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Apology issued to angry parents after IT misery hits High Life Highland School’s Out bookings website

By Philip Murray

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The School’s Out programme proves very popular every summer, with children enjoying a range of activities - like this Vikings Love Boats workshop at Inverness Museum in 2017.
The School’s Out programme proves very popular every summer, with children enjoying a range of activities - like this Vikings Love Boats workshop at Inverness Museum in 2017.

A "massive apology" has been issued by High Life Highland after "unprecedented demand" caused its School's Out website site to crash - leaving frustrated parents unable to secure slots before their chosen activities were fully booked.

Angry parents took to High Life Highland's social media pages to vent their frustration this week after being hit by problems booking spots for their children - with some experiencing hours of difficulty without success.

Lindi Campbell said: "What a nightmare, nearly three hours of trying to book activities first thing this morning which is the busiest time for mums trying to get kids ready for school. An evening would be much less frantic and a new system is needed as it crashes every year!

"What's the point in being able to list favourites in advance for a smoother quicker checkout when it still doesn't work. You are left completely frazzled 3 hrs later with a crashed system. A rethink is badly needed."

Emma Paterson said: "Every b***dy year, joke of a system! Now I’ve to go to work so no doubt miss out again!"

K-Lou Phi agreed: "What a joke can’t even get to checkout without cart expiring."

Others attacked the organisation for what they felt were failures to learn lessons from the past, claiming the same issues repeat every year.

"I don’t understand why the system isn’t upgraded to keep up with demand. Every single time a booking window opens this happens. It’s infuriating," said Danielle Farley.

And Jane M Scott added: Utter chaos yet again... fail to plan, plan to fail. You successfully manage it yearly! Bravo!"

Responding to the flood of complaints, High Life Highland issued a statement apologising profusely for the issues parents were facing, and said it had worked to try to build a more robust system only for the peak in demand to prove overwhelming nevertheless.

And it has promised that it is "doing everything" it can to try to increase the number of new activities available for those who missed out during its IT gremlins.

"Massive apologies to everyone who tried to book School's Out activities this morning," it said yesterday. "Due to unprecedented demand, we experienced technical difficulties that caused problems with accessing the system and checking-out.

"In addition, our call centre had seen an influx of calls which has added to the inconvenience. Our system was stable by late morning and online bookings are being processed normally.

"Our IT team have been working hard in the run up to the launch of the School's Out programme to build a system that can cope with the usually expected high demand.

"However, this morning that demand far exceeded our expectations – which clearly demonstrates the immense popularity and need for these activities across the Highlands.

"We know that some customers had been successful this morning – with over 3,000 activities already booked by 9am.

"For those who have missed out on booking activities due to high demand, please be assured that we are doing everything to increase the number of new activities within the programme over the coming days and weeks leading up to the holidays.

"Once again, we are extremely sorry for any stress and inconvenience caused on a busy Tuesday morning."

Approached for further comment, a High Life Highland spokesperson added: “We did experience unprecedented demand and heavy traffic on the booking system in the first couple of hours but by 9am, 3,000 spaces had been reserved. By late morning the system was functioning as expected and by the end of the day over 17,000 spaces had been reserved across a range of activities on offer, with more and more activities being added in coming days and weeks.”

To view the School’s Out programme, and to make bookings, visit https://booking.highlifehighland.com/programme/24.

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