Jet Set gets handle on ticket lines after a difficult Monday
July 24, 2012 06:22 PM
Lines were so long Monday that Matthew Martin, 23, of Macon, Ga., was turned away at 3 p.m. when he showed up to retrieve his tickets to three sports. He was relieved to find a shorter line and a more tolerable wait when he returned Tuesday.“There were a lot of people looking for someone to blame,” Martin said after picking up his tickets. “No one really answered that. Do we blame [Jet Set]? Do we blame the organizing committee? It’s really frustrating.”
Michael Kontos, a spokesman for Jet Set Sports, which goes by the name CoSport internationally, apologized on behalf of the company for the inconvenience to people who waited in line Monday. He said the company increased its staff at the distribution center to improve service on Tuesday.
“The wait lines were down considerably,” Kontos said. “The processing times were down considerably. As the day progresses, things will continue to improve.”
Jet Set is the exclusive seller of Olympic tickets in the U.S., Australia, Austria, Bulgaria, Canada, Norway and Sweden. It also is an official sponsor of the U.S. Olympic Committee, which it pays in order to become the country’s exclusive ticket provider. It’s been the sole public ticket seller since 2006, but its ticket sales experience goes back to 1992.
Kontos said Jet Set had never experienced lines at previous Olympics like the ones it saw at will call this week. There were about 500 ticket orders in the U.S. that weren’t delivered by London organizers in time for Jet Set to mail them to ticket buyers, and those customers were notified two weeks ago that their tickets would be at will call. But Kontos said the total number of will-call tickets was consistent with years past.
“The one difference, and I hesitate mentioning it, is that Londoners, local residents, were able to buy not only from the [London Olympic Organizing Committee] site but other [national Olympic committees] throughout the [European Union],” Kontos said. “That may have meant that there were more local citizens already in London anxious to get their tickets and showed up the first day. Whereas a lot of time people are traveling and come at different times. That could have contributed to a more robust [first] day.”
Another factor that could have contributed to the long lines was the fact that a lot of U.S. citizens live or study in London. That meant they ordered their tickets through will call and then opted to pick them up.
That was the case for Jamie Reimann and Kevin Jaijairam, two law school students from Minnesota, and Andrew Jacobs Van Marlen, a Baltimore resident working in finance in London for T. Rowe Price.
Jet Set had five people distributing tickets at a university in the Paddington Station area. The company had erected barricades and tents to provide shade for customers who were waiting.
Brian and Shirley Owles of Australia said that when they arrived Tuesday around 11 a.m. only three Jet Set staffers were distributing tickets. Later that number increased to five people.
“I was quite surprised at how disorganized it was to start,” Brian said.
Shirley said an hour-and-a-half wait wasn’t bad, “but it’s not good.”
Of more than two dozen people exiting the line during the course of an hour, no one complained that their seats weren’t together, which was something that had been reported a day earlier.
Kontos said that’s a common issue that Jet Set deals with for an Olympics. The company requests a certain number of seats for an event and then the organizing committee delivers those seats. If it requests 30 tickets, it might get 11 in one section, seven in another and 12 in another, making it impossible to put 15 couples together. The company has disclaimers for that on its website, Kontos said.
Martin, who bought single tickets to three events, ran into a completely different problem. Jet Set only had two of his three tickets.
“They said, ‘We don’t know where your ticket is,’” Martin said. “They said they’d get it to me as soon as possible. They took down my info. Hopefully they’ll get it to me before my event.”
Kontos said that of the 120,000 customers, Jet Set has only received about 1,000 calls regarding issues.
“When you look at the numbers, they’ve been able to please the majority,” Kontos said.