Don’t Play the Scalpers Game


We’re in final preparations for our trip to the Playa, and recently sold two tickets that one of our sons and his girlfriend won’t be able to use. We sold the tickets and the parking pass for face value, which is the right way for a Burner to off-load extra tickets. We’re Burners, not scalpers.

Hint to Burners -- make sure your license plate is visible on the back of your vehicle.  We had to move ours away from the bikes so we wouldn't get a ticket.

Hint to Burners — make sure your license plate is visible on the back of your vehicle. We had to move ours to the left of the bikes so we wouldn’t get an unwelcome citation.

Shortly after we sold our tickets, we saw Craigslist postings for Burning Man tickets at nearly 5x their face value. We were appalled, and we let the poster know that he or she was breaking a cardinal rule among Burners never to scalp your tickets. Of course, the individual wrote back and said, “tough shit” to us.

I would urge anyone still seeking Burning Man tickets to look for a true Burner from whom to purchase them – a Burner who is selling the tickets at face value (face value includes the mailing and handling costs that Burning Man’s ticket vendor adds on to the final price). Every purchase at above face value creates a marketplace for scalpers, and devalues the principles of the Burner community. As we move closer and closer to the event itself, more tickets usually become available as people either change their minds or run into situations that prevent them from attending.

Because so many tickets usually do come available at this time of year, it’s worth trying to bargain down the price of a scalped ticket. The scalper would rather get his or her face value expense back then nothing at all, and if we as Burners refuse to pay more than face value, then scalped tickets will go unsold or the scalpers will be forced to lower their prices. Remember, you’re in the power position. There are always lots of available tickets that show up on Craigslist (eBay is usually a worse option because almost everyone on eBay is scalping the tickets), so you have your choice of sellers and can bargain with any of them.


Of course, you always need to ensure that the tickets are the genuine article, and not forgeries. The ticket number is one clue. You can check numbers on the Burning Man ticket site to determine if these are real Burning Man ticket numbers. You can also insist on seeing the invoice that accompanies all delivered tickets, or tickets that are sitting at Will Call. All Burning Man tickets come with a Survival Guide, so make sure you get your copy of the Survival Guide as well. You need that information and it provides further assurances that the tickets are genuine. If you are purchasing tickets that are at will call, you’ll need to find a way to transfer that ownership to yourself through the official Burning Man ticket sales organization, or find out what is required to release someone else’s tickets to you at the gate.

Unless you’re so wealthy that it doesn’t matter to you, never feel forced to buy a ticket at scalper prices (and even if you have plenty of money, you should still pay face value just because it’s the right thing to do.)

Burning Man tickets should never be sold at a profit, but they often are; and forgeries are also a common way for people to make illicit income off of Burning Man. Don’t be caught in any of these tricks.

See you on the Playa. Please come visit Perky and Lashes in Lamplighter Village. We love to meet readers of this blog.