Fans were up in arms yesterday over long queuing times, time-outs and sporadic crashes while trying to book tickets online for Lady Gaga's two shows in South Africa.
Ticket sales for the superstar's Born This Way Ball shows were initially available through the Computicket website only, as per a request from promoters Big Concerts. To deal with the expected high load, Computicket implemented an online queuing system called "Queue-It", which allocates users a slot in a digital queue and provides them with 10 minutes to pay for their purchase when they reach the front of the queue.
Users were faced with hours of messages reading: "There are more than 1000 people in front of you," with no real indication of expected waiting times.
Many fans reached the front of the queue, often after a wait of hours, only to find that their credit cards were not setup for 3D Secure or Verified by Visa – or they did not have the required pin on hand to book the tickets – despite a concerted effort on Computicket's Facebook and Twitter pages to inform fans of the requirements.
Additionally, a great number of users took to the Computicket and Big Concerts Facebook pages to complain about the page "bombing" and "timing out" when they got to the front of the queue, which meant they were bounced to the back of the line. The queue was also placed on hold a number of times during the day for Computicket to deal with "socket errors in the verification process" and "issues with the 3D Secure/Verified by Visa security system", according to posts on their Facebook page.
According to Computicket, the error came with its acquiring bank, FNB. They posted a statement reading: "Today Computicket received over 4300 timeout responses from FNB's Arcot server that handles all 3D Secure & Verified by Visa requests. This has meant that there were large amounts of failures during the payment process. We apologise for the inconvenience and have implemented a workaround to solve this issue."
Just after 10pm last night, Computicket updated its Facebook fans with a post that read: "A thank you to the technical team at FNB for working with us to resolve the banking issues that have been hampering ticket sales today. We will continue to work with them tonight to resolve the problems."
Yesterday afternoon, as fans became increasingly frustrated with the online-only booking system – which also required a credit card, the Shoprite Group took the decision to ignore Big Concerts' request to reserve tickets for online booking for the first 48 hours.
In a media statement, Shoprite Group CEO Whitey Basson said: "In our experience some 60% of Computicket's ticket sales for concerts of the calibre as Lady Gaga's take place through our Shoprite and Checkers Money Markets and Computicket outlets. Tickets will therefore already be made available at store level from tomorrow (20 June).
"Although the Group appreciates the fact that Lady Gaga's target market primarily consists of young internet users, the situation in South Africa is different to that in the rest of the world. Some 87% of South Africans do not have access to the internet and 85% do not have credit cards and the Group is not prepared to discriminate against this section of society by preventing them from a chance to buy a ticket in-store.
As fan complaints reached fever pitch late yesterday afternoon, Computicket itself soon followed suit and announced that tickets would be made available for booking through all Computicket outlets, kiosks at Shoprite, Checkers & House & Home stores, as well as through the call centre from 9am this morning (20 June) – and fans could still book online.
Meanwhile, Lady Gaga herself took to her Twitter page to discuss the system outages. "Just woke up to emails saying South African monsters crashed the online ticket servers due to high demand for TheBTWBall! I cant believe it!" she wrote.
Lady Gaga will perform two shows in South Africa later this year: One in Johannesburg on 30 November at the FNB Stadium, and another on 3 December at Cape Town Stadium. Tickets are available only at Computicket.
What were your experiences? Did you manage to get tickets to Lady Gaga? Have your say below!