Premier League football is an expensive business nowadays and after you’ve forked out £39.50 for a ticket at the very least you’d expect to be able to watch 90 minutes of football, wouldn’t you? Unfortunately this wasn’t the case for Everton fan Ian Buffey at Spurs last Saturday after he was refused entry to the stadium despite having what should have been a valid ticket.
While his friend had no problem scanning his ticket and passing through the automated turnstile Ian’s attempts to follow were thwarted. His barcode wouldn’t scan, access was denied and attempts to resolve the problem with stewards didn’t bring much joy either.
“They wouldn’t allow me to go in and even accused me of having a Senior Citizen ticket!” said Ian. “This obviously wasn’t the case, but it was an indication of the attitude I was facing. I was told to go to the ticket office which upset me as I knew I’d miss most of the first half. I had no alternative though, so off I went.”
Ian was right to be riled as he missed an entertaining first half - Leighton Baines giving Everton a first-half lead with a sublime free-kick before Tim Howard flapped at a cross allowing Rafael van der Vaart to equalise only three minutes later.
“When I got to the ticket office there was a sizable queue of at least 30 people, mainly Spurs fans, with similar complaints. A steward told me there were “barcode problems”. Eventually I was seen by a young lady who very bluntly asked why they didn’t let me in. How should I understand why the turnstile didn’t work?”
Aside from assuming Ian had extraordinary prescient visions of turnstile problems Spurs also seemed to care more about reassuring him it wasn’t their fault than actually solving his problem. A big customer service no-no, surely?
“The ticket office lady was adamant it was Everton’s fault which was no consolation to me as the first half was ticking away! Eventually the ticket appeared in a grudging manner and in a different place to my original. I got in at the end of the first half and saw two very talented teams, but was left very disappointed that I only saw half a game and missed both goals.”
Sometimes you have to acknowledge that mistakes happen in all walks of life. The crucial thing is how you rectify them and in this case the customer service at Spurs could certainly have been better. Spurs explained the turnstile problems away by blaming a duplicate ticket issue at Everton’s end. That’s fair enough but surely they could have shown some initiative – and a little compassion – by contacting Everton on Ian's behalf?
As it was Spurs washed their hands of the problem and refused to refund Ian’s match ticket until the FSF intervened. At which point they pulled their finger out, liaised with Everton, and gave Ian the full cost of his ticket back.
“I was very impressed with the way Everton handled the complaint – they rang me on Tuesday, accepted the responsibility and apologised for the mistake. They also gave me a contact number for any other problems and promised a full refund,” explained Ian.
Many of the ticket-based complaints we encounter can easily be solved with a little initiative from someone at one of the clubs involved, although all too often people try and pass the buck.
Thankfully Everton refunded the price of Ian’s ticket before he had to take it further – the next steps would have been a complaint to the Premier League then the Independent Football Ombudsman if it still hadn’t been resolved.
If you were at this match (or any other) and encountered a similar problem we’d encourage you to contact the club involved and ask for a full refund. If they refuse, don’t be put off.
In response Spurs told the FSF: “Tottenham Hotspur regret that Mr Buffey missed the first 40 minutes of the recent fixture with Everton FC. Mr Buffey arrived at the stadium with an invalid ticket and was correctly re-directed to the Ticket Office. Once the reason for this problem was investigated and details confirmed with the assistance of Everton FC, Mr Buffey was provided with a replacement ticket and entered the stadium. We would like to thank Everton for acknowledging this issue very quickly and providing Mr Buffey with a full refund.”
The Football Supporters' Federation on Facebook.