Purchasing Tickets for NYCC

Since coming to New York for school I have had to adjust myself to many things. Undoubtedly the biggest of these is the fact that I now have access to a much larger variety of arts and events. For the first time in my life I’m living in a city where I can actually expect for a band to tour, but I seem to have some trouble accepting it.  (I should note, I don’t wish to join the legion of dissatisfied youths bashing St. Louis as though it were some Doc Hollywood type small town.  It’s an attitude I generally find unpleasant, though I admit to being guilty of it from time to time.)

Last October, while starting classes, I discovered that several of my friends planned to attend the 2013 New York Comic Con.  It was too late to purchase tickets at that point, so I resolved to buy a pass for this year’s as soon as possible. Currently I am back in St. Louis, and I was recently reminded by a friend that passes are going up.

Yesterday (June 26th) 3-day and single-day passes for this year’s NYCC event went on sale at 12:00pm EST, or 11:00am my time.  Having observed the sale of 4-day passes last Wednesday, I went in knowing generally what to expect.  I would be placed in a waiting-line until redirected to the purchase page, at which point I could choose the type of ticket I wished to buy.  Obviously traffic would be heavy, and given how quickly last week’s passes went I knew I would have to act fast.

What I did not expect though was the level of confusion and dissatisfaction that NYCC’s purchase-process would create.  I have seen numerous people in addition to myself complaining that the process is needlessly convoluted.  This was compounded by the fact that customers were given conflicting information that hindered their ability to buy tickets.

All morning I had the “Buy Tickets” page of NYCC’s site opened, ready to refresh when the time came.  At 11:00am I hit F5 and crossed my fingers.  The first thing I, and I believe most other customers, saw was an error page.  This was not a great surprise and I reacted the way I imagine most people would: by jamming refresh.  Generally this would lead to the same error, though occasionally it would direct me back to the “Buy Tickets” page which still did not list single and 3-day passes.  NYCC’s official twitter quickly addressed the issue.

Five minutes went by like this, when the twitter posted a link to the ticket store.

Soon after this link appeared the regular website become functional again.

Clicking the link, or following the link on the “Buy Tickets” page, would take you to the “NYCC 2014 Virtual Queue,” where one was to wait for their turn to purchase tickets. Note the instructions regarding refreshing the page. (Click to enlarge)

Queue

Refresh

The instructions on the queue page clearly indicate that refreshing that page, while not necessary, will not cause one to lose his/her place in line. Minutes later, the official twitter chimes in again with this notice:

This might seem like the first red-flag, but I (and I believe most people) interpreted it as simply reiterating what was stated on the queue page or clarifying that the queue page was not an error or dead-end.

Now that the queue was functioning, it was a simple waiting game. I left the page open and would occasionally press F5 just to be sure I wasn’t stuck on the queue page accidentally. Other than general annoyance at having to wait, I was quite happy and excited to get tickets. A half hour went by without me moving forward when they release this tweet:

This doesn’t affect me much as I’m not at the purchase page yet but it does worry me slightly, particularly when I see some people responding that hitting back did not work for them. (It is, of course, entirely possible that this was a problem on those customer’s ends involving their cookie settings or something similar) Around this time, numerous people begin complaining about the wait-time. Amid these complaints are reports from people who have gotten past the queue that 3-day passes are sold out.

However, a small number are reporting that there are a few left, and NYCC itself has not posted about it.

Finally, a post is made on the official NYCC facebook page:
FB1
(Note: the above post has since been deleted by NYCC)

So, good news, there are 3-day passes left. Bad news, if you’ve been refreshing in the queue (as I and many others were) you lost your place in line. This understandably upsets many people as it means that much of the wait-time that has been experienced could have been avoided, and that many people still in the queue should have gotten to the purchase page earlier. Predictably, the comments erupt:
FB2
So at this point, not only have they revealed that the information regarding refreshing on the queue page is wrong, but are actively denying what it says there.

Credit where it’s due, NYCC managed to act politely and decently to those complaining, and were answering many people’s questions on twitter and facebook during this time. A few minutes later, a tweet comes through reiterating the facebook post:

The contradictory reports surrounding the 3-day passes are soon made clear. Evidently the purchase page would list them as sold out because they had all been placed in people’s carts, but those people had not yet finalized the purchase, so they weren’t officially gone. Thus, if a 3-day pass was returned from somebody’s cart and you refreshed at the same moment, you could see it on the purchase page.

Soon after this I got through to the purchase page. It told me that 3-day passes were sold out. Following the instructions via facebook, I refreshed several times to no avail. I resigned myself to buying a Saturday pass and a Sunday pass for $30 more than I had intended to spend. I was, evidently, not the only one:

Official confirmation of 3-day passes selling out came not long after:

Saturday tickets went next:

The consensus on this seems to be that NYCC was unprepared for the level of traffic that yesterday saw. Many people are putting the blame directly on them, which I feel is a little unfair. It seems to me that part of the problem must have been miscommunication between NYCC and Showclix, the service that ran the purchasing website. Regardless, NYCC should have been aware of what it said on the queue page, and they directly contradicted themselves by claiming to have always said not to refresh.

I count myself lucky to have come away with a Saturday ticket, and I look forward to attending the convention in October. I can only hope that next year NYCC manages to organize a tighter method of selling passes.

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