Comic Con 2013 Badge Apocalypse

Uproar over badge sale for Comic Con 2013 passes

Uproar over badge sale for Comic Con 2013 passes

For every fan out there may it be a regular movie goer, concert enthusiast and convention regular, we all know that presale of badges are the most crucial and the most difficult to obtain. Often we need to stand on long lines for hours to for tickets and best seat passes. Enduring an irritable crowds and  medieval processes of registration. In some cases one must be qualified to attend a much coveted trade show.

Just last week I applied for my trade show application for E3 Convention. Twice they asked for my credentials, twice I submitted it with full backing of my company and yet I was still qualify. It makes pulling teeth seem like a walk in the park.

But you know which in just as difficult in getting a pass. Trying to secure yourself and family members a badge for Comic Con.

Technology is supposed to move us forward. Everything is automated, faster, smarter, aim to make process of everyday life easier.  Unfortunately, with server crashes, slow wifi, slower computers and add a couple hundred thousand of angry cutomers, technology becomes more of a burden than a crutch.

I have attended Comic Con close to 8 years in a row.  And worked for the media and gaming industry for 3. Events for 3 (on and off) and now my comany indirectly works with the Comic Con organizers for their show and event needs. Back in 2005, the only oline thing I did was register my application at the Comic Con website. We were given a serial number and the payment process was to wait in line at the event itself.  My more hardcore friends do the presale badges the year before and wait it out in the heat and cold outside the convention center. Often scheduled a week or a day before the opening of Comic Con week in San Diego. If they miss out, they can still purchase badges later online or through eBay with ease

Around 2010 things started to change as they removed the Onsite Badge pre-registration/sale. And heavily depended on online purchasing. Comic Con was growing by the year, especially after the breakout of Comics/Novel to Screen adaptations like Marvels Ironman, Thor, Avengers. And Televisions Game of Thrones and Walking Dead. The Con became so big that the San Diego Convention Center is fighting each year its right to keep Comic Con in San Diego to accommodate its growing number of attendees. Local hotels like the Hilton Bayfront and the Marriot blocked its ballrooms as additional venues for panels.

For the 2011 Comic Con Sales in mid 2010, the organizers of Comic Con used EPIC to streamline all badge sales. This to also avoid ticket scalping by making sure all buyers have a legit Comic Con login ID and a limited number of badges they can purchase.  They announced a date and time for the ticket sale. Unfortunately on the day of the sale itself, the server crashed and glitched due to the overwhelming number of registrants.  You can imagine the drama that unfolded afterwards.  One would think that the organizers would scrap the online sale and go back to the old system.  But they decided to stand behind their decsion to use EPIC online for future ticket sales.

Fast forward to February 16, 2013. A week ago I received an email reminding me that the 2nd date (the first being in August 2012) of badge sales will occur at 9:00 AM PST on 2/16/2013. The email included instructions and to go to this webpage

The instruction clearly states that we need to have a VALID Comic Con registration (check) and to click the REGISTER link on the given site at 9:00 AM.  I was awake at 7:30 am on that day, logging in to all my accounts, credit card ready and 3 computers in que. I read all necessary instructions and even watched the video they provided.  I courtesy called my friends to make sure they were awake and ready to buy the ticket since I have only budget to buy mines.

Come 9:00 AM i clicked RIGISTER on all 3 computers. What greeted me was 3 white screens that were loading. After 5 minutes each of my screens timed out except one.  I was able to enter the Waiting Room and again wait for my turn to purchase the badges.

Comic Con EPIC online waiting room

Comic Con EPIC online waiting room

Less than a minute the site refreshed and this time it went to an error screen (sorry no screennshot) . I frantically tried to refresh the page and by that time it was 9:12 am, the site was already at full capacity.  It is by mere luck that I was able to get back to que waiting room at the back of the line at #25486. The site would refresh every 120 seconds and would tell me how far down the waiting line I was. After 8-10 minutes, I was the first within my friends to get to the LogIn page for badge purchase.   I was able to secure a 4 day pass with Preview Night.  After which I was given an option to buy another badge (as long as that 2nd badge has a VALID Registration ID)  My friend scooted over my PC to buy his, but because he was panicking, he accidentally pressed the X close button of the window. (Screaming ensued)  Luckily my 3rd computer reloaded and is in que and he was able to buy a badge.

Back online and while this was all happening, I was trying to call the Comic Con customer service line they provided at their Official Facebook page.  The Customer Contact center was understandably busy. The Facebook Page, had no updates, so me and my friends were posting random updates of which passes were on sale. By 9:30 the 4 Day and Saturday Badges were sold out. Leaving people still waiting in queue or getting constant Page/Server error visibly upset at another failed attempt to purchases badges.

Several good Samaritans tried to help strangers in Facebook to buy tickets. Unfortunately by the time they can do so, the selected dates were sold out or the buyer didnt have a registered ID.  Multiple badge sales which were allowed before seem to be non-existent. According to  ” the convention’s Twitter feed blew up with new gripes from baffled customers. Many fans reported bumping up against permanent “site over capacity” messages, while others noted noted the lack of updates unrelated to sales”

Other issues included credit or debit card declined. Instructions given was to email all reported issues to the customer service email (since the hotline was forever busy)

Though I feel blessed in being able to purchase the passes, I am very disappointed and sad for those many who were not able to purchase one and enjoy the experience of Comic Con.  There is hope that another ticket sale date will happen in May, but for now that is all speculation.

Hopefully next year’s pass purchase would not be as dramatic.



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