Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Dear sureseats.com

I was so thrilled when I realized yesterday that I could purchase movie tickets online for any of the Ayala theatres via http://sureseats.com.

Ordinarily, I would simply visit ClicktheCity.com's Movies section to check screening schedules at the various theaters I frequent, then purchase the tickets at the theatre itself.

But yesterday was different; it was a holiday and the thought of having to join the crush of people lining up to purchase tickets led me to Google search, and eventually to sureseats.com, where I had my first encounter with their horrible, horrible payment process.

The only way to pay for tickets on their site is to purchase Multi-Pass credits, their own "prepaid service that allows you to pay for movie credits ahead of time, so the next time you use SureSeats, you can charge your tickets to your M-Pass credit or load."

There are only three ways to purchase M-Pass credits: at kiosks in Ayala malls, via credit card, or via GCash.

Since it was 8am and I wanted to purchase my tickets as early as possible (I wanted to get decent seats), I didn't want to wait until the malls opened to go to a kiosk.

So I tried to purchase M-Pass credits via credit card... only to learn that:

  • I had to use another site that I'd never heard of (myRegalo.com) to purchase my credits
  • I can only purchase M-Pass credits in P1000 increments
  • As a first-time user, I had to fax or email a copy of my most recent credit card billing statement after placing my order online so they could verify my credit card
  • Their business hours are Mondays to Fridays 8am to 6pm
  • I had to give them "24 hours to process the purchase"
In other words, there was no way I could buy M-Pass credits via credit card and use them today even if I wanted to.

So the final fall back was to try G-Cash, which is Globe Telecom's eCash offering. I was able to create a GCash account with my phone via sms within a matter of minutes, and a quick check of my balance revealed that I had P0.00 in my eWallet. So naturally I wanted to load money into my GCash account.

Unfortunately, there are only a few ways to add money to your GCash balance, all of which require some form of offline interaction:
  • Go to a Globe business center and give them cash
  • Go to an accredited GCash Partner and give them cash
  • Go to a Bancnet ATM to authorize the transfer of money from your bank account to your GCash account for a P25.00 fee
  • Use the BPI Express Mobile menu options which come with your Globe SIMcard to transfer money from your bank account to your GCash account
That last option actually sounded promising, especially when a quick check revealed that my SIM card had Bank to GCash Transfer as an option in the sim services menu. Unfortunately, I can't just initiate a transfer right away. I first have to enroll my mobile phone number with the bank and link it to my bank account -- a process that requires a visit to the bank's ATM -- before I can transact on my phone.

So after more than an hour of trial and error, I was still unable to purchase tickets because sureseats.com made it too difficult for me to give them my money.

And as I bumped into each new brick wall in this process, I couldn't help but repeatedly wonder why they didn't simply:
  • Do away with this silly M-Pass credit system
  • Accept credit card payments directly
  • Accept Paypal payments directly
  • Allow me to charge my purchase to my mobile phone bill (especially since it's still well below my mobile account's credit limit)?
Surely the people who designed this site have actually experienced purchasing items online at Amazon or Etsy or Ebay?

In the end, I had to content myself with just reserving the seats that I wanted and paying a P20.00 reservation fee for each ticket because buying them was simply too difficult.