Fans bemoan 'disgraceful' online tickets sales for Cheltenham Literary Festival
LITERARY fans were left in the dark yesterday as hundreds of customers had to wait hours to find out whether they could buy tickets to The Times Cheltenham Literary Festival 2013.
Cheltenham Festival members were given the right of first refusal but found it difficult to get tickets for October's event, which went up for sale online from noon yesterday.
Some fans were waiting for more than three hours to find out which of the festival's events weren't sold out.
Geoff Ratcliffe, 59, from Leckhampton, said: "Whoever has organised this system hasn't done it right. There were queues even before midday to get online and we have been waiting for around three hours to find out what tickets are available.
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"Cheltenham town is a front runner in festivals and it's disgraceful when you have to wait this long for tickets. We recognise Cheltenham's festival is in high regard but are disappointed that it is taking this long."
Members were given the option to create a wish list of preferred events to make booking easier. Fiona Spencer, a business consultant from Cheltenham, said: "Not feeling hopeful at being 620th in the queue for tickets for @cheltfestival.
"I am hoping I will be at the front of the queue at 2.30pm and there will still be tickets for what I want to see."
Jen Lasseter, from Cheltenham, said: "Not impressed. 'Your transaction could not be processed'. My £100 wish list has disappeared now."
Neil Jakes, a news journalist in London, said: "Started at 518 in online queue for tickets. Now 417. Seems [the] system [is] unable to cope with demand."
Tickets went on sale to members today at noon and in the first hour, more than 10,000 were sold, an increase of 25 per cent compared with last year.
Chris Pearson, director of marketing and production at Cheltenham Festivals, said: "Anticipating this demand, we introduced an electronic waiting room where customers are kept informed of their position, something about which we have already had a lot of positive feedback. We also increased server capacity to deal with the volume, which means that we are able to process bookings a lot more quickly."