Ticketing mess: angry fans, worried Jody Chiang, contrite promoter
2015-01-06 16:09:46

    Taipei, Jan. 6 (CNA) The chaotic pursuit of tickets for pop diva Jody Chiang's 16 farewell concerts continued into a second day Tuesday, with the singer herself and angry fans admonishing the promoter, and the promoter apologizing for ticketing problems.

    Chiang, one of Taiwan's most popular singers over a career spanning four decades, set off the frenzy on Friday when she announced that she would retire after 16 farewell concerts in Taipei and Kaohsiung between July and September.

    When the first group of tickets for six of the concerts went on sale Monday, long lines formed at the sales office of Kuang Hong Arts Management after its online ticketing site was overwhelmed.

    Yet no sooner had the tickets gone on sale at noon than scalpers were offering them at six to 10 times their face value on online trading platform Ticketbis.

    Fans left thousands of angry messages on Kuang Hong's Facebook page, blaming the promoter for failing to be prepared for the large demand, and even Chiang was worried by the mess. "KHAM (Kuang Hong Arts Management) Ticket, I beg you to improve quickly. Scalpers, I beg you to have a conscience," she wrote in a post on her Facebook page in the middle of the night.

    Internet user Yi Ling Su, wrote "What is going on! How come I can't get any tickets! Did you leave all of the tickets to the scalpers?"

    Another netizen, Tsai Hsuan-chi, wrote "I tried to buy tickets starting at 11 a.m. Now it's 6 p.m. and I didn't get one ticket. Kuang Hong Arts Management, don't you have to give an explanation?"

    Kuang Hong issued a statement on its Facebook page Tuesday, apologizing for the inconvenience caused.

    It said that close to 350,000 people tried to log onto the website on Monday, a phenomenon it described as "unprecedented" in Taiwan's music industry. "We would like to express our deep apologies to everyone" for the delay in the online ticketing service on Monday, the company said. "We did not do a perfect job, but we will do our best to improve our deficiencies," it said.

    Later Tuesday, the promoter said that more than 10,000 sales were made on ticketing machines at both OK Mart and Hi-Life convenience stores on Monday and advised fans to try outlets of those chains if they had yet to secure tickets.

    Long lines appeared outside of ticket offices in Taipei and Kaohsiung earlier Tuesday as fans remained desperate to secure seats to Chiang's shows. But many would end up disappointed.

    As of 7 a.m. Tuesday, the line outside Kuang Hong's office in Taipei had already reached 1 kilometer long and circled the entire block, prompting the promoter's staff to call on fans to stop lining up because there were not enough tickets to accommodate them.

    The company and Chiang bought breakfast for hundreds of the people standing in line.

    Kuang Hong said it could only hand out 1,000 number cards Tuesday, and the crowd had already exceeded that number. Each customer was allowed to purchase up to eight tickets.

    Many of those had been waiting in line since Monday and had camped overnight outside of the office.

    Things were also heating up in Kaohsiung.

    Fans camped outside of the two ticket offices Monday night, with sleeping bags and stools fixtures in the lines. Some fans drank hot coffee to keep themselves warm and awake.

    A fan surnamed Lin said she and many of her friends failed to buy a ticket online the previous day, so they decided to come to the ticket office and took turns waiting in line.

    Shortly after noon on Tuesday, Kuang Hong posted a message on its Facebook page saying there were no more tickets available for purchase at its Taipei office that day, and it urged fans to buy tickets on its website and at convenience stores.

    It said its online ticketing service was working better than on Monday, but many fans left comments saying they were still unable to access the system.

    At 2:30 p.m. Tuesday, a CNA reporter tried logging onto the official ticketing site, but failed to do so even after refreshing the website 50 times.

    On Monday, the official ticketing site was overwhelmed, and most people who tried to use the system got only a "Service Unavailable" message.

    Many Internet users also reported trying to buy tickets from ticketing machines in convenience stores for hours but failing to do so.

    All 60,000 tickets for six of the concerts went on sale Monday at noon. They were sold out Monday night. Tickets for another six concerts went on sale Tuesday at noon, while those for the remaining four concerts will be put on sale on Wednesday, also at noon.

(By Christie Chen, Sabine Cheng and Chen Chao-fu)