Why the New Burning Man Ticketing Process Sucks for Me!

I’m a hardcore conscious capitalist. I’m all in favor of companies doing what makes sense for their business. And I completely understand why, given all the hassles of last year, Burning Man would choose to modify their ticketing system.

That said, based on everything I’ve read, this system really is not great for anyone poor or struggling with money. Here’s why you may never see me able to support this event while my fiscal position is as someone living below poverty level.

With the new system, you have to submit your credit card information at the time of the ticket lottery registration process. At that time, you have to give them a credit card that will have the funds on it to charge your tickets several weeks later.

If you’re like me, and you struggle with money on a regular basis, the challenges are multifold.

For one thing, this is at the very least, way more of a hassle if you don’t have a credit card. I’d go so far as to say the system discriminates in favor of those with credit cards — yes, ha! – Burning Man is now modeling the banking system — the rich get richer and the poor get screwed. ;)

Ok — maybe that’s harsh… and at the same time, Burning Man has made a strategic decision that really does favor those with credit cards and really does make way more work for anyone without.

Burning Man does have a solution for you though. They suggest you buy a pre-loaded debit card with the total amount you need on it so you can set that aside and gurantee you have the funds. Seems like a reasonable idea to some degree, right? Aside from the obvious pain in the ass and extra work you have to do if you don’t have a credit card at least.

I mean, with a pre-loaded card, both my partner and I can apply and load the same card and enter the same card into the system, or at least I hope so or we’re doubly screwed there. It will suck if they check the credit cards and you can’t use the same credit card for multiple people which I’m not yet clear on. I’m just going to gloss over this and assume this part will work out in my favor.

Here’s the bigger problem I see. Because this is a lottery system, if I’m only willing to pay up to $320 which is the new mid tier price (or not go), I’m not actually sure I can actually use this lottery system to buy me and my partner a ticket.

I mean, best case scenario is I put enough money on the pre-loaded card for the two lowest priced tickets, I win the $240 lottery and then they charge the card and it works. Yah!

If i’m willing to pay up to $320 each (which I see the value of though I lack the funds to do), I still have to tie up all that money. As someone struggling to make rent, this means I have to tie the money up in the card from the registration date until I’m notified at some point a few weeks later. I’m not even sure I want to pay that much to go to Burning Man and now I have to make that decision and be prepared to shell out the funds in about 8 weeks — when the holidays are coming up, I’m traveling and funds are the tighest.

Then, on top of that, I have to know the exact amount of the ticket prices plus all charges/fees (which, to date, I have not yet seen, though Burning Man may get it together and publish that also). They said if your card is declined, the ticket goes to someone else. So don’t screw that up and get the wrong amount on your pre-loaded debit card.

I can just see it now — a bunch of people get pre-loaded cards because they scrounged the funds together and then they forgot some fee and subsequently don’t get their ticket, tied up money for weeks they really needed and then can’t go to Burning Man because all tickets in the “generally available” part after March will be $390.

Meanwhile, at present, it’s not clear if you request 2 tickets and your card will only clear for one ticket if you get the one ticket or you get no tickets. That lack of clarity makes it difficult to plan as well. Again, not an issue if you have a credit card — only an issue if you have to use this pre-loaded debit card system.

For example, if I get approved for a $320 ticket and I have enough money on the card for 2 tickets at $240 only, then only 1 ticket would clear on the card, or worse, no tickets. What if I get a ticket but my partner does not? Oh, right, then I can go back later (after March 1) and pay more when I’m already too poor to afford the $320.

It seems to me this system favors people with credit cards and money to set aside. For the rest of us, this basically blows and creates way more stress than sitting there one day and dealing with the hell of the ticketing system, at least in my opinion. YMMV.

And, while I’m bitching up a storm: I think it’s incredibly lame that Burning Man has put out information about this sytem and all I can find about the soon-to-be-revamped-and-combined-program for low income and scholarship ticekts is that it will be revamped. That does not allow me to make an informed decision at all.

So you’re pretty much screwed if you want to start working beginning of the year on a theme camp and you’re poor because, hey, committing may be useless since Burning Man, the alleged to be radically inclusive event, has now decided to descriminate against the poor.

Last I checked, as someone who makes my living largely (90%+ of my clients) within the Burning Man community, it seems like this organization’s new business practice is designed to not really care about the impoverished artists out there — which, as I’ve witnessed, is a large percentage of the community.

Or, put differently, I’m guessing most of the people on the committee that designed this system have credit cards and weren’t thinking from the perspective of those of us who do not.

Or, put differently, this new ticketing system is designed to change the clients of Burning Man to be richer people rather than the “Starving artists” who are probably the backbone of much of the cool shit out there.

But hey, if that’s their business practice, I can’t complain. I may have been excluded out of the game because of it, but I guess you don’t have to go to Burning Man to be a burner.

Sad day for me. So if you don’t see me on playa in 2012, now you have an idea in advance of why.

About PoiPriestess

Isa “GlitterGirl” Isaacs has been a professional fire dancer and instructor since 2002 when she established her first flow arts education company, Temple of Poi, the premier poi school in the world. Since then, she has been working as a Priestess of Poi, teaching the ways of flow as a lifestyle choice. More details can be found on the about page on this site.