The limited number of tickets available to the public for President Barack Obama's inaugural ball and parade were snatched up hours before they were supposed to be available, thanks to Ticketmaster mistakenly putting them up for sale hours earlier than scheduled.
After signing up with the Presidential Inaugural Committee to receive ticketing information, users were informed that tickets to both the ball and the parade would go on sale Monday morning. But a technical error caused Ticketmaster to email ticket sale information ahead of schedule Sunday night and recipients who happened to see that information immediately bought them all.
Ticketmaster apologized in a statement emailed to users:
During testing of our email system tonight, you may have inadvertently received an invitation to purchase tickets for 2013 Inauguration events, including the Inaugural Ball or the Inaugural Parade.
Public tickets to these events were originally scheduled to go on sale tomorrow morning—you received the email tonight in error, and Ticketmaster takes responsibility for this mistake.
A spokesperson for the Presidential Inaugural Committee confirmed Ticketmaster's error in a statement Monday, but noted that the committee's goal to sell a limited number of tickets to the public was still fulfilled: "This is consistent with the Presidential Inaugural Committee's announcement that a limited number of public tickets would be available on a first come, first-served basis. Ticketmaster will be in touch with additional information on ticket sales."
Some people took to Facebook Monday to express their annoyance.
"I am pissed that Ticketmaster screwed up and sent out emails one day early due to an error on their part," user Romona Lewis wrote Monday on the committee's Facebook Web page. "Now a lot of us will not be able to purchase tickets for this historical event. I think Ticketmaster needs to figure out a way to right their wrong."
"Nothing presidential about how this was handled.....," Delia Riley wrote.
Even those lucky enough to know tickets were on sale early had some complaints.
"After 3 hours of trying, I finally got thru to the payment screen, entered the required info, and then got timed out because the network was so slow. Aaaarrrgh," wrote Lanny Moffett.
The committee spokesperson confirmed that the "Ticketmaster website was overwhelmed, slowing the purchasing process."
No additional action by the committee is expected with regard to sales.