I’ve been using Twitter to recount my experiences with Ticketmaster since buying tickets to see Lindsey Stirling at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center, known better as SPAC. I wasn’t looking for concert tickets since we’re still in the middle of a pandemic, but my kid wanted to do something special for their 16th birthday, and Groupon had alerted me to the $20 ticket sale to see Alanis Morissette and Garbage. While that show would have been epic for my husband and me, it wouldn’t be very interesting for TJ. Violinist ballerina who plays video game music, however, has wider familial appeal.
The problem: I use a wheelchair now. The last two shows Tom and I attended at SPAC back in 2019, including a Lindsey Stirling show, we borrowed a wheelchair from my grandma, and I was so relieved to find that I wasn’t in nearly as much pain sitting in the wheelchair, and it cost me less energy to sit in the wheelchair than the stadium seats, too. Fast forward to today, and I now have my own wheelchair, which is even more comfortable than the one I’d borrowed from my grandma, so using it means I have less recovery time from outings – which means any time I leave the house at all because I’m mostly bedbound except for physical therapy and other healthcare appointments. But my entire family could attend a live concert at an outdoor ampitheater where we can wear our masks , be socially distanced, and have the air change with the breeze.
But the Buy Tickets screen showed that not a single accessible seating area in the entire venue had $20 tickets available, even when all of the non-accessible seats in the same row were $20. This seemed like a terrible oversight, so I thought it would be a simple matter of buying three tickets in the same row as one of the accessible seating areas and getting in touch with customer support to just shift our tickets three numbers to the left, easy peasy.
Readers, it was not easy peasy.
I’m posting my correspondence with Ticketmaster (with some info redacted) as screenshots on Twitter, but there’s a character limit on alt-text that prevents me from being able to properly make the screenshots accessible to people with screen readers or those who otherwise can’t read the text in image form. Therefore, I’m copying and pasting what would be the alt-text here for accessibility. Here is a link to the Twitter thread for reference:
Text of my first message to Ticketmaster Customer Support:
Sent: Friday, July 30, 2021 4:02:07 PM GMT-04:00
Subject: Request To Exchange My Tickets – [order number redacted] – Lindsey Stirling – Artemis Tour North America 2021
Is there a way we can exchange these for accessible seating? It’s the same row as the accessible seats: 1 wheelchair, 2 companion seats. I bought them specifically so they would be in the same price tier as the accessible seating in that row, but the sale price wasn’t showing on the accessible seats, which seems pretty discriminatory, so swapping them out shouldn’t be a problem.Order Number: [redacted]
Event: Lindsey Stirling – Artemis Tour North America 2021
Venue: Saratoga Performing Arts Center
First reply from Ticketmaster Customer Support:
On 7/30/2021 4:03 PM, firstname.lastname@example.org wrote:
[Author note: This seems to be an autoresponder reply based on the words “exchange my tickets” and not a reply from a real person who read my first message.]
Thanks for reaching out to us about your interest in exchanging your tickets. Please read the below information carefully for instructions in acquiring new tickets.
Original Order Requirement
The only orders that may be eligible for exchange must have been purchased directly from Ticketmaster, and have an order/confirmation number in this format: 12-2345/FLO. [Author note: my order number is in the correct format.] Please note that if the tickets were transferred to you or you purchased them from a 3rd party site, they are not eligible for an exchange, even if your order/confirmation number format looks like the above.
If you purchased a resale ticket, indicated by a 17-digit order/confirmation number (1111-2222-3333-4444-5), please note that these orders are final and cannot be exchanged.
Exchange Eligibility Requirements:
a. Your new order must be placed using the same Ticketmaster Online Account/Email Address
b. New tickets must be for the same event, venue, and date*
c. New tickets must be indicated by a blue dot on the map (not a pink dot as those are fan-to-fan resale tickets and cannot be used for an exchange)
d. New tickets must be of equal or greater value than your current tickets
e. Your event cannot be less than 24 hours away
f. Original tickets cannot be VIP, nor can they be part of an order that includes non-refundable items, such as merchandise
*You may exchange for a different date/time within a long running series of events. e.g. theatrical shows, where the same show is being performed on multiple days/weeks. For all other events, such as concerts, sporting events, etc. you may ONLY exchange tickets within the same event (same venue, same date, same time).
If the new tickets you want meet all of the above eligibility requirements, please follow these steps:
Purchase new tickets on ticketmaster.com or livenation.com in the U.S. or ticketmaster.ca in Canada
Reply to this email with your new order number
If all eligibility requirements are met, we will refund your original order and send you a notification when complete.
Second message from me to Ticketmaster Customer Support
On 7/30/2021 4:29 PM, [I] wrote:
The problem is that accessible seating is not listed at the sale price, so I can’t just book the seats I want without paying 3-4 times more than the other seats in the same row. I need a real person to help me with this.
Second response from Ticketmaster Customer Support to me
On 7/30/2021 5:31 PM, DoNotReply@ticketmaster.com wrote:
[Author note: This is another automated reply.]
Thanks for reaching out to us, we have received your email. We are extremely excited that live events are back! Like you, we can’t wait to enjoy these experiences again.
Please be aware that our wait times are longer than usual. Like many in our industry, we are increasing our staffing levels to meet demand. In the meantime, we appreciate your patience and understanding. We will do our best to respond within the next 48 – 72 hours.
In the meantime, feel free to check out our FAQs for answers to many of our most commonly asked questions.
Please do not reply to this email as it will not reach a representative. Don’t worry, we will answer your original email as soon as possible.
Third response from Ticketmaster Customer Support to me
On 7/31/2021 5:02 PM, email@example.com wrote:
Thank you for connecting with us about accessible seating for Lindsey Stirling – Artemis Tour North America 2021.
We located different seats in different sections available such as 5-7, 9-13 and 16-17. We can be reached at 800-653-8000 between 8AM – 11PM CST.
Got a minute? Tell us how we’re doing?
Your fellow fan,
Ticketmaster Fan Support
Interlude: Phone Call to Ticketmaster Customer Support
[Phone calls are not accessible to me, but my husband makes phone calls on my behalf. Tom called the number as instructed by what seemed like a helpful and hopeful email reply, but the agent on the phone said they could not exchange our tickets because their computer only showed the higher price. They were unable to make the exchange manually. I was upset when Tom told me they couldn’t help. A reminder that my entire premise is that not having any accessible seats on sale is the problem. It’s discriminatory, and there has to be someone at Ticketmaster who can do more than throw their hands in the air and say they can’t do anything because the computer won’t let them.]
Third email message from me to Ticketmaster Customer Support
On 7/31/2021 5:20 PM, [I] wrote:
Ticketmaster’s phone number was not helpful. They couldn’t “get the rate” in the system, which is the inherent problem I contacted support about in the first place. It is illegal to discriminate against disabled people by forcing us to either buy tickets for inaccessible seating or pay three times as much for the accessible seats literally right next to the seats I bought my $20 tickets for. We were told to either pay the higher price or wait and see on the day of the show if they can accommodate me. This is unacceptable. The accessible seats in the sections where the $20 ticket sale is valid should be available to purchase online at the same $20 price. This is discriminatory, and I don’t want to have to worry about whether or not the accessible seating is available on the night of the show. This is my daughter’s 16th birthday celebration, and it’s unacceptable that these are my only options just because I’m in a wheelchair.
I will be taking this story to social media to escalate this. Being disabled is hard enough without all of these barriers to access and hoops to jump through.
Ideally, whoever reads this email will be able to forward this to whoever has the capability of going into my account and changing my tickets from the three seats I have now to three accessible tickets (1 wheelchair/2 companions) in either sections 5-7 or 9-13. If I can log into my account and see the appropriate tickets swapped in, I will be satisfied. I should have been able to buy them at the sale price online in the first place.
Fourth email response from Ticketmaster Customer Support to me
On 8/1/2021 11:51 PM, firstname.lastname@example.org wrote:
Thank you for contacting us concerning your order. I do apologize but I am showing the seats desired were not apart of the promo. Not all seats at this event have the promo of $20 seats. Only some seats were set with the promotion. We can assist you in exchanging your seats to accessible seats, but we will not be able to add the promotion to the seats.
[Author note: this link has absolutely nothing to do with the conversation at hand
Ticketmaster Fan Support
Fourth email from me to Ticketmaster Customer Support
On 8/2/2021 2:21 AM, [I] wrote:
Hi Leslie or whoever reads this and doesn’t deserve to be punished for decisions you can’t make,
Run this up the flagpole. Not a single accessible seat was available at the $20 sale price. That is discrimination. The Americans with Disabilities Act makes it illegal to charge disabled people more to be accommodated. By not offering any accessible seats at the sale price, THIS IS ILLEGALLY REQUIRING DISABLED PEOPLE TO SPEND MORE THAN THREE TIMES THE AMOUNT YOU CHARGE PEOPLE WHO DON’T REQUIRE ACCESSIBLE SEATING.
“Not all seats at this event” were on sale for $20, you are correct. But entire non-accessible rows were offered for $20 while the accessible seats WHICH AREN’T EVEN SEATS cost more. I am attaching the screenshots I took as proof that it is completely unreasonable to charge more for the seats literally five feet to the left of the seats I purchased just so I can park my wheelchair there.
I will be going to the media if this is not resolved to my satisfaction. My satisfaction involves moving my seats from [redacted] to [redacted] in the same exact row. Same view. Just wheelchair parking. It is utterly absurd that no one can change my tickets because someone who is bigoted against disabled people decided it was okay to charge us more.
I’m not an unreasonable person. I’m not asking to be moved closer to the stage or even to a section closer to being center stage. I want my tickets in Section [redacted], Row[redacted] to be switched to the accessible seating in Section [redacted], Row [redacted]. I understand that every time an email informs me that it can’t help me, Ticketmaster is waiting out the clock hoping that someone will pay more for those seats so you can say they’re no longer available.
I thought this was going to be a simple request, and now it is a matter of principle. I’m disabled, and my life is a lot fucking harder because my body doesn’t work as well as everyone else’s. I should not have to be arguing with multiple customer support people whose pay grade isn’t high enough to make a damn executive decision to do the right thing for a disabled person who gets screwed over by every big company trying to weasel its way out of legal obligations to accommodate disabled people without price gouging. I have equal protection under the law.
I’m a disability activist, and while whoever the agent is who reads this probably doesn’t have the power to make decisions, I’m sure you have a superior who does – and they know that it’s illegal to charge disabled people more money for accessible spaces. They just count on disabled people not having enough energy to do anything about it. If I can’t get attention myself on social media, I have a favor or two I can call in to make a bigger deal about this.
To the person who can make decisions – is it really worth the difference in price for three seats to deal with the PR fallout when Ticketmaster is revealed to take advantage of disabled people by running sales that “just happen” to not include ANY accessible tickets? That Ticketmaster hates people? Because I’m that level of angry. It IS a lot of money to me. I literally can’t afford to take my kid to see Lindsey Stirling for their 16th birthday at $208.50 + fees, but I could afford to buy three inaccessible tickets at a grand total of $60 + fees, less than the price of a single ticket at the inflated price. I will be organizing a campaign about your discriminatory pricing schemes, because it’s clear that Ticketmaster doesn’t give a damn about disabled people because money is more important. Well, you won’t be getting as many disabled ticket buyers once I’m done. I’ll make you change your policies and publicly apologize to me and every other disabled person you’ve done this to. And if I end up relegated to the inaccessible seats I bought when I get to the show, I will be livestreaming how much extra pain and fatigue I’m suffering for the week afterward, because that’s about how long recovery takes for me when I’m not accommodated. It may not get much play live, but I’ll pay to promote the video on YouTube afterward so that everyone knows that Ticketmaster could have prevented my suffering by moving my seats five feet to the left.
As of 4:08 PM EDT August 2, 2021, I am awaiting a response. I cannot be the only disabled person they’ve brushed off in the hopes we’d just give up. I didn’t want to make a big deal out of this. I honestly thought I’d make the exchange request and they’d grant it. Ticket prices are completely arbitrary, and seating is not a consumable item that costs more to make to be accessible. Even if it was, it is illegal to charge disabled people more money to be accommodated. Businesses by law are supposed to soak up the costs of accessibility the way they do with any other business expense. If I had money, I’d make a legal issue out of this. (Then again, if I had money, I wouldn’t be trying to get equal access to a sale price non-disabled people got by default!) Please boost my signal and give this all the media and social media attention it can get. I don’t just want my accessible tickets to be the same price as the non-accessible tickets I bought – I want all future Ticketmaster sales to include accessible seating because it’s discriminatory not to!
No tag for this post.