Glastonbury blames BT for ticket sale fiasco

Skinny back-end

An apology from organisers for the woefully mishandled sale of tickets for the Glastonbury festival has failed to placate angry fans.

Music fans are seething at the delays they experienced trying to buy tickets either online or over the phone. Tickets for the eagerly anticipated event sold out around 8pm on Friday, around 24 hours after they first went on sale.

Problems with the site had fans up until 2.30am on Friday trying to buy tickets, only to discover later in the day that they'd either bought more tickets than they intended or failed to get any tickets at all. It seems that only those who obtained the URL of a site part-way through the ticket buying process (which still took ages to load) were able to get anywhere.

Michael Eaves, the festival organiser who hosts Glastonbury on his farm, has apologised for the failure of a dedicated Web site to handle demand. Phone lines were jammed solid too, a problem he blames -at least partially - on BT.

He writes: "I have to say I'm very sorry that so much trouble has been caused by the serious delays within the phone lines and the website. Clearly the engineering specification was well short of what was needed - particularly the BT exchange in Nottingham which was cutting back our calls to the call centre by as much as 60 per cent some of the time. We will make sure that this doesn't happen again at all cost."

BT has yet to return our request for comments.

Duplicated complaints

Glastonbury message boards are full of tales of ticketing troubles that are repeated in our post-bag. Many people reports they've managed to accidentally order up to six times the number of tickets they wanted. Others are getting emails saying ticket sales have been cancelled due to non-payment from the bank despite the presence of more than enough money in their account.

Glastonbury organisers said that duplicate orders have been cancelled and returned to the system. All these tickets have been sold. "Any further returned tickets and duplicate orders will be absorbed by the needs of traders, staff, and locals," festival organisers said.

Failed redesign

Numerous tickets for the last year's festival found their way onto eBay, prompting changes in the sales system this year. In an attempt to prevent widespread touting festival goers had to supply their names and addresses, which would be printed on tickets. Also only debit cards could be used for ticket purchases. And 80 per cent of tickets would be sold online.

According to Aloud.com, which handled Glastonbury sales this year, these changes contributed towards the slow performance of the site. We suggest that inadequate capacity is closer to the mark. The back-end system for Glastonbury sales ran on a couple of Win 2K boxes.

The problems that accompanied the sale of Glastonbury tickets were all too predictable, yet Aloud.com and Glastonbury fell into the same old trap (cf: the 1901 Census site, Nectar, World Cup '98 etc. etc.) ®

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