Nov 27
Ticket to Ride
icon4 Nov 27th, 2009 | icon2 Bric-a-Brac |

I’m sure I’m not the first person to do this, but I’m going to rant about Ticketek for a few minutes.

We decide to go to the cricket in January, so I sit down at my computer, open up a web browser and connect to the Ticketek website. My eyes are instantly assaulted by so many animated images, scrolling text boxes and overlapping advertisements (no, I don’t want to buy a Robbie Williams T-shirt) that I have to look away.

Gritting my teeth I turn back to the screen and type “cricket” into the keyword search. A few mouse clicks later and I am looking at the ticket selection screen. There are no less than 8 ticket price categories to choose from. We are keen to sit in the upper level of the Brewongle stand, which is in the “Gold” category, so I select “Gold” and continue by hitting the button which reads “Get Tickets!” (Sounds promising, right?)

I am looking at a different screen now. The only options I have are to select a Price Category and number of tickets required. I dutifully select “Gold” from the drop-down list and press “Continue”, knowing that this will get me nowhere. And sure enough, the tickets it wants to give me are in Bay 16-1, in the concourse below the Victor Trumper Stand.

I try to reason with the computer. “But we don’t want to sit there,” I say, “we want to sit in the Brewongle Stand.” It pays me no attention.

Of course I knew all along that this would happen. I knew that the Ticketek website (or “web-shite” – hey, is that a new word?) is woefully inadequate. It is impossible to choose the seats you want. All you can do is specify how many tickets, and in which price category, and the website selects the “best available” seats that meet your requirements. It then gives you precisely 8 minutes to decide whether you want to keep the tickets or not. A photon travels from the sun to Earth in that time, although whether this is relevant I am not sure.

I certainly did not want to keep these tickets, so I hit a button that says “Remove”. Rather than taking me back one step to the ticket selection page, it kicks me way back to the home page, perhaps trying to twist my arm on the whole Robbie Williams T-shirt thing. Fuck you, Ticketek.

OK, to the Bat Phone! But nowhere on the Ticketek homepage does it give their call centre phone number. I had to click on a button that says “Agencies” to find it, in text about 2mm high.

Like many customer service telephone systems these days, my call to Ticketek begins with a computerised conversation which tries to narrow down what it is that I want. The theory behind this is that, unlike humans, computers can deal with thousands of customers at once, are cheap to operate, and don’t need to go to the toilet or down to the street for a quick fag.

My new computer friend started by asking a vague question about what sort of event I was interested in. Wanting to be as non-confrontational as possible, I said ”cricket”.

Based on the subtleties of my verbal response, and through a series of complex algorithmic processes, the computer system was clever enough to understand immediately that I was interested in purchasing tickets for a match in the forthcoming 2009/10 summer of cricket. But it needed more information.

There is a whole slew of cricket being played this summer. Six different competitions in fact. I know because the computerised voice read out all six and asked me to repeat exactly the one that I wanted to attend. And the options weren’t short either. They were things like “Pizza Hut Under-12 Sheffield Shield Alcohol-Free Victor Chang Fundraising Gala 20/20 Match at North Sydney Number Two Oval on February 13, 14 and 16″.

It took more than a minute for the voice to say all six. By the time it got to the end all I could remember of my desired option was “International Cricket Season”, so I said that. There was a brief pause, then I could’ve sworn I detected something like a computerised tutting, as if to say “You weren’t listening, were you, dickhead?”

The computer read the six options a second time and I wrote down word-for-word the one I wanted: ”The International Cricket Season 2009/2010 in Sydney and Adelaide”. I repeated it carefully and in a voice reminiscent of Laurence Olivier as Hamlet.

A sigh of relief from the computer – no need to repeat those options yet again – and I went on to the next step: choosing a date. This was a piece of piss by comparison and so just a few seconds later I was on hold, waiting for an operator (a human!) while listening to a rather fetching piano piece which looped every 37 seconds. And there I sat for 30 minutes. I reckon I could play that piano piece by heart.

Anyway, this long story has a happy ending. I spoke to a nice young lady whose name escapes me, she quickly verified that the information I had earlier given to the computerised lady was accurate, asked me a few more pertinent questions, and before I knew it I was $204.50 poorer. But I had two tickets in the bloody Brewongle Stand!

If it rains on 4th January I’m going to kill someone, I swear.

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