John Duthie spoke to Peter Greco on 5RPH about Ticketek and the problems with booking accessible seats.
Peter Greco: Well, John Duthie is a member of the Dignity Party and John has been trying to get tickets to the AFL finals, John welcome to you.
John Duthie: Hi Peter, how are you?
Peter Greco: Pretty good, are you a little less frustrated today than you were during the week?
John Duthie: A little bit, but the problem with Ticketek has been happening for a long time.
Peter Greco: Indeed, so what happened? You’re a person that goes on a regular basis to the Adelaide Oval?
John Duthie: Yeah, I am a life-long Port Adelaide supporter.
Peter Greco: Good man
John Duthie: Yep, and I use a wheelchair, there are other people that use the wheelchair spaces they’re actually accessible spaces, so there’s a number of locations around Adelaide Oval where we can sit, probably about 50 or 60, it’s really good and during the regular season I sit just behind my Power friends and the finals come up and I would like to sit with them again, but that’s when I ran into a few problems.
Peter Greco: And of course that’s part of the fun of it going to the footy with friends, I mean the whole day out is about that isn’t it, the game is important but being there with people who are of like-mindedness is very important too.
John Duthie: That’s right, it’s much more fun going to the football with friends.
Peter Greco: So, what happened? Obviously during the week tickets went on sale for the finals, so it’s a clean stadium, everyone starts from scratch.
John Duthie: Yeah, I contacted the Port Adelaide Football Club for advice about sitting with my friends and they advised to call the Ticketek Special needs hotline and I’ve called this number before, so the timeframe for calling them was between 9 am and midday, so I started calling at 9 and no answer, so I tried again, but the problem is I tried a total of 200 times and I got 90 minutes through the window and I could see on Facebook that people using the online system to book tickets, which people who need accessible tickets cannot book online, they were getting the tickets okay, and I tried logging in and just having a look to see what sections were available and I couldn’t get any cheaper seats from that point on because they were all being sold and it was getting impossible to try and get 8 people sitting together, so I decided to stop calling the special needs hotline and just order all the tickets online, so we got our tickets but they were more expensive and I couldn’t sit with my friends.
Peter Greco: Which I guess as we said earlier is part of the appeal of the day. So why can’t you book online as a person with a disability?
John Duthie: You just can’t go online and book the accessible spots around Adelaide Oval, so, Ticketek would have to make some changes to the system to allow the accessible locations to be booked but then there has to be a safeguard in place to make sure that only people who have accessible needs actually get those spots.
Peter Greco: So in other words, you’ve got to provide proof of identity in the sense that you’re a person with a disability to book that seat, but if you’re a member and you’ve been sitting in that seat, and booked it before with that particular agency, you’d think they’d have records of the fact that you’ve proved your ID in the past.
John Duthie: Yeah, they should know that I’m in a wheelchair, and they should also know that I’ve got a carer as well that comes free with the companion card system, so when I booked the tickets just then, I had to pay for the carer as well.
Peter Greco: And normally the person with the companion card would go for free.
John Duthie: Yeah they come in for free, but Ticketek did eventually refund the money, but it would have been better if I didn’t get charged in the first place.
Peter Greco: Now you received some publicity during the week about this issue, do you think things will change? I mean obviously, too late for this year because the game is very shortly going to be on etc, but it doesn’t seem too big a thing to do particularly with technology and the things that are around these days for next time tickets like this go on sale for it to be a bit of a smoother process.
John Duthie: Yeah, I don’t think it’s a very difficult computer system change, I’ve been involved with updating computers systems all my life until my accident and it’s not very difficult, the difficult thing was making sure that tickets go to the right people, so there has got to be a way of identifying people with accessible needs, and I think it should be something as simple as the person supplies a doctor’s report to the booking agency and from that point onwards they’re marked on the system as needing accessible seating.
Peter Greco: So you do it today 1st of Sept sort of thing and then from this day forward John Duthie or whatever number he may be in the system if he books it then we know he needs an accessible ticket.
John Duthie: Yeah that would be the way to go.
Peter Greco: Well, John good luck with it I hope at least Port win next Saturday night for your sake as an enjoyment factor and also reward for the amount of effort that you’ve put in, so 200 times you tried ringing in those couple of hours or more.
John Duthie: Yep, I just kept hitting redial and redial and I couldn’t get through.
Peter Greco: And so the tickets actually cost you a little bit more than they would have as well.
John Duthie: Yeah, we were hoping to get some of the cheaper tickets behind the goals which were available online at the beginning of the window but you know 90 minutes in they were all taken, so it cost my friends and myself a bit more to go this time.
Peter Greco: Now John before we leave, we’ll chat to you again, because all being well you’re hoping to be a candidate for the Dignity Party in the Lower House, and we’ll chat about why you’ve decided to do that but you’ve got a birthday call you’d like to give out.
John Duthie: Yeah, it’s my son Ben’s 18th birthday today, so Happy Birthday Ben.
Peter Greco: Terrific, is he a Port supporter as well?
John Duthie: Of course he is! It’s a tradition in the family.
Peter Greco: What a silly question that was, John thanks for speaking to us, good luck, and we’ll speak again soon and good luck on Saturday night as well.
John Duthie: Okay, thank you.
Peter Greco: John Duthie from the Dignity Party there telling us about his difficulty accessing tickets for the football, and it doesn’t seem like a terribly outrageous request to be making.