"Books, Records, Films -- these things matter. Call me shallow but it's the damn truth." - High Fidelity

March 7, 2012

BMORG should publicly ask Stub Hub to limit Burning Man Ticket sales to 4 per person and face value

  • Will Chase 
    StubHub sees their role as leveling the supply and demand curve in a market (a ticket will be sold at the value for which there is demand for it ... if it sells at a "scalped" price, well then *that* was the real market value of the ticket)-- while they take their cut for providing the service of connecting buyers with sellers. Ultimately, they see their cause as noble in a capitalist market, and they don't give much of a rat's ass about Burning Man being a community. You can certainly ask 'em (we contemplated doing the same), but expect to be ignored.

@Will - Thanks for the response.  I agree, it seems to be a very small number of tickets currently being scalped, but I don’t see any reason why BMORG shouldn’t *publicly* ask StubHub to limit sales at 4 per person and limit the price to the face value and then post StubHub’s reply or lack of a reply.

I think it would be better to address the scalper problem now while it is small, rather than waiting to see if it becomes a larger problem in June.

As for StubHub’s romantic dream of being an Adam Smithian marketplace, I don’t believe that they operate their servers offshore from the free island of Sealand trading tickets only via bittorrent, existing only via rumor and accepting only bitcoin.  They seem to be a publicly traded company, operating out of San Francisco, made up of people who make choices.  They have a choice whether or not they want one person to sell 48 Burning Man tickets for $2500 a piece on their website.  I don’t think there’s any downside in BMORG publicly asking them to make that choice.

(While yes, some would say they’ve already made it, they haven’t officially been asked to stop, and from the email I received, I think it would make a difference to ask.  I’m going to repost the whole email below, but the key line for me is “and unless we are contacted by someone directly affiliated with Burning Man, we are unable to remove any tickets from the StubHub website at this time. “)

email from StubHub:

Dear Concerned Burner,

I absolutely understand your concern about the secondary sales of Burning Man Tickets. However, StubHub never actually buys, sells or owns any tickets. Tickets are posted by fans and bought by other fans, StubHub is merely a marketplace for these fans to safely complete their transactions. Since StubHub doesn't own the tickets, we can’t regulate the prices. Prices are assigned based on "fair market value". This means, for example, if an event is sold out, or tickets are hard to come by (like Burning Man) they become more valuable than the original face value.

Please be aware that Burning Man is well aware of "a healthy aftermarket for tickets, sold by Burners who have extras or realize they can't attend after all." (taken directly from the Burning Man tickets FAQ) *and unless we are contacted by someone directly affiliated with Burning Man, we are unable to remove any tickets from the StubHub website at this time. *

Please feel free to contact us directly at (866) 788-2482 if you have further questions.


StubHub Customer Service
Weekdays: 5:00AM -- 9:00PM (PST)
Weekends: 6:00AM -- 7:00PM (PST)

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