You may remember BOCOG’s last Olympic ticket-day meltdown. Well, CER is happy to report that today’s third round of Olympic ticket selling has bested last year’s utter ticket chaos with mere grinding slowness.
Your correspondent was feeling strangely optimistic arriving at the steps of his usually terror-inducing Bank of China (BOC) branch at 7:30am, and finding only a handful of people in front of him. Around 8:00, we were led inside and kindly helped (again, very strange) by bank workers to fill out our ticket request forms and register online accounts.
So far, so good.
We were given numbered slips, and there were seats to relax and chat. The line of about 50 didn’t crowd at all. Your correspondent was thinking that this had the potential to be the most pleasant BOC visit in memory.
Tickets went on sale at 9am, and two hour later, the two BOC cashiers had made their way through a whopping nine customers. Computers were unresponsive, and tellers could only stare at their screens. Supervisors in black ties were on the phones, calling BOCOG’s help line. Unsurprisingly, the help lines were busy.
“What’s going on?”
“The system is very slow. There are 17 other BOCs in Shanghai offering tickets. All over the country, people are trying to buy tickets.”
“Didn’t this happen last time?”
“Ha! No, no. Last time everything crashed after a few customers!”
Once at the ticket counter, there was confusion about which tickets were on sale. Volleyball and beach volleyball, for example, “weren’t being issued yet,” even though bank assistants had cheerfully consulted their master lists and helped us fill out requests for tickets to those events. Other sports, like basketball, were totally sold out by the time we (eighth in line) got to the counter.
Altogether, we stood at the counter for around 30 minutes. The two tellers alternately tapped their keyboards and stared at their computer screens. Three or four workers looked over their shoulders.
In the end, we did land tickets (RMB50 for sweet, men’s field hockey seats!). Friends in Beijing stopped by no less than three BOC branches and said the lines looked to be about 80-100 people deep. If those lines were moving at the pace we encountered, that would only be a 22-hour wait by our calculations. Ten-meter air rifle preliminaries, anyone?