The hotel rooms ranged between $145 and $195 a night, we opt for the cheaper room. The computer tells us that that room rate doesn't have an accessibility option. We try the $155 option, then the $175 option and finally book the $195 option. The computer confirms the selection. I call the hotel. After several minutes of discussion with the front desk clerk who, for some reason doesn't want me to speak to the manager, I get put through. The manager listens to me explain that I find it unfair, if not discriminatory, that disabled people get only one rate option - the highest rate. The manager explains to me that the room is bigger. I explain that I have as much right to 'choice' as does any other customer. After only a moment's tussle, she agrees with me and manually lowers the rate. She tells me that any time I stay there just call through to her or one of the other managers and the rate will be lowered. I hang up.
I am booking seats for Joe and I to go to a live show. I can't book on line because there is a message saying that to book accessible seating customers must call and book over the phone. While waiting on hold, a message tells me to book on line or, if continuing to want to speak to a representative, there will be a $5.50 charge. I wait. When I speak to the representative, I ask right away if I could be served by a manager, the woman asks me why. I tell her that I think it's unfair that I'm given only one option, and then I have to pay for using that option. I want to book on line but am not able to, not because I have a disability, but because the system seemingly can't handle booking accessible seats. The woman agrees and says that she has a disability herself and she hopes I'll write in to complain. I already had and told her that I'd done that. She booked me the seats, didn't charge the surcharge. I hung up.
This happens surprisingly often during the year. Disability just costs more. Take the group that has the highest unemployment rate of all minority groups, has the highest number of people living at poverty level, and charge them more for the same, or even less. Now I know I am fully employed. I know that, if pushed, I can afford these extra charges. But that's not the point. The point is that it shouldn't cost us more to participate - especially since the range of choice, even at the higher rate are limited. That hotel only has four accessible rooms, none are near the elevator, none have an outside view, none are on the ground floor. That theatre has only a few accessible seats, none are up front, all are at the very back of the theatre, none have a straight on view. So more for less, and gratitude is expected.
'But,' you might be thinking 'you didn't pay the higher rate or the service change.' And, I'd agree. But I did have to spend a whack more time and a whack more effort to get the price lowered and the service charge eliminated. I don't want to have to speak to the manager, I don't want to have to 'ask' for something to be removed. I just want to book a room or book a ticket. I'm not even getting into, here, how wondrous it would be to have a range of options - I'm just saying, that when you're disabled it costs. Money or time, or patience, it costs.
The only good thing about all this, is that, in these two recent examples at least, the people who I spoke to understood my complaint and acted on it. There are numerous times that I speak to people who just don't get it. Maybe that, itself is progress, or maybe I was just lucky twice in a row. Who knows? Do you?