Sometimes, to be perfectly honest, it can be a real pain in the neck.
I was only chatting with R, last night, how, although everyone in Italy had mobile telephones the moment they were first introduced and a minimum of two when Britons were still umming and ahing about having their first, when it comes to the internet, they are a tad slow. So, whereas Facebook was a big hit in Britain, say, five years ago, it only really got a toe-hold in Italy in the last couple of years.
And web development is, to be frank, fairly crap here. It is almost as if they don’t really get the power of it. My colleague, S, for example, doesn’t like to book anything or buy anything over the net. So, using websites in Italy is quite hit and miss.
I needed to book tickets to see The Last Supper. If you haven’t been in the last 10 years or so, you really, really MUST. They have cleaned it up and it is, quite honestly, breathtaking. Any pictures you see of it really don’t do it justice.
But you should try to get tickets before you come. These days the viewing is strictly controlled. The number of people allowed in at one time is limited to about 20. You are only supposed to be in there for about 15 minutes.
It used to be quite difficult to get tickets anyway but now, with all the restrictions, it is definitely harder. You can book about 2/3 months in advance only. Even so, tickets are not that easy to get, especially if you are restricted to certain days.
So today, the tickets for July and August came on sale. And I learnt some interesting things that, should you be wishing to book, might help:
1. Getting through on the phone is almost impossible.
2. The website which shows available days, is updated ……… A LOT (so refresh the page as often as you can).
3. Pre-register with the booking site as, during the time you are trying to register, the tickets you thought were available will have been sold.
4. Do try the call centre again if you can’t find what you want on the site.
I had rung last month. The kind lady (there is an English section) told me that I couldn’t book for July, yet. Also, she told me not to worry as they always have tickets available in the call centre that are not shown on the site. I don’t rest easy with that sort of information. When people say ‘don’t worry’ in Italy, it’s usually the time to worry.
Anyway, this morning was the ‘time’ to get July tickets. I need them because D&S are coming over for their first anniversary. So it’s important that I get some for them. I suggested to F that, perhaps, I should also purchase a guided tour. He said, ‘No, I’ll do it’. ‘Really?’, I queried. But, apparently, yes. Well I guess he might know something about it since he did Art and stuff at college.
I got on the site. Until about 8.45 a.m. July and August were not even available as months to look at. Then July was there – but no days were available. Grrrr.
I try phoning the call centre. The line is engaged. I try again. The line is engaged. And again. Engaged. Engaged. Engaged. Engaged.
I get through. I press ‘2’ for English. They tell me, in Italian, that I have to be put through to an operator. I wait. They play a message apologising for the delay. I wait. They play another message apologising for the delay. I wait some more. They play a message that apologises for the delay but adds that the operators are all busy and so it is taking too long to wait. They cut me off.
THE BASTARDS! Having already spent money on the call, I want to wait more. Instead, I must phone again. The line is engaged. I try again. The line is engaged. Engaged, engaged, fucking ENGAGED! Bastards, bastards, BASTARDS!
I am now repeating the calls on both my mobile and landline. I get through! Hurrah!
The message about waiting for an operator comes on. I wait. I hear the ‘sorry for the delay’ message. I wait. I hear the same message again. I wait. I hear the same message plus the bit about ‘we’ve decided that rather than permit you to hold the line, we shall cut you off with no thought for you whatsoever and make you redial 6 million times until we get you get through to here, giving you false and unreasonable hope that you will actually get to speak to someone – but, at least, then, someone else can get through and they can have the false hope that they will get through. Anyway, it’s our joke because although this is called a ‘call centre’, in fact it is only one person sitting by a telephone’.
I go back to the website. I refresh. Well, you never know?
I didn’t know. This time, every day is available until the 13th July! WTF?
Ah, yes, of course, someone is just entering them by hand, right now! They are entering the available dates by hand because, well, this is Italy, and the thought of setting it up in a file beforehand so that the flick of a program makes them all appear at once is JUST NOT POSSIBLE!
However, on a brighter note, it means that, if these dates have suddenly appeared, more dates will too. I hope. I sincerely hope.
I am now dialing the useless number that is always engaged and simultaneously, refreshing the page on the site.
The day I want comes up as available. Hurrah!
I select the date. Some times come up. I select a time. To continue I must register or sign on. Damn! I have signed up with this company before. I bought ballet tickets for V at La Scala. I can’t remember my username or password. Damn, damn! I try to register. I cannot. My email address is already taken.
I click on the forgotten login button. I will get an email. An email arrives. It has the username but the password is not there for security reasons. This is quite stupid. I wait for a moment for another email with the password. It’s not coming. I go back to the site. I go back a few pages – except I can’t. I am, in my head, screaming at ‘them’. I hate you, I hate you, I hate you.
This seems to have little effect. I go back to the original page. OK there’s even more dates available now. I click on the same date and the same time. Of the 7 tickets available, there is now only 1. BARSTEWARDS!
I try a different time. I try to log on with my username and say I have forgotten my password. I go back to the tab with the email and click on the inbox to refresh it, every few milliseconds. I fail to notice that the email has arrived and so click once again on inbox. This only slows everything down.
You might guess by now that I am a tad frustrated.
I copy the password and paste it in.
There is a message in Italian. I do not read it. I have no time for this. It is not letting me go any further. I try a different tab. The same thing happens. I go back to the first tab and try again. I reload the page from the beginning and try it all again. No dice still.
I read the message in Italian.
I am already logged on somewhere else and so must close the tabs and start again.
I close all tabs. I open a new tab. I start again.
The date and the time I want is still OK. They have seven tickets, still. I want four. I sign in again. They do not have all the details they would like. Anyway, the address is wrong. It’s the one that I used to have in the UK. I change it. I have to look up my codice fiscale on my phone. I ensure I have entered all the required fields. I tick the box to say I have read the Terms and Conditions. As with most people, I haven’t, of course.
I am not allowed to go further.
You utter, utter, fucking bastards!
There is a field they insist must be filled even if it is not marked as required. They do not need this information. It is not essential to this transaction. Am I a man or a woman? Why must you know this to allow me to purchase tickets from you (which, incidentally, are going to cost me an extra €1.50 EACH!!!! because I am booking in advance)?
I am tempted to say I am a woman.
It lets me pay. But now there is this new thing with the credit card. I must enter my password. The one assigned to the card.
The last time, even if I know I entered the correct password, it didn’t work and I had loads of shit trying to get a new one, eventually having to phone a premium line from my mobile to get it working.
I enter the password, making sure it is 100% correct.
It starts processing. It is taking a long time. I am not hopeful. Eventually, a message appears. The transaction has not processed. For fuck’s sake! I re-read the message. The password is correct, the transaction is being processed now.
I get the confirmation that I have four tickets. I print it, not really believing that after more than an hour of phone calls and messing about on the internet, I have actually got them.
F sends me an email with the picture of a dog, a picture of a shower-head, the date of Friday the 22nd and a picture of a clock at about 10 o’clock.
I reply with a picture of tickets, of the Last Supper, a poster with the date that I have booked the tickets and a clock with 1:15 on it.
Underneath I put a picture of a finger pointing out of the screen (you) and a picture of a tour guide with a flag.
We are done.
So, in case you wish to book to see the Last Supper, you can (maybe) book through this site. In fact, if you check right now, there are even a few dates that have become available in April, May and June that, previously, were all fully booked.
Failing that, you can try the telephone number on that site. But only phone on a day that is not the first day of sales. They say ‘Not to Worry’. Of course, I have lived here long enough to know you should. Still, it is worth a try, isn’t it?
Anyway, this was only my experience. I’m sure yours will be better ………….