Kelly Vincent – ABC Radio Adelaide Interview on the difficulties people with disabilities are facing booking concert tickets

Matthew Abraham: Ed Sheeran has attempted to get around scalpers with the way he releases his tickets and this is a good thing but there’s not going to be any corporate tickets; trying to stop people scooping up tickets as they did with Bruno Mars and then selling them for a motza and really blocking out people who are genuine fans … well multiply that if you have a disability – it is access denied. ‘No Sheeran or Mars tickets for people with disabilities’, says Kelly Vincent from the SA Dignity for Disability Park [sic]. Good morning Kelly, you’re the Dignity Party now I should say Kelly.

Kelly Vincent: That’s right.

Matthew Abraham:  Kelly, what’s the particular problem for people with what Ticketek call ‘special needs’ because they do have a special needs booking service?

Kelly Vincent: That’s right and the situation seems to be here Matthew that the special needs booking line, which is a separate phone number to the standard line that people without disabilities would ring to book standard tickets no-one is answering that line, in fact it’s not even ringing. I have constituents who’ve rung up more than a hundred times trying to get tickets to Ed Sheeran and Bruno Mars before that. None of those times has that phone line gone through and I’ve tried it myself a few times and it’s been engaged every single time. I don’t know if it’s under staffed or if there’s a technical malfunction but either way it’s not acceptable.

David Bevan:  Now what is the special needs booking service, is that you’re able to buy tickets to concerts where there’s easy wheelchair access or what is it, what do you get for your money?

Kelly Vincent: That would be the line that you would call up if you needed tickets that were say a wheelchair spot or maybe if you needed a companion card ticket, so you could bring someone with you to support you and that would be the line that you would call to book those tickets.

Matthew Abraham: With people who don’t have disabilities, some people take a whole day off work to try and get tickets through Ticketek but it sounds like it’s almost impossible if you have a disability?

Kelly Vincent: Absolutely. Not only is no-one answering that booking service it’s not even ringing, it’s engaged the entire time. So I don’t know what is happening but it needs to be sorted out because one in five people has a disability in our country so if you’re looking at 20% of your potential market not only is it discrimination it just doesn’t make business sense.

Matthew Abraham: So there’s meant to be a telephone hotline, correct?

Kelly Vincent: That’s right.

Matthew Abraham: That’s the Special Needs Booking Service. You’re saying it’s not even answering?

Kelly Vincent: No, it’s engaged the entire time and I have constituents who’ve called up more than 100 times trying to get tickets to Ed Sheeran and none of those times have they managed to get through.

David Bevan: Well we would like to talk to Ticketek but apparently they haven’t got a phone number, so you can’t even ring them to organise a media interview to put their point of view.

Matthew Abraham: Kelly Vincent, have you been able to contact Ticketek?

Kelly Vincent: I sent them a letter and I haven’t received a response as of yet, but like you I’m looking forward to hearing from them.

Matthew Abraham: Apparently it’s easier to call the Pope. So just nobody can talk to them; you can’t ring them, you have to send them a letter.

Kelly Vincent: And the other point is, according to one person who has been in contact with me, they commented on their Facebook page, they got a comment back saying please send an email with the details of the tickets you want to this email address; according to this person they then did that and then didn’t get a response with email.

David Bevan: I don’t want to overthink this but it would seem to me if you had a disability it would be this sort of thing that would just grind you down because you’d think I’m going to have a special night and you can’t even get through to buy the ticket from the Special Needs Booking Service.

Kelly Vincent: You’re absolutely right. The fact that the service is there, that Ticketek has gone as far as to think about this market and setting up that particular service so people with disabilities can access, potentially access tickets, and then to not even have that staffed I think just rubs salt into the wound.

Matthew Abraham: Let’s go to Tracey, what’s your experience?

Caller Tracey: My first experience was trying to get tickets for Bruno Mars and we called the Special Needs Hotline and couldn’t get through. They said it was an isolated event but I have called every day for the last few weeks and have not got through once on that line.

Matthew Abraham: You complained on Facebook, what happened then?

Caller Tracey: Yeah, they’ve blocked me and my husband on Facebook for basically speaking the truth. So I can’t leave a comment and that means all our comments are gone. They just think it’s okay that because they put seats aside for people with disabilities and they think that’s sufficient.

Matthew Abraham: There’s lots of texts coming in agreeing with you here ‘The Special Needs Booking Service is unreliable to say the least and a person who has a disability can’t book online like ‘able bodied’ people can is discrimination.’

David Bevan: Sue from Hallett Cove says, ‘I tried ringing the same hotline to book Entertainment Centre tickets for my elderly father to see his granddaughter perform and I called but was never answered on multiple occasions.’

Matthew Abraham: Another says, ‘Is Ticketek run by Centrelink?’ We would like to say we contacted Ticketek but it’s pointless, there’s no number to ring and we’ve emailed them but there’s certainly no indication that they ever deign to speak to the public. It’s quite weird.

David Bevan: Kelly Vincent, thanks for your time.