F1 tickets foul-up

Singapore February 14th, 2008

It probably doesn’t take a genius to figure out that by the time the Fi tickets are released for public sale after 2 postponements, everyone will be rushing to get it and that the system should be robust enough to handle it.

A visit to the site at www.singaporegp.sg in an attempt to access the ticketing page returned the following error:

An error occured while processing your request!
If you were processing a credit card at the time of this error please contact Customer Support to verify no charges were applied to the card in question before attempting your transaction again.
If you continue to experience this issue please contact Customer Support for further assistance.

Apparently, the ticketing is managed by Omniticket, which seemed to have only European and US offices. It is not known if any development team is located in Singapore, although the main website of Singapore GP is owned locally.

Site flooding is a usual phenomenon for ticketing sites such as Sistic or for cinemas’ such as Golden Village, Cathay or Eng Wah. However, such rush is usually expected only for very popular events at the first few hours that tickets are put up for sale. Another exception is when discount tickets are suddenly put up for grabs, such as the DBS promotion for Phantom of the Opera last year.

While upgrading entire systems for is not reasonable for the occasional peak, better site traffic management such as notifying them of down time in a graceful manner, or preserving session status would definitely be more helpful than presenting a blank or time-out screen after the user clicks on submit.

Let’s just hope that others will learn – which almost never happens.

WHEN tickets for the world’s inaugural Formula One night race went on sale on Thursday morning, fans were expecting a well-oiled ticketing machinery at work.

Instead, what happened when the starting flag came down was complete chaos.

A server error caused the entire ticketing system to foul up. Fans tried for hours to get through the ticketing website and failed.

Even as late as 5pm, fans called up The Straits Times to say they were having problems getting into the F1 website to buy tickets.

Those who tried calling also could not get through.

Some who tried both and failed rushed down in the hope they would have better luck buying over the counter. They were wrong.

Tickets sales on the ground too had run into problems. At the one of SingPost ticket stations, the system was so slow that only three fans were able to purchase tickets in the three hours from opening.

Mark Benterman was whooping with joy when he finally got into the Singapore GP website after one and a half hours of trying.

The British Airways pilot, who lives in Singapore, reserved two Pit Grandstand tickets, each costing $1,388, but his session was timed-out as he was filling in his particulars on the online form.

When Benterman managed to log on to the website again an hour later, he realised, to his horror, that he had lost his seats. After four hours of trying, he gave up trying to buy the tickets online.

‘It was absolutely frustrating and a disgrace,’ he slammed.

‘I like Singapore for its efficiency but this incident is unacceptable. I am trying to spend money but I can’t, due to a computer problem. If Singapore GP cannot sell it online, then they shouldn’t have offered the tickets on the Internet.’

Similarly, Mr Lim Yong Soon had unsuccessfully tried to get the tickets online.

The businessman also tried buying them at the SingPost outlet at Bukit Timah but was told that the website had crashed. After five hours of trying, Lim gave up.

He said: ‘It’s very frustrating to keep trying for hours without results.’

Article obtained from straitstimes.com on 14th February 2008

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