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Friday, November 30, 2007

Fast Track Confusion!!

Well seems like TRIBE's infoblast has caused some confusion among many masqueraders. As I understand it the deadline for ANY pre-payment on your costume, wether via Senvia or at the Mas Camp is December 31st. If you pay off your costume in full by this deadline it puts you in the fast track line come collection day.

However, if you do not pay in full your next opportunity will be when you collect your costume. As far as I can tell from that email payments in January will not be accepted EXCEPT on collection dates which will be revealed in a later email.

Now, I am guessing that the mas camp will be closed during the month of January for preparations since Carnival is so early and the band is sold out. The last week of January is Carnival week and the week when costumes are normally distributed anyway.

People were not paying attention when I kept saying that there is only ONE paycheck between now and Carnival!! So, scrape up your dollars in December, explain to people they will be getting no gifts for Chrisnival and pay off for your costume ONLY IF you want to be in the fast track line. If you don't care about lining up on collection day, don't sweat it, you still have the option to pay for your costume when you collect.

Sold to the highest bidder!!

I love the ebay commercial where bidders are portrayed as horses at a race and as they all charge towards the finish line one guy gets a cramp in the leg, taking him out of the running. Bidding and auction sites are very popular these days, an item goes up for sale and the seller basically says “make me an offer” to the persons desirous of obtaining said item. I am all for auction sites once you are getting a deal, I even used to book my hotel and as their advertisements says scored a 4 star hotel for ¼ of the regular price. Little did I know that has now become an auction site where costumes are being sold to the highest bidder, and unlike ebay or priceline desperate masqueraders are not getting a deal but getting milked instead!

Of course it does not help when the Costume Wanted advertisements blatantly states that the buyer is willing to pay more than cost price, if someone is that distressed about getting a costume as a seller you are tempted to take advantage of that need, and that is exactly what they are doing. When costumes wanted out number costumes for sale 3 to 1 and at the mas camp the waiting list is hundreds deep, getting the costume you want is a cut throat business.

One young lady sent me an email where the seller of the costume could not guarantee the sale because they were waiting for the highest offer and invited the girl to place a bid; she wanted advice on what to do. Now, I am not taking any moral high ground on this issue, if people are quite happy paying more than a costume sells for because they want to be part of the TRIBE experience, all power to them! Personally I would NOT pay anything more than the advertised price for a costume. As much as I love playing in TRIBE, if I missed out on my chance of a costume I would either take my chances that someone will sell their costume through the mas camp or that there are still honest enough people out there who would sell the costume at the given price or even consider not playing mas at all. See, giving into this trend means that next year the situation will be worse and may well emerge into a Hannah Montana situation!

If you haven’t heard Hannah Montana concert tickets are now being sold for thousands of dollars because scalpers bought them up, capitalizing on the teen market who want to go to her concert come hell or high water. Parents were so upset that an official in Miami wants laws changed to guard against scalpers in future. Rumors have always been ripe that certain party promoters in Trinidad give scalpers tickets to sell outside fetes during that hectic Carnival week while at the same time claming that tickets were sold out at the official sales venues, therefore leading to people paying up to 3 to 4 times the regular ticket price. Sadly, costume sales are heading in the same direction!!

Hypothetically, imagine that enterprising persons seeing the extreme anxiety in acquiring costumes after they are sold out at the mas camp decide to turn costume resale into a viable business. That would mean as soon as open registration begins, an individual or individuals register for several costumes, effectively leading to the section being sold out before legitimate masqueraders get a chance to purchase a costume. Then, said individual/s advertises the costumes on Carnival Junction and sells to the highest bidder. What this does is creates a huge demand for a product which is unfairly resold at an exorbitant price.

Not everyone selling a costume, however, is selling to make a profit; quite a few advertisements have indicated that the costume is being sold at the same price as at the mas camp. Honest persons just looking to get the costume off their hands. The temptation to sell for more is surely great I can imagine, but with costume prices already so high to me, it would be unconscionable to further inflate the prices. To those looking to purchase costumes I am not here to give advice, only you can know what the entire Carnival experience is worth to you. For those selling costumes the “fair” thing is not to sell to the highest bidder but to sell the costume for what it is worth and to the person who contacted you first. If you want to sell your costume for more money by all means go ahead, hey if someone is going to pay the price who am I to say what is right or wrong.

I would also hope that if you are buying a costume, inflated price or not, that the person is also going to do the proper procedure and transfer the costume in your name therefore giving you the chance for a TLC card in the case of TRIBE or pre-registration benefits for past masqueraders with other bands the following year. The unfortunate incidents are when costumes are sold and remain in the name of the seller; imagine paying double the price of the costume down payment to a seller and still loosing out on the chance to get first dibs on the costume of your choice the following year.

My only issue is that this trend does not bode well for the future and it would be a shame when the only resort available to persons looking for a costume at the last minute is to pay these inflated prices. Remember the days when one could go to a mas camp on Carnival Saturday and purchase a costume that was not collected at a “cheap” price? When there is such a demand for costumes in certain bands, with persons paying much more than it costs bandleaders are not going to be selling costumes “cheap” after costume distribution is over, even though those costumes already have a down payment paid towards the total price! Those days are now a thing of the past. Everyone wants to be part of the “in thing” at any price.
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