Like 50,000,000 other people yesterday (I don’t know exact figures) I tried to purchase tickets to see Ed Sheeran. Like 49,998,531 (again just a guesstimate) of these people I failed.
In my opinion there are 3 main reasons that I failed to get tickets.
Reason number one: awful, smug, money making ticket touting websites.
Reason number 2: greedy individuals that aren’t really fans, buying tickets and then 10 minutes later realising they can’t actually make the date of the gig, so they best sell their 4 tickets online for £300 each. In other words, they purchased to sell.
Reason number 3: I have wheels.
There has always been a larger demand than actual allocation of wheelchair seats/spaces at music venues. With population/disability on the rise, public transport becoming more accessible, and more wheels being able to explore the world (how dare they!) you would expect venues to cater for this. My local theatre, Norwich Theatre Royal for example have rows of seats which can be removed and replaced depending on demand for each individual performance. However larger venues that I’ve encountered don’t seem to have this flexibility. Therefor they have to guess how many wheels may attend the average show.
Yesterday I was trying to buy tickets for The O2 Arena London for one of Ed Sheeran’s 2 (and then 3) dates in May.
Firstly as an O2 customer with priority access I tried the presale. Pressing redial over 100 times my friend finally managed to get in a queue, that was then answered at 10.40am, 40 minutes after presale began. All accessible tickets had gone.
Wheelchair tickets cannot be booked online for presale, however they did inform her that they are trialling an online booking for general sale tickets for O2 Arena, and have been since October 2016, so give that a try when the general sale opens.
After looking into this ‘online booking’ (which is a great idea that I’ve been waiting for O2 Arena to adopt) I discover that you have to pay for companion tickets up front and then claim back the money at a later date by emailing a copy of disability proof. Most venues now provide free carer/companion tickets, and O2 Arena still do. But when booking online a person requiring a carer is expected to have double the money spare that day (and until it can be claimed back) than every other ticket buyer. Which puts you at a disadvantage before you even start. With tickets only announced the week before sale, and costing up to £85 per ticket (which is shocking in itself!) a person requiring a carer is expected to have up to £170 at hand!
I’ve purchased online tickets for other venues and festivals before. Then applied for a free carer ticket. But I have never been expected to pay then claim back.
Another note I’d like to make is concerning maximum ticket allocation. Ed Sheeran was 4 tickets per person, and lots of gigs are the same. I totally understand why, you would get people buying loads, not giving other fans a fair chance. I wanted to attend Ed Sheeran with another wheel using friend. We would both have a carer. This is the maximum allocation used, as this limit includes carer tickets, even though they come free as they are a necessity. A carer and a friend isn’t always the same thing. I have friends that aren’t my carer that I may like to attend gigs with.
Also venues like The O2 Arena only allow me to sit with 1 carer, this is because the platforms have limited space that is understandably reserved for wheelchair users. However I have no other choice of where to sit. I can’t attend the gig and be sitting with 5 of my friends, I’m segregated to one area, with 1 friend or carer.
So because I need a carer, does this mean I have no friends/family?
Anyway I digress (rant!) although access is improving (slowly) there’s a lot I have to say when it comes to access at gigs. I must get back to the issue of the day….
So general sale day was here. We had decided to try by phone (accessible ticket phone line) and online (between us we would have to cover the cost of the 2 carer tickets).
Three of us geared up with a cuppa and phones at hand for the long haul. 350+ redials and multiple refreshes online, 70 minutes had gone by since the presale began and we finally got a human at the end of the phone. All tickets have sold out.
I am a regular gig goer that would often make trips down to the O2 Arena. However securing tickets for large venues like this is becoming increasingly difficult for wheelchair users like myself.
Let’s hope Ed announces more dates, so that myself and others I know get another stab at buying tickets.
And here’s to a future with no ticket touts!
Update – I Got a Golden Ticket.