Rutgers Football has experienced an incomparable boom this year in fandom, and the entire process of attaining student tickets has been overhauled due to the new demand. As a student and a lifelong fan, I feel that it is my god-given right to attend every game this year, but the university may feel otherwise. I could digress into a long rant about the fairness of that (and I did, then erased it), but I’ll spare you a headache on concentrate on the issue at hand.

This season, student tickets are being distributed via an online system and a raffle process. I’m writing this to show what a confusing hassle the ticket ordering process could be to someone who doesn’t know exactly what they’re doing. Hopefully, someone in the administration will see this post and know that all is not well. (Warning: Lots of images after the break.)

Registration

Before you are entered into the system, you must validate yourself by entering your student ID number. I paid my tuition bill on time, so when I found out that my ID number wasn’t being validated while all my friends’ were, I sent out some emails in search of answers. I got this back:

Tom,

We have noticed that a number of students have experienced the same
problem. If you student ID is not working, we will need you to fax a
copy of your student term bill to 732-445-4725 or bring it to our office
at the RAC. Please make sure that your student ID is on the term bill.
Once we verify your status as a full-time New Brunswick/Piscataway
undergraduate student, we will activate your account within 24 hours and then you will be able to go back in and register for the Buffalo game.

Matt Spaventa
Head Clerk
Rutgers Ticket Office

Were they serious? I paid my tuition, my online status showed it (easily checkable through their databases AND through studentabc.rutgers.edu), so what was the holdup? I finally drove up to Piscataway and gave them a copy of my term bill that I printed off the website (which is the most insecure, easily forged method they could ask for), and they entered me into the system.

Their inability to use the technology that I’m sure they have access to really made me wonder if this new system was an improvement at all.

Getting in Line

Once you sign into the site, you are greeted by a nice looking page that tells you which games have been opened for registration.

 

 

After choosing one, you are greeted with a screen where the options are severely limited, but in a good way. There’s no way anyone can screw this up.

 

After going through the next page, which contains a basic word captcha, you are brought to this little wonder:

 

Wow, that’s a lot of buttons. And a dropdown menu, too. The first time I did this, I thought the process ended here, so I stopped. Or, I could have released the tickets (?), removed the whole order, continued shopping, or continued renewing (?). Thankfully, I got back to the site in time to hit the check out button minutes before the deadline, and my order was placed. I’d split the blame for that halfway between my own stupidity and the sheer amount of buttons being thrown at you.

After this, I was brought to a very similar screen showing my order, my price, and some more tables. I checked a box saying that I agreed to the Terms & Conditions and was presented with a delightful waiting page.

 

 

Finally, they took me to a final confirmation screen, telling me that I would receive an email confirming this registration and then receive another email when the tickets were released.

 

 

That’s not my name. But I’m used to it, it happens more often than you think. Anyway, the whole process was a bit confusing, but simple enough that anyone who wanted to could navigate their way through the pages and secure themselves a lottery spot.

Time to Pick Them Up

Now imagine a week has passed. I’m going to use images from the Navy confirmation, since it was the one available to me at the time of writing this, but trust me that all confirmations follow the same procedure.

I get an email telling me that it’s time to confirm my tickets, and I open it up. This is what I see:

Well, there don’t seem to be any instructions on exactly how I go about claiming the tickets, but it should be pretty straightforward. I mean, there’s a nice hyperlink there and everything! So what do I see when I click on it?

 

 

 

Weird, I feel like I’ve seen this before somewhere… Oh, thats right! It’s the exact same page as before! With no instructions whatsoever on how I’m supposed to claim my ticket in the email OR on the page, I just click the Navy link, hoping for the best.

 

 

Well I must be just experiencing déjà vu left and right, because I could swear I already did this when I requested my ticket. You don’t think they’d make you confirm it through the same process, do you? Why wouldn’t they just give me a button after I sign in that says “Confirm Ticket Order“?

 

Notice the difference this time? I’ve got it highlighted up there to help you. The only way to tell the difference between a confirmation and a lottery request is the text in the dropdown menu option. Are you trying to tell me that they couldn’t have just eliminated all this nonsense? I’m lucky I even made it to this point!

 

Suddenly the waiting screen becomes a whole lot less cute.

Now I’m greeted with a very similar confirmation page, except this time it tells me that they’ll be emailing me an order confirmation along with emailing me my print-at-home ticket. That’s 5 emails for every ticket you send: Announcement, lottery request confirmation, ticket confirmation announcement, final confirmation, and the one containing the PDF file of the ticket itself. I’ve also lightened this post by only displaying half of what they make you go through, though I’ve mentioned the other parts, including the captcha, the confirmation screens, the Terms & Services agreements, and the final “print for your records” order confirmation.

40 emails and countless confirmation screens this season for a process that should be one or two clicks to order and one click to print. Oh, and here’s the ticket (click to view full size, then imagine printing it out so it fills up a full sheet of paper, then make every student present the full piece of paper along with their ID card when they try to enter every game):

rutgers ticket 2007

 

I’ve complained a lot in this post, but I feel like I have a reason to. Rutgers has an excellent reputation in regards to web services and I feel that it’s a shame to see the university embarrass itself with this clunky, cluttered, confusing handling of ticket orders and confirmations. In the very least, I ask that the final confirmation be simplified, or at least explained in the email. Every student I know was unsure what to do when that step came around, and that will only magnify as more students start to apply for seats. Please, Rutgers, don’t screw your students now when you’ve made such strides. This is better than getting up at 6 am to wait in a line for 3 hours for Louisville tickets, granted, but it could be so much better. Don’t just settle for a C on this, we want a B+ or better (an A would be nice).

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