I was one of the lucky ones who won a ticket for the closing ceremony of the Beijing Olympics. Because the Beijing Olympic Committee wants to make sure these ticket cannot be sold over the black market, the ticket will bear your name on it. Last week I already received a phone call to check my personal data for the tickets (if you changed your phone number in the past 9 months you probably have bad luck, because they cannot reach you). I thought it was a spam call, because the caller started asking right away what my passport number is in very bad English. I almost hung up on the lady!
Today I received an email with instructions on what to do to get these tickets. Luckily it did not end up in my spam filter, because then I might not have seen it on time. The procedure is almost ridiculous. You first have to fill out a form with all your personal details (they already have all these details online, but OK). Then you have to put a picture on it that has been taken after August 2006 (No kidding, how do they plan to check this? Why not just say a recent picture?). You have to make a ‘duplicated copy’ of your passport (I assume this means two copies). Then you have to go a branch of the Bank of China in person between January 15 and 31 with these forms and your original ID. You can name a trustee to go in your place, but then you have to sign a letter of trust first.
Now what if you are on vacation or on a business trip for the next two weeks, or just see the email too late? Bad luck, the mail says that in that case ‘the organizers are entitled to deprive the buyer of his tickets’. Is nobody thinking before sending out such a mass email? Wouldn’t it be normal to give ticket buyers at least a couple of weeks notice? It reminds me a bit of the disaster with the ticket sales in October where nobody seemed to be thinking ahead either.
I certainly hope the Organizing Committee is better at organizing the actual Olympic Games than at organizing the ticket sales.
Update (Jan. 22): My assistant went to the Bank of China to hand in my application today, but it was rejected! Two reason: I had to fill it in with an ink pen, not a ballpoint… (no mention of that of course in the application form, so I suppose more people will have that problem). Furthermore, I made a mistake in one letter and crossed it out, that was also not allowed. Typical Chinese bureaucracy, I hate it. But what can you do?