I read a good post this morning in Robert Middleton’s More Clients blog about avoiding bad clients and the huge amounts of time and energy they consume as you try to pursue their business. This has become more of an issue lately – after I relaunched my website, I see I’m getting more quote requests and consultation requests but most of those people turn out to be tirekickers.

How am I dealing with them? For one thing, I’m not doing any more placeholder pages. I did this for a few people and none of them have ever expressed anything but disappointment in their ‘websites’ and don’t understand why they’re not showing up on the first page of the search engine results. This has been a waste of time and money for me, so no more of those.

My minimum project is now a solid, basic 6-page site. That’s enough to get a small business started at least, and most prospective clients feel pretty comfortable with being challenged to produce that small amount of content in the beginning.

I’ve also made a change to my quote form. Under ‘Budget’ I had a ‘less than $500’ category but that’s now gone. The minimum amount is now $750, and hopefully this will dissuade the tirekickers who are looking for a $200 website.

This blog post ends on a positive note with which I agree – my favorite kinds of clients are ones mentioned, the troubled ones who are looking for reasonable alternatives and a company that can help them solve a problem, people that have been frustrated with their experiences with other web professionals, and my favorite of all, the strongly growth-focused client who has an eye on the future and will wield their website for all its marketing value. They’re willing to look at the big picture and tend to make good, long-term decisions. These are long-term clients and that’s the best kind of client to have.

I’ve been sitting here since before 12:00 trying to get into the Rockies’ ticketing site on two machines (a few others are trying too at different locations). Here’s what we see:

rockies ticket site

The countdown lasts 120 seconds then starts over. I’ve actually gotten to 1 second a few times since noon (it’s now 12:51) but when that happens, it eventually just goes to a ‘server connection was reset’ screen.

So… I’ve found few reports of someone actually getting in to the ticket purchase area then being booted back to this countdown screen before he/she could pay. It’s hard to know what might be going on in real time, but it sounds like there’s not a lot of success so far.

And one of the Denver news stations has just started reporting that team spokesmen say that tickets are selling, just very very slowly, and they expect to have them all sold ‘by the end of the day.’

I think this is a process that would have taken a half hour or so, maybe, on Ticketmaster? I really don’t like Ticketmaster’s fees, but I would have been happy to pay a surcharge for a less frustrating experience. And I would have felt like I had a fighting chance at something with Ticketmaster, rather than having to wait in the dark not knowing if I’m really in a ‘queue’ of some sort or just being repeatedly delayed for one reason or another.

I mentioned in an earlier post that the Rockies organization mentioned nothing on their website about any of the problems going on this morning during the ticket fiasco. It took them until 4:36 pm, over four hours after the press conference (which was on TV at 12:20ish), to finally post a short statement on their site.

In my opinion as a web developer and marketing person, this is ridiculous. This is what a website is for – communicating with your audience.

A five-minute effort on someone’s part this morning could have spared a lot of frustration for the hundreds of thousands of people (literally) that were sitting in front of their machines this morning wondering why they couldn’t get in and if the tickets were already sold out.

Why have a website if you don’t use it? This is a fantastic example I’ll be able to point out to my small business clients in the future of how to disrespect your audience and customers.

The Rockies organization was set to have a press conference at 4:00 today to discuss what happened this morning and when fans could expect the ticketing website to be back online and ready for sales. That time was pushed back to 5:00, then 6:00, and it just happened.

Basically, the Rockies spokesman apologized for the problem, stating that their system was overwhelmed this morning, and they hope to have more information before the 10:00 news broadcast.

There were a number of irate people in the audience and one got rowdy, asking why this wasn’t anticipated, as I agree it should have been; no more explanations were offered by the spokesman who apologized again and left. Perhaps we’ll know more later tonight, but I can’t see how tickets would be sold before tomorrow morning at the earliest at this hour.

So this morning I got ready to try my luck at getting tickets for the World Series. The Rockies have finally made it, and they’re playing in Denver on Saturday, Sunday and maybe Monday. The Rockies decided a few days ago to ditch box office sales and go entirely to online ticketing, which has turned out to be a minor disaster.

I and my husband and a few friends tried for more than two hours to get anything for any day, and never once got into the ticket sales site. While sitting here waiting around, I found the posts of many, many angry and disappointed fans in the same boat – plenty of tickets out there, if you’re willing to pay $650 and up. But not if you’re a person who doesn’t have a spare $1300 to burn.

There were literally 25 or so posts going up on Craig’s List every few minutes from people wanting to buy tickets at something approaching a reasonable price.

One of the local news stations reported at around 11:40 that no one had reported actually being able to buy a ticket online yet and another said that of 300 or so emails it had received, only three people had gotten through.

At around 12:20 a spokesman for the Rockies gave a short question-and-answer session outside Coors Field in Denver (with a backdrop of a hundred or so frustrated, booing fans). He reported that the server had been overwhelmed by over 8,000,000 hits in the first hour (and what did they think was going to happen?) and that it was now down. He asked fans to stop trying to get in, and said that the Rockies would ‘let people know’ when the site was back up again. How will they do that? Do we have to sit in front of the TV or computer all day and keep checking in?

He also said that virtually all of the 60,000 tickets were still available.

As of right now, 12:52 pm, the Rockies website (www.coloradorockies.com) STILL has no information about what’s happening with ticketing. According to their site, you can ‘buy tickets now!’

I’ll let you know if I happen to get a pair, but right now they can’t even guesstimate when the server will be back online. Today, tomorrow… all up in the air…