Tuesday, 4 October 2011

British Swimming....how to organise a dog's breakfast of a ticketing process

So... like many people who failed to get Olympics tickets for the swimming, I excitedly pre-registered myself for priority booking for the British Gas Swimming Championships, 2012 - the GB trials in the new aquatics centre. The fact that British Gas are involved, even only as sponsors, should have given me a heads up (anyone who's tried to deal with what they laughingly call "customer services" will know what I mean), but this was just a spectacular dog's breakfast from the outset. The ticketing website, accessible through an individualised link, was supposed to open at 9am today, and I was duly online at 9.05, ready to book my tickets before my morning of meetings. But no...it wasn't up yet. I don't know what time it opened, but I checked briefly at 9.50 and it was working, but I had no time before my meeting, so I started again at just gone 11am....What a mess. The system was slow and clunky, repeatedly timing out. Eventually, I managed to reserve two sets of three seats for a session of finals, and for some heats. Result....or so I thought until I finally crawled my way to the checkout, only to have the site repeatedly crash, and then to time out, wiping off all of the tickets I had reserved. Aaargh.

Off to another meeting, then back to try again....except this time, most of the tickets had already gone. I give up.

I accept that not everyone can have the tickets that they want, and I think it's great that so many people are into swimming. But exclamations on the part of British Swimming that they had greater demand than anticipated ring pretty hollow, given that all they had to do was count up the number of people who had purposefully pre-registered - a pretty good indicator of how many people would try to buy tickets, I would have thought. And also, how can it be acceptable to have such a feeble system in place to manage that demand? All British Swimming had to say for themselves was to "keep trying", but this isn't good enough - I don't think it's too much to ask to have a system in place with enough capacity to process applications, or efficiently display non-availability. What a waste of time.

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