20 April 2012

Aus Prince fans angry at Ticketek ticket debacle

So, the Prince / Ticketek ticket sales stuff-up made it to the Australian news. No surprise.

I was one of the Prince fans who, on Monday morning, endured a substandard online user experience for over an hour before getting tickets. "What a first world problem. Stop whingeing" I hear all the bleeding heart, apathetic hipsters moaning in my ear. No, that's not good enough. If I have a substandard experience as a consumer, it's my right to complain about it.

A couple of issues need to be addressed here:

1) Ticketek needs to improve its servers so they can handle en masse web traffic.

2) Ticketek needs to change error messages that pop up during the transaction process so you know if a) the process has timed out, b) the ticket allocation has been exhausted or c) there are not enough seats together to complete your transaction. Not put all messages into one so people don't know if the tickets have been exhausted or the site's just crap.

3) When someone is sitting in the queue waiting to gain entry to the transaction process, this queue should not be time-limited. If I am in the queue at 8.45am waiting for the tickets to go on sale at 9am, I should not be thrown out of the queue before I even get a chance to enter the site only to then sit at the back of the queue. I was 'timed out' and thrown out of the queue over 10 times before I even got to the point where I could buy tickets, when the site incorrectly told me 6 times (each time I got into the purchase section) that ticket allocations had been exhausted. See point 2.

4) Ticketek needs to ensure its phone line works. People who do not have internet access deserve to have the opportunity to buy tickets. When the internet site didn't work, and the mobile site didn't work, I tried several times over an hour to make a purchase via the phone line. All I got was a signal that indicated they'd taken their phones off the hook so nobody could get through. Not even a queue or a message. This is very poor customer service, not to mention extremely lacking on the accessibility front.

5) Before the Prince tickets went on sale, Ticketek should've assumed the site would be overloaded. They should've prepared for this. They should've made several announcements beforehand advising the mobile site was also available, and the phone line should've also been an option to spread the load. Poor communication before and during the sale resulted in fans being confused, frustrated and ultimately angry.

6) Ticketek needs some serious competition. Ticket buyers deserve the option to buy from one of several sites/companies. This will solve the seemingly 'unsolvable' excuse Ticketek falls back on regarding server capacity.  Problems are bound to happen - and remain unresolved - if one company has the monopoly on a particular service.

These are just some of my ideas. My day-job background is in communication planning and online content development. It frustrates me to see such poor customer service and such a lack of attention given to a substandard user experience. In my opinion, Ticketek should invest in hiring communications/web design staff who know what they're doing to create effective communication strategies around potential risks - such as what to do when the service' capacity is stretched - and to create a website that is dependable and effective.

Buying tickets for a popular gig will always be challenging but shouldn't be frustrating and filled with technical difficulties. Ticketek needs to ensure that this doesn't happen again.


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