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Fringe box office system provider goes titsup

Tragedy of errors

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The software outfit behind the chaotic implementation of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe’s box office system has gone titsup.

A spokeswoman at Glasgow-based Pivotal Integration Ltd confirmed to The Register that the firm has gone into administration. However, she said the company was unlikely to be issuing any further statement at this time.

Fringe director Jon Morgan said the group was aware of the turmoil at Pivotal Integration Ltd but insisted that the administration process "will have no impact on ticketing services during the last week of the Fringe", which ends on 25 August.

It is understood that Kenny Craig of Tenon Corporate Recovery is the software company's administrator.

Meanwhile, Fringe organisers will carry out a detailed post-mortem into the box office system cock-up that cast a shadow over this year’s event.

The group plans to conduct independent inquiries into the technical problems the Fringe suffered following the botched implementation of a new ticket booking system in June this year.

A committee, including local government bodies, will produce a detailed report on procurement, installation and operation of the 2008 Fringe box office. The Fringe expects the inquiry process to be completed in November when the report's findings will be published.

A Fringe spokesman told El Reg that an "independent IT company is to investigate [the findings] and report on the best options for a box office system capable of handling the complex needs of the world's largest arts festival."

Assembly director William Burdett-Coutts hit out at the Fringe board for its handling of the box office snafu. “Fundamentally, a very basic flaw has happened that has brought us very close to commercial death and I think the board need to recognise that,” he said at the organisation's AGM last week, according to luvvie rag The Stage.

The Fringe launched its new Liquid Box Office electronic system, supplied by Pivotal Integration Ltd, in June. However, it failed to cope with customer demand for the festival’s 2,088 shows, and organisers were forced on several occasions to completely suspend sales until the computer system could be fixed – much to the frustration of Fringe punters and promoters.

Pivotal Integration Ltd was founded in 2002. It specialised in business frameworks and development tools and had customers in the public, legal, finance and telecoms sectors. In 2006 it won a debt management services contract with Glasgow City Council.

El Reg also asked the Fringe if it was facing bankruptcy following the box office system cock-up – some members of its own board had claimed the group was on the brink of financial ruin – but it declined to provide comment. ®

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