Requiring names on tickets and IDs ... have we reached a pain level yet?

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Dr Dilemma
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Requiring names on tickets and IDs ... have we reached a pain level yet?

Postby Dr Dilemma » Mon Mar 28, 2016 3:46 pm

Ever since tickets sold out for the first time "back in the day" we've had the yearly mess of the main sale and then subsequent ticket scalpers selling a quantity of those tickets through various outlets. Various efforts are made to verify profiles, invalidate tickets sold above face value and discourage the practice, but every year a significant number of tickets are grabbed up by folks wanting to make a profit off of them.

It's a common practice at festivals to require some sort of ID matching of the ticket holder. Some require you have the credit card the ticket was purchased with, some will print your name on the ticket and you show ID and some will even let you upload your profile picture and they will print your picture on the ticket. Probably the easiest method is to print names on tickets and show IDs.

Now I know this has brought up many many times before and gets rejected for various reasons, but I have to wonder if we shouldn't consider it again as a way to help ensure

Here are some of the arguments I've heard against the idea:

First, there are some folks: "societal dropouts who think the government sprays chemtrails" who are vehemently against the tyranny of having to have IDs from the Gov't. This seems like the silliest of reasons. Just go to Ju-playa you hippy. Who in this modern world doesn't have an ID?

An arguement that makes more sense is that it makes gifting or otherwise transferring tickets much more of a hassle. But I'd argue there is already a system in place for Will Call ticket transfer so I'm not sure why a similar system couldn't be implemented. It would likely require that physical tickets not go out until much later OR it would probably make more sense to go to a completely electronic ticket system like they use for EE passes. Transfers would have to happen through a STEP like system, where you could input the burner profile info of the person you wanted to transfer the ticket to, AT FACE VALUE (with a small transfer fee). All of this is doable with systems similar to what is used now ... but again it would face the "BUT THAT'S NOT HOW WE'VE DONE IT BEFORE" objections.

For those who pine for the old days with pretty printed transferable to anyone tickets, why not make the $900 ($1200) tickets "gift" tickets that you could give away to anyone. In the olden days the pre sale happened just before Xmas I think with the idea that you could buy them as gifts.

There are worries that it would create too much extra work for Gate staff, potentially holding up the entry process. This would be the most legitimate concern I would think so would want the opinion of gate staff about this. My feeling is that it really wouldn't add any time to ask people to hold up tickets and IDs at the same time. If we went to printed bar code scanned tickets it might even make the process quicker.

Would be curious how folks were feeling about this issue these days. Dead horse beating? Way overdue? A really horrible idea?

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Re: Requiring names on tickets and IDs ... have we reached a pain level yet?

Postby Jackass » Mon Mar 28, 2016 3:58 pm

To get a better idea of how many people a system like this would affect, you would first have to know what percentage of tickets were redeemed by anyone other than the original buyer. That would give you an idea of what kind of a pain in the ass this could be.

I would venture to guess around 40-50% overall, who knows.
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Re: Requiring names on tickets and IDs ... have we reached a pain level yet?

Postby BBadger » Mon Mar 28, 2016 4:52 pm

How does this solve the real problem that:

DEMAND >> SUPPLY

Because names/IDs for tickets only helps with scalping, and scalping is really a small-fry problem these days compared to the real problem of overall demand exceeding supply. That's 2012 thinking.

You're still allowing for lossless ticket transfers, which does not discourage speculative purchases. People can still buy all the tickets they may need in the future, but decide later whether to use them. The cost of time is not baked into the price of the ticket.

If you really want to tackle the problem of speculative purchases, the system would ensure that:

  1. A ticket is bound specifically to the purchaser.
  2. No refunds or transfers; only giving up your ticket for no compensation.
  3. No ability to decide who receives the returned ticket.

Then you buy a ticket if you are going to go.

But honestly... fuck that. This is an event that is optimized for maximizing the ability for people to attend. Instead, it's an event that relies upon the fluid social networking of individuals to work together and create things. Allowing people to control how tickets are disbursed is a key component of keeping cohesion within the event.
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Re: Requiring names on tickets and IDs ... have we reached a pain level yet?

Postby some seeing eye » Mon Mar 28, 2016 6:01 pm

Dr Dilemma wrote:Ever since tickets sold out for the first time "back in the day" we've had the yearly mess of the main sale and then subsequent ticket scalpers selling a quantity of those tickets through various outlets. Various efforts are made to verify profiles, invalidate tickets sold above face value and discourage the practice, but every year a significant number of tickets are grabbed up by folks wanting to make a profit off of them.


Actually the data does not agree there is significant scalping: 2015 BRC Census. The BORG will also have proprietary data mining on the ticket database, credit cards and gate ticket scans.

The image below shows that olly 2.8% of tickets were sold above face value. It shows only .6 were from third party scalpers. And 25% of tickets were from friends, which locking a ticket to a name discourages.

And if someone earning less than 35K annual income (35% of burners attending - from the census) wants to mark their ticket up to sell it, personally it would not be the end of the world for me.
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Re: Requiring names on tickets and IDs ... have we reached a pain level yet?

Postby Dr Dilemma » Tue Mar 29, 2016 3:00 pm

some seeing eye wrote:Actually the data does not agree there is significant scalping: 2015 BRC Census. The BORG will also have proprietary data mining on the ticket database, credit cards and gate ticket scans.

The image below shows that olly 2.8% of tickets were sold above face value. It shows only .6 were from third party scalpers. And 25% of tickets were from friends, which locking a ticket to a name discourages.

And if someone earning less than 35K annual income (35% of burners attending - from the census) wants to mark their ticket up to sell it, personally it would not be the end of the world for me.


Good information. Given the demand >> supply issue mentioned above, probably increasing ticket prices is the only thing that would curtail people buying speculative tickets. Looking at the ~ 25% of tickets bought from "someone you know" it would tend to suggest that lots of people buy tickets when they go on sale, not knowing if they can go or not, then later sell them to a friend or fellow camp member. This makes sense because unlike the olden days when you could decide to go / buy your tickets anytime up to the burn, now you have to try to plan on whether or not you can make it quite early in the year. There always seems to be a glut of tickets the few weeks before the gates open. Which makes it difficult to make significant plans or get people involved with projects if they don't know for sure sure if they will have a ticket.

Perhaps one solution would be to print names on tickets and require IDs AND impose a return fee on tickets that were transferred?

Or just increase the price of tickets, which would be horribly unpopular. I think that is kinda where they are going with offering more $800 and now $1200 tickets.

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Re: Requiring names on tickets and IDs ... have we reached a pain level yet?

Postby trilobyte » Tue Mar 29, 2016 4:23 pm

I'm moving this to the Tickets Discussion board since that's a better fit for ticketing discussions.

Speaking personally, I don't think we'll ever see names on tickets. It's absolutely pointless unless you also make the tickets non-transferable, and with Burning Man's culture of gifting, some projects buying or obtaining tickets in advance of getting crewed up, and the general cultural issue of a little more than a quarter of Burning Man tickets changing hands at least once between purchase and coming through the gates (based on census data)... I just don't see it happening.

An "effective" name on ticket system would also potentially decimate camps - since many campmates who are unable to get tickets in the initial sale (for a variety of reasons) would simply be out of luck without an aftermarket.

That and despite the wailing and gnashing of teeth every time a lot of people aren't able to get what they need in a sale, Burning Man tickets tend not to end up in the hands of scalpers anywhere near as much as other festivals and events of a similar size.

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Re: Requiring names on tickets and IDs ... have we reached a pain level yet?

Postby Dr Dilemma » Tue Mar 29, 2016 4:48 pm

trilobyte wrote:An "effective" name on ticket system would also potentially decimate camps - since many campmates who are unable to get tickets in the initial sale (for a variety of reasons) would simply be out of luck without an aftermarket.


A longtime (90s) burner friend at work suggested that STEP might be more useful if you could designate the person / burner profile you with whom you wanted to transfer your ticket. There is such a long time between the main sale and when physical tickets get sent out this might be really helpful. She agreed with the notion that a lot of people buy tickets "just in case" and if they can't go will sell to friends, family or camp members almost exclusively. So make sense that so few wind up in STEP.

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Re: Requiring names on tickets and IDs ... have we reached a pain level yet?

Postby Ratty » Tue Mar 29, 2016 4:58 pm

It would likely require that physical tickets not go out until much later OR it would probably make more sense to go to a completely electronic ticket system like they use for EE passes.


The tickets are already being mailed so late that some international travelers were in danger of not getting them before their flight. If you're coming to America you might like to see the sights before the burn.
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Re: Requiring names on tickets and IDs ... have we reached a pain level yet?

Postby BBadger » Tue Mar 29, 2016 5:05 pm

Dr Dilemma wrote:A longtime (90s) burner friend at work suggested that STEP might be more useful if you could designate the person / burner profile you with whom you wanted to transfer your ticket. There is such a long time between the main sale and when physical tickets get sent out this might be really helpful.


Um... What makes this any more useful than just selling/promising the ticket to a person and just shipping it when it arrives? Or just transferring a Will Call ticket?

Am I missing something here? All this is doing is involving BMorg in the transfer process for no other reason than to involve them in the transfer process.
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Re: Requiring names on tickets and IDs ... have we reached a pain level yet?

Postby trilobyte » Tue Mar 29, 2016 5:45 pm

You're missing the point. Name on tickets is absolutely useless if the tickets are transferrable.

That would most definitely include any kind of user-specified STEP system. The current blind STEP system would conceivably work, though it would need to close much sooner and charge significantly higher fees in order to accommodate name on ticket issues.

And of course, there would be the logistical nightmare of dealing with the gate if every single ticket had to match every single name, as well as turning around entire carloads because somebody's info didn't match up. Just because something almost sort of works (except most people who want to go still can't get tickets) in the english countryside with milder weather and many points of entry (including separate performer entrance) doesn't mean it will almost sort of work in a completely different scenario.

I thought it was a horrible idea the first few dozen times people suggested it as a fix-all, and my opinion hasn't changed.

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Re: Requiring names on tickets and IDs ... have we reached a pain level yet?

Postby Dr Dilemma » Wed Mar 30, 2016 3:54 pm

trilobyte wrote:I thought it was a horrible idea the first few dozen times people suggested it as a fix-all, and my opinion hasn't changed.


Assuming the data that would tend to show that scalping is quite limited then you are probably correct.

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Re: Requiring names on tickets and IDs ... have we reached a pain level yet?

Postby wraith » Thu Mar 31, 2016 2:18 am

BBadger wrote:How does this solve the real problem that:

DEMAND >> SUPPLY

Because names/IDs for tickets only helps with scalping, and scalping is really a small-fry problem these days compared to the real problem of overall demand exceeding supply. That's 2012 thinking.

You're still allowing for lossless ticket transfers, which does not discourage speculative purchases. People can still buy all the tickets they may need in the future, but decide later whether to use them. The cost of time is not baked into the price of the ticket.

If you really want to tackle the problem of speculative purchases, the system would ensure that:

  1. A ticket is bound specifically to the purchaser.
  2. No refunds or transfers; only giving up your ticket for no compensation.
  3. No ability to decide who receives the returned ticket.

Then you buy a ticket if you are going to go.

But honestly... fuck that. This is an event that is optimized for maximizing the ability for people to attend. Instead, it's an event that relies upon the fluid social networking of individuals to work together and create things. Allowing people to control how tickets are disbursed is a key component of keeping cohesion within the event.


Nail on the head here. People buying speculatively, with 'insurance' in the form of excess demand to make sure they break even is an issue. Probably not a huge one, but when we're well up against the wall as far as demand exceeding supply, and the Org is on principal against just raising prices until demand drops off...

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Re: Requiring names on tickets and IDs ... have we reached a pain level yet?

Postby nocturnal_steve » Fri May 27, 2016 12:48 am

For an event whose third principal is Decommodification,
even ONE scalped ticket is too many.
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Re: Requiring names on tickets and IDs ... have we reached a pain level yet?

Postby nocturnal_steve » Fri May 27, 2016 12:49 am

Other point I will make is the FIRST principal is radical inclusion.

With 21% of tickets purchased via "someone I know", you have to be in the loop, know a burner for opportunity to purchase,
How radical is that... excludes all newbies intrigued and wanting to go to the event who don't know any burners ?

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Re: Requiring names on tickets and IDs ... have we reached a pain level yet?

Postby ACfromSAC » Fri May 27, 2016 9:00 am

They should add a "Nark on your scalper" system. People are going to buy scalped tickets, no matter how hard we push participants not to. We should allow those people to submit the details of their ticket purchase to the Org so the people who are selling the tickets above face value are FOREVER BLOCKED FROM EVER PURCHASING TICKETS AGAIN. Repeat offenders are gone and bad burners are gone. It doesn't really do much to solve the bigger problem, but f*ck those a*sholes anyway.

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Re: Requiring names on tickets and IDs ... have we reached a pain level yet?

Postby Ratty » Fri May 27, 2016 10:53 am

In California it's difficult to prevent anyone from participating indefinitely. At work we can ban someone from coming into the place of business, (private property), but it requires a restraining order. And that requires a court visit. Can BMorg ban people that behaved poorly and got arrested? Probably not. In a perfect world everyone would get a ticket to attend. Perfect wouldn't be perfect.
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Re: Requiring names on tickets and IDs ... have we reached a pain level yet?

Postby BBadger » Fri May 27, 2016 4:25 pm

ACfromSAC wrote:They should add a "Nark on your scalper" system. People are going to buy scalped tickets, no matter how hard we push participants not to. We should allow those people to submit the details of their ticket purchase to the Org so the people who are selling the tickets above face value are FOREVER BLOCKED FROM EVER PURCHASING TICKETS AGAIN. Repeat offenders are gone and bad burners are gone. It doesn't really do much to solve the bigger problem, but f*ck those a*sholes anyway.


Wouldn't be effectual. How do you guarantee that those scalped tickets were sold by the original purchaser? How do we know that the buyer isn't just making shit up, or trying to blackmail a legitimate seller?

Plus, the idea is to drive this shady business underground, and to make it where there is a significant risk taken by people who obtain their tickets in disreputable manners. The idea is to build an environment of fear and distrust concerning scalped tickets. Spending more than the face value AND having your ticket voided is precisely the kind of double-punishment intended.
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Re: Requiring names on tickets and IDs ... have we reached a pain level yet?

Postby ACfromSAC » Tue May 31, 2016 10:52 am

BBadger wrote:How do you guarantee that those scalped tickets were sold by the original purchaser? How do we know that the buyer isn't just making shit up, or trying to blackmail a legitimate seller?

Can't argue with any of that. Damn you.

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Re: Requiring names on tickets and IDs ... have we reached a pain level yet?

Postby maladroit » Tue May 31, 2016 12:34 pm

Yeah. The whole scalper-scapegoat blame game falls apart when you look at the numbers. They aren't the reason you can't get a ticket...it's because of all your favorite "good burners" buying tickets that you can't go. Elaborate schemes to prevent and punish scalpers feels just like politicians courting red states by lamenting the money spent on food stamps while ignoring the billions spent / not-taxed in corporate welfare to prop up oil and banking companies.

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Re: Requiring names on tickets and IDs ... have we reached a pain level yet?

Postby GreyCoyote » Tue May 31, 2016 12:38 pm

This comes up about every six months. Usually its right before the guy who wants to turn Gerlach/Empire into a railroad depot so it can be a staging point for arriving burners. Or the genuis notion of having two burns (one early in the month, and the other late).

I'll be over here talking about capital punishment with this pile of equine bones....
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