BMOrg vs BLM: You Took Too Much

Sally Ho from the Associated Press reports that the Burning Man Project are disputing their $2.8 million bill from the Bureau of Land Management.

From the Washington Post:

Burning Man organizers are disputing their $2.8 million bill from the federal government…The festival takes issue with the Bureau of Land Management’s discretion over the weeklong counterculture celebration, claiming that the authority has been overstaffing and overcharging without fully explaining the tab…“If they can’t explain all of it, than we’re asking for all of it back,” said Ray Allen

…the case also pulls back the curtain on the logistical hurdles and an evolving backstage power struggle behind an event once considered an extreme camping experience that has now achieved widespread popularity with millions in revenue.

The BLM said Burning Man officials were provided with a detailed summary of costs with receipts and that “(f)ederal government agencies are obligated to recover the full cost of providing a special benefit…”

The Court case is likely to take more than a year:

The festival is taking the issue to the Interior Department’s internal appeals court, where an administrative law judge will decide on the case. This arbitration process, which could last more than a year, is commonly used for challenges related to grazing or mining uses and fees.

We get an official number for BLM cops in 2015, 84. Plus Pershing etc.

BLM contends that Burning Man demands year-round planning and an unparalleled response to protect the public lands given its scope and nature. The 2015 event required 84 law enforcement officers

BMOrg thinks that’s too many cops, and wonders what they’re all doing:

The festival argues that that many officers aren’t necessary given that more than a thousand Burning Man volunteers also patrol the event and that it has a clean record of taking care of the land. Burning Man said in its appeal that more than half the BLM bill was to pay for labor costs, but that the paperwork lacked specific information about the duties they actually performed.

Ray Allen, the lawyer, seems to be working off a different set of books than the After Burn accounts:

In recent years, a more openly adversarial partnership has surfaced between the festival and the increasing number of local authorities assigned to oversee it. Allen said Burning Man has been stomaching dramatically increasing costs since 2011, when its permit was $730,000.

2011 Afterburn: $1,552,000

It’s not all bad news, things are running pretty smoothly. BLM is going down. Let’s hope this doesn’t throw a spanner in the works:

Both the federal authority and Burning Man organizers said planning for the 2016 festival has been going smoothly. The new state director John Ruhs said BLM staffing numbers are expected to go down this year because communication between both sides are now much improved.

Read the full story  at the Washington Post.

Chocotacos were too much, cops were too much, and now BMOrg are asking the Federales to explain exactly what the money was spent on. Or, to be specific, just what all those cops were doing. Maybe now they will release the arrest information like they used to in the Transparency 1.0 era.

Recent revelations in the Reno Gazette Journal have featured both Commissioner Vaughn Hartung and  Sheriff Chuck Allen taking their families on joyrides important police RAVEN missions to extravagant 18 course meals on the Playa. Sponsored by Krug, perhaps. Most definitely sponsored by First Camp, and their wealthy patrons at the Burning Man Project.

There’s no spectators, unless you’re the cops or the media, then come on in! Look at the freaks! Have some air-lifted lobster.

raven washoe 5155

Now they can cut costs and fly in on the Burner airline. 3% of the revenue from that presumably goes to the BLM too, so in the future we might get lucky enough to see how well that little sideline monopoly is doing, through the magic of FOIA.

The BLM did accede to Burning Man’s demands to increase the population size from 50,000 including everyone to 70,000 paying plus 10-15,000 volunteers or workers.This has seen revenues go from $13.5 million in 2010 to at least $37 million this year. BLM fees have increased from $1.9 million in 2012, to $2.8 million. This is about what Burning Man’s entire payroll was in 2010. To me, it doesn’t seem all that unreasonable.

This Federal take is about the same as the estimated State windfall from the 9% Live Entertainment Tax. This was imposed on all outdoor festivals. BMOrg passed it straight onto Burners. The money sits in their bank account for half a year or more earning interest, before they have to hand it over to the Government. Not to mention all kinds of weirdness with the “9% of $3 of the $7 handling fee” or whatever all that was.

Do the hundreds of BLM workers involved with Burning Man take their frustration about this complaint out on any BMOrg personnel, who are dealing through lawyers and media spokespeople? Or do they take it out on DPW and Burners, trying to make their budgets instead of getting their hours cut…with sniffer dogs and citations?

Maybe they should just let the government take their share, the same way we do when we accept the ever-increasing  ticket prices. It’s the Government’s land, in the same way that it’s Decommodification LLC’s brand. You wanna use it, you pay rent.

“Transparent” Burning Man should provide their own figures, since they are demanding the Government do the same. We want to know where the money goes too. It’s us that are funding the whole thing, on both sides. At least, it was until Flysalen…now we have very little idea where the money’s actually coming from.

Why things are so tight, when ticket prices and demand are so high, and they no longer have to pay any tax?

If only the money and energy that they put into lawyers and accountants went into waste management, reduced carbon footprint, and reforestation.

rainforest

Wickermanlarge

Image: Rescendent CC BY_SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons

 

What’s Up With Low-Income Tickets This Year? 

A reader just sent me this. I have no answers, but it’s very well written, and I think they raise some puzzling questions. Hence, a guest post from Anonymous Impecunious.  Any ideas, Burners? Just more of the same? Or is there some method behind this madness?

Could this have anything to do with the Anonymous new owners of our tax-exempt Permanent Autonomous Zone?


—————–

I’m writing to you because you seem like the only person on the Internet who’s willing to acknowledge both the positive and the negative about Burning Man—or, rather, mostly about its management.
Do you have any idea what’s up with the low-income ticket program in the last few days? This seems like it could use some of your trademark investigative reporting. The BMorg recently announced that they MUST receive 8,000 applications in order to award the 4,000 tickets earmarked for LI. Why?? Why on earth would they need to reject fully 50% of applicants? And assuming there is some legit reason, why would they not have known (or chosen not to announce) this before late June?
There even seems to be some question as to whether they will award ANY low-income tickets if they don’t receive at least 8,000 applications. That could cause quite a problem for the 2,000+ people who have already been awarded a low-income ticket—or so they were told. I haven’t seen anything from BMorg assuring these people that the LI tickets already awarded will be honored, only that the Org MUST receive 8,000 applications if they are to award the 4,000 tickets. It doesn’t make any sense at all. 
As might be expected, after the announcement, hopefuls who hadn’t considered applying before are now throwing their hats (and their W-2s) into the application pool, yet many seem to be getting rejected, and getting rejected extremely quickly. Granted, I’m basing that mostly on posts to Reddit and Eplaya and replies to the BMorg’s original thread. So not only is that probably skewed towards the disgruntled, but, in the interests of full disclosure, I’m one of the rejects myself. 
I’d previously thought of the low-income program as for people who absolutely CANNOT afford a main sale ticket, in the same way that I absolutely CANNOT afford a DaVinci ticket. But once the Org started begging for applicants and noting that you could apply even while enrolled in STEP (which I am), I figured why not? I’m far from wealthy. Besides, I’ve quickly learned that, when it comes to obtaining Burning Man tickets, playing by the rules is for chumps. (To wit, dozens of people buy pre-sale or DaVinci tickets, then as soon as they obtain main sale tickets, they palm off their more expensive insurance policies. But God help you if you dare to pay $700 for a ticket on Ebay? Talk about situational ethics.)
Anyway, my LI application was rejected within a matter of days. The BMorg made their plea for more applicants on June 21; it’s only June 25 and I’ve already heard back, as have apparently many others. Meanwhile, some of those who applied back in March, April, and May are still waiting for a reply. So maybe I’m just bitter, but something about this whole situation stinks to high heaven! I just can’t put my finger on exactly what. 

Prior to the June 21 announcement, the Org had already received 6,000 applications. If fewer than 4,000 of those were eligible, then why not award fewer LI tickets and dump the rest into STEP, or into the OMG sale, or sell them for $1,200 to their special friends? Why the sudden and urgent NEED for double the number of LI applicants than there are LI tickets? 

For months, I’ve been reading your opinions of the BMorg with a skeptical eye, but this is the first time I’ve had cause to think that they’re as craven and corrupt as you’ve quite often demonstrated. Again, maybe I’m just bitter, but I’m actually bothered more by what seems like Org manipulation than about being turned down for a ticket program I had never planned to apply for in the first place.

I’ve never been to Burning Man before and this is making me wonder if I want to be any part of it. My only hope is that whatever the hell is going on with management does not trickle down to participants on the playa.

Tickets 2016: What Really Happened

 

Church fire

Image: Dan Rademacher | Wikimedia Commons CC BY 2.0

At first, it seemed like things were going very smoothly this year. I logged on in the Pre-Sale, got straight through, got 2 tickets and a vehicle pass, no problem. Whole thing took less than 3 minutes. Of course, that cost $2271.74. I couldn’t bring myself to spend $1207 for a $997 ticket, but for anyone who wants tickets, there are still those VIP Da Vinci’s available. Log into your Burner profile and click this:

Screenshot 2016-04-18 09.28.46

Although it says the limit is 2 per person, the reality is it is at least 2 per profile. Anyone can create a profile and buy these tickets, so if Medici Camps want a hundred tickets they will get them. A little bird told us that you can just log in and keep buying 2 at a time, after buying Art Tickets the button is still visible on the profile. One camp has already purchased more than 100 Da Vinci tickets from a single profile. [Pro tip: if you still need a vehicle pass, you can get one here without getting the Leonardo’s; some readers have pointed out that BMOrg says VP-only orders will be voided, so you might want to make a small donation just in case]

After the Pre-Sale, the Directed Group Sale happened. Although most camps got a reduced allocation from last year, the sale seemed to go through hitch-free for those who did get codes.

So far, so good. That’s about 30,000 Burners in the door. Rich people, and those with enough Borg points to be on the World’s Biggest Guest list, can come to Burning Man.

But just being on the DGS list doesn’t mean that your camp got all of the tickets it needed. A neutral sample from the Theme Camp Organizers group showed 94% got less than they needed this year.

Which bring us to everybody else. Regular Burners, who want to just log in when the sale opens and hopefully get in there early enough that they can buy a ticket.

This is where the problems began.

The 30,000 tickets sold out in about half an hour; it took a further half an hour before people in the queue were informed. From the Reno Gazette Journal:

At about 12:35 p.m., 30 minutes after tickets went on sale, Burning Man announced that all tickets were in the “baskets” of buyers at the time. By 1 p.m., tickets were officially sold out…More than 70,000 people registered to purchase 30,000 tickets

Assuming that most people are buying 2 tickets, that is potentially 140,000 tickets wanted from a pool of 30,000 tickets. Although clearly demand exceeds supply, this is just a regular day in the ticketing world. This problem has been solved, well, and long ago.

Jenny Kane at the RGJ raised some criticism of the last-minute move to add the “Waiting Room”

Since demand has far outpaced supply in recent years, Burning Man has experimented with different ticketing processes, this year trying out an online “waiting room,” which Burning Man threw into the equation via an email announcement last minute Tuesday night.

The waiting room was a response to “anticipation of high demand and a high server load,” according to the email. No information was available about the sudden change of process on Burning Man’s website.

Some Burners criticized the waiting room as a move that returned the system to a lottery-style ticket sale, others said that the waiting room was a joke since Burning Man’s email was sent out so last-minute, and some Burners did not receive the email in the first place, according to reports on social media.

Because some Burners reported acquiring tickets after skipping the waiting room, some Burners suspected that there was a glitch with this year’s process, a theory that Burning Man organizers denied.

“Everything seemed to go as planned,” said Jim Graham, Burning Man spokesman.

Whether as planned, or a glitch, reading a post from BMOrg explaining how the ticketing process went wrong this year is nothing new. I started this blog in early 2012, and ticket troubles have been an annual story every since. The usual response is “we know you are frustrated”, followed by “blame Burners (sort of)”, and then “blame anyone else we can”. In previous years, the problem has been blamed on the previous ticketing vendor, Burners buying tickets for their friends, scalpers, and hackers.

This year, the problem was Burners accidentally entering the early room too early (but it wasn’t their fault), and Ticketfly (supposedly, entirely their fault). BMOrg, of course, did nothing wrong, they are a highly competent organization that unfortunately (and inexplicably) regularly encounters undeserved bad luck.

From burningman.org:

Early in the planning process for the 2016 Main Sale, Ticketfly wanted to put a waiting room in place before the sale to accommodate the expected high server load. Under this plan, Burners who entered the sale before it opened would be placed in a “pre-queue” waiting room, and when the sale opened, everyone in that room would be randomly assigned a place in line.

We pushed back on this idea because it conflicted with our longtime policy that arriving early for a sale shouldn’t give one an advantage over someone who arrives when the sale officially begins. In this respect we’re kind of industry oddballs — it is standard practice in most high-volume ticket sales to use a waiting room like this, but it is philosophically out of line with how we feel participants should be treated in a sale.

In response, Ticketfly insisted the system was necessary to ensure a smooth sale, so we sent our standard night-before reminder email to everyone registered for the sale, including an explanation about the waiting room, to be transparent about the process.

…Needless to say, we don’t like being in the position of having to notify people late in the game of a change in how the system works.

Well, that’s the official story, anyway. You can read about it at the BJ or the RGJ. BMOrg knew about the waiting room since early in the planning process, but only chose to tell Burners about it by slipping it into a last-minute reminder email…in the name of transparency.

According to BMOrg, there was only one problem: Ticketfly opening the waiting room at 11:30 insterad of 11:45.

Ticketfly did not anticipate how the safety net would interact with the waiting room, and proceeded to open the expected waiting room at 11:30 am, 15 minutes earlier than we’d agreed and publicized. This waiting room was open for 35 minutes, still ending at 12:05 pm. Unbeknownst to us though, the roughly 3,500 people that arrived in the “safety net” period were given preferential placement ahead of everyone else to buy tickets and vehicle passes.

The full story of what went wrong includes some key details that will need to be addressed to avoid these problems in the future.

A summary of the main problems reported:

  • The sale “officially” starts at 12:00. BMOrg modified this to start at 12:05 for people in a “20 minute waiting room” that officially started at 11:45. This announcement of a new method (get in even earlier than 12 and get tickets) went out at the last minute, and not to everyone
  • The waiting room was actually open earlier than 11:45
  • Some people who waited in the waiting room for 20 minutes or more did not get tickets
  • Some people who logged in after 12:05 got tickets with no queue
  • BMOrg asked people not to open multiple browser windows. Each time you did, you increased your chances of getting tickets.
  • The code involved in the waiting room system made the process vulnerable to hackers trying to outsmart the system.
  • After the last ticket was sold, there were still many people waiting in the queue, who were forced to stay there for at least an extra half hour.
  • It appears that tickets that were “refreshed” – put back into the pool because a transaction was not completed in time, or a credit card failed – were not then offered to the people who were waiting the longest. Instead they were offered to whoever logged in the most recently. I say this because of reports that people logged in after 12:20 and got tickets, while others logged in to the waiting room before 12 and didn’t.

The entire ticketing system is a big black box. Is there even one person that knows how BMOrg’s code AND Ticketfly’s code AND Queue-It’s code works? If so, then maybe they should be taking responsibility for these annual clusterfucks.

One of the great ironies of Burning Man is how fiercely BMOrg fight against transparency, now that profit has been removed from their activities. They will say they don’t because they got a friendly to write a puff piece in Philanthropy magazine. YMMV. Apparently, one of the outcomes of this year’s Global Leadership Conference was “Radical Transparency”:

Our leaders are advocating transparency because it reduces Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt, a.k.a. FUD. Keeping things secret allows for FUD to spread and we all know how our community loves a little drama.

Something tells me “leaders advocating transparency” really means “Regionals are being forced to implement Burner Profiles”. But I’ll keep my mind open – maybe BMOrg 3.0, of the people, for the people, by the people, really is “coming soon”. Personally, if we’re going to have an 11th Principle I vote CONSENT. Gratitude is a good one. Transparency is not a Principle of Burners, it is simply a fundamental requirement for a non-profit that wants to raise tens of millions of dollars from wealthy donors. Unless you’re the Clinton Global Initiative, of course!

A disconnect between BMOrg’s words and actions is par for the course, and the ticketing system gets more opaque every year. To figure out what really happened in the Ticketing black box, we have to do some investigation. Fortunately, we have some very competent technical engineering talent within the Burner community, and by taking in the comments from Burners about their experiences, we can attempt to deconstruct what really happened. It may not be perfect, but it’s the only option we have in the circumstances.

The night before the ticket sales started, BMOrg sent out a last minute email, announcing a change of plans. I guess up until then, they had no idea that there may have been high demand and a high server load. Not to mention that many of the Burners were probably high too.

In anticipation of high demand and a high server load, a 20-minute waiting room will open Wednesday, March 23 at 11:45am PDT. Actual sales begin at 12:05pm PDT.

Opening multiple browser tabs won’t improve your chances; when the sale opens, everyone in the 20-minute waiting room will be assigned a place in line that is not related to when they entered the sale. Anyone who joins after 20 minutes will be placed in line after those already in the queue.

A Balanced Perspective described this well:

In actuality, what occurred is the opposite of what the Borg stated. Black is White. Any people whom opened their browser window prior to near to 11:35am, and waited for the sale at 12:05pm, gained near to 7,000 tickets. In addendum, any people whom opened their browser window after near to 12:04pm gained tickets. In addendum, any people whom opened a new browser after 12:05pm gained tickets. Few Burners whom obeyed the Borg gained tickets. How might it be possible for an organization to screw the people whom desire to obey them in such a horrible manner?

He makes another good point, which is that if this was a one-off, we could dismiss it as coincidence. But it’s been every year since they announced their “transition”. These ticketing problems should be seen in the context of everything else that has been changing at Burning Man this decade:

  • the shift to a “mall of participation” featuring vending machines at the Man base,
  • tourist packages being promoted on the official site,
  • “ironic” timeshare sales with brochures handed out in a market at the Man base,
  • Directors running multi-million dollar hotel camps with sherpas,
  • the art budget shenanigans where the money spent on the Man and related infrastructure is now accounted for as “grants to artists”, and we’re told that has increased compared to past years
  • the massive increases in ticket costs over the past few years,
  • and of course the frequent tweaks of the system which every year have been pushing secondary market prices higher.

Without getting too bogged down in the technicalities, let’s try to break down the 2016 Main Sale problems.

Shaggy Skier offers some detailed analysis at Reddit:

TicketFly allowed people into the ticketing system before the queue opened sometime around 11:30. These people were given an authenticated session on the ticketing system and thus bypassed the queue once tickets went on sale. { I’d bet my left nut on this }

The waiting room / queue (aka a company called “Queue-It”) handled queue placement based on unique cookies assigned to the browser upon hitting their website, and not your secret access code (aka “promo code”). This meant opening multiple independent browser instances increased one’s odds. { I’d bet my right nut on this one }

Professional scalpers absolutely know about the later, and probably the former flaws. Profit motive … motivates people.

Here we have Problem 1: people were allowed to enter the system before it officially opened.

This raises the question: did someone deliberately put these “back doors” (or loopholes) in the system, so that insiders – either at Ticketfly, BMOrg, or Queue-It – could get in before anyone else? Or once again, did BMOrg change their system and it “accidentally” made it way better for scalpers those who knew the loopholes?

According to reports online, not everyone was sent the email about the Waiting Room. Was this selective, sent only to “preferred” Profiles? Why else did some people not receive the email?

Shaggyskier on Reddit:

 

The devil is in the details. From the URL that redirects us back to TicketFly we can see they’re using a Queue-it feature called Safetynet. We can read about Safetynet on Queue-it’s website:

The SafetyNet feature constantly monitors your website, auto-queueing excess users when website capacity threshold is exceeded. End-users within website capacity limits do not see queue numbers. The SafetyNet feature can be implemented as a small JavaScript on your site (like e.g. Google Analytics).

Or in other words Queue-it will keep passing people through to TicketFly, and authenticating their session cookie until the website gets busy enough to be ruled ‘at capacity’. See the problem now? The website doesn’t start getting busy (and/or the queue wasn’t manually enabled) until it gets close to sale time! Anyone who clicks in before then gets an authenticated session on TicketFly’s server – and will no longer be sent to the queue.

I can personally state that Queue-it passed me through to TicketFly (thus authenticating my session) as late as 11:25am, and a friend recognized the same thing happened to her. My friend clicked early on her own accord to “make sure the IT department wasn’t blocking the site”. How many people did that?

“But I did click the link before the queue got going and I got an ‘Invalid Promo Code’ message?”. That’s right. You did. Your promo code was still set to only be valid from 12:05 onwards. If you re-clicked your link, or re-entered your code after 12:05 then you have tickets right now since you still had an authenticated session.

So if you got there early – like, before it was supposed to be open – you got a code to get tickets, because you bypassed the Safety Net in the queueing system. As the waiting room filled up, those codes were allocated via the queueing sytem; by the time the system processed its way through to the end of the queue, all tickets had been sold.

Meanwhile, people logged on at 12:20 and got tickets. Maybe by that time, server load had died down and the queue was not so crowded; meaning the “very early” and “very late” people got processed differently. That’s Problem 2.

Problem 3, is that the cookies used by the Queue-It system were not linked to UserID. Opening more browser windows got you more cookies, which got you more chances to get in to buy tickets. This calls into question yet again the role that the Burner Profile actually plays in this process. In the past we have speculated that it could be used to favor Virgins over Veterans, something that is supported by the strangely consistent “40% Virgins” ratio we have had ever since this new ticket lottery process began.

Problem 3 is particularly bad because it is the complete opposite of BMOrg’s instructions that opening more browser tabs would not give you more chances. While technically this statement could be true depending on the browser and OS, in general opening new browser instances, and running different browsers at the same time definitely made a difference.

Problem 4 is a consequence of Problem 3. The system had no way to differentiate humans from Browser sessions. If one person with one code opened up 10 browsers, it thought that was ten people in the queue. Each one had to be processed individually, before moving on to the next. The system would have wasted a lot of time rejecting sessions that timed out before completion. How else to explain a 30 minute delay between all tickets being in baskets, and the sold out message? Most people should have been able to check out in minutes once they had tickets in their shopping cart.

Problem 5, the “little green man” is not really showing you accurate information. When the time gets down to zero, there is no guarantee you will be able to buy a ticket. It is just looking at all the sessions, and making an estimate of how long it will take to get to processing you. This appears to be based on the size of the queue and your place within it, and not the number of tickets remaining. If this is true, the queue would seem to be getting shorter but then suddenly get longer again as a bunch more people got in the queue; you would seem like you were close to the front, when really you had no chance – which definitely happened last year.

If the Little Green Man’s position is tied to the queue, not the number of tickets remaining, then the LGM is bullshit.

Even when all the tickets have been sold, the system is still processing these queued sessions. People see the man moving, and think there’s hope. The reality is, for regular people logging in to buy tickets after noon (the original instructions), there was almost no hope. The best way to get tickets was to figure out a way around the rules.

They did at least reduce the time wasted by Problem 5 from last year. Instead of waiting up to 2 hours in the queue before being notified that no tickets were remaining (but you could still make a donation), this year it seems to have been more like 30-45 minutes.

We are told we need this convoluted system to prevent scalpers – that is, selling $397 tickets above farce value. Meanwhile, BMOrg are selling a seemingly unlimited number of tickets for $1207. Wake up people: THEY ARE THE SCALPERS! If you really want to stop scalping (0.6% of ticket sales), link IDs to tickets. To stop insiders with large blocks of tickets selling them on the secondary market for profit, link IDs to tickets. It’s pretty basic. But nothing like this has ever been tried. Instead, we have the opposite – a system that started off as brilliantly suited to boosting secondary market profits, and over the last few years has been refined and improved even more to make it a wet dream for anyone wanting to sell tickets for more than $397 farce value.

Low income tickets are still available, but processing them has been delayed 3 weeks:

Heads up: there’s a delay in processing Low Income applications. Normally we strive to respond to applicants within eight weeks, which means the first wave of applicants would have been notified by the end of April. Unfortunately some behind-the-scenes hitches will cause a delay of 2-3 weeks.

What “behind-the-scenes hitches” could there be? Surely the method of processing Low Income Ticket applications does not change from one year to the next? Maybe they need to see how many more VIP tickets can be sold in that time?

A few selected comments from Burners on this year’s ticketing SNAFU:

Alex:

I was in the queue five minutes before the start, then sat in the queue, then sat until there were no more tickets available…

Two of my friends clicked on the email link after 12pm, got straight in and purchased tickets. I’m happy for them

BCool11 says:

Our friend jumped into our 8 person group chat at probably 12:10 and asked us “hey sorry i’m late i’m on the screen that asks for a code”

we pretty much tell him he’s SOL because he didn’t register for an access code. My girlfriend give him her access code since were all waiting in line. I tell her that she may lose her place in line if he uses it on his end.

Literally 2 minutes later he responds back that he has checked out and tickets and vehicle passes were purchased. No one else of our 8 person group got through. He literally put in the code and was pushed through to the checkout page. It really goes to show that there are flaws in this system

23 replied:

If you’d given him your other codes he could have repeatedly purchased your group’s tickets.

Pinthead:

I truly believe people in the waiting room had a huge disadvantage and if you followed the rules they suggested entering the waiting room at 11:45 and never refreshed, closed your browser or opened up another link you where just screwed.

Snakelee:

So two years ago, the OMG sale allowed for queuing 30 minutes before the sale started. My wife and I both tried to get tickets and I noticed that we could queue up really early, so we both queued and we both were given the option to buy. Lots of people from our camp tried to buy in that sale and none of them got in.

Then, that method hit the main sale this year. I know multiple people in our camp queued really early and got them, but I didn’t queue until 15 minutes before and wasn’t able to get tickets. So basically, I think this happened 2 years ago for OMG and then it was routed out to the main sale. I didn’t try the OMG sale last year, I bet they did it this way and have some experience with this method of sale.

I bet that they won’t have this patched for the OMG sale this year and it will be scalper central at 11:29:59.

GHKMasterRace:

After reading all this shit im gonna start being an asshole and getting tickets how ever I can. 

zz_z:

That’s pretty much what you have to do, our camp had 50 people in it last year and only two people got through the main sale this year. The system is broken.

Conclusion

This “waiting room” was a trap. The bottom line is, if you followed the official last minute instructions, and joined it between 11:50-12:00, you reduced your chances of getting a ticket by an order of magnitude.

The idea that “ticket sales start at 12 but people who get there before 12 can buy them first” is silly. It either starts at noon or it doesn’t.

Why not follow the Principle of Immediacy? Start the sales at 12:00:00, and process them on a first-come, first-serve basis. When the last ticket is sold, whoever is at HQ watching $14 million cash hit the bank in 30 minutes or less could immediately send out a Tweet (100k followers) and a message on the Burning Man Facebook page (1 million). It’s pretty fucking simple.

If the Ruling Group were Satanists, they would delight in laughing at the suffering of all these Burners trying to follow the rules, jumping through senseless hoops, and wasting an hour or more of their life just to experience disappointment, disillusionment, and bitterness. But, hey, maybe there’s some other motivation for this sort of thing now happening every year. Maybe, like they say, they did a great job and it’s all just Burners and Ticketfly’s fault.

How was your ticket experience this year? Did your camp get enough tickets? Please share in the comments.

Million Dollar Tickets – Coming Soon

BMOrg’s embrace of all things Medici may have inspired some other festivals to follow suit.


 

Re-blogged from Music Vice

Icleland’s Secret Solstice has made a $1 million dollar ticket package available. And you thought Coachella was expensive!

For $1,000,000 you get your own private jet, two private performances, access to luxury cars and driver’s, helicopter transfers, tours,  a luxury villa and and access to the world’s first concert inside a volcano.

Secret Solstice takes place on 16-19 June in Reykjavik, and features a stellar line-up including Radiohead, Deftones, Of Monsters and Men, Die Antwoord and Action Bronson. The good news is, all this plus the stunning Iceland scenery, can be yours for less than a $1,000,000 too – with more modest ticket prices starting at 24,900 Icelandic krona (approx. £143/$202/€177) for a full festival pass, or 34,900 Icelandic krona (approx.£200/$283/€249) for a VIP pass to the entire event.  Tickets are available at secretsolstice.is.

For those of you with a cool mill to spare, here’s the full details of what the world’s most expensive festival package gets you:

  • Private chartered business jet (Gulfstream G300 or similar) return to Iceland from any destination on Earth for 6 people
  • 24/7 access to two luxury cars, personal drivers, and private security for the entire week in Iceland
  • Luxury 6-room villa for 7 nights in the center of Reykjavík over the Secret Solstice 2016 festival week
  • Exclusive admittance to Secret Solstice 2016, including chaperoned access to off-limits areas of the festival site where possible
  • Access to the sold out Secret Solstice presents Inside The Volcano event, the world’s first concert inside a volcano over the Secret Solstice 2016 weekend, including helicopter transfers from Reykjavík
  • Private viewing areas for all major acts at Secret Solstice 2016, where possible
  • Access to the private VIP artists bar on the festival site, only accessible by main stage artists and super-VIP guests
  • The world famous Blue Lagoon reserved privately for an evening for the ticket purchasers and their invited guests, plus helicopter transfers for the ticketholders to the Blue Lagoon from Reykjavík
  • Access to the sold out Secret Solstice presents Inside The Glacier event, the world’s only event inside Langjökull glacier, including. helicopter transfers from Reykjavík
  • Access to the Secret Lagoon party in a 120+ year-old geothermal lagoon (Iceland’s oldest), including helicopter transfers from Reykjavík
  • Access to Secret Solstice 2016’s Midnight Sun Boat Party
  • Private concert outside Reykjavík by prominent Icelandic act in a lava field, including helicopter transfers to the location
  • Private show at the guests’ holiday residence in Iceland by prominent Icelandic act
  • Private half-day Icelandic nature helicopter tour, to experience Iceland’s incredible natural sights from the air, with champagne lunch at a geothermal hotspot
  • Personal engraved and framed memorial ticket for each guest, made from Icelandic lava rock
  • 24/7 access to personal assistants during your stay in Iceland
  • Private Icelandic dining experience with a prominent Icelandic chef personal chef at your holiday residence on a chosen night during your stay
  • Private Icelandic food experiences on site at Secret Solstice 2016 on request
  • Introductions where possible to Secret Solstice 2016 artists
  • All food/drinks at Secret Solstice 2016, including hyper-premium drinks
  • Private whale & dolphin watching tour
  • Private airplane day tour over Iceland’s south coast, including Vatnajökull glacier and the Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon
  • Midnight sun glacier walk on top of a glacier in Iceland with the sun still up after midnight, including helicopter transfers from Reykjavík, and a private glacier snowmobile experience
  • Private tours of any additional Icelandic holiday/tourist experiences where possible, with time permitting
  • More to be announced soon!
Full Lineup for Secret Solstice 2016:
Radiohead [UK] – June 17
Deftones [US]
Of Monsters And Men [IS]
Die Antwoord [ZA]
Jamie Jones [UK]
Skream [UK]
Flatbush Zombies [US]
Art Department [CA]
Róisín Murphy [IE]
St Germain [FR]
Action Bronson [US]
Kerri Chandler [US]
Lady Leshurr [UK]
General Levy [UK]
Slow Magic [US]
Richy Ahmed [UK]
Visionquest [US]
Edu Imbernon [ES]
Bernhoft [NO]
M.O.P [US]
Afrika Bambaataa [US]
Apollonia [FR]
Hjaltalín [IS]
Deetron [CH]
Darius Syrossian [UK]
Derrick Carter [US]
Kelela [US]
Infinity Ink [UK]
Bang Gang [IS]
Mammút [IS]
Högni Egilsson [IS]
Gísli Pálmi [IS]
Agent Fresco [IS]
Benoit & Sergio [FR/US]
Lil Louis [US]
Úlfur Úlfur [IS]
AmabAdamA [IS]
Ryan Crosson [US]
Lee Curtiss [US]
Stacey Pullen [US]
Troyboi [UK]
Matt Tolfrey [UK]
Shaun Reeves [US]
Kúra [IS]
Fufanu [IS]
Ylja [IS]
Emmsjé Gauti [IS]
Droog [US]
Midland [UK]
wAFF [UK]
Maxxi Soundsystem [UK]
Chez Damier [US]
Paranoid London [UK]
Novelist [UK]
XXX Rottweiler [IS]
Ocean Wisdom [UK]
Glacier Mafia [IS]
Reykjavíkurdætur [IS]
Soffía Björg [IS]
Herra Hnetusmjör [IS]
Dr.Spock [IS]
Will Saul [UK]
Youandewan [UK]
Robert Owens [US]
Maher Daniel [CA]
Nitin [CA]
Axel Flóvent [IS]
Shades of Reykjavík [IS]
Glowie [IS]
Exos [IS]
Problem Child [UK]
Jack Magnet [IS]
Bensol [IS]
Voyeur [UK]
Artwork [UK]
Yamaho [IS]
Rix [IS]
Plastic Love [US]
Clovis [US]
Bones [CA]
MANT [UK]
Big Swing Soundsystem [UK]
Þriðja Hæðin [IS]
Faces Of The Walls [IS]
RVK Soundsystem [IS]
DJ Hendrik [IS]
Lord Pusswhip & Svarti Laxness [IS]
Pink Street Boys [IS]
Halleluwah [IS]
Lily The Kid [IS]
Vaginaboys [IS]
GKR [IS]
Stephane Ghenacia [FR]
Lily Of The Valley [IS]
EinarIndra [IS]
Gervisykur [IS]
Wølffe [UK]
KSF [IS]
Valby Bræður [IS]
Tanya & Marlon [IS]
Alexander Jarl [IS]
Mosi Musik [IS]
Alvia Islandia [IS]
DJ Kári [IS]
Fox Train Safari [IS]
Frímann [IS]
Casanova [IS]
French Toast [UK]
Tusk [IS]
Dalí [IS]
Stefán Karel [IS]
Marc Roberts [UK]
Captain Syrup [IS]
Auður [IS]
Geimfarar [IS]
Marteinn [IS]
Átrúnaðargoðin [IS]
ILO [IS]
Sonur Sæll [IS]
TRPTYCH [IS]
Kíló [IS]
Brother Big [IS]
Rob Shields [UK]
Balcony Boyz [IS]
Rímnaríki [IS]
Will Mills [UK]
Since When [US]

The festival will feature the world’s first party inside a volcano. From Mixmag:

Iceland’s Secret Solstice is pushing boundaries again this year, taking the festival deep inside the Thrihnukagigur volcano for a one-off performance.

Following last year’s party inside a glacier, this one on June 18 is a world’s first, featuring a performance by a “well-known international act” for just 20 people 400 feet down inside an inactive magma chamber.

It’s not cheap mind, costing £1380 which includes entrance, helicopter transport from Icelandic capital Reykjavik, refreshments and a VIP ticket for the main festival from June 17 to 19. So not too bad at all, really.

Secret Solstice’s director Fred Olafsson said: “I will say that it will be an acoustic performance by a very famous name, and we promise guests will be impressed when we finally make the big reveal.”

Just in case you’re wondering about it erupting, don’t worry. The last blowout was when the Egypt’s Great Pyramid of Giza was built. If you’re history knowledge isn’t quite up to scratch, construction started in 2560BC!

volcano3

Easter Bunny Brings Plenty More Tickets [Update]

this Bunny Slippers?

Bunny Slippers, anyone?

Thanks to Anonymous Burner for this tip-off. Tickets and Vehicle Passes are still for sale. Just go to your Burner Profile.

Screenshot 2016-03-27 17.37.33

Screenshot 2016-03-27 17.22.01Anonymous Burner questions how would we know if only 500 of these tickets get sold? If 5,000 were sold at this price, how would we know?

November, 2013. I made the call. Burning Man tickets $500, and above $1000 by 2020.

My prediction is we will see ticket prices go above $500 in the next 3 years, and I would not be surprised if they were more than $1000 by 2020

Little did I know that we would hit both milestones in 2016.

Think I’m kidding? The cost to buy 2 tickets and a vehicle pass in 2016 is $973.74. You pay a $7 service fee on each item you purchase, even though it’s a single transaction and mailing.

 

bm2016 tickets

It might not sound like much to BMOrg, managing their almost $40 million annual budget; but 9% Live Entertainment tax on 2 $390 tickets should be $70.20, and Burners are being charged $70.74. I mean hey, it’s only 54 cents, what’s that on a $500 ticket? $37,800 $18,900 if you’re the one selling 70,000 tickets! That is more than any individual art grant (unless you’re David Best)

What sort of mindset do these people have, that they would do this to us? Rip us off even further, for less than an extra 0.01% take. When we are the ones providing their party in the first place.

One wonders if this random number for the Live Entertainment Tax of $70.74 is because they really mean $77.40 – what the 9% would be if we were paying the tax on the Vehicle Pass as well.

The vehicle passes look cheap, the tickets look kinda pricey.

Stubhub:

Screenshot 2016-03-27 17.51.01

Tickets are around $750 on eBay and Vehicle Passes start at $250.

 


 

[Update 3/28/16 7:26am]

In the comments, Trey said:

The extra $.54 is explained on the website ticket cost page. No conspiracy.

Who said anything about a conspiracy? We’re clearly being ripped off by BMOrg, it gets worse every year, and no conspiracy theory is required to see that because it is obvious to anyone who pays for their own ticket.

But what of this comment?

I went to the “website ticket cost page” – presumably this http://tickets.burningman.org/

I searched for “54”. Nada.”27″ just took me to the 27,000 vehicle passes.

On the ticket support page that Nomad (not Trey) helpfully posted, there is a clue – but you have to be very, very dedicated to get to it.

At the very bottom of the FAQ is an item: Live Entertainment Tax. This item requires you to log in before you can even read it. And it’s not logging in to your Burner profile: it’s yet ANOTHER account with BMOrg to create. It requires 2-factor authentication, you have to verify your email with them – before they can answer any “Frequently Asked Questions” about the tax. The password security on this account is much higher than on the Burner profile, so you might need to pick a new password also. I guess BMOrg is terribly concerned about hackers trying to get answers to frequently asked questions. Fortunately, no hacker could ever figure out how to create a fake email account – phew! Nice saving us from scalpers and hackers, BMOrg!

In three decades of using the World Wide Web, this is the first time I have ever encountered an FAQ where some of the answers were password-protected. Helpful? Transparent? Or more PITA jumping through senseless hoops, to avoid giving Burners a straight answer?

When you get there, it says:

Screenshot 2016-03-28 07.30.47

 

Then I found this on the Tickets Page:

  • A 9% Nevada Live Entertainment Tax will be added to the price of all tickets and $3 of the $7 per ticket service fee. Will Call delivery is the only delivery method subject to this tax. The $12 Will Call delivery charge will be inclusive, meaning additional tax will not be added for choosing this delivery method ($1.08 of the $12 fee is built-in tax).

Let me try to parse these two statements, so we can figure out what’s going on. They’re sure not making it easy for us.

You pay $7 on top of each item. Ticket, vehicle pass, doesn’t matter.

You pay $0.27 per ticket extra for the Live Entertainment Tax being applied to just $3 of the total $7″handling” fees; all handling is done by computers outside Nevada.

Although you pay the same handling fee for buying a vehicle pass in this transaction, you don’t have to pay any tax on vehicle passes.

You pay $1.08 tax out of your $12 Will Call fee, but Burners don’t have to pay this particular sub-tax because BMOrg will.

Everything else, Burners pay.

Why is it 9% of $3 of the $7? That will require some further password-protected answers, probably. I certainly couldn’t find an explanation in the FAQ.

As Nomad says, have you ever seen a more convoluted and confusing ticketing system?

So each ticket is $390 Face Value

Actual cost is $397

And the tax on each ticket is (390 * .09) + (3 * .09) = $35.10 + $0.27 = $35.37

Making each ticket (without vehicle pass): $432.37

plus $22 domestic mailing charge = $454.37

plus $87 vehicle pass = $541.37

Look at what we have to go through, just to figure out how much tickets cost. It’s certainly not “$390 – unchanged from last year”. Tickets actually cost 40% more than face value – yet Burners are supposed to snitch on other Burners selling tickets for anything more? Because we’re trying to prevent scalpers? It’s quite clear who is selling tickets above face value, from the very beginning.

In the example I gave originally, each ticket was subject to an additional 27c “Live Handling Tax”, creating a further 54c cost to buy two tickets. So I was incorrect in saying that BMOrg benefits by $37,800. It was a mere $18,900.

BMOrg are collecting the tax from us now, when they sell the ticket. But the tax isn’t due until the event, almost half a year away.

Now, interest rates are low, and it’s not a great time to be sitting on cash. But you can still get more than 1% on a 6-month CD. The best offer here is 1.6% and here 1.74%, but that is retail. People with powerful friends on the inside of the banking system (not to mention $40 million or so in up front cash) could probably get better deals.

How much interest does BMOrg earn on our tax money, before handing it over to the Nevada government?

Screenshot 2016-03-28 09.37.18

The new information that the Live Entertainment Tax is not being charged on vehicle passes, but is being charged on $3 of each handling fee (for tickets, not vehicle passes), is now incorporated in this chart. However, we may still be missing 4,000 tickets worth of revenues from the count.

There has been a lot of talk about 72,000 tickets this year, including tickets to staff and Fire Conclave performers (not that a live performance is live entertainment, or anything…). The change on total revenue from this has a significant impact:

If those extra 4000 tickets are sold at $397, $38,861,090

If they are sold at the VIP “Da Vinci” price, $42,392,690

They are being sold right now at the VIP price – the point of this post. But we are told only 500 of these are available and the total tickets for paid participants is 68,000, so anything else is pure speculation.

Sticking to what we know – $2,682,900 LET; and a retail 1.74% interest rate for 6 months, how much could BMOrg make in interest? $23,341.23

For BMOrg to eat the Live Entertainment Tax on handling fees for all of us, not just Will Call users, would have cost them less than the interest they’re going to earn from collecting the tax money from us now and paying the government after the event.


 

[Update 3/28/16 11:47am]

Vivid tickets have cheaper prices than either eBay or Stubhub – $748.

http://www.vividseats.com/concerts/burning-man-tickets.html

Anonymous Burner confirmed that even after buying two VIP tickets, the link is still available on their profile to buy more.

2016 vip ticket