Be wary of potential ticketing pitfalls
Olympic ticketing is always controversial. It's just not possible to keep everybody happy.
There's never going to be a stadium large enough to accommodate all the people who want to watch the men's 100 metres final and, with so much money needing to be raised from ticket sales, those lucky enough to be given the chance to attend will often complain that they're being charged too much.
So when London 2012 chairman Lord Coe and his team sat down to begin work on their ticketing strategy they were well aware that they would be criticised whatever they decided. They also knew that they could do absolutely nothing about one of the most common complaints.
Visa is one of the International Olympic Committee's main sponsors. In return for the huge sums of money paid for a tier one sponsorship, the company is given exclusive rights to the Games. That means that if you want to purchase anything inside the Olympic Park with a card - or if you go online to buy tickets - you'll discover that you can't do so without Visa.
Visa's management are fully expecting stick once people realise this and they're used to it from previous Games. Here's a statement I've been given by Visa Europe:
"There are more than 100 million Visa cards in the UK, most of which are debit cards, so virtually every household has at least one Visa card.
"People who don't currently have a Visa debit or credit card and don't have time or don't want to apply for one are able to obtain a Visa prepaid card or a Visa virtual prepaid card to purchase Olympic and Paralympic Games tickets.
"This gives everyone who wants to apply for tickets online an option to do so."
It's the first sentence in that statement that's the key one, the part that points out that most people's Visa cards are debit not credit. This is going to be a big issue for some people for the following reason.
The 2012 ticketing process does not work on a the basis of first come first served. There will be no advantage gained by applying on the first or the last day of the six-week booking window. All the events that are oversubscribed will be balloted, so when you apply for tickets you won't actually know how many you'll end up successfully purchasing.
If, for example, you're desperate to see some of the athletics finals you would be wise to apply for more than one evening, as these tickets are bound to be oversubscribed. If you like, you can apply for tickets for every evening session inside the stadium. That would give you the greatest chance of being successful in getting at least some tickets.
Of course the problem with such a strategy is that you have no idea what you'll finish up with. You could end up with nothing, but, on the other hand, you could get everything that you've requested (if you get very lucky). If that does happen then you might not be feeling quite so fortunate when you discover how much you'll have to pay for the tickets.
This is where the issue of the debit card kicks in.The London 2012 organisers are only promising to tell us which tickets we've managed to buy by 24 June, but successful applicants will have the money taken from their Visa account in the middle of May.
The first that you're likely to know about having been successful with a ticket application is when money suddenly disappears from your account. You won't find out exactly which tickets you've got for several weeks after that. Now, if you have a credit card account this is not quite so bad as you'll still have a few weeks after the money has been taken to pay it back.
The problem with the debit cards - which as Visa points out is what most of us have - or the virtual cards is that the money will go straight out of your account. If you're not careful then your reward for receiving Olympic tickets could be an unexpected overdraft.
All of this means that strategy is going to be key for anybody applying for Olympic tickets.
It's safe to assume that many people will apply for the cheapest seats for each session so, by going for a more expensive category, you will probably increase your chances of success, albeit at a greater cost.
Whatever you apply for, the most important piece of advice is to make sure that you have enough money in your account in the middle of May.
Paul Williamson, London 2012's head of ticketing told me: "When you check out of the ticketing website you will be told the maximum value of the tickets that you have asked to purchase. You need to make sure that in the middle of May - and we will remind you - that money is available in your account."
I'm sure some of you are thinking, it doesn't matter if you end up with more tickets than you need as London 2012 have already said they're going to organise a re-sell website, so it will be easy to get rid of any extras and get the money back.
Well that's true, but there's a catch.
What they haven't told you yet is that the resell website won't be launched until next year. So if you do find yourself purchasing more tickets than you want in May then you're going to be stuck with them for at least six months.
I should point out that it's also possible to apply for tickets via a paper form. These can be found at branches of Lloyds TSB (or your local library if you live in Northern Ireland). If you do this, though, then you'll need to send a cheque for the maximum value of the tickets that you've requested. You'll have to wait several months to be refunded for any unsuccessful applications. Few people are likely to choose this method.
There's no way to keep everybody happy. I've pointed out some of the pitfalls here as a word of warning to anybody applying for tickets over the next six weeks. There are, of course, many positives to the way that London 2012 have decided to run the process.
By deciding against a first-come-first-served rush they've avoided the chaos that would ensue in the opening minutes, with the potential for the website to crash and the best tickets going to those with the fastest fingers.
Instead London 2012 have give us all the option to take a more considered approach over our ticket choices. My advice to you is simple: make sure that you do consider your strategy carefully. There's no rush.
And, most importantly, make sure that you only apply for what you can afford. I look forward to reading about some of your experiences about the process here over the coming days.