Ban 62p-a-min rip-off on dis­abled gig tick­ets IN­VES­TI­GATES

Sunday Mirror - - FRONT PAGE - BY STEPHEN HAY­WARD Con­sumer Cor­re­spon­dent

DIS­ABLED mu­sic fans have been ripped off by nearly 40 ticket agen­cies and con­cert venues forc­ing them to make premium rate calls to get into gigs.

The rev­e­la­tion comes after we told last week how Peter Kay fans racked up huge bills when they were kept on hold on 084 and 087 num­bers to book wheel­chair ac­cess places.

Dis­abil­ity rights cam­paign­ers and tele­com ex­perts have called for the lines to be banned after re­search by the Fair Tele­coms Cam­paign re­vealed the scale of the scan­dal. It found 38 venues, ticket agen­cies and pro­mot­ers have sep­a­rate num­bers for the dis­abled, charg­ing up to 62p a minute from a mo­bile.

One Kay fan was left with a phone bill of £39 to get an ac­cess ticket for New­cas­tle’s Metro Ra­dio Arena. Among other cul­prits us­ing costly ac­ces­si­ble book­ings lines are the Birm­ing­ham Hip­po­drome, Echo Arena in Liver­pool, Leeds First Di­rect Arena and the Tick­et­sellers agency. In many cases, dis­abled con­cert­go­ers are ex­cluded from book­ing on­line but must ring these num­bers that have a “ser­vice” charge of up to 7p a minute and an “ac­cess” fee of up to 55p a minute depend­ing on providers.

Fair Tele­coms Cam­paign spokesman David Hick­son said cus­tomers have to use the lines to dis­cuss ac­ces­si­bil­ity needs. He said: “The num­bers are ex­ploita­tive and dis­crim­i­na­tion.” Ex-par­a­lympic swim­ming cham­pion Lord Chris Holmes said the charges were “un­ac­cept­able”. Nic Bun­gay, of Mus­cu­lar Dys­tro­phy UK, added: “We want a level play­ing field where peo­ple do not have to call sep­a­rate num­bers.”

SMG Europe, which runs Metro Ra­dio Arena in New­cas­tle and Leeds First Di­rect Arena, says it may change the tick­et­ing sys­tem and is “look­ing to se­cure al­ter­na­tive num­bers which would re­duce costs in­curred.”

Birm­ing­ham Hip­po­drome, the Echo Arena in Liver­pool and The Tick­etseller did not re­spond to re­quests for com­ments.

Thomas & folks in fes­tive mood Thomas with ‘Ber­lin’ heart

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