Blind Girls Aloud fan slams inaccessible Ticketmaster

Home UK News Blind Girls Aloud fan slams inaccessible Ticketmaster
Blind Girls Aloud fan slams inaccessible Ticketmaster

George Plumridge George (right) with his partner Ben at a concertGeorge Plumridge

George said he just wants to enjoy the atmosphere and live music

A Girls Aloud fan says getting the tickets to their concert was such a stressful experience he nearly missed out on going.

George Plumridge has retinitis pigmentosa and night blindness, and said the Ticketmaster website was “really inaccessible” and despite having all the tools he “just couldn’t do it”.

He said he has successfully booked tickets for theatre shows at the West End as their websites use a separate accessibility platform, and said Ticketmaster should “take a leaf out of their book”.

Ticketmaster said the accessibility of its site and ensuring that fans have equal access to events is of the utmost importance.

Mr Plumridge, 32, from Pontyclun, Rhondda Cynon Taf, was diagnosed with his condition aged eight, and said he was so stressed booking the tickets for Girls Aloud that he ended up getting timed out.

“You have to be so quick on the site, you get into a queue and there’s this timer and you’re panicking.

“I was filling the boxes wrong, because it wasn’t clear to me in terms of where you should write what, and I ended up getting timed out.

“I tried because I thought I have the tools, I’ve got my screen reader and a huge monitor so how can I not do it, but I just couldn’t,” he said.

He added it was really frustrating because it did not have to be like that, and not being able to do a simple thing like booking tickets and having to rely on someone else took away his independence.

“I’ve booked West End tickets to take my niece to see Frozen, and their booking system is so different.

“They have a separate platform, and all I had to do was register and show proof of my disability and then book, I had a completely stress-free experience.

“I was able to book disabled access tickets and tickets for my niece and family who were coming with me – it was so much easier.”

George Plumridge George (right) with his partner BenGeorge Plumridge

George said he was frustrated that he could not book tickets independently on Ticketmaster

He said Ticketmaster would benefit from a similar concept.

“It would alleviate a lot of stress, and would mean I could get tickets independently rather than having to rely on other people.

“I appreciate that there are disability tickets, but if your disability doesn’t involve your sight then you could still navigate the website quickly, but with a visual impairment, it’s just impossible,” he said.

Mr Plumridge said he then gets anxious about potential issues at gigs despite going to them for years.

“I’m always apprehensive about going and my first thought is ‘am I going to get in? Or am I going to do something that makes me not get in?’.

“It’s things like the bouncers beckoning you forward when you are queuing, or the queue moving and me not seeing, and then the scanners and making sure I am doing it right, or bumping into someone.

“Because it’s dark, I find it harder to see, and one thing I have experienced when on a night out is being refused entry because staff assume I am intoxicated because my pupils don’t dilate like everyone else’s because of my disability so I am always worried about that,” he said.

George Plumridge George (right) with his partner BenGeorge Plumridge

George said his partner Ben will take him to the toilet before gigs so he does not have to worry about that

He says he uses a cane because it makes him feel comfortable, but is a little hesitant that it could make him a target for pick pocketers.

And when picking tickets, standing or seating has its pros and cons.

“In seated I feel safer because of my allocated space, but the arenas with tiered seating worry me, and I do love a good dance, so I usually opt for standing.

“There are disabled tickets, but you can only go with one person, and I understand why that is, but sometimes you just want to enjoy a gig with a group of friends.”

However, Mr Plumridge said regardless of the barriers, being able to go to a gig is “incredible”.

“It’s about the atmosphere and being able to hear it. I love being able to feel the music and the beat, being with the fans. The buzz you get.

“I just can’t wait to see Girls Aloud reunite and perform.”

Director of the Royal National Institute of Blind People Cymru (RNIB) Ansley Workman said there were far too many unnecessary barriers to blind and partially sighted people being able to access live music.

“From buying tickets online, to venue access and feeling fully included in performances, the accessibility of live concerts really lags behind other experiences like visiting theatres or museums.

“Ticketing sites, organisers and venues need to listen to blind and partially sighted people to be able to find solutions that work. If other live experiences can get it so right, there really isn’t any excuse for live music to keep getting it wrong.”

What does Ticketmaster do for accessibility?

Andrew Parsons, managing director at Ticketmaster UK said: “Ticketmaster was the first ticketing agent to make accessible tickets available online in 2019.

“We are constantly reviewing our processes and we take on board all feedback to make improvements wherever we can.

“Our fan support team is always on hand to help, and we encourage any fan to reach out should they need assistance at any time.”

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