So you really want to go to Coachella, see some super-cool bands and have the time of your life.
But you have no tickets, and the event is sold out. Other than watch for another possible locals-only sale, what do you do?
I worked at the Coachella box office during the last two festivals, so take it from me: Unless you don't mind pissing a few hundred bucks into the wind, and watching your friends go in while you cry by yourself, don’t buy a festival wristband from anyone unless you’re 100 percent sure everything’s legit.
The most heartbreaking case I saw involved a young girl who came to the Coachella Valley all the way from Australia. She'd bought a dodgy ticket and couldn't get in touch with the person from whom she’d bought it. Boy, did I feel bad for her. It was also unseasonably cold, and she was wearing short shorts and sandals. I did lend her my sweater while she tried to get in touch with the guy from whom she'd purchased her pass. Alas, it was not meant to be.
You do not want to be like her. Here are some guidelines.
No. 1: Do not buy wristbands from a third party. Sure, there are large third-party ticket-sellers that sound legit, but if you have any issues, the folks working the front gates at Coachella cannot help you. You are only covered and if you buy through the one legitimate channel: Goldenvoice/Coachella and the ticket agent, Front Gate Tickets.
If you have any issues with those third-party-purchased tickets, you will have to get in touch with the company from whom you bought them, and it will be up to them to help you. If you, say, have a faulty wristband and need a new one to be issued, good luck getting them to come to Indio to bring you a new, working wristband. I repeat: The folks working at Coachella cannot help you.
No. 2: Do not buy from a “friend.” Unless you know this friend’s middle name, or their parents came to your bar mitzvah, or they know that you wet the bed until you were 9, don’t do it. I’ve seen too many people standing in front of the box office, heartbroken and crying: “But I know this guy/girl; they couldn’t come, so I bought their ticket off of them.” The standard response is: “OK, so call them up, and tell them to call/e-mail the ticketing people, and have them let us know that they are happy for you to have the wristband. Maybe then we can help you.”
Far too often, the story continues: OK, the person is actually just a friend of a friend of a friend, and the wannabe Coachella attendee with the non-functioning wristband doesn't have a phone number for the friend of a friend of a friend.
One popular scam involves a person reporting a “never-received pass,” even though that person did, in fact, receive a pass. That person then gets a new pass to replace the “never received one,” and sells the first, now-deactivated pass.
Another common story: “This one guy bought all of the tickets for a big group, and we paid him back. All of the others got in, but my wristband is not working.” I repeat: You need to know the person from whom you got the wristband very well. Have the phone number, the address, the middle name and photocopies of the ID and the credit card used for the transaction, with a statement that you are allowed to have one of their wristbands. Trust no one you haven’t known since kindergarten. The wristband is attached to the purchaser's name, and his/her presence or lack thereof can make or break you. The purchaser has all the power as to whether you’re going in.
Here is what you can do to protect yourself (and even then, there are no guarantees): If you get a wristband from someone, have he or she contact Front Gate, the Coachella ticket agent (frontgatetickets.com; 888-512-7469), and add your name to the system. Register that wristband before you buy it. If the person is legit and can’t go, then why would he/she care if you change the shipping address in the system? If he/she refuses or says it isn’t necessary, DO NOT BUY THE WRISTBAND. To be extra-safe, get the wristband number after he/she calls, and call Front Gate yourself to make sure the wristband you are about to buy is now attached to your name.
If there’s a conflict, the person who bought the wristband and whose name is on the account has full authority. If you registered this wristband, and you also show up in the system, you are second in command—but you will not win if there’s a dispute. I’ll say it again: You should only buy a pass from someone you completely and utterly trust.
No. 3: Do not buy a wristband from a dodgy dude/dudette standing outside of the festival gates. Why? Re-read the last 800-plus words.
If you have a truly close friend who is getting rid of his/her ticket, and you follow all of the above advice, chances are you’ll be OK if you take the ticket—and you should thank your lucky stars that you have such a friend. If not, accept that you missed out this year, and get ready to buy your 2015 passes when advance sales begin; you can even opt in to a payment plan. Remember: If you are the original purchaser of a pass, you do not have to worry about being scammed.
But, please, do not trust Craigslist and other third-party sellers, “friends” who really aren’t, or scalpers. It isn’t worth it.
For more info, read up at www.coachella.com/festival-info.