With the soft launch of The Shiny underway, and the fulfillment of my pre-orders approaching, I thought Saturday's game against Crystal Palace would be a good time to stress test The Shiny - and the readers at the turnstiles. The results were astonishing...
A season ticket holder struggles to use his digital ticket in the reader. "What a sh•t system that is" claims another fan on entry.
I had 12 volunteers to covertly test the Stadium's turnstile readers, so I could finalise what Shiny design would work best at London Stadium, in comparison with the printed option, recommended by the ticket office.
3 volunteers used monochrome printed QR Codes
3 volunteers used monochrome printed barcodes
3 volunteers used QR Codes on Shinys
3 volunteers used barcodes on Shinys
All 12 codes were tested before use at the Stadium, using Scanner Software available to anyone with a smartphone. All passed.
Firstly, I wanted to compare the new solution against the old RFID card system, that in my experience worked first time - every time.
Of the 12 pre-tested codes used NOT ONE WORKED FIRST TIME AT THE TURNSTILE. NOT ONE.
This suggests, that currently the new ticketing system doesn't work as well as the old system. Anyone who queued to enter the first two Premier League matches can confirm this, regardless if they entered on the first attempt or not. It also appears that the readers in place are possibly not currently fit for purpose. You simply cannot social distance within a huge queue of people.
The second test made was how well the new codes worked when tried up to three times - or re-positioned up to three times.
The results were:
monochrome printed QR Codes - 0 out of 3 worked
monochrome printed barcodes - 2 out of 3 worked QR Codes on Shinys - 1 out of 3 worked
Barcodes on Shinys - 2 out of 3 worked
Even though I am in agreement that an e-ticket solution should be gradually introduce to fans that want that - I'm shocked at how poorly the turnstile readers worked with barcodes and QR codes. Ultimately, it doesn't look like London Stadium is ready for this solution yet. If they care about fans getting into the game on time, they really should address this. It is only fair though to say that the staff at the turnstiles are helpful, and will do all they can to get you into the match on time. It's really not their fault that there are delays on entry.
Upon entering, I made an aquaintance with a fan who politely asked If he could stand next to me in my section. "I like to find a spare seat at this end for the first half, then go to my own seat in the second half - so I get to see more goals action" - I did see the funny side.
I have to reiterate, that if you purchase a Shiny, I cannot take responsibility for the Stadium's readers or ticketing protocol - and the results above prove that. However, it certainly is my responsibility to make The Shiny as effective as can be, to reduce the time at turnstiles.
To this end, I am replacing the QR code on the Shiny with a barcode for the final design - assuming they will be providing one of course. This will also make the ordering of your Shiny easier, as you can just send the PDF ticket to my studio.
Should you not be a Shiny user, I recommend you take the printed barcode ticket with you to games, and keep it dry and flat at all costs.
The final Shiny design will feature a barcode as standard
The frustration at technology is not exclusive to West Ham United or London Stadium though. The sheer amount of people can make technology ineffective at times, as you may not get a signal to take you where the QR code intends to send you, when codes are used for other purposes.
The interactive half time quiz, was incomplete, and not everyone could connect to the stadium wifi, or answer the questions in time.
The QR code table ordering system at the supporters club, failed to work, as there was no 4G to take you to the ordering page on your smartphone.
To cap it all off - after queueing at the bar for 20 minutes, my credit card didn't work, and I needed to pay by cash.
You really need to wonder if all this is an improvement to what we had before...