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Disabled Ajax mother on Toronto Eras Tour ticket sale: ‘It’s completely inaccessible’

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When Charmaine Tuzi learned that Taylor Swift was bringing her “Eras Tour” to Toronto later this year, she was elated as one of the dates fell on her daughter’s 13th birthday.


So, Tuzi decided to buy tickets, hoping it would be an excellent way to introduce her daughter to the live concert experience.


But, the disabled Ajax mother, who is an avid music lover and concertgoer, would soon hit a roadblock that would prevent her and her daughter from seeing the pop superstar.


Tuzi said a system that Ticketmaster put in place as a way to prevent scalpers, bots and resellers from getting concert tickets is keeping fans with disabilities from purchasing the accessible seats.


“It’s completely inaccessible,” she said.


For the “Eras Tour” and some other concerts, fans had to register for the “verified fan” sale. If selected, fans would get a unique access code that would allow them to buy tickets. Those who did not get an access code were out of luck.


“If we’re not able to ask for our seats, then those sections appear open and available to all the able-bodied people who got codes,” Tuzi said in an interview with CP24.


“If they are rolling out a code system, then they need to state that if you are requiring tickets, apply for a code here. If you require wheelchair-accessible tickets, apply for a code over here because that keeps us in a smaller pool of people who are knowingly trying to get wheelchair-accessible tickets instead of putting us in a sea of millions that are fighting over seats that we can’t even use.”


Tuzi said she usually calls the Ticketmaster accessible hotline when buying wheelchair-accessible tickets.


“You have an agent that’s able to help you make sure you’re buying accessible seats. So I called the accessible hotline, and they said, ‘We can’t issue any tickets without an access code,'” she said.


“And I said, ‘Okay, well, who’s ensuring that disabled people get access codes? Because if you’re going to issue codes for seats, you need to issue us codes for our accessible seats.’ And Ticketmaster didn’t have an answer for this.”


Determined to get the tickets, Tuzi said she then contacted fan services at Rogers Centre and the venue’s box office, both of which told her that they couldn’t help her.


“They said, ‘We have no control over the way the artist decides to sell their seats,'” Tuzi recounted.


Some of the wheelchair-accessible seats for the Toronto stops are being resold on ticket exchange websites for staggering amounts. Tuzi said she looked up tickets on StubHub, and some are being sold for 10 times the original price.


“I need Taylor Swift to know that Ticketmaster and the venue seem to be hiding behind the artist. And all that does is create a convenient dead end to the fan because we can’t go and ask the artists to fix it. And if Taylor Swift could fix it, I’m sure she would,” Tuzi said.


She wants the system to be fixed so she can continue enjoying her favourite hobby of going to concerts.


“Music is a vital social outlet for disabled people,” Tuzi said. “It’s something that we can do. We can join our friends and go to these things as opposed to other activities that might not be accessible, or we might not be physically capable of doing.”


CP24 has reached out to Ticketmaster and Swift’s camp for comment but has not received a response.


According to a post on the Ticketmaster website, accessible tickets can be purchased online from the event’s interactive seat map or by contacting a hotline.


“Accessible tickets are reserved solely for fans with disabilities and their companions. Fans who abuse this policy could have their order canceled,” the post read. The company is precluded from asking for any proof of disability from fans purchasing accessible tickets.


Meanwhile, a spokesperson for the Rogers Centre did not comment on the specific situation but provided information on accessible seating at the venue.


Swift will perform in front of a sold-out crowd at the Rogers Centre on Nov. 14, 15, 16, 21, 22 and 23.


With files from Andrew Brennan

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