The sale of tickets for the Students’ Union’s annual Graduation Ball descended into confusion and chaos yesterday after tickets sold out before problems with the online payments system could be fixed.

Some students queued from 5am to buy the £68 ‘Dinner Tickets’ which were available only from the box office at 8am.

However, many of those who bought the £38 ‘Entertainment Only’ tickets online at 9am were faced with what the SU has called an “online payment system problem” which meant that some payments were unsuccessful.

Many of those who tried to buy tickets were informed that their payment had failed, yet they received a confirmation email from the SU, leading to confusion over whether or not tickets had been secured.

The ‘Roaring Twenties’ themed Graduation Ball, described as the “biggest black tie event of the University calendar”, is planned and run by the Students’ Union who are responsible for the ticket sales.

Within 40 minutes of tickets going on sale, the SU posted a message on the event’s official Facebook group reporting that there had been “a huge volume of people trying to buy tickets” and that they had taken the Ents tickets off the website whilst they sorted out “some glitches in the system”.

They added: “We’ll let you know when they’re back on sale.”

However, just 15 minutes later, they posted another message informing students that although Dinner tickets were still available from the Box Office, all the online Ents tickets had now sold out.

In response to the angry messages that followed this announcement, the SU stated: “We did sort the problems out but because of the sheer volume of people trying to buy Ents tickets they did sell out really quickly.”

Students took to the Facebook group to vent their frustration at the ticket process. Many raised questions over the fact that students were able to purchase 1 table (seating 5 or 10 people) per person and up to 10 ‘Entertainment Only’ tickets per person.

Yesterday, Hannah Siófra Casey commented on the group: “It’s pretty ridiculous that people were able to buy up to ten tickets each. It’s now going to turn into a huge bidding war, with people selling on their spares for as much as they can get – and it could turn pretty nasty! I understand people doing that (I’m sure I would too) but it seems unfair on those who could only just afford £38.”

A large volume of students posted to ask for spare tickets, and these requests were answered by students claiming that they had spares they would sell for upwards of £100.

At 11am, the SU posted a message urging students not to buy these overpriced tickets: “We are working on getting some more Ents tickets made available (TBC). If you have bought too many tickets online due to a failed transaction error message, we will refund you for the tickets you did not want.”

In addition to these problems, some were angry that there was no priority system for final year students over other guests. A total of 2100 tickets were available, less than half the number of final years.

Some disappointed students even decided to create their own event – an ‘Alternative Graduation Ball’ – to make up for those who missed out.

Final year student Anthony Goeritz, who was left without a ticket, commented: “The SU has made a complete mess of this – It is hugely disappointing and quite frankly, it is embarrassing on their behalf. The Graduation Ball is supposed to be our final send-off before everyone moves on to the next stage in their lives. As the SU explains, it is the event of the year! If this is the case, why has everything been so badly organised?”

The SU has apologised for the inconvenience caused by the ticket problems, but have stated that the issues were an unforeseeable, external “systems problem”.

This morning they emailed students who experienced problems to confirm the status of their tickets, but for those final year students who missed out on tickets to their Graduation Ball, it is not yet confirmed whether any more tickets will be made available.

Fiona Crosby and Lorna Stone

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6 Comments

  1. Jess
    March 6, 2012 at 22:20 — Reply

    Tickets should be nominative, that would avoid people buying tons in order to re-sell them at extortionate prices.
    And why do they create an event with a lot less places than people … makes no sense. Obviously not everyone is willing to attend but surely they know from previous years how popular the event is …

  2. Lois
    March 7, 2012 at 00:35 — Reply

    It was the same last year. A lot of us missed out on the grad ball so me and my friends had our own. It’s pretty disgusting that at a uni where we pay for our own graduation, we’re not provided with somewhere big enough for everyone when it’s viable at other unis

  3. Been there twice
    March 7, 2012 at 08:25 — Reply

    Another grad ball, another set of angry students (and justifiably so).

    I encourage you all to call for greater accountability from the organisers. The standard cost for a 3 course meal ticket and disco with cava at Colwick Hall is £29.

    You tell me if you think that the grad ball extras mean the SU’s prices of £68 for dinner or £38 without are a ripoff or good value.

    That’s if you’re lucky enough to get a ticket to your own grad ball!

    http://tinyurl.com/7eyzpyx

    Also go and have a look at how much other uni grad ball costs and how good their acts are.

  4. Dave J
    March 7, 2012 at 10:02 — Reply

    I’ve been twice (once when actually graduating and once on a NUTS VIP ticket for some reason), and both times it was pretty rubbish to be honest. It’s not as if it’s even particularly emotional, because there are so many non-graduates there, it’s a long way out of the way so you’re pretty much stuck there, if I recall it wasn’t as if the drinks were even cheap, especially considering the cost of the tickets.

    Once the initial magic of the nice location (which is shrouded in darkness anyway) is gone, you’re left with the fact that you’ve spent 68 quid on a glorified night on the lash before you’ve even bought any drinks. Just have a night out in Nottingham instead – Coco Tang is good value for money in comparison.

  5. Elise
    March 7, 2012 at 11:20 — Reply

    Dave J — If it was so horrible, why did you go twice? Surely if it was that bad the first time, you could’ve refused to go (VIP Tickets or not) the second time.

  6. Dave J
    March 7, 2012 at 11:27 — Reply

    Because it was my grad ball and all of my friends were going. I suspect that’s the main reason most people go – I’m not judging it at all, just saying that with the benefit of hindsight, it wasn’t worth the time or money.

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