How Singapore could not handle it and crashed

Singapore GPThe IT systems not being able to handle a demand from buyers is the last thing one would expect to happen in Singapore out of all the places on this planet. Well, after yesterday nothing will ever surprise me any more …

After some delays the tickets for the Singapore GP, the first Formula 1 night race finally went for sale yesterday morning. They are not that many when compared to other tracks – only 70,000 pcs. And there are not that many available with really good views. At the end, it is a city street track and the space for grandstands is limited. So everybody planning to buy expected a rush for the good (and extremely expensive even in F1 standards to be honest) tickets the moment the sales channels go live.

Well everybody except the ticketing company, one called Omniticket …

I am lucky to be living in the same timezone as Singapore, although some 3000 km away. So 9am I was ready to go online, make a quick purchase and get on with my day. It was not to be …

The Singapore GP official site worked perfect until you clicked on the Buy Ticket link. Then all sorts of error messages begun showing up (click on picture to enlarge):

Gateway

The most common sight was however this:

Singapore Loading

If you managed to get as far as actually selecting the tickets, a feast that took good 10 minutes if you got that far, a check out page came up counting down the time you have to finalize the transaction. You are too slow and the tickets reserved will be released back. It should have been 10 minutes, but before the countdown even appeard the time was down to about 7 minutes. At the speed the site worked yesterday, 7 minutes was an impossible timeframe. Absolutelly hopeless …


The other option was to try the telephone booking. Try was all one could do. If the line was not busy then there was a machine asking you to hold, for a about 29 minutes before they cut you off, repeating countless times that your call is very important to them. I did manage one time to actually get a person to pick up, only to be told to call back in 1 hour as the system is down … The most irritating was the repeated recorded messages asking you “alternatively to visit the website and make the ticket purchase online”. Good advice, really … What website ?

So, by 8pm I gave up on trying to reach the ticketing hotline by phone, their opening hours were over. By 9pm, new error message came up online:

Singapore Error Processing

This is a message (click here to enlarge the screenshot) everybody loves to see when attempting credit card payment online and knowing that no matter how hard one tries, there is now way to get any customer support…

I did check the website few more times later in the night but nothing new, I gave up for the day anyway.

This is what those involved had to say:

Singapore GP chairman Teo Hock Seng apologised for the fiasco.

‘We didn’t want this to happen. The system was tested two weeks ago without any problems. We are trying to resolve the situation as soon as possible to prevent another overload.’

I would like to hear more about that testing two weeks ago …

Singapore GP’s media and communications director Jonathan Hallett:

‘You will see…that everything will level out and they will not have that experience and there will still be tickets on sale for people to enjoy.’

And why we need to waste a whole day before the things level out ? Can you explain that Mr. Jonathan Hallet ? Who will refund my telephone IDD charges for spending hours on hold, you Mr. Jonathan Hallet ?

Apparently even Ministry of Trade and Industry of Singapore released a statement expressing a concern over the situation last nigh, however I had no luck finding it and see what it says.

Even my most favourite Formula 1 TV person, the ever correct ESPN STARSports F1 commentator Mr. Steve Slater had to say something smart:

‘To look at the larger picture, it shows the healthy demand for Singapore race tickets. I have not seen such overwhelming demand and buzz, not even during Sepang and Shanghai GP’s opening years. Other race organisers would love to have a problem like this.’

Well thank you, but these problems are not what I expect when I am asked to pay over USD1,000 for a ticket …

This morning the things worked on the website, I managed to do big purchase, I have the tickets for me and the whole big bunch of people. As of now, the site is still OK, but much slower than earlier in the morning. But the system is far from perfect.

  • a) It only allows 8 tickets per purchase, not exactly helping when you are getting seats for group of 13 people …
  • b) When I am raking out over 1000 USD per ticket, I would somehow expect to have a choice of choosing my seat, not having it randomly assigned to me within the grandstand. The system in use does not even allow you to select a sector. What a bummer. I had to play around with 3 different browsers and several windows opened to play with the system until I got 2 groups of tickets reasonably close and near the area where I wanted to be …

I have no idea based on what references this ticketing company was picked up … They may be the ones to mess up, but the ultimate blame lies with those that picked them up …

This GP is very expensive for us fans, whether we talk hotel prices or the tickets. I think we deserve better …

OK, enough ranting for Friday. Now let’s all hope that the company that is there to light up the track for the night race will do a better job and will not underestimate the demand on the power grid :-)

15 Comments Post a Comment
  1. alanNo Gravatar says:

    3000 kms? I am 3 km from them and couldn’t get friggin tickets…………….

  2. DavidNo Gravatar says:

    Holly sh…t!!! I’m amazed of such problems, even to find a ticket for a movie in the cinema on-line is more successful expirience than that, bullsh…t!!! What, they couldn´t spend more for propper IT?

    Well, they have “build” a new brand circuit, pleasure to have the hotels close and all hospitalities, and what they needed else? Take some pre-constructed box building and gradstands? We have to believe that they have lack of money? We now see that the new destinations for the F1 are just not well created bussines. We see how they care about the F1 supporters :)

    Dude, I’m sorry for you but I think we will see it much better in TV.

  3. ShaunNo Gravatar says:

    Looks like they weren’t anticipating the rush for tickets?

    At least you got sorted in the end, expensive tickets them though! :)

    Shaun’s last blog post..By: F1Wolf

  4. StewNo Gravatar says:

    I can’t imagine how frustrated I’d be. When I’ve purchased other tickets online and the site sits and waits and waits, I get a little worried.

    Next in line for me is the Brazilian Grand Prix. Hope all goes well there.

  5. Black ZeddNo Gravatar says:

    Well, experience does help in this type of situation. Might take some time before they redefine ‘overload’ :)

    Black Zedd’s last blog post..5 Important Gadgets for Executives

  6. F1WolfNo Gravatar says:

    From what I read it looks like the chaos continued on Friday too …

    Before I went to my first F1 race I also thought that it is better to watch it on TV … Well not really, TV gives the coverage, live race is about the atmosphere. And I believe that the atmosphere in Singapore will be great.

    It is a pity that the whole thing has started so badly for the fans … It may be lack of experience with staging such a big even and as a result selection incompetent ticketing company, it perhaps might have been effort to save money as there may not be much left after all the payments to Bernie are made :-) Who knows … One thing is for sure, they messed up big way

  7. Peter HolgerNo Gravatar says:

    Hi
    i recently went to the dolmer race track and a giant event in australia where over 300.000 visitors bought tickets and there was no problems with the ticketing system it was easy and i got instantly my eticket with barcode and choosen seat, the guys should may look at other ticketing systems as well, i think it called SeatAdvisor if i am not wrong. regards Peter

  8. F1WolfNo Gravatar says:

    Stew, you are going for the final race on the season ! That shuld be awesome experience …

    Peter:
    It is really beyond my comprehension how come the system in Singapore failed so badly… As you say, many events handle much more tickets than that and without any problems …

  9. peter holgerNo Gravatar says:

    i think this guys from omni just wanted to get the business and make money on our fans account, they sure even did not know how to handle a big event like this, i red somebody said sistic should have done it SORRY but this would have been worse as they only have a self hosted version the server will have totally crashed no where this capacity they can handle, the system is old no etickets etc. its just for local sales only but not for international events.Lets hop the management change next year because definetly i will not trust this sytem again, i also heart that if a system crash even transactions ansd money could be lost or not accounted for how we can make sure of this issue?

  10. F1WolfNo Gravatar says:

    exactly, this is the screenshot of message that scared the **** out me:

    http://www.f1wolf.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/02/the-official-formula-1-singtel-singapore-grand-prix-website-2.png

    especially when you know there is no way to reach the customer service and that you are about to buy tickets worth 14 grand for a whole group of people…

  11. peter holgerNo Gravatar says:

    a keep of reloading a ie page could create double or tripple charges, guys better check you credit card charge to make sure!

  12. F1WolfNo Gravatar says:

    this is the one of things I do not have to worry about. there is no way my bank would approve so huge over the limit transaction :-)

  13. fatfishNo Gravatar says:

    hi peter,
    u know a bit about singapore :) what’s your recommendation re pub for watching f1 in singa starting the oz race
    cheers

  14. f1bloggenNo Gravatar says:

    i read that further problems arised and that some people who thought that they had succeeded in making their bookings after all did nog get their tickets.. hope you get yours!

    but once again, nice to see this kind of interest in the race!

    f1bloggen’s last blog post..Man bygger fullskale-F1-bil i vardagsrummet (av tändstickor). Varför, oh varför?

  15. [...] the Formula 1 ticketing fiasco, there was another big thing happening in Singapore last week – the annual Street and Floats Parade [...]

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