Monday, July 10, 2006

Nightmare in Toronto (or, How I Finally Got My @&!% Tickets)

10:00 AM. I eagerly open the laptop and log on to the TIFF website. There's a cup of coffee to my right. A Visa card to my left. I'm in the zone, ready to make a ridiculously expensive purchase. Everything's good, I say to myself. Everything's good.

And that's when everything went to hell.

Buying tickets for a major film festival is probably always an ordeal, especially the first day the box-office opens. But this one was an absolute disaster. Every year, the TIFF phone lines jam like clockwork once 10:00 rolls around, but the online shopping usually works with only some minor hitches (or at least it did last year). But at some time in the first hour, the server went down. Completely. Which left the ridiculously log-jammed phone lines the only way to purchase tickets.

I'm sure most of the people reading this already know all of this, since they probably experienced similar obstacles today. That's why I want to leave this with a question:

What the hell happened? How does an organization as well-funded and high-profile as this continually screw up one of the most important parts of the film festival experience? This isn't just a server problem and a poorly tested web store. It's a consistent neglect on the part of the TIFF group and it's not getting any better. For example, last year's TIFF had a single location for purchasing and exchanging tickets and they had only five or six stations active at any given time. Considering that hundreds of people were using their services at any given time, would it have killed them to open another location (as they're wisely doing this year)?

Honestly, it's not as though this is that big a deal--something I can say now that the tickets are confirmed, natch--but if this is any indication of the level of service we can expect this year, we're all in for a bumpy ride.


Kurt Halfyard said...

Ticket Hassels and the MEGA line for picking up tickets (and the SUPER-MEGA line for doing exchanges just before the festival are certainly a tradition which has been going on for the decade that i've been going to the festival.

Oddly, everytime they make the process even slightly more convient (and less esoteric) it gets harder to 'work the system' which is a shame for those of us who knew the secret of getting returned 'comp' tix at 8am every morning of the festival...I'm amazed by the festivals capaticty to continue to grow despite that the thing is just MAMMOTH now.

Crunchy Squirrel said...

Yeah, I apparently got lucky last year. Regardless, I've gotta say I loved the festival, despite its mammoth nature. Getting to meet so many interesting people in all of those MEGA lines made it pretty painless. Still, would it kill them to be a little more user-friendly?

Anyway, thanks for the comment. I'll try to keep this stuff somewhat interesting.

Crunchy Squirrel