It is not a happy new year for the London Olympics ticketing operation.  LOCOG, the London organising committee, revealed first on 4 January that there were 10,000 double bookings for the Synchronised Swimming event – meaning 10,000 people have to be either re-seated or disappointed with alternative events.  There are said to be 1.3 million tickets for Olympic football and around 500,000 Paralympic tickets still available for sale until the final release of tickets in April.

If that wasn’t an embarrassing start to 2012, then on 6 January, LOCOG launched the official ticket exchange re-sale market that morning – the only mechanism by which the public can legally re-sell or exchange tickets – only to have to announce the suspension of the market hours later because many people could not upload their tickets for re-sale and the availability of tickets shown on the Ticketmaster-run website was out-of-sync with actual availability.

Once again this has drawn serious criticism of the Ticketmaster-run ticketing operation for the London Olympics and Paralympics, with extensive media coverage, adverse comment on the recurring failures in the system, and one must think reputational damage for Ticketmaster, now clearly identified by LOCOG as responsible for the problem website.

The Daily Telegraph report for example said: “The flawed system left thousands of potential buyers and sellers of tickets angry and frustrated, and prompted the London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games to lay the blame squarely at the door of their ticketing partner Ticketmaster.  Ticketmaster has provided all the infastructure for the heavily criticised Olympic ticket process but until now Locog has defended its involvement.”

 While the intention is to re-start the exchange and re-sale market as soon as the technical difficulties are resolved by Ticketmaster, this represents considerable disruption of a tight planned timetable.  The exchange and re-sale market was only planned to run for a short time, until February 3rd, and for any members of the public who found they had unwanted tickets after the previous ballot processes, this is their only legal opportunity to sell the tickets or exchange them for preferred ones.

In a statement LOCOG said: “We want buying and selling Olympic and Paralympic tickets through Ticketmaster to be a good customer experience, and so we will reopen the site once Ticketmaster have resolved these issues.”  The issues appeared to be ticket purchasers being given misleading statements that selected tickets had been secured when users clicked on ‘proceed to checkout’, when actually the tickets were not secured until the system had refreshed, usually ending with customers being told the tickets were not available.  There was also a major failure that prevented many re-sellers from uploading their unwanted tickets to the website, undermining the point of the market.

James Pearce, the BBC Sports Correspondent commented: “This is another major embarrassment for London 2012. Ticketing has been problematic from the very start.  The website, which is run by Ticketmaster, simply has not delivered the high-quality service which was expected.  During the initial sales period it crashed at crucial times, and now it has failed again during the resale phase.

Of course part of the reason for this is the huge demand for tickets, and London 2012 cannot be blamed for that, but the simple fact is that both London 2012 and Ticketmaster have had years to prepare for this.  At a time when London 2012 is trying to encourage the public to get behind the Games, many Olympic supporters are instead feeling let down and angry by the failures of the ticketing system.”

The service was still suspended on Monday 9 January when the Coalition Cabinet met at the Olympic Park to mark 200 days to go to the start of the Olympics.  The sponsored link if you put “Olympics tickets re-sale” into Google is ViaGoGo which it is illegal to use in the UK to re-sell Olympics tickets.  Google is reportedly profiting from advertising revenue for illegal services generated by its automated advertising system, according to a BBC investigation.

Read more: Metro coverage: http://www.metro.co.uk/sport/886707-london-2012-olympics-ticket-resale-website-still-suspended#ixzz1itFcmU7a

BBC coverage: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-16430850