Thursday, May 14, 2015

NYCC : Horrible Shopping Experience

I already have tickets for two other conventions this year, but NYCC is the big one that happens in the city where I live and work. I know in the last few years tickets have been harder and harder to get, and I figured my chances were not going to be very good.

If this is too long one can safely scroll down to the Conclusion at the bottom.

I tried to buy tickets to NYCC the minute they went on sale. Tickets went on sale at noon, here's how it went.

Started with a friendly, Virtual Queue, page talking about how a cookie has been set to reserve my place in line, no need to refresh frantically - everything will be handled in the right order, followed by a warning: if you refresh too much, you will be banned for abuse. Six minutes later, I'm looking at a browser error screen:
408 Request Time-out
Your browser didn't send a complete request in time.
It takes 30 full seconds for each 408 error to appear, exactly the same - every time. I refresh, once every 30 seconds for about 20 minutes, and get back to the Virtual Queue page. This pattern repeats for almost 90 minutes.

I finally get to the order page, some types are already sold out, including the 3 day, so I select 4 day tickets (you have to take off Thursday AND Friday to use these fully). The max is set to 4, I need 2. Click next. Wait for the full 30 seconds...

408

Try again,

408

...try again,

408

...try again,

408
...tickets are in cart.  And there's a completion clock already ticking down.  Select delivery, Next.  Another 30 seconds which always precedes another.

408

408

408

Mandatory survey with 6 minutes to go.  Gender, Age Range, Three ranked, Why do you do put up with this? Something else, and click agree on a zero tolerance harassment policy.  Next.

408

408

408

Mandatory survey with 4 minutes to go.  Nothing stayed with the refresh.  Fill out again, Next.

408

408

Mandatory survey with 1 minute to go.  I christmas tree it as fast as I can.  Next.

The browser spins as the clock reaches zero.

408

I'm back at the order page.  There are even more things sold out, but there's still a drop down for what I want.  The drop down doesn't go to 4 anymore, it only goes to two, but that's all I wanted.
Select, Next.
No 408 this time.
There are not that many bundles available, select again.
I'm back at the order screen, the drop down only goes to 1.  Like a troll cartoon singing, "you are meant to be alone."
408

408

408
I get back to the cart with counting clock thinking, and 1 ticket.  I stare at my screen in disbelief for a minute with the clock counting down.  Finally, I close my browser, realizing that I wasn't going to spend that kind of money and risk the possibility of trying to go through it again and having only one ticket, while trying to go through the whole thing again.

So, I closed my browser and read the Twitter #NYCC and #NYCCTix tags about a whole lot of scalpers who were DDOSing (Distributed Denial of Service - overwhelming a resource by making requests from a large number of other computers) the system so that they could sell as many as possible of the $104 tickets for $500 or more.

Conclusion

So for over two hours of my time, in the end I didn't purchase anything, and I won't be going.

At first I railed against all the scalpers who were basically using farming operations (rows of users and computers, manually DDOSing the systems to get as many tickets as possible) to scoop their own illicit profit from something that has consistently sold out year on year.  And while this is what likely caused the 408 error itself, the Virtual Queue system still kept that from killing the experience.

With the clarity of sleep, it's the 408 errors, and the unfairness of putting a cart clock onto a system that is fraught with internal timeouts that was the real problem.  Each 408 repeating like Poe's The Raven, making me question my browser, my computer, my internet connection ... my own self worth?  The system taunts me to keep trying.
408 Request Time-out
Your browser didn't send a complete request in time.
This follows the exact same pattern as a bully playing keep away with a much smaller child.  At the end of this I was emotionally exhausted and feeling anger about the unfairness of things.

To the programmers and admins who look over the logs, if they find my session and follow it, I have no doubt that what they'll see is some idiot who got into a cart, selected two tickets and refused to fill out the survey.  Then selected one ticket, and then never came back.  They'll probably try to eliminate my behavior, as just some troll who just put tickets in reserve for a while.  And, to me, that is the real saddest part of this.  In the end, I look like the problem user they need to fix.

But just look at me, how pathetic, feeling inferior to my bully.

1 comment:

  1. Take 2... evil commenting system.

    Dude, you need to listen to Eugene Mirman's bit "My Time Warner Cable Newspaper Ad" from his album "An Evening of Comedy in a Fake, Underground Laboratory": http://smile.amazon.com/dp/B00B3MO974

    I now consider this the best way to handle poor customer service. Screw Yelp! Go for the gold!!!

    ReplyDelete