Watch: Long queues and a payments crisis left U2 fans in Mumbai bitter until Bono and the band redeemed the evening

Watch: Long queues and a payments crisis left U2 fans in Mumbai bitter until Bono and the band redeemed the evening
U2 concert in MumbaiBookMyShow Twitter
  • The closing gig of the Joshua Tree tour in Mumbai was marred technical glitches leaving many fans thirsty for a long time.
  • Organisers had planned for a ‘digital payments’ only event but seemed short of a plan-B when the servers crashed.
  • BookMyShow has claimed responsibility for the card activation machines not working and said the refund process has been started.
Bono took the stage on Mumbai with an estimated 50,000 people singing along to the greatest hits of U2. While fans lit up the DY Patil stadium in Navi Mumbai with their phones swaying to songs like “With or Without You”, there were thousands of disgruntled faces behind those flashlights.

The organisers had decided that only digital payments will be allowed at the event and they handed a special card with every ticket that had to be loaded and activated to buy food and beverages at the venue. But in the absence of a plan-B, there was confusion and chaos when the servers of payments app PhonePe crashed, and fans were unable to buy even drinking water.

However, in a statement sent to Business Insider, PhonePe claimed that the error was at the end of BookMyShow, the organiser. “There was inconvenience caused to customers at the U2 concert due to an error in the card activation machines. This failure is not linked with PhonePe, in any manner. All affected customers have been sent a communication by BookMyShow,” said a PhonePe spokesperson.

As Bono screamed ‘In the name of love’, fans were busy figuring out how to moisten their vocal chords for the next chorus. “All affected users will receive refunds for the balance amount that remained unloaded onto the F&B top-up cards within 7 working days,” a BookMyShow spokesperson told Business Insider.

People may get the money they loaded into the card back, but the way their entire experience of a much-awaited concert was ruined will remain with them forever.

The disappointment began much before the servers crashed

Firstly, to the fans’ discomfort, they were made to stand in two different, and long queues⁠— one for activation and the other for top up of the card. People spent a lot of time standing in one queue to learn at the end of it that they had to queue up again.

Of course, they could top-up their card using the PhonePe app but as is often the case in a crowded concert, the network congestion renders phones useless, leaving no option but to queue up again; something that neither the fans nor the organisers factored in.

Irony died a thousand times and more as the fans saw the hoarding that promised ‘free’ drinking water if they paid ₹50 for a ‘reusable cup’. That was the only option available for fans who weren’t allowed to get their own bottles, whether it was sustainable or made of plastic.

Watch: Long queues and a payments crisis left U2 fans in Mumbai bitter until Bono and the band redeemed the evening

And then, the servers crashed and people couldn’t buy the expensive cups that were the only way to drink the ‘free’ water. Fans started heckling the helpless representatives of PhonePe but not before a few rude gestures turning people away to other ‘activation counters’ because they were being ‘impatient’. This was around 6 pm. It only dawned on the organisers later that the systems were beyond immediate repair.

Only then, food stalls started accepting cash and drinking water became truly ‘free’ and eventually, plastic water bottles had to be passed on at no cost at the stands.But by then, people ⁠— many of whom had paid for a chopper ride aside from the steeply priced tickets — had already turned bitter from the experience.

There's a special chopper and a train to take fans to the U2 concert in Mumbai — and they will leave 'with or without you'