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Dublin: 12 °C Thursday 20 June, 2019
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'My heart was broken for them': Mother's anger as GamerCon founder apologises for chaos

GamerCon founder Ferdi Roberts has said he is “incredibly sorry”.

DSC_0123 Zach Forsythe and his friend Daniel. Source: Susan Forsythe

THERE ARE CONCERNS that ticketholders who were unable to access the GamerCon event in Dublin city last weekend will not receive a full refund.

Scores of people have told how they have only received partial refunds over the event which saw thousands of people unable to gain access to the Convention Centre on Saturday morning.

Large crowds stood in the wind and rain for a number of hours only to be told by security that the venue was at capacity and they would be better off going home. There have been claims that the event was oversold leading to large queues forming from early on Saturday morning. The event was billed as “Ireland’s largest and most exciting convention for the computer gaming community”.

A Facebook page with just under 1,000 members details a number of examples of people who have not received the full refund amount.

One of those is Susan Forsythe. She had brought her nine-year-old son Zach and his friend Daniel from Belfast to the event. She described how “devastated” the boys were when it emerged that they were not going to get into the venue to see their favourite YouTube personalities. Forsythe had paid extra for VIP passes when it emerged a meet-and-greet with the online vloggers could only be secured with the more expensive tickets.

“To see the devastation in their wee faces was horrible. We had a family ticket which we had saved up for as a Christmas present for him. He was so excited, it was like another Christmas. He was counting down the days and then he was devastated when we got to the front door and were told we’d be better off going home,” the mother said.

gamercon Queues on Saturday morning for GamerCon.

In total, she paid €82.75 for a family ticket, an extra €32.06 for two VIP passes, €26 for car parking, €45 for diesel in getting to and from Dublin from Belfast and €7 in toll fares.

Forsythe had been saving for weeks to afford the Christmas present and also incurred expenses from travelling down to the event from Belfast. All in, she paid over €200 for the day out. She said the refund of a little over €65 doesn’t do much for her.

We were there waiting for 90 minutes or thereabouts in the wind and the rain and then security came and said we’d be better off going home. We were sent away. The kids were there in their fancy dress and everything. It broke my heart.

“It’s not the money aspect really. How can you pay the price on the kids disappointment? It was sad to watch your child look forward to something for so long and then have it taken away from him.”

refund The email Susan Forsythe was sent.

The founder of GamerCon released a new statement this morning personally apologising for what happened over the weekend.

Ferdi Roberts said he is responsible for what happens and takes “full responsibility” for the chaos that ensued. He said he wanted to apologise to “the kids and families” who were let down.

“To everyone who attended GamerCon Dublin this past weekend, I would like to personally apologise to those of you who had a bad experience queuing for, or at the event. I am the event organiser, and I accept full responsibility and am deeply, deeply sorry to the kids and families whose day was ruined by long queues both outside and inside the venue.”

I accept completely that I got it wrong, and that the social response is largely justified in light of the experience that many people had. While I witnessed people enjoying the event on both days, that was completely overshadowed by the fact that many of you queued for hours and ultimately could not gain entry, or decided, understandably, to leave the queue. I accept that I and the decisions I made created that situation for you, your family or loved ones. This was never my intent, and for this I am incredibly sorry.

Roberts said he is working to ensure that refund requests are processed as quickly as possible and will continue to do so until everyone affected has had their questions responded to, or their ticket fee refunded as appropriate.

A term and condition on the GamerCon website, which is printed in a different font to the other terms and conditions, says that “access (to the event) is not guaranteed” as the organisers “are required to maintain a safe environment for our attendees at all times and as such are subject to the capacities of the venue and the rooms/halls therein”.

Roberts, in earlier statement had said that queuing issues inside the centre were not his fault and that responsibility for these lines lay with Convention Centre Dublin (CCD) staff – a claim he has since retracted.

A statement from the Convention Centre said:

Ticket sales for every event held at The CCD are managed by the event organisers, not by The CCD, who are contracted to provide the venue. The organisers of this event hired an event management company and a security company to run the event.
The number of tickets sold was based on an underestimate by the organiser of the amount of time people would remain at the event.  This meant that for much of Saturday the number of people wanting to enter the venue at the same time was too high.

Read: GamerCon fiasco: Convention Centre hits back after organisers blame venue >

Read: Chaos at gaming event in Dublin as crowd queues for hours before being turned away >

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