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A Cautionary Tale for Eventers (or anyone else entering a competition)

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  • A Cautionary Tale for Eventers (or anyone else entering a competition)

    This is a cautionary tale for anyone who competes – be it on horseback, foot, or any other means. We are entering a brave new world of on-line entries and up-to-the minute scoring that would seem to make the process easier and faster. However, always ALWAYS call to make sure your entry has been received, even if the online system says you have entered and paid, and you know you mailed all necessary paperwork. The process is only easier and faster if both sides of the transaction use it correctly.

    I was excited to be a part of the final RamTap Horse Trials this November. I have been competing there for over a decade and always loved the quirky nature of the place. I planned my pony’s training schedule around the show – this would be her final Beginner Novice event, and the first at a totally new venue. I planned my team members, my hotel, and my family schedule well in advance of the opening date.

    On October 2nd, opening day, I went on to Xentry, the online entry system on the US Eventing website, plugged in my name, my pony’s name and my credit card information. Voila – I was entered and my money taken. I then printed, signed, and sent off hard copies of the entry and stabling forms. My side of the bargain was fulfilled.

    Over the ensuing weeks, I regularly checked the RamTap website for a list of accepted riders. It was not until the first week of November, well after the closing date of October 30th that it was posted. To my consternation, my name was nowhere to be found. I immediately called the show secretary, sure that there was a simple explanation. There was – apparently my paperwork went astray and that was that. I was not entered, I was not on a waiting list, and there was nothing I could do. Even though the secretary could clearly see that I entered and paid on October 2nd, I had absolutely no chance of competing. Because I did not take that added step of calling to confirm, the step that would seem to be made unnecessary given the online system, there was no way to find out my status until it was too late.

    My mistake was in assuming that since I had taken all the necessary steps, I was in. Unfortunately for me, because that particular show secretary only uses a portion of the online tools available, there was no way for me to know that she hadn’t received my paperwork except by calling and talking to her directly. While all the other shows I have entered this year use the online scoring program Start Box to let competitors know that they are entered, or if parts (signatures, fees, paperwork) are missing, in this particular case, there was no way to know.
    RamTap will be using Start Box to post scores; the show secretary just didn’t use it to communicate who was accepted.

    My dear friend offered to let me ride her in her place (we were in the same division and she was riding her trail horse just for the fun of it), but she was informed that was out of the question. So instead, my entry fee sits in the RamTap account until they decide to send a refund, US Eventing keeps my credit card fee (it seemed worth it at the time of entry – after all I paid on the opening date – how could they not accept me?), I miss out the fun of competing in the final RamTap with my friends., and my pony does not finish her season as planned.

    The benefit of all this is that I learned a hard lesson – never NEVER trust the system. Call the secretary, be the squeaky wheel, bribe the officials, because just because you play by the rules, it doesn’t mean you’ll be in the game.

  • #2
    That is such BS. I pay bills online and buy goods including airline tickets and if I ever showed up at the airport and got that treatment they'd be featuring me on the evening news. I've been bumped and re-routed before - and given vouchers for food and coupons for use on future flights too - but never just told oops, you don't exist. And airlines are notorious for that sort of stuff, there's not much you can do about equipment failure or weather related issues.
    I'd bring this to the attention of USEventing as well as starting a paper trail, you at least deserve a FULL and prompt refund.
    Very sorry.
    Courageous Weenie Eventer Wannabe
    Incredible Invisible


    • #3
      It's been hashed out ad nauseam on multiple threads over the course of the show season. Xentry has lots of flaws, EventEntries has lots of flaws, and neither system is anywhere close to perfect. I was told by an organizer that if I had used one of the entry systems this year (the one that happened to belong to the show secretary) I would have gotten in, whereas because I used the other system, my on-time, complete, acknowledged and papers-mailed-in-on-time got me waitlisted.

      I will continue to use the Xentry system for now, but they are on strike two with two outs.
      Click here before you buy.


      • #4
        Wow. If I was running Ram Tap, I'd be finding a new secretary and fast! That is ridiculous and if I were you I'd be raising holy hell with whoever would listen. When faced with proof of your entry it is absurd that there was no effort to make things right for you. That is basic customer service. I'm livid on your behalf!

        What reason did they give for not letting you take your friend's entry? That just sounds like someone being difficult for the heck of it. I recently gave a friend my credit at Plantation and all it took was one email. And, for the record, the response time was immediate.


        • #5
          There is so much wrong here that it ain't right.

          The whole purpose of paper mailed, and now internet entries, is so that you don't have to call and bug a secretary. They have way too much to already do rather than take a zillion phone calls. No way jose the entries status' should not have been posted before closing date!

          And somebody is just plain ass mean not allowing a substitution. I'd shout that one from the rooftops.

          Oh by the way what was the secretary's name???? Wait we'll all go look it up, it's public info.


          • #6
            What reason did they give for not letting you take your friend's entry
            Most entries clearly state that scratches will be filled from a wait list, in waitlist order. Taking entries from a friend who scratches is unfair to everyone else who got their entries in on time and were waitlisted. It is not "mean", it is the rules, clearly laid out in the Omnibus for a huge majority of shows.

            If you're so angry at the secretary, by all means give them hell. Then come back and whine when there are no longer any venues at which to compete. If the problem is with Xentry, take it up with USEA. They are actually very responsive to complaints about their system, which is having growing pains.

            Better yet, walk a mile in the secretary's shoes and try your hand at it before you come b*tch*ng here about how "mean" they are.
            Click here before you buy.


            • #7
              So the Show Secretary accepted your funds before the closing date but didn't record your entry?

              If so, that's a big deal. Someone in the show's management needs to fix that.
              The armchair saddler
              Politically Pro-Cat


              • #8
                If the entry was paid by credit card, the USEA accepted the funds, not the show secretary. The show is paid after USEA processes the credit card payments.

                The posters here are crucifying the wrong individual. Xentry's flaws are USEA's baby, NOT the problem of the individual organizer/secretary!!!
                Click here before you buy.


                • #9
                  It may not have initially been the secretary's fault but once made aware of the problem the secretary could have tried to rectify the situation. It doesn't sound like that was the case here. If it was I imagine an exception to the scratch rule would have been made so the OP could take her friend's spot. The OP did everything correctly and did follow the rules. It is disingenious to say it would be unfair to those on the waitlist.


                  • #10
                    I am in the habit of emailing show secretaries within 1 week of sending my entry UNLESS I hear from them first. If it is close to the closing date, I send a "heads up" my entry is coming email to the secretary prior to sending my entry. This is regardless of my method of entry.
                    Things happen for a reason...so when I reach over and smack you upside the head, just remember...you gave me a reason!


                    • #11
                      I think it's a real shame that the obvious solution, which is to take the friend's slot, can't be accommodated.

                      Some of the challenge here is that this is the last Ram Tap, and so there's obviously a lot of extra interest which is causing it to be oversubscribed for the first time in years.

                      The only good news is that it looks like a group is going to take over Ram Tap and it will be reborn as Fresno Horse Park under a new group of organizers.
                      If you are allergic to a thing, it is best not to put that thing in your mouth, particularly if the thing is cats. - Lemony Snicket


                      • #12
                        sounds to me as though in this age of technology and techno-geeks abound (not me, I'm a Luddite from another century), someone is missing an opportunity to fix an obviously broken entry system, and could make some $$$$ doing so!
                        “Always saddle your own horse. Always know what you’re doing. And go in the direction you are heading.” Connie Reeves
                        Jump Start Solutions LLC


                        • #13
                          The "I have to scratch but I want to give my entry to a friend" tactic can be very, very genuine and altruistic, but can also be abused and unfair. I have been on the short end of such an offer (did everyting "right", waitlisted, friend had to scratch and wished to give me her entry) and was given excellent reasons (with examples) of why this could not be accomodated "just this one time" and I was (and am) satisfied with the explanations given. Bummed, yes. But if everyone wants special treatment "just this once", it not only subverts the whole rules system but gives secretaries no end of extra work to do.
                          Click here before you buy.


                          • #14
                            I would encourage anyone with an interest in the topic to search for the two very lengthy threads that were up in July/August on this same subject. Lots of particulars and details were given, including input from USEA officials, as to the complicated nature of this problem.

                            Click here before you buy.


                            • Original Poster

                              Originally posted by deltawave View Post
                              If the entry was paid by credit card, the USEA accepted the funds, not the show secretary. The show is paid after USEA processes the credit card payments.

                              The posters here are crucifying the wrong individual. Xentry's flaws are USEA's baby, NOT the problem of the individual organizer/secretary!!!
                              USEA sent Ram Tap a check two days after they received my entry, and Ram Tap cashed the check less than two weeks later (and two weeks before their closing date).

                              I am not trying to crucify anyone, just post a warning. It sounds like some other people have already learned to triple-check an entry's acceptance, especially if the show organizer/secretary doesn't use other on-line tools to communicate.


                              • #16
                                I've not used Xentry (and have no desire to, based on this and other threads, until they work their glitches out) but EventEntries always gives me a notice after I submit my entry that the organizer/show secretary will be contacting me directly and then my entry will be confirmed. If I haven't heard from the secretary within a few days (which has only happened once, and it wasn't an EE problem, she just had forgotten to email me), I contact them.

                                OP, your situation sounds miserable, I'm so sorry. Does anyone know, when the USEA sends funds to the organizer, do they specify which entries the funds are for? If Ram Tap just got a lump sum check for all entries to that point and yours was included, I could see your entry slipping through the cracks. But if USEA is sending individual checks for entries it seems like it would be easy for the secretary to cross check the money with the entry. What a mess!
                                Balanced Care Equine


                                • #17
                                  Wow. So I read the threads and my, having two entry methods creates quite a mess. I guess I should be thankful that the online travel sites that aren't the airline give you valid tickets at all because these online entry methods are dreadful!

                                  I only have one word of wisdom - if you use the USPS the poster was right, Delivery confirmation just says it got to the PO in the case of PO Boxes, although they say they are going to "improve" that one of these days, so use Signature confirmation or send it Certified, whichever is cheaper. Unwaived Express mail needs a siggy too but costs a mint.
                                  All those methods require the boxholder to go up to the window and sign for it. They can lose it after that of course, but they can't claim they never got it.

                                  I have had issues with large organizations before claiming non-receipt when it was clear to me they LIED (paid an amount from the paperwork that was supposed to have gone missing. The replacements I sent by certified mail were updated to include new expenses - NOT noted in the check I received) so I tend not to trust what folks say. Obviously this is a shame as show secretaries in general are an overworked and under appreciated bunch.
                                  Courageous Weenie Eventer Wannabe
                                  Incredible Invisible


                                  • #18
                                    Eventing should go to a 'free enterprise' system and ditch the involvement with USEA.
                                    In H/J land there are several choices of online entry vendors. None of whom are affiliated with USEF or USHJA.
                                    Your entries ( and payments if the show allows it ) go directly to the show secretary, funds never go to a middleman like USEA.
                                    You get an immediate acknowledgement that your entries were submitted to the show. If the show rejects your entries ( rarely happens ) you receive notification.
                                    Free enterprise usually produces a much better product.


                                    • #19
                                      I've always mailed my entries in via snail mail. The one time I tried to use Event Entries (upon encouragement by the secretary), there was no way to confirm my entry had been submitted and accepted. The secretary ended up using my mailed-in entry, but unfortunately, I was hit with a $50 post-entry fee despite running in circles to try and appease the event secretary.
                                      Road to the T3D
                                      fri [fri:] fritt fria (adj): Free
                                      skritt [skrit:] skritten (noun): Walk


                                      • #20
                                        If they received money from the USEA and the check was cashed I would think they have a contract with you. I have yet to meet an event that couldn't fit another person in when they MUST fit a person in. I do understand the reasoning for denying the use of another persons spot IF they had not cashed the check but if they took the money, they owe you a spot. Doesn't matter what they need to do, they need to do it.