Edmonton Oilers' issues-plagued 50/50 contest overcharges tickets, entrants say

Some entrants in the Edmonton Oilers’ Friday 50/50 contest are reporting they were charged for more tickets than they intended to purchase in the record-breaking raffle.

Entrants report they were charged despite receiving an error message about their purchase

Some Edmonton Oilers fans say they were charged for hundreds-of-dollars worth of 50/50 raffle tickets they never intended to purchase during Friday's contest, the same day the team was eliminated from the NHL playoffs. (Jeff Vinnick/Getty Images)

Some entrants in the Edmonton Oilers' online 50/50 contest are reporting they were charged for more tickets than they intended to purchase for Friday's record-breaking raffle, mired in technical issues. 

Many fans were met with error messages when they tried to purchase tickets to Friday's raffle.

One of the errors was connected to the online purchasing system, which would time out after fans entered their payment information. Many who attempted to repurchase tickets reported their credit cards were charged multiple times for the subsequent attempts.

After a record-setting $5.4-million pot maxed out the Oilers' 50/50 raffle on Wednesday, officials said the provider more than doubled the site's capacity. By the time the contest closed Friday, the pot hit an eye-popping $15.2 million, according to the company's website. 

The Oilers say the integrity of the draw is still intact, even as a number of people took to Twitter to complain and warn others that they were charged hundreds of dollars more in 50/50 tickets than they were trying to buy.

Oilers Entertainment Group, which owns the team, said its online servers were overwhelmed during the contest, with demand for tickets at times exceeding $100,000 per minute. The high traffic generated a number of issues, including slow loading times, geo-location errors and the duplication of some orders, according to a news release posted to the company's website on Saturday afternoon. 

The release says the company has delayed the draw for the winning 50/50 ticket as it responds to customer concerns. If the pot stands, the winner could be taking home $7.6 million. The winning ticket was originally expected to be announced by no later than 11:30 p.m. on Friday. 

"Working with our technology service provider, Ascend Fundraising Solutions, we are endeavouring to quickly resolve any and all customer issues and are in active dialogue with our partners and the gaming regulator, AGLC," the release said.

Shelli Northey was one entrant who tried to buy 50/50 tickets on Friday and ended up paying $600 on what she thought was a $40 purchase. She said several attempts to buy tickets came back with error messages, and it was only later in the day that she started seeing multiple ticket purchases charged to her credit card. 

"I just want them to change their computer system so that people are notified like when you purchase anything, like something from Amazon, you get a confirmation number," Northey said.

Amy Desaulniers says she too made numerous attempts to buy tickets throughout the day but kept getting a timeout error.
She was shocked to later find multiple ticket purchases charged to her credit card. The original order was for 260 tickets at $120 dollars, but she ended up with a $480 bill and 1,800 tickets. 

As an EI recipient on a fixed income, Desaulniers says she can't afford it.

"I had bought tickets for the first couple of Oilers games and I stayed kind of conservative just buying $20 worth," she said.

"Knowing this might be the last Oilers game though I decided to up it to $120. But getting hit with a $500 charge is going to be painful when I've got to pay off the credit card because it was certainly not something we'd budgeted for."

"The frustration with the site all day and just the overall gong show that it was and now being quadruple billed — it's disappointing right? You want it to be a good experience. So I'm a little upset that it ended this way."

She's now looking for more communication from the organization about how to arrange a refund.

Earlier on Friday, many would-be contestants reported difficulties entering the 50/50 draw. Some were denied access after the system failed to recognize they were located in Alberta.

Proceeds from the 50/50 draw are provided to various charities supported by the Edmonton Oilers Community Foundation. 

With files from Andrew Jeffrey and Alicia Asquith


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