I couldn’t sleep on Saturday night. I was too excited about the book festival tickets going on sale. Little did I know the drama that was to unfold through the day.
I’d been up early for some work I had to do for the day job at 5:45am. That took a couple of hours, which left me a short while to freshen up in a shower and breakfast, before logging into the book festival website and waiting for it to go live.
The first people started queuing at the box office, relocated temporarily to the EICC on Morrison Street, at three in the morning. The website would have to withhold and handle a huge surge of demand that always occurs on the first day of sales.
All went well at first, with the website relatively responsive right up until they switched the purchasing options on at 8:30am. I got one event into my online basket when the website started to slow down. Then it fell to a crawl, buckled under the weight, and completely fell over by 8:32am. Not the best of starts.
Unable to connect to the site at all, I picked up the phone and dialled the box office number. Initially the queue allowed into the system was for 40 callers but 90 minutes later, it was upped to 100. Unable to get through, I kept redialling and redialling and redialling, and at the same time this was going on, I was still trying to get access to the website.
Little did I know at the time, but the box office was receiving 25,000 telephone calls and over 300,000 hits to the website,all in the first hour of it opening. Eventually, however, the website loaded.
At about 10am I managed to get most of my tickets loaded into my basket—things were looking good. With only two items two go I started to get quite excited. Then the site crashed again. When I got reconnected half an hour later, I’d been logged out and my basket emptied of everything.
To say I was gutted was an understatement. I took my wrath out on Twitter where there were hundreds of people having the same problems. The website just couldn’t cope and with the phone lines jammed it was leading to a lot of frustration. The idea of queuing at 3am suddenly sounded like quite a good idea.
At 12:30pm I finally made it into the telephone queue, but with a reported 60 minute wait to get served, I decided to keep on trying to get a connection to the website. Some people were making it through to make purcahses but there were lots of reports of lost baskets, lost or doubled-up confirmation emails, and duplicate transactions.
At 1.15pm the website began to accept events into my basket. I started to load up, still with my telephone on speaker mode while I waited to be served. 15 minutes later, and with my online basket almost full of my required events, someone finally answered the phone! What a coincidence, but I wasn’t caring.
It took half an hour to get all my event requests put through because the system at the box office, despite it being upgraded according the girl I was talking to, was itself horrendously slow.
But in the end—5 and a half hours later—I got there and my haul was a success , with only one of my events being sold out (Simon Callow). I managed to get everything else I wanted.
Many thanks to the people of the box office that dealt with all us irritated customers with understanding and humour yesterday. The people that work at the Edinburgh Book Festival really are a breed apart.
My August is now completely booked out!
Because I hardly slept on Saturday night, and because I spent so long at the computer screen on Sunday morning, the rest of my day was pretty much a dud. I was exhausted after I started coming down from the adrenalin of it all, and fell asleep during the afternoon.
When I woke up in the evening, I had my dinner a strong coffee but had no energy left for working. I lost a full day because of the book festival ticket fiasco but it’s more important that my August was put together rather than ruined.
I watched and listened to a great deal of the BBC Glastonbury coverage over the course of the weekend. Despite their being, in my opinion, poor choices for the headline acts over the three days, I think the whole thing was a bit of a major success.
The BBC coverage was awesome, with three TV channels, two radio channels and digital coverage providing round the clock highlights, reviews and mini-documentaries. So good was it in fact, that I registered for the 2013 festival. My chances of getting through, however, are somewhat limited.
Why not get tickets for T in the Park, I hear you say? Well because the weekend it happens is always bad for me—I’m usually away sunning myself in foreign climes. Maybe one year.
Here’s to a great start of the week—peace out!
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