06 May 2006

Olympiad tickets

By a happy coincidence, my travel plans were such that for a few days I would not be far from Turin while the Olympiad was being played there. How could any chess fan pass up a once in a lifetime chance to visit the greatest chess show on earth?

The official site...

37e Olimpiadi degli Scacchi : Torino 2006

...had instructions for buying tickets to enter the playing area...

'Silver Ticket : 5.00 euro - availability: 1500 tickets per day; With this ticket you can access the trade fair area, the technical area for live comment on some of the top games of the day, and the galleries and walkways around the Parterre, the playing area.

'Golden Ticket : 20.00 euro - availability: max 300 per day; In addition to the possibilities given by the Silver ticket, this ticket gives direct access to the Parterre to follow the games from close up.'

...That sounded great and I decided to buy two Golden Tickets, one for me and one for a friend, also a chess fan, who would be traveling with me. I sent an email inquiry to the designated agent ('Blubs viaggi'), waited a week without response, and then sent a follow-up. This time I received a response after a few working days. Along with a form for ordering tickets ('Step 1'), the response mentioned the following payment instructions.

'Step 2 - Payment; The payment can be made in one of two solutions:
'a. CREDIT CARD : To pay with a credit card we need absolutely by fax:
1) Authorization to debit the card the entire amount of the tickets, credit card issuer and number, and the expiration date.
2) The signature from the owner of the credit card.
3) A photocopy of the credit card (front and back)
4) A photocopy of two different identifications (for example: drivers license and passport)
N.B.: For the payment with credit card we charge 2,5% commission of the entire amount. (because when you pay through card we have additional cost).

'b. SWIFT BANKING : To pay with Swift, a copy of the bank statement by fax with the following explanation: "payment tickets for Chess Olympiad", and your name.'

I discussed the credit card conditions with my friend and we agreed that the requested documents were more appropriate for buying a luxury item than for buying two tickets to a sporting / cultural event. In this era of rampant identity theft, no prudent person would send all of those documents to a complete stranger. I also inquired into the cost of a Swift bank transfer and determined that it would add at least 50% to the cost of the tickets.

I then sent off a third email to Blubs viaggi suggesting either a cheaper form of European bank transfer, a postal money order, or direct electronic payment via another friend who lives in Italy. That email was never answered. My friend and I decided that we would let the opportunity pass. Reserving hotel rooms for four in Turin (our wives would be joining us on the trip) was not attractive if there was no guarantee of visiting the Olympiad.

I am really curious why the payment conditions were so onerous. It would have been a wonderful chance to visit a unique chess event.

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