This past Saturday I went to watch the Vols play in Neyland Stadium as I have done every Saturday Tennessee has played in Knoxville for nearly a decade. Safe to say, this was the worst experience I have ever had, and I did not even watch a single play of the game. Before discussing my experience this past weekend, I want to note that the University of Tennessee has been contacted, and we are still awaiting word on if UT is willing to correct their mistake.
Walking into Neyland for the first time each fall is something I always look forward to and enjoy. Last Saturday, I went to the game with my mom. We were fortunate that my mom’s friend gave us her family’s season tickets for the Georgia State game. Out of respect for the family, I have agreed to not mention the family involved by name. The season tickets we are given have been in my mom’s friend’s family for more than sixty (60) years. For over six decades this family has supported the University of Tennessee through the good times and the bad.
The first issue came about as we were having our tickets scanned at the gate. The employee with the ticket scanner had difficulty scanning my mom’s ticket, and he made a comment that it looks as though her ticket has already been scanned. Nonetheless, it eventually scanned, and we continue to our seats. Once arriving at our seats with about thirty minutes until kickoff, a family is already in our designated seats. I politely speak with the people sitting there thinking they mistakenly sat down in the wrong section or row.
It’s a common mistake that I have encountered before. I told them this is where our seats are supposed to be and proceeded to show them our tickets. They were very cordial and showed us their tickets in return. And oddly enough, they have the same section, row, and seats as my mom and myself. It is worth noting that the people sitting in our seats had reprinted tickets from the University.
My mom and I walk back up the stairs to find an usher and explain the issue. After explaining the situation, the usher contacts her supervisor about how to handle the matter. This entire time we are thinking, UT will get this issue resolved, and we will get other seats in the stadium or they will move the people in our seats. Let’s be honest, it is not like Tennessee is having to worry about not having enough seats or selling out the stadium. Next, the supervisor asks for our tickets, and he tells us it might take some time to resolve the issue. So we stand in the tunnel next to our section for about twenty minutes waiting for him to return.
Once the supervisor returns he asks us to come with him, and we are escorted from the South Endzone all the way to the ticket office outside of Gate 21. He does not mention anything about there being an issue or what is about to happen. After walking out of the stadium, the gate is locked behind us. The supervisor that escorted us out informs us that we need to speak with the lady working in the ticket office.
The lady informs us that our tickets, which we presented and were granted access into Neyland, have been marked in the University’s computer system as “lost or stolen.” After my mom attempts to explain that there must be a mistake, the lady responds with, “There is not anything else I can do. If you want back in the stadium to watch the game you will have to buy more tickets.”
While at the ticket office, my mom calls her friend and explains the situation. My mom asks the lady to please speak with her friend in efforts to rectify the problem. After a few minutes of conversation between the two, the ticket representative hands the phone back to my mom and tells us the same thing that she had already told us.
My mom learns from her friend that the lady was rude and unwilling to acknowledge there is a chance the University made a mistake, as she tried to explain to the lady that the family had not reported the tickets as “lost or stolen.” In addition, she wanted to know if the $900 for which they had paid to the University would be refunded to them. My mom’s friend was told that the ticket owner would have to call the ticket office on Tuesday.
It turns out, the season ticket holder called UT over the summer to inform them that his brother-in-law passed away and requested his brother-in-law’s season tickets be cancelled. Instead of cancelling the brother-in-law’s season tickets, UT mistakenly reported the caller’s season tickets as “lost or stolen.”
But the University still mails the caller’s season tickets as they have done for over the last sixty year, collects the season ticket payment plus the donation fee, all along failing to inform them they cannot use the tickets to get into ANY GAMES for the 2019 season. Following this the University proceeds to resell the tickets the family has held for over SIXTY-YEARS to the people I met in the seats on Saturday; therefore, making a profit off both families for the same exact seats.
As disappointing as it is, I have sadly become more inclined to expect this type of service from the University of Tennessee. I love this place like no other, but there are so many areas where I am seeing them continue to fall behind year after year. Hopefully, UT corrects their mistake and learns from it. I hated how we were treated on Saturday, but in the end, I should probably call and thank the University for not allowing us to witness the worst loss in Tennessee football history.
*The University of Tennessee has been made aware of the situation, and I will update this story as more information becomes available.