The Virtual Hassles of Virtually Begging for (Non-Virtual) Red Sox Tickets

When the best players in the Major Leagues "only" earned $1 million salaries, $5 tickets were still a reality. (Autographed by Sox closer Bill "Soup" Campbell).

When the best players in the Major Leagues “only” earned $1 million salaries, $5 tickets were still a reality. (Autographed by Sox closer Bill “Soup” Campbell).

For the first time in my 30-plus years worshiping the Red Sox, I’m going to Opening Day!

My son and I will be sitting behind a pole in the infield grandstands, where we have been warned that either the catcher, the pitcher “or both” will not be visible, but hey, seeing 7 out of the 9 players is better than only seeing five or six. Maybe I won’t need to see home plate if the Sox don’t score. And maybe I’ll be happier NOT seeing Jon Lester depending on whether he’s having a Charlie Brown kind of day on the mound or not.

Pretty much describes the 2012 Red Sox starting rotation.

Pretty much describes the 2012 Red Sox starting rotation.

Healthy cynicism aside, I’m looking forward to experiencing the pageantry and eternal hope of a new season and bragging rights of being there. My dad has been a great dad but he would’ve been even greater if he had taken me out of school to see a ballgame.

What I’m not so thrilled about is the Red Sox tradition of Crappy Customer Service.

I entered an online drawing for an EXCLUSIVE TICKET OPPORTUNITY to buy up to four seats for Opening Day or for a Yankees-Red Sox game later in the year. I “won” a spot to enter the Virtual Waiting Room yesterday and logged on promptly at noon, the first moment they were taking orders. I stared at the screen (while typing other work) and a running shot clock told me how many seconds were left before they’d try to let me get to the Virtual Ticket Window.  This took at least 40 cycles.

Once I was in, I clicked on every seat category under $55 (see my childhood ticket stub above) and the computer said there was nothing left. Meanwhile, a 2:30 shot clock runs at every stage of the process, warning you that another fan will get your slot in the waiting room if you don’t finalize the transaction (this involves typing in credit card numbers, security codes, passwords, mother’s maiden name, blood types, etc.)

With no tickets showing up as choices, I clicked on “Best Available,” knowing that if they gave me the $170 Pavillion Club, I’d have to bail out. The system is not forgiving. If you don’t want what they offer you, you cannot log back on for more options.

After finally making it to the purchase round despite my unreliable Internet connection, I was greeted with the following screen:

"We're sorry, we were unable to process your request due to high transaction volumes. Please try to submit your request again." (Click to enlarge)

“We’re sorry, we were unable to process your request due to high transaction volumes. Please try to submit your request again.” (Click to enlarge)

Blaming my frozen screen on HIGH TRANSACTION VOLUMES?  Isn’t that the reason for shoving us all in the virtual waiting rooms in the first place? Yes, I know I have become one of those unstable angry Internet people I try to avoid whenever possible. The kind of people who would call me up when I was a newspaper reporter and yell at me for getting their paper tossed in the snow or missing the Sunday coupon section.

I’ll be able to focus on the moment when I’m at Fenway Park and will try to channel that feeling of being there as a kid again. But right now is time to vent. I know I’m a sucker for fighting for tickets to see the Last Place Boston Red Sox, but do we all have to put up with Last Place Customer Service, too?

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