Robot 6

Glitches, ticket sellouts frustrate New York Comic Con hopefuls [Updated]

New York Comic Con

New York Comic Con

In a scene reminiscent of the annual rush for Comic-Con International badges, the New York Comic Con ticket website crashed Thursday as hopefuls jostled for passes to the Oct. 9-12 show.

A perusal of the event’s Twitter feed provides a catalog of some of the problems as organizers offered advice to frustrated ticket buyers — “If you’re in the queue, do not hit refresh” — before announcing sellouts of four-day and three-day passes, and tickets for Saturday and Kids Day. As of this morning, tickets remain available for Thursday, Friday and Sunday.

The Insightful Panda offers a play-by-play of what it contends “went wrong” with the process, highlighting a mix of technical difficulties and apparent miscommunication. The blog also notes that three-day passes have already made their way onto StubHub, where they’re listed at 400 percent of their original price.

The New York Comic Con Facebook page and Twitter feed are littered with comments from people upset by the glitches and the rapid sellout of the multi-day passes. “Unfortunately the demand was really high so tickets went faster than ever,” an event representative said in response to one complaint. “We will have tickets in retailers — so look out for that announcement. Again — sorry you are disappointed. We never want our fans to have a bad experience.”

In a letter provided to ROBOT 6 that’s being sent today to NYCC fans, ReedPop Senior Vice President Lance Fensterman reiterated that there was unprecedented demand for tickets. “This is the identical ticket system we used last year,” he wrote. “The fact is that the demand for tickets was on a greater scale than even we did not imagine. For an example, last year 4 day tickets took over 8 weeks to sell out, this year they took 40 minutes. The simple fact is that there is an extremely high demand for a limited supply of tickets.”

He also addressed complaints of scalping, pointing out that organizers reduced the number of tickets one person can purchase from 10 last year to six this year. “And as of typing this email, our count across eBay, StubHub and Craigslist showed about 700 tickets being sold, or about .05% of the total tickets that were sold on Thursday,” Fensterman wrote. “Still too many, but not a conspiracy or epidemic either.”

The convention, which has reached San Diego-sized numbers with an estimated 130,000 people, last year reduced the number of three-day passes in an effort to allow more people to attend the show each day. Comic-Con International this year took that philosophy one step further, eliminating four-day badges completely.

Update (8:50 a.m.): Here is the full text of Fensterman’s letter:

Apologies for a less than personalized response, but as I’m sure you can imagine, we are getting a lot of emails about the New York Comic Con ticket roll out on Thursday.  I want to get you a timely response so this note serves to address the majority of questions and concerns that we are hearing from our fans…

First off, our goal is for you to be happy.  Our fans being unhappy brings us no joy whatsoever.  Happy fans make everyone at ReedPOP happy.  I know, however, that you, and many others are not happy fans today and no matter what to reason is for that unhappiness, please know it bums us out as well – to say the very least.

Second point to share is that we always strive to listen and improve.  We’ve gotten a ton of feedback and we are hear it and will do anything we can to improve the experience for all of our fans.  That is a promise.  We’ve never promised to be mistake free, but we do promise to always work hard to fix our mistakes and get better.  So bottom line – please know that your concerns and frustrations are heard.

OK – a few of the major issues point by point as best as I can clarify/explain them:

At noon, the New York Comic Con website crashed.  The actual ticketing site did not crash.  In an effort to be helpful, we posted a link direct to our ticketing platform on our social media channels.

Our ticketing site was mobbed and moved extremely slowly.  We know this was frustrating and a problem – but it was a simple issue of volume and demand.

At one point, 3 day tickets still remained so we posted that fact on social.  When it quickly became clear that those 3 days tickets evaporated we removed that post to not to cause confusion.  We did not remove it to cancel out negative feedback; we don’t ever do that, we can take the feedback we simply did not want to have a post out there saying 3 days were available if they were not.

We put a post on social reminding people to refresh their shopping cart, to assure it was current, not to refresh the queue.  Refreshing the queue will not move you ahead in line in any way.  There was confusion on this and many people appeared to refresh the queue, not the shopping cart as we advised.

A technical point to remember is that someone may be holding 3 days ticket in their cart, therefore the inventory of 3 days will still show them remaining UNTIL that person actually clears the payment and checkout page.  This is why availability showed, and then rapidly declined as 3 day tickets went from being held, to being purchased.

The queue moved slowly, we know this and have made it abundantly clear to our ticketing vendor that this is unacceptable, but it did move.

This is also not a new system.  This is the identical ticket system we used last year.  The fact is that the demand for tickets was on a greater scale than even we did not imagine.  For an example, last year 4 day tickets took over 8 weeks to sell out, this year they took 40 minutes.  The simple fact is that there is an extremely high demand for a limited supply of tickets.

We know scalping is an issue and one that we hate nearly as much as you do.  I’ve gotten a few emails asserting that we are somehow in favor of our tickets being on the secondary market and nothing could be further from the truth.  Nothing.  3 years ago there was no limit on the number of tickets an individual could buy.  Last year the limit was 10.  This year the limit was 6.  This is a reflection of our effort to limit the number of tickets one person can purchase for the sole purpose of putting them on the secondary market to line their own pockets.  We have contacted eBay and they will not do anything to help us ban these sellers and in almost every instance, the sellers contact info is blocked.  We will continue to pursue these one by one but when demand outstrips supply, capitalism dictates that someone is going to find a way to meet that demand.  And as of typing this email, our count across eBay, StubHub and Craigslist showed about 700 tickets being sold, or about .05% of the total tickets that were sold on Thursday.  Still too many, but not a conspiracy or epidemic either.

Lost in a lot of this is that retailers will be selling tickets starting in mid-July and that Thursday, Friday & Sunday tickets are still available online.  As I look at the content we have in the works for this year, we don’t have a “weak” lineup any day of the show.  Our goal is to make every day of the show a day jammed with killer experiences.  Also, don’t forget that New York Super Week will bring great nerdy programing to dozens of venues all over the city for an entire week.  Throw in Special Edition: NYC (which took place in mid-June) and we hope it shows that we realize more people want to go to NYCC than we can accommodate and we are trying to create more opportunities for more people to have more fun.

In closing, I know if you did not get the ticket you wanted or experienced difficulty with the entire process, this email is not going to fix that.  It’s not going to get you that 3 day ticket you so wanted.  And I and the entire team are really, really sorry for that.  What I do hope is that note clarifies some of what happened, clears up some misconceptions and most of all conveys that we are listening, we are sorry for your experience not being all that you deserve and that we are committed to making it better.

Yours in nerd,

Lance

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Comments

11 Comments

oh geez, what a nightmare that was yesterday! I’m happy I didn’t heed their advice and after sitting in the virtual queue from 12:03 to about 12:30, I assumed something was going wrong, so I just started clicking refresh a few times and finally was pushed through to the checkout screen.. the 3day passes I wanted were all sold out by the time i got through to checkout at 12:30, but I’m happy I was at least able to get a Saturday pass for myself and a couple friends. They definitely need to rethink how to distribute better moving forward.. I shudder at the thought of having to go through that process again in 2015.

Man I’m glad I went to SENYC and bought my 4-day there. Never want to have to deal with crappy online queues and scalpers. :(

Ya know, I was really upset because this was going to be my first year going three days, and then I read this and I was just like, “Why are so many people mad, I mean how could you even stay mad at someone named Lance?”

I was online at 11:30 waiting. Then the site crashed at 12:00 on the dot. I kept refreshing the page again and again until I got the queue page to load at about 12:05. Ten minutes of waiting and it was finally my turn. It only gave me ten minutes to complete my order and the site errored out on every page, but I refused to give up and refreshed each time. By 12:20, I had the email confirmation of my 3-day pass purchase and the site only crashed for me about fifteen times. It was a nightmare, and I didn’t realize until afterward that my experience was apparently a good one.

What they need to do is roll out tickets in waves, which I believe they did last year. Offer small amounts of all their inventory spread out over a longer period. This would hopefully give people a better chance of getting tickets.

I also wonder what happened to the FB/ Twitter badge link they played around with last year? I know there was the brouhaha over it auto posting stuff, but I wonder if requiring a FB page helped reduce the number of scalpers?

I had the same experience as Ali buying my three day pass.

Just boycott NYCC. That’s what I’m doing. The con has become unmanageable and is no longer fun, so I’m done with it.

Boycotting won’t get you far due to the demand that comes with the show. Sad that all the ticket does is get you into the venue. Those scalpers are taking money away from those who wanted to go and most importantly money that could of been spent on retailers inside the venue. I know one who spend $4,000 on tickets and is not even going. Just because 700 tickets so far have been spotted online does not mean that was all of them. .05%? That number is much higher in all due respect. I just hope that most of the tickets that are being sold will be available through local comic book stores to promote retailer purchases. Next year, an ID system should be used per ticket like I hear they do in SDCC.

If they sold around 130000 tickets, 700 is .5 percent,. not .05 percent.

Also, the idea that you can go to a retailer ionly works for locals. Many people come from out of state.

The process was horrible. I’ve seen limited purchases handled online much better than this. They screwed up big time and the ones who suffer the most are their customers. They’re not being held accountable and that’s really irresponsible for a company with such a large customer base. lance should be trying his best to make right by the paying customers who were affected and stop blowing smoke up peoples @$$3$ with a long overdrawn letter on why they screwed up. Rectify the issue Lance!

Lance don’t care about the fans he just works for Craftsmen and Wrestlers.

This whole response is just a superficial response to the issue and should only please people who have no idea about the con. I’ve been going nycc for years and it’s continued to get worse as time progresses. Step up your game nycc and you’ll keep your fans happy.

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