2012 Summer Olympics: Wembley Stadium Stops Taking Visa Cards

Posted on August 3, 2012 | in 2012 Summer Olympics, Defects, Error-Proofing, Lean Tools, Lean Wastes, Small Business, Soccer, Sponsorships, Sports, Tickets | by
Visa Wembley Stadium Fault Develop Olympics London 2012 Lean Blitz Consulting

Visa – it’s everywhere you want to be…except Wembley Stadium.

Wembley Stadium management elected to stop accepting Visa cards as payment for tickets and concessions after some faults in the system developed at the cash registers during a soccer game between Great Britain and United Arab Emirates.

Visa is the only form of credit card payment accepted at the Olympics and is a global sponsor. So when their system goes down, the only available form of payment becomes cash. Unfortunately, many fans came to the games without cash and expecting to pay for everything by card.

From The Telegraph:

Fans hoping to buy snacks as they watched Great Britain’s men take on United Arab Emirates last night were told they could not pay by Visa and must use cash.

Max Gore, 27, from Shepherd’s Bush, west London, said: “The queues were ridiculous. I didn’t have any cash and I couldn’t pay on card.

“I asked the person behind the bar if there were any cash machines and they said some had been taken out for the Olympics. “I had to trek around the stadium to find one.”

Mr. Gore added: “The problem went on for the whole evening. There were two games and they couldn’t get it fixed.”

From a Visa spokesperson:

“We understand that Wembley’s systems failed and therefore they were only accepting cash at the food and beverage kiosks.

“This cash only decision was made by Wembley management and not Visa. We are working with the Wembley team to help them fix this as soon as possible.”

Well of course. Visa tries to cover its tracks by saying it was Wembley Stadium’s decision to stop using the faulty system provided by Visa.

This is one of the problems with letting sponsors have too much control. When limiting customer options for completing processes, it is essentially mandatory that the options available are error-free and crashproof. The options provided absolutely must be the best options for the consumer, not simply those provided by the highest bidder. By allowing Visa to be the only credit card payment option, the Olympics absorbed the risk that this method would not fault. Well it did, and customers were peeved.

Twitter user Sue Atkins described the payment problems as a “fiasco”, while Tom Williams tweeted: “Quite something for Visa to have a monopoly only for none of their card machines to work.”

You’d think that Visa would have a pretty fool-proof data collection and communication system for receiving payment after all these years, right? Well they decided to add a “degree of difficulty” to the entire process:

(Visa) is also using the Olympic venues to test a new ‘cashless’ form of payment using mobile phones, which it hopes will render bank notes and coins redundant.

So Visa elected to test out a new form of payment during the world’s foremost athletic events, and it crashes during a match in the world’s most popular sport featuring the host country’s team.

Did Visa test this new system out on a smaller scale? How far past the Minimum Viable Product stage has this system gotten to where it’s still being tested at the Olympics?!?

This is (likely) an example of marketing pushing a product to the consumer far too early, and in the end probably undid a lot of the marketing cache Visa was hoping to demonstrate to the world.

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