Hello readers, Samantha here again, with yet another woeful tale of appalling concert ticket access. De Ja Vu anyone? Yeah, me too. Unfortunately, this is a daily experience for people with disabilities. Well, it is if you want to attend stuff, maybe the message is I should just stay home instead.
So, this time, it’s The Killers, playing O2 Academy Leeds on 17th August, as a warm up date for their V Festival appearance.
I began trying to get to grips with this one yesterday. I can’t go on my own due to my disability, and I cannot afford to buy two full price tickets so I carer can come with me, and, I feel, nor should I have to. As tickets weren’t on sale yet, I couldn’t find any access info. So I called the number listed for the O2 Academy Leeds. Which told me to call TicketMaster Customer Services on 0844 499 9999. This number only gave me three options: buy tickets, enquire about an existing Irish booking, or enquire about an existing UK booking. So, I was put through to the sales line.
The call was answered by a chap named Sam, who I’m sure regretted answering this particular call pretty darn quickly. He told me that accessible bookings were handled by the venue, and confirmed what I had already discovered with a quick google-the venue box office opened at 12 noon. I explained politely to Sam that, by this time, all tickets would, in all likelihood, have sold out, and this essentially meant people with disabilities were not able to access tickets, representing a breach of the Equality Act 2010. He said he understood that, but that TicketMaster were only selling tickets on behalf of the O2 Academy, and had no control over their opening hours. I clarified that people without disabilities were able to purchase tickets for events by calling TicketMaster 24 hours a day, but people with disabilities could not, and stated that I saw this as discrimination. He was very pleasant and I felt quite sorry for him.
Same old, same old, anyone?
So, tickets went on sale at 9am this morning. I called TicketMaster, and was loading the website at the same time. TicketMaster’s phone lines told me that all their sales representatives were busy, and to try later, before disconnecting me repeatedly. Then, when I finally got further than this, a recorded message told me they had no tickets available for The Killers.
At the same time, I was trying to get TicketMaster‘s website to load, when it finally did, I clicked the magic Accessibility Info button, to find a message saying that the venue was handling access requests, and their box office was open 12-5pm. It did however, also give an email address, so I sent a quick email enquiring at the same time.
My googling also stumbled upon LiveNation‘s page, which unfortunately, when I clicked for tickets, just took me back to TicketMaster. However, LiveNation’s magic accessibility button, while confirming that the venue was dealing with all accessible bookings, listed the opening hours as 10am-6pm. Curiouser and Curiouser, said Alice.
Given the inconsistent information, I decided to ring the box office and see. Engaged a few times (odd, if they aren’t open yet), then finally, I got through to a pleasant woman named Anna. She informed me that, unfortunately, all their accessible ticket allocation had gone. I enquired how this could possibly be so, when the TicketMaster website stated that the Box Office didn’t open until 12. She told me that the website had listed their email address too, and she had a lot of emails by 9.05am. I explained I had emailed, but she checked my name, and said my email hadn’t come in early enough.
So I asked Anna how many tickets were in their accessible tickets allocation. She stated that it was the number recommended by the council, but did not provide the actual number. I rephrased the question, and then she told me how many tickets they allocate for disabled customers.
Go on, dear reader, guess……
I bet you can’t……
Yep, I typed that right, four. Yes, you read that correctly, four.
FOUR tickets are allocated for customers with disabilities by O2 Academy Leeds.
I was sure I must have misheard. “Did you say four?”, “Yes”, “FOUR tickets are allocated for customers with disabilities?”, “Yes, because that is the number recommended by the council, for evacuation purposes”. I asked whether this number was soley wheelchair users, and she stated it was anyone who would need assistance to evacuate the venue.
I then asked the capacity of the venue (2,300 people), her name, and explained that I blog on disability issues and would be writing about this.
So I did the maths. 4 tickets out of 2, 300 is 0.17% of the available tickets were allocated to customers with disabilities. This means for every disabled person able to attend, 574 people without disabilites can attend.
Now, I’m no expert, but I’m fairly sure 0.17% is quite a lot less than the percentage of people with disabilities.
It’s surprisingly hard to find a percentage, but the Employer’s Forum on Disability reckons 18% of the population, 10 million people in the UK, are covered by the Equality Act. Not all of those will need a carer to attend a concert. Not all of those will be fans of The Killers (although frankly, that also baffles me 😉
But 0.17% of tickets? FOUR tickets?? Really?? That’s Equality of Access??????????
As if to confirm my suspicions, Anna has just responded to my initial email:
“just to confirm unfortunately due to huge demand for tickets disabled access tickets for this event have now
Huge demand. From disabled people, by 9.05am, when all the info said access tickets weren’t available before 12. And they had four tickets available.
Just to summarise:
- There was no access information available on O2 Academy Leeds website, or TicketMaster website, before tickets went on sale.
- People without disabilities could call at 9am for tickets.
- Information given was inconsistent, TicketMaster said the box office opened at 12, LiveNation said 10. Actually, it opened at 9am.
- Despite “huge demand” from people with disabilities, only four tickets were available for such customers, and these were gone by 9.05am, 2 ours and 55 minutes before the website selling tickets said they were available.
Is it really 2012? Have I gone back in time to 1973, and have to figure out a way to get home? Where’s Sam Tyler when you need him? (Sorry about the Life on Mars references!).
Anyone got a brick wall I can borrow to hit my head against??
I think I should give up and just stay home.