“The essence of tyranny is not iron law. It is capricious law.” — Christopher Hitchens
2014 was Ticketfly’s first year
running Will Call. They had to deal with an unprecedented gate closure
due to rain, and the extension
of the event to run for 10 days. They ran Will Call with an Internet connection linking the systems at Black Rock City’s Will Call office back to Ticketfly’s servers. It is not clear if these were all paid employees of Ticketfly, or volunteers of BMOrg working to get a free or discounted ticket.
So, what’s the verdict? How did they do?
Will Call sucked real bad.
At least, that’s what a thread at Burning Man’s ePlaya forum says. If you fell into one of these categories:
– outside the US
– fire conclave performer
– issues with mailing
Then you had to go to Will Call.
photo: John Curley
One Burner reports that there were 30,000 Will Call tickets this year.
With around 20% of the party being international visitors, there’s 14,000 tickets. We know about at least 4500 through OMGSTEP, plus 4,000 low income. Black Rock City is allowed an additional population of volunteers and staff of 2000 above its 68,000 paid participants. We’re up to 24,500 just there, so the 30,000 sounds plausible.
There were also “Exception Tickets” being sold at the gate, for – wait for it – $650 each. Maybe that’s what happened to thousands of other tickets, they were sold at the gate for a price high above face value, to those who had ticket problems and a plausible enough excuse.
Here’s a selection of comments from Burners:
Will Call sucked real bad this year. Stood in line for four hours to get my prepaid tickets. There was no control over the ticket lines until you got under the shade structure. So what happened? Too many will call tickets, not enough people to process? No line control is kind of inexcusable. Even the Tards at TSA can do that. I heard once it got dark, people were cutting the line right and left. Some were doing it because they did not know where the end of the line was. Others were cutting the line because they are assholes.
I watched one lady just chew some ass ( I backed her up too after I saw what was going on) on some line cutters during the day.
- by theCryptofishist » Wed Sep 03, 2014 9:07 pm
Remember the so-called “tards” at TSA are paid. If two of the people who were supposed to be working that shift were a day late because of car trouble, well that ripples. If the dance camps buy out burningman, I’m sure the line will be managed very slickly.
I was hustled by someone that sold their tickets to multiple people. When I got to the Box Office with my printouts of the invoices as well as the name change confirmation from the seller they said those tickets had already been scanned earlier in the morning. I did about everything a cautious person would do in a situation like buying tickets by way of a Will Call Transfer and the plain fact is that as it stands there is no solidly secure method to do this. There will always be a possibility of falling victim to someone that sells their same ticket over and over again unless additional provisions are made available by BM or Ticketfly.
Fortunately I made sure to send payment via a PayPal credit card and am covered by their buyer protection policies. So the money being returned isn’t an issue. The thing that sucks even more than getting scammed is that unless you came armed to the teeth with documentation of the entire transaction you stood a good chance of just not getting in at all.
How it worked in my favor was that as soon as the seller/scammer sent along a screenshot showing the confirmation number [and the message that the name on the tickets was successfully changed to mine] I called Ticketfly to verify this. I explained the situation and gave them the number from the screenshot and asked them to confirm it was a valid number. They were able to confirm it was valid and the customer service rep I talked to took diligent call notes. The Box Office folks had those notes and since they validated that I had been given the thumbs up in that regard they allowed me to purchase an Exception Ticket.
And the Exception Ticket cost $650. Which, by that time, I was fine with paying as I was just relieved to not be turned away entirely. As many people had been for whatever reasons.
I’m also a big fan of Ticketfly for having some really solid customer support staff. They handled my calls like a champ and followed up with an additional call and left the thorough call notes in the system that ended up being the exact thing I needed in the end.
I was dismayed to see the line extend beyond the shade directly back out into the sun while I was getting close to the front. I really wanted to go back there and rearrange it so it doubled back and everyone was standing in the 4 foot of shade along the back of the covered area but American Boyfriend wouldn’t let me.
- by Joeln » Wed Sep 03, 2014 9:31 pm
When I got there they were standing in that shade. I thought 2 hours was bad until I heard what others went through.
They’ll figure it out. The rest of entrance and exodus was pretty painless.
Watching those folk in that “line of shame” further validated my view that a ticket in the hand is far better than one in the booth. It’s like having to wait twice. Still, it was supposedly Ticketfly’s fault, as with many other problems with the ticketing I’ve heard.
» Thu Sep 04, 2014 2:06 am
I had my ticket, but the gf didn’t. 6hrs. for one will call ticket, luckily it was dark so it wasn’t in the blazing sun. One guy said it was 8 hrs. for his. People were looking for tickets like packs of wild dogs. Someone asked the gf if she had gotten her ticket, she clutched her ticket, lied and said no and proceeded to run back to the car. It was almost like they were going cannibal at the will call. At one point an MV blew some fire, they blasted off some pyrotechnics and there was karaoke and that was cool, but not cool enough…
» Thu Sep 04, 2014 7:13 am
Even with EA, and a separate line, our ranger took an hour to get his wristband. The line cutting included the road, a camper who decided they had to get over to the will call line in front of us, causing MyLarry to slam the brakes. There were NO other vehicles, he could have turned right from any lane. They Gate people directing traffic gave him a hard time, and when we parked behind him, I was well behaved and did not sharpie “I drive like a dick” on the back of his vehicle. But I thought severely harsh thoughts about his parentage and personal habits.
» Thu Sep 04, 2014 7:44 am
My will-call experience was fantastic!I was stuck behind the rain storm, so I stayed at the Sparks Marina RV site for one more night. I woke up at 4am, drove off, and I was parked at my camp spot by 8 am. That’s 4 hours to drive all the way to burning man, 2.5-3hrs hrs to drive from Sparks to will call, waited in a 40 minute will call line, then drove and found my friends at 3:30 I within a half hour or so. The people in line were all in great spirits at will call, even tho we had to wait an extra day. One of my campmates was given two tickets instead of the one that he purchased, so he was able to gift it to one of the people who was wanting a ticket at the will call booth. He didn’t have internet to double check if he was double charged, so he just kept it, but now that we’re home, he looked and he was only charged for one. I’m sure that made someones week. I couldn’t imagine it being any better. Exodus was just as awesome. I hit pavement in 30 minutes. I pretty much drove 5 mph straight out of burning man… and that was leaving Monday at noon.
There were a lot of people vowing future will call only after the shipping issues this year.I suspect that won’t happen. Though I did hear an astronomical number for total will call tickets this year. 30,000. Nearly 50% of tickets through will call sounds really high for something that sold out 6 months ago. I’m starting to wonder if the scalping situation is worse than I thought.
» Thu Sep 04, 2014 9:39 am
The actual ticket line went pretty well for us. I was a bit ashamed and surprised by the ticket seekers trolling the line, though. It was leaving the parking lot that was painful as fuck. An orderly line had begun to form right as we neared the ticket window, so when I got to the car after getting the tickets – even though we parked near the exit/front of the car line – I did what to me was the right thing. I backed out and went to the back of the line. Well, not everyone really saw that as an acceptable protocol and pretty much a free for all ensued at the exit. I forget exactly how long it was but it was at least 2 hours of sitting in the same exact spot while people cut, merged and otherwise finagled their way to the front(ish) part of the line. There were these young folks in a motorhome trying to cut, and we weren’t having it. My wife was out encouraging people in the line to not allow cutters. She even made the little motorhome boys stop harassing a lady in front of us to let them in. One of the douchebags proceeded to call my wife a cunt for not letting them and proceeded duck behind the dash afterwards. We laughed and pointed, lol. They ended up backing up and trying to cut others off at the exit. They made it out maybe 10 cars ahead of us. I was satisfied that they didn’t get too much from their bastard ways, but I do hoped their burn sucked donkey balls.
Be good burners, people … it ain’t that hard.
We got tickets offered to us very late, and the fairly firm suggestion was to use Will Call. The option to have them shipped was still available during the buying process, but it was “firmly suggested” to use Will Call. The mental image of that ticket screen with the shipping option stayed squarely in mind during that horrific stay in purgatory, lol.
» Thu Sep 04, 2014 9:49 am
One aspect of Will Call that was utterly fucked this year came from scam tickets. Tons of fake tickets “held at Will Call” were sold this year, and tons of very upset people would get in line, wait for hours, get to the window, and then take up time and scream bloody murder at the situation. Understandable, saddening, infuriating, all of the above. I met a few sad people this happened to. Another aspect of the Will-Call-Fucking came from people who had bought tickets/Vehicle passes for multiple people in their camp, and got to the window and needed to split a huge order into multiple small ones. This would reverberate outward. Sometimes people who were waiting on a split order would get to will-call before their order had actually been split. Sometimes folks would split the wrong part of the order the wrong way, or human error would put an extra vehicle pass where it shouldn’t be or something. This would cause further delay, of course.And lastly, apparently, around half of the tickets picked up this year… were at Will Call. Which means somewhere in the neighborhood of 30,000 transactions had to take place at those windows.
- by offarock » Thu Sep 04, 2014 10:09 am
…Then having a “start” single line would help.. Greeter, Are you in line to pick up a will call ticket, this line.. You are here to split group tickets, this line.. Your in line to do other than pick up tickets, this line.. AND Please step over to that line for rants and complaints..
» Thu Sep 04, 2014 11:02 am
This year’s Will Call was last year’s Exodus. I’m sure next years fiasco will be different and better, unless it’s different and worse.
» Thu Sep 04, 2014 3:39 pm
It took me 6+ hours to get my ticket at Will Call. People with low income tickets have no choice. I made the best of the situation. I brought my chair to sit in, I wore my hat and made friends while in line! We all talked about what was going on (TicketFly couldn’t get all the tickets mailed out, for what ever reason, and sent everyone to Will Call), and we were entertained by fire spinners, hacky sackers, soccer ballers, hoopers, and merry makers.When the lines wound down they merged the lines. That’s when all the problems started happening. There were asshats who just arrived trying to cut in line. Fortunately there were a couple guys keeping an eye on the perps, telling them where the end of the lines were. When I finally got my ticket, I turned to the wonderful people who I shared these 6+ hours with and said, “Finally! Give me a fuck yeah!” and everyone in the lines heartily yelled FUCK YEAH and cheered!The bottom line was I was there and I knew I was getting in! We all made it in. That’s all that mattered. I thanked the folks behind the other side of the windows for getting done what needed to be done, at no fault of their own.
I had a will call ticket and my wife and family patiently waited 5.5 hrs in line. Someone leaving said she waited 9! Since we were on the playa, we acted like it and enjoyed each other’s company as most everyone was. I did not witness any cutting in line and was vigilant (off and on) to discover any. This was 8pm arrival Sunday night. Then, we slept at the greeter’s station as it rained muddy burner.The waiting was hard EXCLUSIVELY because my dumb ass stayed up all night packing. All told, we and friends spent 27 hours traveling from Reno before hitting camp. Frankly, it was AMAZING. Nobody plans to make things go wrong like that and nothing delayed entry more than the sweet, juicy rain that somehow remains blameless.If something didn’t go horribly wrong, it wouldn’t be life. Also, if someone didn’t enjoy waiting in line with the most inspiring people on earth, it wouldn’t be wise.I’m pretty sure it’s known something bad happened but I would rather wait in that will call line than get irradiated or have my pants reached into by agents of the fakest security system ever built. SO MUCH LOVE!! As usual, BEST BURN EVURRR!
Average processing time multiplied by number of will call tickets. Figure at least 60 percent of people will arrive the 24 hours after Gate opens (the org already has actual data for that rather than my guess). That’s how many staff-person-hours you need to schedule. So if you plan to put 18,000 tickets through will call in 24 hours, you need to process 750 tickets per hour. If each transaction averages only two minutes, you need 1,500 minutes of work done per hour. That’s 25 work hours per hour, so you need 25 people processing tickets at will call during peak hours or your line will start piling up. If you only have 15 people working, that means every 1 hour worked will pile up another 40 minutes of backlog (the line). After 8 hours of peak operation you will easily have a 5 hour line. One extra minute processing time per ticket will throw everything down the crapper that much faster. Number of will call tickets, ticket processing time under the new system, and typical demand levels after gate opens…all of this info would have been available to the org weeks beforehand.
Gifted tickets, STEP, OMG sale…all required will call. Massive numbers of folks in these categories exponentially increased the mob at will call. That said, during the 6+ hours I spent in line I was entertained by fire performances, soccer ball demonstrations, and an engaging newbie lady who was thrilled to be there.
Didn’t really mind the wait that much, but the line crashers and other asshats…shame on you! May you have worse than bad karma!
Perhaps bullhorn shaming could have stopped line crashers?
jkisha wrote:The biggest problem I encountered was stupid people. There was a guy in line that had a letter with a photocopy of the original purchaser’s dirver’s license ‘authorizing’ that person to pickup the ticket. I don’t understand why the person working the window allowed him to argue his position for literally over an hour. Of course, it ended as expected–he wasn’t allowed to pick up the ticket and more than a hour was wasted. On the other hand, people with all of their paperwork in order were processed in less than two minutes. Unfortunately, more people were ill-prepared than we’re prepared, which lead to most of the wait time. (my experience arriving at noon on Wednesday)
Um…that’s exactly how I transferred and picked up my ticket in 2012. The tickets site says to do an online name transfer, but still also says:
If you want to provide someone with extra back up, you can give them a signed letter releasing your order to them, along with a copy of your photo ID.
That’s extra back up because it’s how things have been done in the past, and should have been sufficient in the event of a technical failure on Ticketfly’s part.
If those are the kinds of arguments Will Call had, it was fucked before the first burner arrived.
» Sun Sep 07, 2014 11:45 am
Wasn’t aware of any backup procedures, as it was the first time I ever used will call and just made sure I followed the instructions on the email I was sent. I wasn’t close enough to hear the entire conversation, so maybe there were other issues with his ticket.But, he wasn’t the only person having long time consuming issues. I just assumed that since I went through quickly, and all of the people around me that had all their correct paperwork went through quickly, the slowdowns were because of people coming to the window without having the right paperwork.
Well, I suppose it’s possible that this was the year idiocy suddenly jumped to much higher levels among will call ticket holders. That seems pretty unlikely, though. In a large sample size, you don’t usually see sudden shifts in core parameters like that. Instead you look at common factors that affect many people…and the common factors here are Ticketfly and the Will Call counter. If Ticketfly gets all the blame for ticket screwups and other technical problems, this was unavoidable and must be fixed next year. If Will Call wasn’t ready to handle the higher volume, it was avoidable this year because that information was known well in advance.
If (one of) the issue(s) is not enough volunteers why don’t they incentivise it and offer cheap or free tickets to Will Call volunteers? That seems entirely fair, cheap or free tickets to conclave members on the other hand not so much. That’s a highly sought after position that requires and audition/application and getting to perform before the man burn is a huge honour and privilege.
…I just think it’s pretty shit that people who are doing something that is a highly visible and much lauded gig are being rewarded with cheap tickets when people doing the thankless and actually more essential to the running of the event tasks aren’t. Also conclave doesn’t need incentivisation, it is it’s own incentive, hence the overabundance of people who want to do it. But will call volunteering could obviously do with having a few more perks. Also I work in the entertainment industry so it is very much ingrained in me that when you’re working with a small or non existent budget or doing charity work etc you pay the technicians and box office folk etc first because the event literally could not happen without them and the talent last because they are usually much happier “doing it for the love” on account of the fact they do actually get love from the public for what they do. The folk in black, not so much. It would be completely unheard of in the real world for box office staff to be working for free while performers are paid, the opposite happens all the time though. For what it’s worth is actually makes me feel a bit queasy that I often get paid more than the performers who put in longer hours than me but I also understand the reasons, different work is valued different for a bunch of reasons.
At a guess, some of the people working will call do get staff tickets. Just like Gayte (or are they gayte), Rangers, DPW, etc., get staff tickets. Of course, they will have had to have worked there before and proven that they are reliable before they get that ticket.
It is not impossible that someone who has a ticket missed their first shift because of transportation issues. And it may be that they just don’t have enough volunteers, just like so many departments do.