The user experience of Ticketmaster ruins Christmas

I told you it was coming, and here it is – Ticketmaster’s design faults from a user centred perspective have annoyed me enough to blog on them. And then deliver the killing blow by suggesting how they could be improved. If you’d just let me buy those Paul McCartney Tickets, it wouldn’t have come to this!

No-one will simply be having a wonderful christmas time this year.

No-one will simply be having a wonderful christmas time this year.

To demonstrate my point, let’s walk through two interactions. For each one, we will see how the user’s interaction with the website takes place, note any issues or redundancies in the process, and then suggest how they could be improved.

An ideal scenario:

In this first scenario, I’m buying tickets to see Brighton based singer songwriter Chris TT. Due to the fact that the tour has just been announced, and that he is nowhere near as popular as he should be, there are still tickets available. So I go to Ticketmaster’s website (.co.uk, not .com. It wont realise you’re looking in the wrong region).

Here are the steps involved in buying tickets

  1. Look for the artist I’m after – He’s not on the front page, so I’ll use search.
  2. Having searched, I’ve found Chris TT. I click his name.
  3. It presents me with a list of venues/dates. I scroll down to the one I want, and click “find tickets”.
  4. It then asks me to select how many tickets I want, and how much I want to pay. I make my selection, and click “find tickets”.
  5. It loads a captcha. I type in the words “brighton rock” and click “continue”
  6. It loads a loading screen. I wait.
  7. It loads up and tells me it found my ticket. It asks me if I want GB shipping, Northern Ireland Shipping, Republic of Ireland shipping, or to another country. I make my selection and press continue.
  8. It then asks me to log in, or register. I select register and continue…
  9. …. Onwards through the many address entry screens, until I’ve got my ticket

 
So what were the problems, and how could they be improved?

This was an ideal case scenario, and so we should expect the simplest and easiest interaction. There were still however a few problems:

  1. I had no idea whether the venues/dates were sold out. This should be indicated on the page when selecting the venue/date.
  2. I had no idea which ticket price ranges were sold out or in stock. This should be indicated on the page when selecting the ticket price range.
  3. The captcha comes before deciding whether I want to buy the tickets or not. It should come after I’ve decided I want to buy.
  4. I had to choose which region I wanted the tickets shipped to. Later I had to type in where I lived. Could the system not use this information to auto-calculate which shipping region applied to me?

 

A less than ideal scenario:

This is the real scenario, and my reason for writing this post. Paul McCartney tickets went on sale at 9am, and I was sat in front of a computer (kindly assisted by Anna Fuller) refreshing and waiting for the tickets to go on sale.

Here are the steps I followed:

  1. Look for the artist I’m after. He’s not on the front page, so I’ll use search
  2. Having searched, I find Paul McCartney. I click his name
  3. It presents me with a list of venues/dates. There is only one. I select it.
  4. It loads a page that says “these tickets have not gone on sale yet.”
  5. I press refresh
  6. Go to 4.
  7. Eventually, the event is open, and it asks me how many tickets I want to buy, and what do I want to pay. I select ‘2’ and the mid price range. I press “find tickets”
  8. A captcha comes up, I enter “glass onion”, and press continue
  9. It loads a loading screen. I wait.
  10. It tells me no tickets could be found, and suggests searching for ‘best available’.
  11. I press back 3 times
  12. It asks how many tickets I want, and how much I want to pay
  13. I select ‘2’ and ‘Best available’. I press ‘find tickets’
  14.  A captcha comes up. I enter “john is better”, and press continue
  15. It loads a loading screen. I wait.
  16. It tells me no tickets could be found, and suggests searching for ‘best available’.
  17. I lose all hope of ever getting tickets, but press back 3 times, to see if any single tickets are available.
  18. It asks me how many tickets I want to buy, and how much I want to pay.
  19. I tell it “1” and “best available”. I press ‘find tickets’.
  20. A captcha comes up. I enter “paul is dead” and press continue.
  21. It loads a loading screen. I wait.
  22. It tells me no tickets could be found, and suggests searching for best available.
  23. I give up.

 

Sorry paul

Sorry paul

So how could this process be improved?

  1. First of all steps 7-23 could have been avoided by a simple note saying ‘sold out’.
  2. In fact, since it looks like the event was sold out before it went on sale (due to presale I guess?), steps 3-23 could have been avoided by saying “sold out”.
  3. Since there was only one date, I should not have to select the date after selecting Paul McCartney. It should automatically load that date.
  4. Again, the captcha should come after having searched for tickets.
  5. The page should not let the user select price ranges that have no available tickets.
  6. After my first search failed, I shouldn’t have to press back three times to search again, I should be able to do it from the page I’ve landed on.
  7. Even better, if it fails to find your ticket selection, it should search ‘best available’ automatically.
  8. It should stop suggesting ‘search for best available’ if I’ve just searched for ‘best available’ and it’s found nothing.

 
Because the tickets are released at specified times, the website suffers a huge rush at these peak times. The fact that each page takes a few minutes to load does not make all the needless navigation the site makes you do easier. This stress is made worse by the site’s user experience issues, and buying tickets through Ticketmaster is a lot more frustrating than it needs to be.

I decided to phone the phone line instead. It gave me an automated ‘you will be placed in a queue’ message, and then went blank. No hold music, no ‘you are ninth in the queue’ message, nothing. I had no idea if I was still connected or if it was broken. After around 5 minutes waiting on this very expensive number, still with no noise at all, I gave up.

Bah Humbug!

2 Comments On “The user experience of Ticketmaster ruins Christmas”

  1. Failed again by Ticketmaster, this time getting tickets for Muse… luckily seetickets.com sorted me out!

  2. Pingback: Chris T-T » Blog Archive » Sam Isaac show and other news.

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