COVID-19 has thrown us head-first into a digital world. I, for one, love it.
Being able to order a Maccies via an app, park up outside the building and then have somebody come out and bring me my food without having to socially interact with anybody is the stuff of dreams.
Doing my ordering in restaurants via a QR code and being able to order at my leisure, irrespective of the speed of table service on any given day, being able to pay beforehand so that when I finish my food I can just get up and leave without having to awkwardly get a waiter’s attention to ask for the bill, it’s all great stuff.
This largely suits me down to the ground because I’m a 28-year-old who’s been living with smartphones for the last decade and is basically glued to some form of modern technology for 95% of my waking life.
Any further digitalisation of daily life is something I’ll happily, and easily, adapt to.
There are plenty of people older than me, however, who do not share that sentiment. For some people of a certain generation, email is something they’ve never needed. Banks and bills are all dealt with by paper and landline phones. The idea of owning a smartphone makes no sense to them, they have everything they need already sorted manually. Why switch to digital when analog works just fine?
It’s perhaps unsurprising, therefore, that the news of Manchester City’s immediate switch from plastic season cards to digital ticketing has maybe not gone down quite as well as they would have liked.
From a personal point of view, this is a change that would have little to no bearing on accessibility to the ground. If I were to go to the Etihad in a few weeks’ time, I’d have no problems whatsoever being able to prepare everything necessary to ensure that, once I reach the turnstiles, it’s just a simple scan and go (in theory). When you broaden the picture to include people of an older generation, however, it becomes a slightly different matter.
Expecting a generation of fans, particularly amongst a fanbase which has previously been reported to be one of the older fanbases in the league, to be able to make the switch to digital ticketing when many of them have probably never had to do any event like this via digital means in their lifetime is quite a big ask.
I’m still not really totally sure as to the reasons why they decided to make the sweeping switch from a physical card to digital. I naturally assumed that there were environmental factors behind it, given that they’re so eager to reduce plastic waste that they’re introducing ‘edible coffee cups‘ this season, yet when I had a look back at the club’s official statement on the matter there was no mention of anything of the sort.
The best perks they could come up with is that it reduces the chances of your ticket being stolen (unless your phone gets stolen) and that it allows you to be flexible and transfer your ticket to family and friends, which was totally impossible back when you had a physical card that you could pass to your family and friends.
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Adam, who managed to attend the Everton game at the end of last season, where City trialled the systems and technology, told me about his experience on the day.
“I have to say the experience was dreadful. Not too sure how they can claim that it was in any way trialled successfully. You’d put your phone up to the reader on the turnstile and it would buzz but nothing would register on the turnstile itself. Took me five attempts to get in. Imagine everyone trying to do that on Saturday? The queues were already bad in some cases when we had actual tickets and seasoncards, now it’s going to be absolutely mega.“
To echo Adam’s anecdote about the Everton game, I know from my own personal experience. Having attended the Champions League Final screening at the Academy Stadium back in May, which also relied on digital ticketing, the system is deeply flawed.
Even on the small scale of the Academy Stadium, the system just didn’t work. I went with my brother and two friends and had to download all four of the digital tickets onto my phone, so I was responsible for everybody’s entry. I had to stand at the turnstiles one by one as everybody attempted to gain entrance. Two of us got in perfectly fine, however the machines just wouldn’t accept the remaining tickets and the guy at the turnstiles had to use his own master key to let the other two of us in manually.
Expand this out to a 50,000+ capacity stadium and you’re in for a potential treat on for Norwich.
“I’m not sure why they’ve taken this blanket approach,” Adam continues. “It should definitely have been rolled out on an opt-in basis at first. Normal seasoncards were quick, convenient and entry to the stadium was always seamless. Seems like a nonsensical decision to me but it’s too late now!”
This is a sentiment which seems to be shared by plenty of others, myself included. It makes no sense for the club to have just made this change in its totality without giving any level of real warning to the fans, nor with no option to opt-in or out of the new digital system.
The perfect scenario in my mind is that customers would immediately be placed on the digital system by default, yet there would be an option in everybody’s account to ask for a seasoncard, even if that means having to pay an extra fiver for the privilege. We all know the club loves to make a bit of extra money wherever possible, it’s a no-brainer for all involved.
Adam expects there to be plenty of delays for the Norwich game.
“I don’t have a problem with them introducing a new system, but they should have given the fans the option to keep their old seasoncards if they didn’t have or want smartphones. Instead, they’re forcing new systems on fans when they clearly haven’t been tested properly.”
“I think even the club know what’s coming, going by the wording of some of their emails.” Adam continues. “They’re advertising to get there super early because they anticipate delays. It’s a bit like turkeys voting for Christmas – for a club that seems to be so bothered by media optics these days, I’m not sure it’s gonna look too great if there’s tonnes of empty seats for kick off on Saturday because people are still queuing outside.”
There are images from earlier this month from a Liverpool pre-season friendly where the queues were so long due to the new mobile ticketing system (which appears to have been implemented at most top clubs across the Premier League) that the game was postponed by half an hour. There were obviously no delays in the first round of fixtures and I’m sure there’ll be none this weekend either, but it doesn’t give me great optimism for the system itself.
The club is offering half price food and drinks between 1pm-2pm in a transparent attempt to get people to the ground as early as possible, which might make a nice day out for some families with it being the first game back, but it’s fair to say that people will want to shift back into the norm of getting into the ground ten minutes before kick-off.
Adam has other issues with the lack of a seasoncard which have maybe slipped under the radar.
“Because they’ve gone for the digital ticketing route, the box of goodies that you used to get at the start of the season has disappeared along with it. I know some people hated them anyway but some loved it, I just don’t understand how the club has got away with not sending them. Apparently Junior Cityzens are getting them but nobody else.”
“They’re surely saving themselves a load of money as a result, it just doesn’t really sit right with me that they’ve put Season Ticket prices up yet again but we’re getting less for the money paid again. Makes it even more annoying that Cityzen matchday members are getting this box of goodies and Season Ticket holders don’t. It just feels like they’re valuing us less and less.”
The brand new mobile ticketing system isn’t particularly user-friendly for people who aren’t very tech-savvy. Lucy, a fan with an 81-year-old dad, told me about how having a smartphone can even not be enough.
“I used the instructions on my dad’s email to set up my own mobile ticket and that was fine, however I then went to do my dad’s and found out that, even though he has a smartphone, his phone doesn’t have NFC so he can’t use the system at all.”
“I was a bit shocked that my dad’s phone doesn’t have NFC as it’s not that old and does everything else you would expect from a smartphone. I could put his ticket on my phone but we don’t usually enter the stadium at the same time, as my dad will often enjoy a wander around the outside of the stadium for a bit before coming in after me.”
Another fan (Fan A) hasn’t even been able to download the tickets at all.
“I have a Season Ticket with City. I was on the phone to them today trying to sort out putting the tickets into Apple Wallet and it wasn’t working. I’m reasonably good at this sort of stuff but for some reason the tickets weren’t going into my wallet.”
“The person on the other end of the phone didn’t know what to suggest when I explained it to them. It wasn’t his fault, he was doing his best, it all just seems unnecessarily complicated rather than the old method of a plastic ticket for the whole season.”
One of the options the club provides, which by all accounts appears to be the most popular alternative, is the ability to print off your tickets at home to bring a physical piece of paper to the ground, rather than relying on your phone to do it digitally. Yet, at the time of writing, this isn’t actually an option yet.
“I followed the link for the print at home option,” Lucy says, “and it just says ‘Coming Soon’ and doesn’t give you any way to access anything to set it up. I’ve sent a couple of emails and had no response. Even if printed tickets become available at the last minute or if we are forced to use my phone for both tickets in the end, it’s still very annoying to be having to faff around with this three days before the game.”
“I’ll be honest and say I’ve not been to anything like this since Covid, so I’m already feeling slightly anxious about the whole thing. Having to jump through hoops to access something you’ve paid a lot of money for is not helping.”
Fan A is also facing the same uncertainty with printed tickets. “Today we decided to just print tickets at home for the Norwich game as they couldn’t get the tickets working on my phone – but they said they’d send me the paper tickets to print and they haven’t yet. It’s a joke.”
“My dad is crap at this stuff and he’s left it to me to sort it out for him, it’s too much hassle for him. I feel really bad for older people who don’t have smartphones or regular access to the internet.”
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Karen is another fan who’s been trying to get a printable ticket and has been left wanting. “I requested a print at home ticket last weekend in preparation for the Norwich game. It’s Wednesday night and I still haven’t been able to access it. I’ve spent a few hours over the last few days hanging on the telephone to no avail. I’ve had issues with my mobile security so I don’t want to use the digital ticketing service. It seems everyone expects us to live our lives through our mobile phones.”
The other alternative available to fans who might not own a smartphone personally, but go to games with somebody who does, is the option for you to transfer your ticket to somebody listed in your Friends & Family section on your account for your season ticket.
Yet, again, this is no closer to being set up with days to go until the Norwich game than the printable tickets.
Thomas is a fan struggling to get his dad to join him for the game as a result of the delayed ticket transfer system. “My mate who I usually sit next to at games can’t make it to the Norwich game and my dad is supposed to be going in his place but it’s currently Wednesday evening and there’s no Season Ticket transfer option on the website. At this rate I’ll be going on my own next to an empty seat.
“I just don’t get how everything’s so last minute. They’ve not had anything to do tickets-wise for 18 months, how have they not sorted it?”
Harry is in an awkward situation which seems to have totally gone under the radar in regards to his ability to transfer a ticket.
“My dad has always handled paying for our season tickets, so both are on his account. We both have different supporter numbers but because my supporter number is applied to his account in my name, I can’t create a separate account with it, meaning I can’t add it to my phone. That wouldn’t be an issue if they let you print them off but it’s three days before the game and we’re currently not able to do that.”
“The solution is that my dad would just have to download both his and my tickets onto his phone but then we’re looking at a season of him having to pass his phone back to me through the turnstiles, which isn’t the end of the world but it’s ridiculous that this is even a problem to begin with. There shouldn’t be an issue with two separate season tickets registered to two separate supporter numbers being accessible on two separate phones.”
Stephen is in a bit of a nightmare situation, despite buying tickets on general sale.
“For the Norwich game, season card holders can buy extra tickets for people who are not members, on general sale. I’ve bought six, so the email from the club gives you links to download the tickets so that you can dish these out individually for the separate people who need them.”
“However, only two people have been successful in downloading the tickets to their phone wallets, the other four haven’t. We can’t seem to find any reason why, as we’ve all gone through the same steps to download them, and, as I’m sure you know, getting through to the club is difficult.”
“As a result, I’ve now got five tickets on my phone for Saturday, including my own season ticket. As some seats require different turnstiles to get into the stadium, I’m going to have to queue up twice – first to let the people in who are allocated to the first turnstile, then a second time to let myself and the people sitting near me in at the second turnstile. My daughter has an iPhone XS, which is a fairly new phone. There’s no reason why it shouldn’t be working for her.”
The final option which the club provides is the choice to pick up a printed ticket from the club itself either on the day of the game or some time during the week beforehand.
Needless to say, this can be a logistical nightmare for people of all kinds of ages and financial/logistical situations for a multitude of reasons, but particularly for older generations who might not have access to smartphones or printers. Expecting the club’s eldest fans to trudge down to the Etihad for a separate trip earlier in the week, or turn up to the ground a few hours before kick-off, to pick up their ticket is utterly ridiculous.
Simon’s mother-in-law has this very issue.
“I have a 75-year-old mother-in-law with no smartphone. She was very happy with the old cards but will now need us to print off her tickets for her. However, that process isn’t actually up and running yet, so she had to go to the stadium today (Wednesday) to pick them up. We’ll need to print them next week but we’re on holiday, so it’s all up in the air.”
It’s a problem which is taking its toll on people’s excitement for the Norwich game. Thomas carries on to say, “My dad’s getting on a bit now so he’ll want a day or two’s notice to sort himself out and my mate who can’t go to the game will be at a festival so he probably won’t be able to transfer the ticket last minute. It’s just a pain trying to make proper plans, it’s putting a real downer on my first game back.”
These are issues which I’m hoping by the time this article is published will have mostly been resolved. I received these accounts on the Wednesday night, so hopefully everybody will have had their printable tickets emailed to them by now and, in an ideal world, this will be the start of the smooth running of them going forward with plenty of time given in advance to print the tickets in the coming season as the system becomes operational.
Hopefully the season ticket transfer situation is similarly resolved and the scenario the original statement about digital ticketing describes, with the ability to fluidly pass your ticket around a set list of Friends & Family contacts, will be operational with no problems.
Also in the spirit of fairness, there’s been countless people who will have had no issues with the ticketing system whatsoever. I’m sure many fans will have been able to simply download their tickets onto their phones and they’ll be able to go through the turnstiles on Saturday with no bother. For thousands and thousands of fans, probably the overwhelming majority, this won’t have caused any problems But, for me, the fact that it has caused issues for any fans at all is a problem. An avoidable one.
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However, what is fundamentally broken, and has been a running theme through virtually every conversation I’ve had with those who are suffering issues with tickets or otherwise, is Manchester City’s Supporter Services.
“I rang them up and was on hold for an hour before I just gave up, I’ve seen tweets from people who’ve been on hold for as long as five hours” Harry says. “The website just doesn’t work in plenty of cases as well. It’s making me lose a lot of faith in the club, they’re just useless.”
Karen has similar issues. “I feel like I’m moaning but it’s so frustrating. It feels like they’ve only got one person on the phones at any given time. I can’t afford too much time to try calling because of work and I don’t fancy getting in a queue to pick up a printed ticket from the club at 8am on Saturday morning.”
As a disclaimer, this isn’t an attack on the individuals who work within the Supporter Services team (though there are instances of bad customer service). They’re probably as stressed out by the fact that the systems aren’t operational yet as the fans and, if the ability to print a ticket at home isn’t available yet and a customer wants a printed ticket, their power to alter that is basically non-existent.
At the end of the day, these people working within the team are just doing their job and it’s not their fault that the systems around them are not doing what the club has promised. I personally genuinely think they’re all doing their best with what they’ve got.
However, for everybody who has contacted, or attempted to contact, Supporter Services, the overwhelming opinion is that the department is either woefully understaffed or totally disinterested.
Horrendous queue times, not even knowing where you are in the queue, having the line cut out on you, it’s all dreadful. I’ve had to contact the club myself in recent months, or at least try to, and after being on hold for a grand total of two hours after returning home from work, obviously not able to call during the day while I’m actually working, I packed it in. Getting through to a human being in the Customer Service department is like trying to find a Mancunian in Old Trafford.
An anonymous fan (Fan B), sustained some pretty serious injuries, including broken bones, and wanted to move from their usual seat in the East Stand, right next to the away fans, as to avoid the normal activity which comes with the section of the stadium which is always on its feet. Yet her attempts to speak to anybody in Supporter Services about it resulted in her either not getting through to anybody or just receiving outright bad service.
“One day last week I was on hold with the Supporter Services line from 2pm and was immediately cut off as soon as it reached 5pm. Another time, one person was really rude and told me to email them, then the email bounceback said it was five working days for a reply. I was worried this wouldn’t be enough time so I contacted the Access Team directly and eventually got through to somebody who did find me a seat, but it was actually less suitable than my original seat.”
“The final person I managed to reach on the phone hung up on me when I told them I’d already sent an email. There were hours of being on hold, chaser emails and tweeting at the club daily in between. I easily spent at least ten hours on the phone over the course of a week or two.”
In the end, Fan B contacted the City Matters disability rep in an attempt to escalate the situation, not knowing where else to turn. The rep was thankfully able to get in touch with the Access Team, the manager of which contacted Fan B directly to make the necessary arrangements.
“The manager was amazing to be fair, sorted it right away and has organised parking and stuff too. I feel really lucky as I know lots of people are still struggling. What concerns me is that the Access Team, from what I could gather, seems to also be dealing with general enquiries, so anyone with disabilities isn’t getting the dedicated support they need. The club is supposed to be inclusive.”
Another fan, Richard, was facing a ticketing situation where he was looking to relocate his season ticket seat for one game in order to sit with his son to watch Norwich, so naturally turned to Supporter Services to see if this was possible.
“I have a season ticket but my eight-year-old son doesn’t, he just has a junior membership. I rang the ticket office and explained that I wanted to buy him a ticket for the Norwich game but would need to relocate my Season Ticket seat for the game so I could sit next to him. I was told I couldn’t do this, that there was no policy for transferring my seat and there was nothing they could do. I would have to buy myself and my son separate tickets, as if I had no Season Ticket at all, and then list my season ticket on the seat exchange.“
“However it’s currently Wednesday evening and this exchange service isn’t open yet, so I was potentially looking at this game costing me nearly £100 in total, presuming I wouldn’t able to shift the Season Ticket on the exchange system before Saturday with such short notice.”
“I asked to speak to somebody in authority but got told they couldn’t put me through. This was probably about three weeks ago. Somebody eventually told me they were going to sort something out with regards to seat relocations for season ticket holders but would announce it nearer the time. Whether they’ve sorted something out yet I don’t know, I can’t be arsed being on hold for three hours to find out, but I haven’t seen anything. The bottom line is my lad wants to start going to matches and they’re making it difficult for me to be able to simply bring him along if this fiasco is going to happen every time I want to move somewhere to sit with him.”
Again, much like Fan B, the problem was eventually resolved, however it took weeks to do so and took a lot of persistence.
“After three days of phone calls and arguments I eventually managed to persuade them to sell me the seat next to mine but one, so I’ll have to swap seats with the chap next to me. It took three days though, most people would have given up. For a club that gets a lot of bad PR over empty seats they don’t half make it hard for people to fill them.”
Karen has had struggles, as I have personally in the past, with the inability to contact the club if you work a regular 9-5 job.
“I’ve been on and off the phone, because I’ve been trying to work in between. So today, for example, I’ve done three separate periods of 40 mins before I can’t put off getting back to work any longer.”
“There’s no indication of where you are in the queue either. I’ve tried on my lunch break when I’ve been in the office too but it’s quite stressful when there’s nobody to speak to. I’ve sent separate emails and not had a reply to either of them. They used to have a phone line available on Saturday mornings years ago but even that’s gone now so my options to contact them are limited.”
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Another anonymous fan, Fan C, has struggled to find any information on disabled parking access for the new season, with none having been published anywhere on City’s website (despite regular parking access having been published), and has struggled to contact anybody at the club to clarify the situation.
“After years of being issued with an annual disabled parking pass, this year we’ve heard nothing from the club. After days of trying to contact them, including over an hour on hold today, we’ve still been unsuccessful in getting any answers, with the match just a few days away. The website says they’ve moved to paying for parking on a matchday basis for £8 but there’s no word from the club on any specific disabled parking, which was free pre-Covid in a specific car park.”
“They also seem to have moved the general car parking quite far away from the disabled entrance. It’s an incredibly frustrating situation given that we don’t know where we’ll be parking our car for the match, especially when you’re with someone who can’t walk a long distance. The old car park was right next to the disabled entrance, which was perfect. That might end up being where we’ll continue to park but, with days to go until the game, we’ve still no idea whether that’s the case or not due to no contact from the club. The customer service has been horrendous.”
These are just the fan experiences I’ve been directly told about in one evening. Twitter is awash with instances of fans being on hold with the club for hours at a time – finding themselves completely unable to get through to an actual person and either giving up or just being automatically cut-off by City’s system once it reaches a certain time.
However, another anonymous fan’s (Fan D’s) experience with Supporter Services might be the most egregious.
“I normally sit in Block 114, literally on the barrier to the away fans. This’ll be my fourth year with that seat and my seventh as a season ticket holder. The club has issued 90 seats for Premier League Officials (security I presume) and my seat has been chosen as one of them, so I’ve been moved in order to accommodate this without the club even asking me.”
“The club rang me at 5:57pm, having never spoken to me about this issue before, and I missed the call. Next thing I know, they’ve sent me a confirmation email saying, ‘thank you for your recent transaction’ as if I’m the one who’s done it, confirming that my season ticket has been moved to a seat which is, in their words, ‘very similar’. This turns out to be in Block 127, which is just to the left of the dugout and is absolutely nothing like my original seat. I’ve been sitting with my mates for years now and I’ve just been moved without my consent.”
“There’s always general sale tickets for the same row that my original seat is on. If the official has to sit in my spot then so be it but the club doesn’t need to move me to the other side of the stadium. The option to move your own seat by your own choice was available a couple of weeks ago. If they knew they needed to give up a certain number of seats for these officials then why didn’t they just let me know and let me pick my own seat, rather than tell me I’m being moved without giving me the options to just move further down my row?”
What’s particularly galling about this one from the club’s side of things is that the decision to call Fan D so late in the day at 5:57pm, in my personal opinion, comes across as a calculated move.
Anybody who’s had a job where you’ve had to give somebody bad news knows exactly what the scenario is – you’re not looking forward to the backlash you’re gonna get for telling somebody something they’re not going to like so you put it off until the very last minute of the day and just hope that it’ll be somebody else’s problem by the next day.
This appears to have been the decision the Supporter Services team has taken, which for a multi-billion dollar organisation (which is what City effectively is, let’s not forget) is nowhere near good enough when dealing with their customers.
“What’s even worse is that I’ve just watched my season ticket go up by £15, I’ve already paid two lots of the Direct Debit for my ticket this season, only for my actual ticket to no longer be what I actually signed up for. It’s a bit of a scummy move for them to ring me just before 6pm so I’ve no way to actually contact them tonight. The club is moving further away from fans every year.”
And this is the kicker.
These Supporter Services interactions are doing nothing but tainting the opinions of the club. Whether it’s Fan D feeling like the club is moving further away from the fans, whether it’s Harry feeling like he’s losing faith in the club or whether it’s Thomas feeling like the experience has put a downer on the prospect of his first game back, the examples are numerous.
Fans are customers nowadays, and those who are buying tickets are probably the most important ones, certainly financially. The fact that these customers are being dealt with poorly, particularly in Fan D’s case when they’ve already paid two instalments of their Direct Debit with the club, only to have their season ticket altered without being spoken to about it first, shows either a complete disregard for said supporters or a level of systematic incompetence which, again, is not good enough for a multi-billion dollar company.
The digital ticketing system is still a bit of a shambles in its implementation. The fact that fans knew the change was coming via email replies from the club before City had even officially announced it led to lots of confusion amongst fans. Even if you ignore that side of it, the fact that the communication regarding the decision only came out three weeks before the club’s first home game despite the fact that the club, as Thomas mentioned earlier, has had 18 months to make the necessary arrangements is just ridiculous and is another example of poor communication.
The club, as many clubs in the Premier League have, has claimed that this decision has come off the back of a successful trial period towards the back-end of last season. Well, call me pedantic, but I would suggest that neither your Print At Home service or your Ticket Transfer service, your two most viable alternatives to having your tickets on a phone, not being fully operational three days before the club’s first home game is not the hallmark of a system which has been sufficiently tested.
I’ve only heard stories of those who are elderly from their sons or daughters, such as Lucy and Simon, who are helping them deal with everything. There are plenty of elderly fans who do not have a support network like that, some whose trips to the Etihad every couple of weeks is one of only a couple of days out they have. Where does this change, and the sheer lack of communication surrounding alternatives, leave them? How many similar stories are out there?
All of these things are bad but they’d be a lot more palatable if it weren’t for the fact that the Supporter Services team seems to be non-existent. Fans are on hold for hours without anybody to speak to, whether the call is first thing in the morning, on their lunch break or in the final hour before closing time. When fans do finally get through to people, they often find that the responses are stock or feel like the actual decision-making power of the person on the other end of the line is severely restricted.
Fan B puts it best.
“I actually feel really bad for the Supporter Services team, they’re clearly understaffed and struggling to deal with the extra demand, it must be stressful. I guess it’s a higher up issue. Don’t introduce a new system if you don’t have the resources to deal with it. It’s a bit of a kick in the face when they’re spending £100m on Grealish and potentially even more than that on Kane but can’t invest a bit of money into Supporter Services for their fans.”
This is the ultimate frustration that fans are having. A new system like this, particularly one which affects the entire season ticket holding fanbase of 36,000 people, is obviously going to lead to a huge influx of Supporter Services enquiries, particularly when the club makes the decision to only give three weeks’ notice for the new system to those fans.
Yet it appears that no extra investment has been made into the Supporter Services team. As Karen says earlier, and as I have experienced myself, it feels like there’s only one person in the office at the other end so you end up in a massive queue. A Supporter Services hotline where you have to clear a few hours in your schedule just to have the chance to speak to somebody, and often not even get that far, is so far away from what people who are paying £500+ for a season ticket are expecting from their club.
The Twitter account, often curated by the famous Emily, is good for sending people copy and pasted responses and giving people links to parts of the website where certain questions are answered, but as somebody who tried to take that course of action when I gave up sitting on hold with the phone lines, getting an answer for a genuine query takes days.
If you have a well-staffed Supporter Services team which is able to deal with the incoming enquiries in their numbers, as well as giving a bit of leeway for some common sense decision making in regards to ticketing, particularly in the cases of Richard and Fan D, this would go some way to preventing fans from feeling so frustrated.
Problems can be annoying when they arise, but if they’re swiftly dealt with by the club which has created those problems then they’re quickly forgotten. When they’re allowed to drag on and the Supporter Services team which is meant to deal with them is either completely unavailable or unable to provide anything more than a shrug when looking at your query, the memories will linger.
Also providing somewhere the club’s more elderly fans, particularly those without support networks, can go to ask questions about the ticketing situation and get some advice, is huge. I’m no expert on whether there is a separate department for elderly fans to speak to which may not be subject to the same queue times, there may well be one, however if they’re reliant on the same Supporter Services phone lines as the rest of us then it adds another barrier to entry for fans of a certain age – fans who have often felt alienated for years now, even more so with the digital switch.
I’ve not spoken to anybody who works in Supporter Services about this. I’ve absolutely no idea what the staff situation is like on a numerical level. I’ve no idea what guidelines they’re given, what their scripts are, how much wiggle room they’re given to help supporters out when it comes to system errors or weird ticketing issues, so I can only go off what I see on Twitter and what I’ve heard from fans over the last couple of days. The general view is that Supporter Services isn’t fit for purpose in its current state.
Fans expect a high level of customer service and support and, as a club which prides itself on being market-leading in so many areas, it’s surely not too much to ask.
You can follow Joe on Twitter here: @joebutters
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