How to destroy your brand reputation in just 14 minutes….

This morning, like many other hopefuls, we dutifully logged onto the Ticketmaster website with a hope of getting tickets for the much anticipated Stone Roses reunion gig in Heaton Park, Manchester next June. Now to be fair, at least we got onto the Ticketmaster website which is more than could be said for Ticketline which failed to load for over an hour.

At precisely 09.30 the rush started but no problems as we were ready, prepared and already logged in as a customer to the website, so really nothing could go wrong, could it? Naturally we expected the response to be a bit sluggish as there were bound to be lots of people wanting these tickets, but surely the people who run these ticketing websites would have anticipated demand and adjusted their servers accordingly?

Sure enough, within five minutes we got to the page which asked us how many tickets we wanted. We selected four (the maximum allowable and just enough for the family) and pressed continue. And that’s when the problems started. After a wait of a couple of minutes we were presented with the screen you can see below.

No matter how much refreshing we did it just wouldn’t load again. By the time it did load again the news was telling us that all tickets had gone in just 14 minutes. Despite repeated attempts, seven in total, all we ever got was the server failure screen until after 10.30am when of course they were displaying that all tickets were sold out.

Right in the middle of this farce they even opened up a third date but of course the Ticketmaster system means that you can only select a date for the gig by going back to the very beginning again, thereby losing any place you may (theoretically) hold in their queuing system.

Now we’re sure we weren’t alone in this problem, this morning and judging by the anguish on Facebook and Twitter lots of people found themselves in the same boat. And out of all this come Ticketmaster with the lion’s share of the £4m of ticket sales, plus their hugely inflated ‘booking fees’ on top, who must be chuffed with a good morning’s work but trust me, there are many people who now completely mistrust your brand and are unlikely to ever use you again if they can find an alternative.

And there’s the rub, there is really no alternative. They have a virtual monopoly on the market and can produce some of the worst customer care whilst charging huge fees and get away with it. So whilst you may be crowing about this morning’s profit, those 14 minutes and the aftermath on Twitter and Facebook could well prove to be the beginning of the end for your brand.