Ticketmaster Website Fataly Flawed
Sunday, October 22, 2006, 5:57 PM - Computing Technology
Upon attempting to purchase tickets for the World Series when they went on sale the morning of October 16, I discovered several design flaws in the Ticketmaster Website. Make no mistake, these are not simply problems because the website had more traffic than usual, the availablity of the website was fine. These are reliability issues that could effect anyone at any time. They are only more prevalent and noticable when there is a high demand for tickets for an event.
For some background, buying a ticket from the Ticketmaster Website normally consists of the following steps:
1. Find your game/event
2. Select number of tickets to request and section
3. Enter queuing webpage and the wait time is displayed, depending on demand
4. Purchase requested tickets, if available
First Flaw - No support for mulitple events
I began by trying to optimize my chances at being able to attend just one World Series game in Detroit. So naturally right when they went on sale at 7 AM (PDT) I refreshed the page for both Game 1 and Game 2, made my selections, and entered the queue. A few minutes later I was informed that you could not be in the queue for two events at the same time. I was now 5 minutes behind everyone else and had to re-enter the queue for a single game. Clearly, it is nearly impossible that anyone can attend more than one World Series game by purchasing tickets through the website.
Second Flaw - Number of tickets does not automatically adjust
As outlined above, you select the number of tickets that you want before entering the queue. If you exit the queue, and that number of tickets is not available anymore it gives an error message. You must then go back to the ticket selection page and change the number of tickets you are requesting. In this case 4 is no longer an option. Then you must re-enter the queue and wait AGAIN. This seems unnecessary. It would save everyone some time if the system simply downgraded your ticket request to the number available upon exit from the queue as required.
Third Flaw - Faulty queuing system
The first computer that I tried entered the queue for Game 2 and it gave a wait time of greater than 15 minutes. Fine. So I waited, the number began to come down and finally settled at 8 minutes. It remained there for about 20 minutes. I did nothing since I did not want to lose my "place in line" under any circumstances. So I loaded up the same game on my second computer. Would you believe that it actually loaded up BEFORE the first computer to inform me that there were no tickets left? That's right. So just for kicks I decided to go to work and leave the page loading on the first computer. I returned and over 12 hours later, the screen displayed exactly the same thing! No error, no "sorry, we are out of tickets." It still said that I had 8 minutes remaining in the queue!
As far as I am concerned, three strikes and Ticketmaster is out. I have considered boycotting the company because of this and the exorbatant "services fees" that they add to the price of a ticket. However, this is means giving up going to just about any major event ever again.