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Ticketing News: Hackers Beat the Burning Man Ticket Sales…For Now

Ticketing News: Hackers Beat the Burning Man Ticket Sales…For Now

What was once a fringe-style event held in the middle of the desert has now turned into a hugely popular mainstream weeklong event that is especially popular among many members of the tech community. Unfortunately, last week rumors swept multiple social media outlets when the Burning Man ticket sale was reportedly hacked.

CC Image by BLM Nevada
Image via BLM Nevada

Burning Man ticket sales began on Wednesday February 18th at noon PST and sold out 40,000 tickets and 12,000 vehicle passes in less than an hour. There were almost 80,000 people registered for the sale, and with each registrant able to purchase 2 tickets and 1 vehicle pass that meant that only the first 20,000 buyers would be guaranteed tickets. So how did this sale get hacked? What is Burning Man doing about this?

We’ve got your answers and more…


How Did it Happen?

CC Image by Mikael Altemark
Image via Mikael Altemark

It is suspected that a group of software-savvy people were able to create a makeshift “waiting room” that put them at the very front of the line once ticket sales opened at noon. Burning Man revealed “absolutely no tickets were sold before the sale opened, but they were able to purchase the first batch of tickets when the sale started.” It is estimated that approximately 200 tickets were purchased using this hack.

How Does Burning Man Intend to Deal With This?

Right now Burning Man is working with their distribution system, Ticketfly, to obtain the details regarding the hack before they move forward in officially dealing with the situation. This sounds like a fair place to begin, if you ask us.

Last Friday, Burning Man also announced that once they find the hackers, they would void their tickets and re-release them in the last-minute OMG Sale. Again, this is a reasonably fair solution to the problem. According to Megan K. Miller, Burning Man’s Director of Communications, “steps are being taken to prevent this from happening again in future sales.”

Wait. Voided Tickets? What’s This!

Yes, Burning Man will be voiding the hacked tickets. And those aren’t the only tickets that might be null and void. Burning Man will void a ticket if it’s reported as stolen, has been lost by the postal service, is being sold on a third-party ticket market above face value, or is found to be in breach of any terms and conditions of sale.

CC Image by Aaron Logan
Image via Aaron Logan

The organizers rely on attendees to report any suspected issues with tickets and Burning Man keeps a public, up-to-date list of void serial numbers for those purchasing on third-party ticket markets.

Final Thoughts

While it is rather unfortunate that this hack happened, it did bring to light some of the other interesting ticketing practices that Burning Man has put in place.

CC Image by David Goehring
Image via David Goehring

For example, they have a Secure Ticket Exchange Program (STEP) that helps direct buyers resell their tickets at face value. This provides a secure, hassle-free way for direct buyers and sellers to manage ticket resale. To be a part of the program buyers and sellers must register. Tickets are offered on a first-come, first-served basis in a virtual queue formed during the registration process.

Burning Man also automatically assigns the ticket to the name on the purchasing credit card, but also allows any ticket purchased directly from them to be eligible for a name change and completely transferrable. (As it should be!)

The one snag that we found with their purchasing process was the ridiculously high processing and delivery fees. Delivery fees range from $12 to $39 (depending on the order’s country of origin and method of delivery), and all orders are subject to processing fees of $7 per ticket and/or vehicle pass. On top of this, an additional fee of $6 per item is added if a ticket is purchased through the STEP program. That means that a buyer could see these extra fees add up to as much as $78 on a total purchase that includes two tickets and a vehicle pass purchased through STEP…

This is way too much!

Were you lucky enough to score one of the coveted Burning Man tickets? How do you feel about Burning Man’s response to the reported ticket sales hacking? Leave us your thoughts in the comments below.



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