Sunday, March 16, 2014

Anyone Can Sit In The Wheelchair Seats Except Me

While going to Vegas was Eddie's birthday present, it really wasn't the whole present.  I got him Rangers tickets, and I gave him a card at midnight on his birthday that said the tickets were in the mail.  He was happy, even though the game was against Edmonton, which didn't promise to be a thrilling matchup.

The tickets arrived a few days after we got back.  I'd bought them using the Find Seats On The Map thingie on Ticketmaster.  I opened the envelope and saw that the tickets read WChair under the section category.  Umm, that means Wheelchair.  Not having been to the new Garden, I wasn't sure what was in store for us.  Would actual seats be available?  Was I allowed to sit there?  Was I taking away someone's chance to see the Rangers v. Oilers?  Oh, and WHY WASN'T THE SECTION CLEARLY LABELED WHEELCHAIR ON THE FIND SEATS ON THE MAP THINGIE???

I emailed Ticketmaster:
I purchased 2 tickets for a game in Madison Square Garden section 412. The tickets arrive today and show that they are in a wheelchair section which was not clear on the website, but they also state that they are for Row 7 seats 4 and 5. I need to know if this row has actual seats, and if not, I need to know what my options are for using these tickets. I don't want to take space away from people who need the access.

Mandy from Ticketmaster responded within a day:
Thank you so much for reaching out to us. We will gladly assist you. We would like to advise that every patron agrees to our policy statement before completing any transaction. Our policy states the once every transaction has been complete, there are no refunds and no exchanges.As you do not require an accessible seating area for this event, we will gladly exchange your seats as long as seats can be located at an equal or greater value. We were able to locate seats as close as possible to the original price range applied to the order. The difference of $104.50 will apply for this exchange. When we get your reply we’ll make the exchange and send you a confirmation.
Mandy Ticketmaster's reply shows that the only option I have is to find different seats, right?  She never says, You are not taking away people's access.  She never says, Seats are available if you don't have a wheelchair.  She says she has found new tickets for me and I need to pay her one hundred and four dollars and fifty cents.  Okay, fine, I did that.

The game was not great.  The Rangers were playing as if they were on Valium, most likely because they thought they would easily beat Edmonton.  Edmonton was winning the whole time and it was a pretty lackluster event.  

The seats I got were Uh. May. ZING!!!!!  First off, the new Garden looks so clean.  Clean is the best way to put it.  It's all bright and new and clean.  Just clean.  There are lots of options for food--we went with a personal pizza that cost about $500000.  Secondly, the section we wound up in is a section on the lounge level.  We weren't in a lounge, but we were in huge leather lounge seats that had a personal mini table between each couple of seats and its own wait staff.  We were in the first row, and in front of us was nothing but glass and a clear view of the entire rink.  Simply amazing.

We walked around the bridge to check out all that was new (and clean!).   Then I saw them.  The chairs.  The people in the chairs.  The people not in wheelchairs sitting in the wheelchair section.  Some people were being ushered over as we passed by and I heard the usher explaining to them that it was indeed the section listed on their tickets.  Apparently, they hadn't seen that it was a wheelchair section either.  That's kind of lucky for them since they didn't contact Ticketmaster and ask about it and get duped into paying more.
Yup, that's pretty much what happened.  I bought tickets that were not clearly labeled Wheelchair Section.  I contacted Ticketmaster to ask if there would be seats there and if I could use them.  They answered by saying they had found alternative seats for me and I should give them more money.  I did.  The seats I got were really good, but had I wanted to shell out that kind of cash, I wouldn't have bought the cheaper ones in the first place.  For shame, Ticketmaster, for shame!

While I'm publicly shaming...I contacted them one more time:
If you scroll down to read my original message, you'll see I'd asked if I was able to use wheelchair section tickets if I don't use a wheelchair. The response I received offered only to switch my tickets to another section. I was not told that there were actual seats on the row, leading me to believe that keeping my tickets was not an option since that was what my first inquiry stated. While I enjoyed watching the game from the new 300 level section, I paid over 100 dollars more for them, and in walking around MSG, I found that people who did not use wheelchairs were indeed in the wheelchair section.
I am disappointed that the option to keep the wheelchair section tickets was not made clear to me as I'd chosen them originally because they were less expensive.  Also, I wish that the option of using the seating chart to purchase tickets were clearer about the section being designated for wheelchairs. 
While I appreciate the speed and courtesy of the exchanged I had to switch the tickets. I am still disappointed to learn that I did not have to go through that process and did not have to pay more for different seats.

Of course, I haven't received an answer.  The Rangers lost 2 -1.  On the bright side, the seats were really comfortable.

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