While modern technology allowed George Dizes to see a picture of his unborn child at the doctor’s office on Thursday it failed him miserably when it came to trying to purchase Toronto Maple Leaf hockey tickets on line.
The 34-year-old Markham, Ont., native was one of hundreds of fans who became frustrated with the NHL club when the process to sell a limited number of tickets to their playoff games at home broke down.
Instead of being able to celebrate the Leafs’ first playoff appearance in nine years, it was another bitter pill that long-suffering fans had to swallow. Earlier this week the NHL’s richest organization announced that it was hiking playoff ticket prices by an average of 75 per cent.
Thursday’s confusion started at 10 a.m. EST when the Leafs had said a “limited number” of playoff tickets for the first two playoff games at the Air Canada Centre would be available to purchase online through Ticketmaster.
The dates of the Leafs’ opening playoff games and their opponent have yet to be determined. Only 750 tickets for each game were on sale and only available to those who had joined the team’s Last Member Club through the Leafs website.
Those who joined were sent a confirmation e-mail that contained a password and a link to a Ticketmaster website where they could begin the process to try to purchase tickets.
Dizes was so excited about the prospect of securing a ticket that he was trying to navigate to the website on his smartphone while he accompanied his wife, Niki, to the doctor’s office for an ultrasound. She is seven months pregnant with their first child.
“I’m in the room and I’m getting the evil eye from my wife and the technician because I’m staring at my phone instead of the ultrasound image,” Dizes said.
But like so many others, Dizes was frustrated in his attempt to reach the Ticketmaster link he had been provided with and eventually gave up after trying for about an hour.
“You know what, the process is kind of stupid,” Dizes said. “It should work. There’s no reason why it shouldn’t. And then you’ve to go overpay anyway. It’s just not right.”
Complaints from others began to filter out on Twitter from other frustrated fans hoping to buy tickets.
“What an absolute disaster this morning on Ticketmaster trying to get tickets for a Leafs playoff game,” Tweeted one individual.
“Ticketmaster is having issues selling Toronto Maple Leafs playoffs tickets ... and they had what, like 8/9 years to work on this?!,” came another comment.
Blair Woods, a 22-year-old Scarborough resident was one of the lucky ones who got through and he was successful in purchasing two tickets for the first game at $123 per seat.
“I have no idea, man,” Woods said when asked what his secret was.
Bob Hunter, the executive vice-president venues and entertainment at the ACC, said it was human error on Ticketmaster’s part that caused the problem. He said it took about 30 minutes to figure it out and then get it fixed.
“There was literally one letter missing in the website link that was sent out and that took people to the wrong site,” Hunter said. “It was a simple fix but by then we had a number of very frustrated people.”
Hunter said the Leafs have compete faith in Ticketmaster and will continue to use it to distribute tickets for events at the ACC.
Ticketmaster also issued a statement, expressing dismay over what transpired.
“It is clear how passionate Leaf fans are and excited as we head into the NHL Playoffs this year,” the statement said. “Amongst this excitement, this morning Leafs Last Minute Club members experienced delay when attempting to buy Leafs first two playoff home games. We do want to acknowledge this was Ticketmaster's issue to resolve and we rectified it as quickly as possible. All tickets available were purchased by Leafs Last Minute Club members.
Fans can be assured that this will not be a problem moving forward. We understand the disappointment the impacted fans feel. We want to thank the Toronto Maple Leafs Organization and the Leafs Last Minute Club members for their patience and understanding today and wish you all a long and successful playoff run.”