The Take That ticket debacle serves as a good reminder of the importance of web site management to anyone doing business online.
The tickets went on sale Friday at 9am, and here in the V3.co.uk offices we have first-hand experience of the ongoing problems - we won't name names though. The web sites of the five approved ticket agencies - See, Ticketmaster, Gigs and Tours, Ticketline and the Ticket Factory - have been down since 9am and are still unavailable now.
What is frustrating for fans is seeing messages on Twitter from the agencies telling people not to give up as ticket availability is still good. It's one thing for a concert to sell out quickly, but it's not that often you come across an example where there's still apparently plenty of tickets left but the technology is the barrier between the band and its fans.
The other issue highlighted here is the reliance on the web as the sole commerce channel. None of the agencies are keen to give out their phone numbers, and this causes even more demand on their web servers. In the days when most retailers understand the importance of multi-channel, this is somewhat disappointing.
It's a pretty poor indicator of the customer service levels of these agencies that ahead of tickets for a major event like a Take That concert going on sale - and the first gigs since Robbie has rejoined the band, no less - they failed to account for the high levels of demand and organise extra capacity. Or perhaps it's just that they know they'll sell the tickets anyway, so it's not worth the effort or financial implications to lay out extra on their hosting package so fans have a smooth buying experience.
The situation is not helped by the fact that by Friday lunchtime, there were already around 1,300 sets of Take That tickets on offer on eBay, leaving many fans forced to pay inflated prices for second hand tickets that aren't even guaranteed.
Still, at least it gave the hosting vendors a chance to get happy with the puns.
Neil Barton, director of Hostway, warned, "Unless IT teams learn how to cope with events such as these, through building sufficient capacity and utilising better traffic management, they run the risk of very disgruntled fans who certainly won't be 'Back for good'."
Cloud hosting firm Carrenza gets the prize for most Take That song mentions.
"Take That fans need a little 'Patience' after ticket sites crash," quipped the firm, adding, "Take That fans may 'Never Forget' today", and to really hammer home the point: "This may not be the 'Greatest Day' for Take That fans."
Carrenza's Nick Barron rounded the advice off with an oldie but goodie: "It only takes a minute for a web site to crash, but your reputation can be shattered just as quickly."
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