Here were my first two hours at the APA:
1) As I approach the registration desk, the first thing I see is a prominent philosopher whose book is the subject of an author meets critics session telling the person at the desk that the program has the title of her book wrong. She tells the person at the desk that the mistake is "embarassing".
2) In front of me is a philosopher who pre-registered on November 11th. His credit card was set to expire on 12/1. The APA waited until December to run his credit card and thus was not able to proces his payment. The woman at registration tells him "Just because you submitted your registration on November 11 does not mean that we ran your credit card on November 11." Okay, fair enough, but it really took you (at least) three weeks? What is more, this philosopher, realizing that there might be a problem actuallly e-mailed the APA to let them know that his credit card was set to expire in December. Apparently, they sent him back an e-mail saying that everything was fine, even though it was not.
3) Having registered for the conference, I headed down to placement services to register there. There were three men sitting in front of computers registering people. Two of them were only serving candidates who had pre-registered and one was there for candidates who were registering on site. Virtually no one in line had pre-registered. Now I understand setting aside a couple computers for those who pre-registered but if there was no one there who had pre-registered, you would think they would help those of us who were registering on site until someone who pre-registered showed up. But no. These two men sat there engaging in idle chit chat while the line for on-site registration stretched around the corner. Only one of three terminals was being used. The visual was so comical that I thought about taking a picture and sending it to fail blog.
4) After I registered with placement services, I headed to a session, which was scheduled for 6:30. Someone (presumably from the APA) put a sign on the door saying that the session would start at 7:15. This resulted in one of the speakers showing up 45 minutes late.
By themselves, any one of these errors are the kinds of things you expect at any large event. But how could I witness all of these things in my first two horus at the conference and not conclude that the APA is incompetent?