Tuesday, March 3, 2009

More Bad Design is Immoraller

Persistent Bad Design is Immoral

My son loves hockey and I promised him a Dallas Stars game for his birthday. Last Saturday we heard about a game on Sunday afternoon that sounded perfect vs. the Penguins. No Sidney Crosby, but no matter. We decided to go.

So, Sunday morning comes and we do our usual leisurely family sleeping late thing. Around 11:30 I figure I'll just double-check the ticket situation. What with our economy and the Stars inconsistent season, I didn't figure on trouble. But the drive is fairly far, so no point in wasting gas if there's a sell-out.

So, I go online, as I mostly do, and look for tickets. Arriving at a list of upcoming games, today's entry says not "Buy now" but "Call Tickets.com (214)..." Huh. Okay. I call. During the time-wasting automation, I hear the warning "Within 3 hours of game time, tickets cannot be purchased online or over the phone." Uh oh.

But I stay on the line as if I want to buy and eventually reach a Tickets.com agent. I tell her I am interested in today's game and know I can't buy tickets through her or the website, but could she please tell me if tickets are available.




You mean I have to drive an hour to the arena, park, and actually go up to the box office to find out?

Yes sir.

Can I even call the box office?

No sir.




I cannot believe this. In the day and age of JIT, RFID, the internet, and in the name of all that is good, WHAT THE HELL?

Ahem, Tickets.com, just in case you didn't catch all that, here's a haiku:


So, all the fan-oriented geniuses at the NHL, Dallas Stars, and Tickets.com can't figure out a way to design a service reinforced by a real-time INVENTORY system? Surely that is not the case. They've heard of the these new-fangled computin' devices and their bases of data, right? I mean, this is it, right? Getting people to games is the BIG IDEA. RIGHT?

Yet, here I was. Risk the drive? Disappoint my son if we hear about tickets later? I didn't mind so much that I couldn't buy. I didn't want to pay service fees (No fee refunds for cancellations!) anyway. But just the simple courtesy of "Yes, driving an hour will not be fruitless" or "No, try again for another game" would be fantastic!

I did decide to drive, after all. I had already postponed this twice and wanted to come through even if the customer service attitudes displayed obviously didn't truly care if I would be successful. And guess what? Tickets! Lots of tickets! Oh, and a special for really good seats at a lower price! Two things I would have been thrilled to hear if the service had actually been designed for my son and me, hockey fans, to enjoy every part of the experience.

Listen NHL, Dallas Stars, and Tickets.com. You know it's all about us, right? If we don't feel you wanting us in the arena or in front of the TV, we might not show up as much. Oh, sure, I could have bought my tickets ahead of time. Well, no. We didn't hear about the game much in advance, plus, I had no way of knowing without calling (since the website was useless). Remember, your rules are yours, not mine.

There's really no excuse for this. The NHL has rebounded well, lucky for them, from the horrible lockout season. They should be looking for ways to cement loyalties, not anger their fans. Improve the fan experience. Serve better. We're not butts in seats. We're people trying to enjoy what you provide. Make it better net to net.

Persistent Bad Design is Immoral.

Make 2009 the Year of Good Design.