Scream

Like thousands of others, I was on the SM tickets website before 10AM yesterday, logged in to my account and waiting for the tickets to Ed Sheeran‘s upcoming concert in Manila to be available for purchase. I saw on Twitter that many, like myself, kept refreshing the page and hoping to see Ed Sheeran’s name on the list of events (many were also tweeting about the long queues at the ticket counters in various SM Malls). By around 10:20, his name appeared. Tickets were available. Here we go.

I had to be patient with slowly loading pages till I got to seat selection. Wow, tickets had only been available for about 10-15 minutes and already several sections that I had chosen were almost sold out! I decided to be less picky and booked four seats in an upper box section near the stage. I put in my payment details, waited, and finally got the window that said, “Thank you for using SM Tickets. Please check your email for your payment confirmation. Go to your user profile to print your ticket voucher.”

Checked my email several times within an hour, no email from SM Tickets.  Checked my account, no voucher. Called the SM Tickets hotline but was on hold for more than fifteen minutes.  Wrote SM customer care an email to ask why I haven’t yet received an email nor a link to my voucher. Checked Twitter and it turned out that I wasn’t the only one missing an email and a voucher. A tweet from Paula Molina said that she had called SM Tickets and was informed that these missing vouchers should appear in our accounts within 24 hours. So, after having tried to call and having sent that email, I waited.

This morning, I checked and I still had not received an email or a voucher. I called my credit card hotline and confirmed that, indeed, the expected amount for four upper box tickets was charged yesterday to my account.

I called SM Tickets, and finally got through after around 15 minutes. I explained my problem and the woman asked to put me on hold while she checked. The long wait was already making me nervous.  Much to my frustration, instead of an assurance that my ticket voucher is on its way, what I received were bad news and an apology. The woman on the line explained to me that, even though the SM Tickets website seemed to say that the transaction was completed, what happened was that someone else had booked the same seats I was booking. This happened even if they charged my credit card, so does this mean that while your system is processing my payment, it isn’t actually putting my selected seats on hold for me? Charge me first, then give me my item if no one else has grabbed it while you were swiping my card? The customer care personnel on the phone said that the credit card charges will be reversed within 15 days. Gee, thanks. In my anger and frustration, I replied, “Of course, that is all you can offer, right?  Since the tickets are all sold out?” And, of course, what else could she say?

I asked her who I could write to and complain about how this was all handled so badly.  She said I could write an email to customer care. So I should write an email to the same customer care I wrote to yesterday about my missing email confirmation and voucher, the same customer care who still hasn’t responded to my email from yesterday?

Instead, I write my open letters here:

To SM Tickets:

If you hope to be a venue for more concerts and events of such calibre as a one-night-only Ed Sheeran concert, I’d say you need to shape up, upgrade, invest in improving your online ticketing system.  Because right now, it sucks big time. When someone has selected seats and payment is being processed, shouldn’t those selected seats be on hold and currently unavailable for anyone else? When I get a window on my computer saying thank you, I take it to mean that my purchase went through. Isn’t it reasonable to expect that, if the system had assigned or given my selected seats to someone else (online or at the ticket booth), I would be notified right away so I can choose other seats that are still available?  Shouldn’t your system be able to tell me so? 

If you plan to keep selling tickets for events such as this where you can expect thousands of people to be rushing to buy tickets, please be better equipped.

To concert organizers MMI Live and AEG Live:

I don’t know how you choose your concert venues. When you do, I hope you consider whether or not these venues provide good customer service to the thousands of fans who pay good money to attend your events.

Lastly, to Ed Sheeran and Stuart Camp:

I know that my family and I are just a few of many fans here in Manila who are very disappointed at not being able to go to your concert here next year. We were let down, not by you, but by the ticketing system of your concert venue, SM Mall of Asia Arena. This probably will hardly cause a blip in the success of your Multiply Tour, but it makes me (and perhaps many others) want to pull my hair and scream out loud in sheer frustration and disappointment. Maybe you could say a word or two to SM Tickets and to your concert organizers? I’m sure your words would have much more influence on them than some blog posts and tweets from people like me.

Ed Sheeran

Ok. First part of getting over this brouhaha so I can carry on with my day by ranting in my blog (and hoping to get my message to certain parties) – check. Next, the more painful part – telling my husband and kids that we won’t be watching Ed Sheeran’s concert next year after all.

 

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