Monday, May 5, 2008

Ticketing Ordeal

With 95 more days to go till the Olympics, today was the last and only day people on the Chinese mainland could get Games tickets.

Officials said there were thousands of tickets left for 244 events. And each person was limited to a maximum of three tickets per event, and if they paid for those first, then they were entitled to an additional three more for another event.

Beijing Olympic organizers even made an ambitious promise -- that the ticketing system wouldn't crash, unlike late last year.

If there was a way to bet on the system crashing, I would have put down some money.

And what do you know -- just before 9am when the online ticket sales was supposed to start, the computers in our office started crashing.

I managed to get back online around 11am and tried to go through events I was interested in, in order of enthusiasm: swimming, diving, tennis, cycling track, fencing... weightlifting... handball... archery... but those tickets were gone.

I had to get more creative and decided on softball. Yes! Tickets! I quickly put in my order and then tried to pay for them online.

And waited.
And waited.
And waited....

And then about 15 minutes later the page went blank "this page not found".

I tried again, this time for baseball. Yes again! I put in my order again and clicked "pay online".

And waited.
And waited.
And waited.

And another 15 minutes later the page went blank again.

It was then that I thought the ticketing system crashed.

However, I kept trying and it wasn't until partway through lunchtime when my order was processed.

The page said I only had 2 minutes to input my credit card number and other details and
then -- presto! I had tickets virtually in my possession.

As I could try to get tickets for another event, I put in another order for softball again and in a relatively short time got them too.

The organizers boasted tickets sold quickly in the first half hour, but some of the public complained they had trouble buying tickets online, describing a similar experience to me.

Did they give up that easily?

Or was it luck on my side? Or I picked obscure sports Chinese people aren't interested in?

In any case, I may have some new best friends come August...

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