Salt Lake sales system not the ticket

Ordering a ticket for the 2002 Salt Lake Winter Games can be as demanding as an Olympic event. Hours after the first tickets went on sale, the official web site was swamped, phones rang off the hook, and consumers were complaining about the complicated and time-consuming online ticketing system.

Ordering a ticket for the 2002 Salt Lake Winter Games can be as demanding as an Olympic event. Hours after the first tickets went on sale, the official web site was swamped, phones rang off the hook, and consumers were complaining about the complicated and time-consuming online ticketing system.

Acquiring tickets through the Internet is a nine-step process that the Salt Lake Organising Committee said takes about 45 minutes, not including the time it takes to download 19 pages of instructions. If the lines are clogged - as they were on the first day of trading on Tuesday - it takes much longer.

As the one million available tickets first went on sale, the computer system crashed. But the SLOC said it was quickly up and running at full capacity, processing 2,400 ticket orders simultaneously. Phones were ringing off the hook for 75 operators.

"If it keeps up at this rate, we'll be sold out in 10 days," said John Benion, director of games services for SLOC. In all, the committee expects to make $180m (£125m) from ticket sales.

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