Olympics ticketing system – a psychic booking process that’s anti-consumer

Olympics ticketing system – a psychic booking process that's anti-consumer

Olympics ticketing system – a psychic booking process that's anti-consumer

It’s the last day in which you can put in a bid for tickets for the 2012 Olympics. I’ve completed mine and as an Olympo-phile I’m incredibly excited. But I find the entire need for psychic booking quite ridiculous.

There are many things wrong with the way the organisers have set up the ticket payment system (for details see Olympics tickets which also includes under 16 and over 60 reduction info) and most of these are practical points that have been well flagged, but one shines out for me…

Psychic booking

This is an unprecedented UK event – we have absolutely no benchmark of expectation. Yet we’re expected to bid for tickets with no indication of what proportion we’ll get. This involves a financial and emotional commitment and is structured in a way that automatically penalises those with less cash.

This isn’t just due to the heavy ticket prices, it’s because when booking you’ve no idea if you bid for ten events whether you’re likely to get none, two or all ten. If it does turn out that you’ve only a one in ten chance of getting tickets, then everyone should be bidding for a wide spread of events in order to guarantee that they will get to go at all.

Yet doing that leaves you hostage to fortune, with the random element that you may get them all and then need to remortgage the house!

That means the only people who can afford to take the gamble of going for a wide spread to guarantee tickets are the more affluent who can take the risk of, without exaggeration, thousands of pounds being taken from their accounts.

Was this really the best way to reward loyal British sports fans? Many of who are contributing through lottery and tax funds to the games. 

Surely we could have worked out a system similar to football teams where you register your interest, then are randomly selected and given a window of opportunity to pay for them. If you don’t want them after all then they are then passed down to others. That would’ve been more fair and less damaging to cash flow.

A catalogue of poor practice

The psychic booking system isn’t the only thing that annoys me as it also seems to have been designed for the convenience of the organisers rather than the spectators…

  • The Visa rule. It’s one thing having companies spray their brand and logos all over the Olympics – we can always choose to ignore it. Yet the demand that you must pay on a Visa card takes this one step beyond endorsement. It mandates every spectator to effectively take out another product (ie, a Visa card – even if it’s only a temporary online one) just so they can pay to attend.

    In fact if you click the ‘how’ box on this page: http://www.tickets.london2012.com/ you’ll actually see their hubris on this.

We are proud to accept only Visa. For more information on how to obtain a Visa product, please visit the Visa website".

Is that the Olympic spirit?

  • The month long ‘taking payments’ window. On top of making everyone gamble by overbooking, there is then a month long cash flow dilemma where people have to hold cash in their accounts as the money could be taken at any time between 10 May (Updated – this has now been changed to Mon 16 May see Olympics ticket delay news) and 10 June. Even if you’ve enough to cover the cash flow it’s likely to mean over-holding cash in current accounts and therefore foregoing interest. You won’t know what you actually got tickets for until 24 June (unless you can cleverly calculate it from the amount deducted).
  • If you’ve overbid it’ll be 2012 before you can sell tickets. If you get allocated tickets, thankfully you will be allowed to resell them via the official 2012 site. But you’ll need hold onto them until what’s likely to be early 2012. That wouldn’t be too bad if it wasn’t for the fact that so many people are having to deliberately overbid due to the psychic booking process.

I could go on with the fact we’re meant to buy with no seating plan – so how do we know what expensive tickets actually mean and more. Fingers crossed things will sort themselves out, I just wish we hadn’t had to rely on luck, we could’ve had pro-consumer planning.