I’m a dedicated fan of Formula 1 and have attended the Australian Grand Prix every year since 2003. I usually buy a weekend general admission ticket at the gate because, until this year, it has been the same price as presale and there has been no incentive to do otherwise. General admission is never going to sell out.

I checked the Grand Prix website a few days ago to see what the ticket would cost this year. In 2010 it was $185, and the year before it was $175. In previous years the ticket agency was Ticketek. In 2011, the ticket agency is Foxtix and the price listed on the official Grand Prix website was $185.

When I say price listed, I mean the ONLY price listed (as at Tuesday or Wednesday this week). In previous years, the ticket price has been the same whether purchased in advance or at the gate and regardless of method, such as online, phone or in person. With growing disinterest and increasing financial losses, I assumed they didn’t want to alienate fans by increasing prices again.

There was no information alongside the ticket prices to explain how the ticketing worked, where to buy in person (like the information Ticketek always provided), how to print out or collect tickets bought online, which appeared to the only purchase method offered (usually you’d want to collect your map, lanyard etc), or why there was a new ticket agency. It looked dodgy to me – amateurish and incomplete – and I didn’t trust it.

I’d rather buy my ticket at the gate, not from some lame online agency I’ve never heard of. But when I got to the gate at Albert Park yesterday I was shocked to find that the entry price for the same ticket was $220. I complained, and the inane 20somethings behind the counter, who obviously knew nothing about the pricing, stared at me blankly.

They insisted that the $185 I referred to was only for internet presales. So why then had it not been advertised as such, I asked. Why had the discount price policy not been promoted and explained? Why did the official website not contain the correct information? Nothing to with us, they said. We’re Foxtix, and what the Grand Prix has on its website is nothing to do with us.

The complete incompetence and irrationality of this did not seem to occur to them. Foxtix is the agency appointed by the Grand Prix to sell its tickets. They continued to stare blankly, then frowned a bit. When I persisted with my complaint, they called the police.

The bored motorcycle traffic police officer told me to pay the price or leave the area. By now there were only minutes to go before the first practice session was to start, so I paid and entered. When I got home I checked the Grand Prix website to discover that the ticketing information had been updated to separate online sales and gate sales, with the price difference clearly explained.

But it was was too late for me. Their late website change cost me $35 and allowed them to exploit me and no doubt hundreds of other fans desperate to get in the gate. Such fundamental changes to the ticketing of a major event like this should be clearly communicated in a timely manner, and where the failure lies with the promoter, in this case the Australian Grand Prix Corporation, then consumers should be able to pay the advertised price.

Then there’s the issue of the price itself. In the previous year it went up $10. This year, it’s gone up $35. I don’t see how this can be justified.

I’m almost looking forward to the corrupt, incompetent Australian Grand Prix Corporation losing the Grand Prix. The backstabbing that will ensure in the Liberal Party will be a pleasure to watch, and I’ll spend some money each year going to the Singapore Grand Prix instead. Fuck you Ron Walker. Your customer service is shit and you deserve to be unemployed.

The Australian Grand Prix Corporation and Foxtix engage in misleading and deceptive ticket pricing

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