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Wireless Festival faces complaints from disabled ticket holders

Event organisers must make reasonable adjustments for disabled festivalgoers

Wireless Festival has faced criticism on social media from disabled ticket holders for poor access at this year's event in Crystal Palace, London.

The three-day music event, organised by Festival Republic, has come under fire for placing the accessible viewing platform significantly further back from the main stage than the rest of the crowd.

Festivalgoers also reported that the festival had unsafe flooring, with potholes and gravel making it difficult for wheelchair users to travel around the site.

Event organisers and all other businesses are expected to make reasonable adjustments to ensure disabled consumers can access goods and services under the Equality Act 2010.

Here, we speak to a Wireless Festival ticket holder about their experience and explain how to take action if you were affected.

'I might as well have watched it on TV'

Hannah, who had tickets for both Friday and Saturday at Wireless, shared her experience of the festival with us.

‘To get to the accessible gate entrance we had to go through a gravel pathway which is the worst kind of flooring for a wheelchair user, I had to have my PA tip my wheelchair back and then push me,' she explained. 'The flooring inside the festival was even worse; there were potholes and it was downhill. They didn’t even try to make the pathway to the accessible stage smoother, nothing was accommodated for us.'

When Hannah got to the accessible viewing platform, she was in disbelief at how far away it was from the stage: ‘We were closer to the exit than the actual stage, that’s how bad it was. When people in the crowd were cheering, we all looked at each other like, should we make noise? But nobody would have heard us.’

Hannah’s friend also visited the smaller stage where the accessible viewing platform was similarly extremely far back and had a tree obscuring the view of the stage.

After their poor experience, both Hannah and her friend complained and asked for refunds. 'I paid the same price as everyone else so I don't see why I should be sitting segregated at the back of the field. I might as well have watched it on TV instead,' Hannah said.

Frustratingly, it's not the first complaint they've had to make. 'We've been going for several years and have complained before that sometimes the entrance to get into the festival is too long,' Hannah explained. 'How are you trying to help disabled people by making the entrance into the festival all around the park?’

Which? invited Festival Republic to comment but it didn't respond.

Read more: major online retailers and delivery firms are failing disabled consumers

Event organisers must make reasonable adjustments

If you have a disability, you have additional protections under the Equality Act 2010 which states that businesses can't treat you less favourably because of your disability or any other protected characteristic.

Companies, such as Festival Republic, are expected to make reasonable adjustments to ensure disabled consumers can access goods and services.

If you’re having difficulties using a service, it’s your legal entitlement to ask the company to make adjustments.

Examples of adjustments include: installing a ramp, providing information in an alternative format, provision of a British Sign Language interpreter, extra staff assistance, an induction loop or infrared broadcast system or assistance with guiding.

Companies are not allowed to pass on the cost of making reasonable adjustments to you.

How to take action

Whether you want to complain about your experience at Wireless or another event, the first step is to contact the event organisers.

Set out your experience, with any supporting evidence such as photos or videos, and take note of any members of staff involved. It’s useful to keep a copy of your complaint and the date you submitted it to them.

If you want your money back, make this clear in your complaint too.

You might also want to request your data from the company or event organiser. This can help you piece together what exactly has gone wrong. You can also ask the company to preserve and provide you with any data in relation to your complaint.

If the company or event organiser is part of a regulatory body, it's worth contacting them too. The Society of Ticket Agents and Retailers is the regulatory body for primary ticket sellers such as Ticketmaster and See Tickets.

But if you find your complaint isn't dealt with adequately, you do have the option of taking legal action through a small claims court. This can be a complicated process and we advise you seek legal advice as soon as possible if you want to go down this route.

The time limit for bringing a claim is six months from the date of the unlawful act. A legal claim could result in a payout or a court order that demands the company changes its discriminatory policy.