easy and received a text a couple of weeks ago saying that we’ve been issued 2 tickets – GET IN! It meant we had to change our plans and find an alternative baby-sitter as our usual was away, but hey – it’s Brian Cox!

I should point out here that tickets do state that although they are a ticket, they don’t guarantee a seat. I thought this was odd, so read up on it on the website. The FAQs and their code of conduct put your mind at ease though as both state that it’s rare people have to be turned away and it’s kept to a minimum. They just recommend getting there early to ensure you get a place. Our show was at 19:30, but they’d be validating tickets from 17:00, so we figured leaving Dorset at 13:00 would ensure we could get our tickets validated, then go for dinner before the show.

How wrong were we?

After over 3 hours in the car, we turn up to see crowds of people outside (many very angry) and are told that due to 3 times as many tickets being issued than the number of seats, we won’t be getting in. There won’t be any tickets for other shows and there’s no expenses being covered. It turns out that they decided to validate tickets an hour early ‘due to bad weather’ and so all tickets were gone before validation was even meant to begin.

I was told from the BBC employee that no management was available to discuss the error, that this happens all the time (so definitely not rare) and that they had the same issue at the matinee performance. The annoying thing is that if they’d texted us when the issue was discovered at the matinee, we could have avoided the journey and therefore expense of petrol, dinner, parking and a baby-sitter.

Curiously, she said that people that couldn’t make it in on the matinee just waited and started the queue for the evening performance and had been waiting for hours… How can this be as their tickets didn’t cover the evening..? When pushed on this the story changed slightly, but I hear from another complainant that this not only happened but it appeared that some people were able to queue jump with priority tickets. While I can’t verify that, I have since found a line in the BBC’s Code of Conduct that mentions these tickets and states that it has to be mentioned on all tickets that this is the case – I see nothing on mine.

In fact, the more I read of the BBC’s Code of Conduct – the more points I can see that are clearly being broken. These include:

  • “The supplier must only issue the minimum number of additional free tickets than there are seats available to ensure a full studio” – 200% over-allowance is not the minimum needed
  • “Should the audience service provider operate an ‘over issue’ policy for a recording, they will ensure that this is clearly stated to ticket applicants at the point of application” – There is no notice on the application page
  • “Such information will also be printed on all tickets issued for that recording…  …that individuals who have been refused entry for reasons of over issue may gain entry ahead of new ticket holders” – Definitely not stated anywhere
  • “Where an individual who has obtained a ticket for a recording is refused admittance due to any over issuing policy, the audience service provider will endeavour to offer a suitable alternative recording to that individual where possible guaranteeing entry” – we weren’t offered anything and one couple asked only to be told that it’s not possible
  • “All tickets will include the audience service provider’s contact details on the reverse to allow ticket holders to contact them directly with feedback or access requirements” – Nope
  • “The audience service provider will provide a company representative to be present on the day of the recording that will be responsible for the allocation of tickets and dealing appropriately with any customer service issues” – No management was available

Finally – the BBC Code of Conduct states that tickets must carry a clear disclaimer that no expenses will be covered in the case of over-issue of tickets. This is NOT stated on our tickets, only that they’re not covered in the case of the event being cancelled. I would therefore encourage anyone that lost out due to the BBC ticket error to file a complaint and to push for at least your expenses to be covered. I wouldn’t hold out much hope through the normal complaint channel, but if you DM us on twitter @atomcluborg we’ll share the contact we’ve picked up.

As BBC Licence payers, we own the BBC and so it is only right that if the BBC make an error that costs us money, we get at least our expenses covered.

My compliments to Robin Ince, who has personally stated several times how sorry he is to the people that missed out even though the only fault of his, is how popular they all are! Shame the BBC are unable to apologise.

I’ve issued a formal complaint via the BBC’s very limited complaint process and also to the Head of Studio Audiences and will update this post when/if I hear back.

I recently bought a ticket (just me sadly) to see Brian Cox Live in November, so I will get to see him eventually, but never-the-less, we’re very disappointed.

Use Hashtag #BBC123

If you were affected by the over-issue error, we’d love to hear about it – why not comment below, so we have a list. Alternatively, tweet using the new hashtag #BBC123 after-all we have to teach them to count somehow…

One thought on “We paid for a BBC Error – make sure you don’t

  1. Janine Christley

    I can commiserate with you experience, we had something similar. This was the first time I had applied for tickets to a BBC show so was very naive and very excited at the prospect of this show. My daughter and I both booked days off work and drove over from Gloucestershire, in pretty awful conditions to attend the matinee. We queued for an hour in the rain only to find out that they had overbooked the show and loads of us were not getting in. There were some huge protests going on and the BBC staff were under siege. They said this rarely happens, most of the time they have half empty studios. Therefore they have to overbook as it’s not good for the ‘talent’ to see half an audience. They really misjudged this time. I did ask if we could go into the evening show instead but they said it was not possible.

    To compound the wasted day it took us over four hours to drive home as the M4 was closed. I have had a nice reply from Eric Idle on twitter, but nothing from the BBC. I have made a formal complaint through the usual channel. Shall think twice about going to another event.

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