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SOCOG reissues cheques after mailing blunder
Source: AAP | Published: Saturday February 5, 12:01 PM
More than 9,000 people who missed out on Olympics tickets will finally receive their refund cheques next week, more than two months later than promised.
Red-faced Olympics officials today said a processing blunder at the Olympic mailout centre meant the tickets were not printed during the massive mailout of 68,500 cheques last November.
It is the latest in a string of SOCOG mishaps, including the multi-million dollar budget shortfall, the ticketing fiasco and the marching bands saga.
SOCOG had initially blamed the refund error on a heavy Christmas mailing period after thousands of Australians complained they had not received their cheques late last year.
However, an internal investigation has since found the cheques were not even printed - after a 'processing error' when electronic files with the details were transferred from SOCOG to the mailing centre, SOCOG said.
Meanwhile, 735,000 new Olympic Opportunity tickets are available after the selection was finalised by SOCOG on Thursday.
The tickets, all priced under $20, will initially be offered to schools and sporting groups.
SOCOG chief executive Sandy Hollway said organisers were not made aware that a significant print run of refund cheques had not been carried out until this week.
Mr Hollway said it was now clear the busy Christmas mailing period was not a factor in customers failing to receive their cheques.
Thousands of complaints were received from people in Canberra, Queanbeyan, and Sydney's eastern, inner-west and southern suburbs, Mr Hollway said.
Mr Hollway said 3,000 cheques had already been reissued after complaints, while a further 6,000 people, who had not contacted SOCOG, should receive their refund cheques by the end of next week.
'SOCOG has now set up a process to reissue new cheques to be sent to these customers,' Mr Hollway said today.
He said the processing error was beyond SOCOG's control and organisers were trying to minimise any further inconvenience to customers.
SOCOG has extended by two weeks the deadline for any customers eligible for tickets to sessions previously sold out.
'I apologise to those people who have been inconvenienced,' Mr Hollway said.
Australia Post welcomed the admission by SOCOG that the cheques had never been posted.
'There had been incorrect reports that the delay was caused by a mail system fault,' Australia Post general manager NSW Bill Broadbridge said.
'We ... could not accept that more than 9,000 letters were missing in the mail, especially as we had taken particular precautions with them.
-- Martin Thompson (firstname.lastname@example.org), February 04, 2000