Wednesday, October 31, 2007

China's Olympic Ticket Frenzy

A BusinessWeek writer finds out that buying tickets for the Olympics in China is not that easy, as ticket booking system crashed under unexpectedly huge demand shortly after sales started. From BusinessWeek:
I got the first clue when I got a text message from my sister—who also lives in Beijing—while I was in the middle of a meeting. Since I knew I was going to be busy this morning, I had asked her to see if she could get tickets for the men's basketball finals or semifinals. (Hey, I've got faith that Team USA will at least make it to the semifinals.) "Can't get on the Web site to buy tix," she wrote. "And I didn't bring my passport today to go to the bank." Without her passport as ID, she couldn't buy the tickets in person at Bank of China. Andrew Lih, a blogger in Beijing, preserved a picture of the Beijing 2008 error screen for posterity.

So, after my meeting was over, I popped over to the local Bank of China branch to see if I would have better luck getting tickets at the bank than my sister. I came prepared: Ever since the police made me write a self-criticism for not carrying my passport several years ago, I always have it with me when I go out. But the bank manager said Bank of China's system had crashed, too. The bank got a $22.5 billion bailout from the central government in 2003, so you would think they could have used some of that money to buy more servers.

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