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Edinburgh Fringe website suffers logon wobbles

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Edinburgh Festival Fringe organisers have reassured customers that its ticketing system and website are robust enough to cope with demand following last year’s chaotic box office snafu.

However, a small number of people have complained that the online service for booking tickets still isn’t entirely up to scratch.

Some have grumbled on the outfit’s message board about difficulties they’ve experienced when attempting to logon to the Fringe’s official website in order to book tickets for this year’s event.

“Why is booking tickets using the website so difficult? The My Fringe option disappears when I choose to buy one set of tickets and put them in the basket,” asked one exasperated user.

“Frustrating to say the least - I thought ticket booking difficulties could have been solved after last year's fiasco! There seems little point in making a wish-list if it can't be accessed to book tickets.”

The organisation’s general manager Tim Hawkins has given a canned response to several would be customers apologising for the problems they’ve been having with the site.

“In terms of buying tickets, whilst a small proportion of ticket buyers have had problems, overall the site has been very successful - selling over 150,000 tickets for a value in excess of £1m in less than a month,” claimed Hawkins.

“We do realise that the website does need updating but our focus this year was to ensure our box office was fully functional. We plan to rebuild our site for next year.”

In June 2008 the group’s box office system collapse led to a 10 per cent drop in takings, claimed the scalp of Pivotal Integration Ltd - the software company that developed the system - and eventually saw the Fringe’s director, Jon Morgan, walk.

The Register contacted Fringe spokesman Neil MacKinnon to find out what lessons had been learned from last year’s major technical cockup.

While a very small number of people had indeed been experiencing trouble logging onto the Fringe’s website this year, “no systematic problem” has reared its ugly head this time around, said MacKinnon.

He added that it was to be expected that some people, at busy times, might be temporarily locked out of the website. The system, which was developed by Red61, can handle up to 550 users at a time.

Fringe organisers plan to get the organisation's website revamped once all the acts from this year's event have packed up and gone home.

The festival, which claims to be "the number-one tourist attraction in the whole of Britain", runs from 7-31 August in Edinburgh. ®

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