Immoral to secure tickets to concert by bringing one's disabled friend?
May 3, 2013 6:09 AM   Subscribe

I missed out on buying tickets to the only London gig my favourite artist is playing this year (and on top of this he hasn't toured in three years) so I ended up asking my disabled friend if she'd come with me if I paid her ticket. This meant I was able to get tickets to the already sold-out gig after the standard tickets had long gone. While booking, I also realised that the disabled seats area is a prime spot in the venue and very near the stage. Was it immoral that I would "use" my friend's disability to enable me to go see this gig (in a better spot than I could've ever hoped), albeit with her consent/blessing?

I have never once missed a date for when his tickets would go on sale and this time it was particularly painful as he hasn't played live in so long. There's a minuscule chance he might add another London date in which case I'll be on it in a flash (I have often gone and seen him play two days/dates in a row) and will hopefully be able to buy standard tickets for the standard price. But this is not a given and I really would have been so upset not to get to go to the gig. We're not taking a wheelchair spot (although my friend has one - just hates using it) and I also waited almost a week to book these disabled tickets, so I do feel like any "hardcore fan" who'd have wanted/needed them had plenty of time to purchase them before I did. Still, I cannot shake the feeling that my approach is terribly immoral. NB. Also: should my disabled friend fall ill on the date, I can still attend the gig and take another (non-disabled) friend with me. Which would make more sense as the original friend isn't a bit fan of this artist anyways (though open to checking him out) and taking a friend who's (almost) as big a fan as I am would mean I wouldn't have to pay for both tickets. Again, this approach seems terrible to me too so I'll probably just stick to the original plan and take my friend who's so generously offered to accompany me - and has therefore enabled me to attend the gig -- without having to try and get tickets off some third party website at inflated prices (where they probably would've been more than double their original value - another story re: morality for another post...).
posted by mrsh to Grab Bag (28 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
 
I wouldn't consider it immoral unless you either deceived your disabled friend or twisted their arm in a way that misused your relationship. Getting into the relative "need" of ticketbuyers, or something like that, is probably overexamining things.

I should mention I don't think there's an area like this in venues near me and I'm not sure of the rules.
posted by selfnoise at 6:17 AM on May 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


Would you invite your disabled friend even if she didn't provide a ticket-buying advantage? From your post, it sounds like you did, so I don't see anything wrong with using the coincidence to both of your advantages -- particularly if she gave her blessing.
posted by wordsmith at 6:17 AM on May 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


Enh. My disabled friend is a good friend *and* an occasional resource for "special" treatment afforded to him because of his disability. We once snuck a bottle of whiskey into a concert via his (sterile, duh) leg-bag (we just had to remember which leg was whiskey, and which was pee.) And when we're considering a concert, we first check the "gimp seats" (his phrase, not mine) to see whether we prefer those or are willing to take our chances (i.e. trying for floor seats etc.) Unless your disabled friend is otherwise a drag and you never see her otherwise, don't overthink and just enjoy yourselves.
posted by Infinity_8 at 6:18 AM on May 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


I really don't think it matters how much you like the artist or whether you'd be taking someone's place - the problem is that you invited a friend under false pretenses . You wouldn't have normally invited the friend, but did here for selfish reasons, which is misleading because it suggests you want to spend time with someone in a particular way when you don't, and it's wrong to mislead friends.

So I think you're right to feel skeevy about it, because it sounds like you specifically invited her because she's disabled:

I missed out on buying tickets to the only London gig my favourite artist is playing this year (and on top of this he hasn't toured in three years) so I ended up asking my disabled friend if she'd come with me if I paid her ticket.

posted by A Terrible Llama at 6:18 AM on May 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


If you asked your friend, and your friend is aware that her disability means that you'll get admission you wouldn't have gotten otherwise, and your friend is entirely okay with that, then no, it isn't immoral, especially because you paid her ticket.

There isn't some monolithic notion of what's offensive and isn't when dealing with disabled people. I used to date a person who needed a cane to walk, and one time they said something like, "Stick with me, I always get the best parking spaces," with a smile. Some disabled people might be offended if you did this, given that her disability is the reason you're inviting her. Some wouldn't. Your friend doesn't mind, so no, you're in the clear.
posted by FAMOUS MONSTER at 6:19 AM on May 3, 2013 [4 favorites]


IMO there are two moral risks here:

(1) If you invited your friend solely for access to seats ordinarily unavailable to you, you behaved immorally toward your friend. People are not a means to an end.

(2) If you (singular) are now occupying a restricted space that would have provided venue access to someone eligible in his or her own right to occupy that space, and that person is now unable to attend, you behaved immorally toward that person. That person did not have the same opportunity as you to purchase and use an unrestricted space.

You did not behave immorally toward the venue or the artist because they are earning the same money either way and logically should not care which people actually attend.
posted by Inspector.Gadget at 6:20 AM on May 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


Agreeing with most of the previous replies. It would be immoral for you or your friend to pretend to be disabled in order to get the tickets. I think what you did was fine. Enjoy the concert!
posted by Dolley at 6:20 AM on May 3, 2013


If the only reason you thought to invite this particular friend is because you can get into the concert now, and if you had gotten the tickets in time, you would not have invited her, that's pretty shady, but you can't get out of it now. Don't ever do that again though. Your friend is a person, not a golden ticket to good seats, and that's probably why you feel bad.

I don't think that it's a morality thing at play so much as you just not being a particularly good or considerate friend. Take your friend, make sure that she has a great time and is comfortable, and next time, take your lumps and don't use your friend's special access (from disabilities or otherwise) unless they offer it to you first.
posted by pazazygeek at 6:20 AM on May 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


Actually, I'm not clear from your post whether your friend is in on it. If she is, then I think she's just doing you a favor. If she's not, I'd still stick with my original answer.
posted by A Terrible Llama at 6:21 AM on May 3, 2013


Wow, thanks for so many speedy replies to my first ever MeFi question!

My friend knew my reasons for asking her to accompany me and is aware that she is doing me a favour but I'd like to add that I would've loved her to join me either way as we get on really well and always have a lot of fun, whatever we do -- it's just that she's not into this particular artists as much as I am so she wouldn't have spend 40-odd quid on going to see him live just to keep me company. At no point did I try to deceive her though and I never would.

Thus my concern was not whether I behaved immorally towards her, but rather in a more general sense.
posted by mrsh at 6:36 AM on May 3, 2013 [4 favorites]


As a wheelchair user who would have happily played along with this, may I make one further suggestion? At the conclusion of the concert, offer to take her out for something she really wants to do that might not be your favorite thing, whether that's sushi or an afternoon at the museum. With that, the scales seem perfectly in balance to me.
posted by deliriouscool at 7:05 AM on May 3, 2013 [33 favorites]


I'll dissent and vote immoral. You COULD still buy tickets from a broker because you are able to sit in any seat in the house. A disabled person can only sit in that particular section.

So, you are denying a disabled person, who might actually be a fan, an opportunity to see the show because you forgot to buy tickets, and you don't want to pay the price that tickets are now selling for.

If you waited until the day of the show, and the disabled tickets were still available, that wouldn't be as bad.

But seriously, if your disabled friend can't make the show, and you still sit in those seats, that's more than just immoral. It's just plain wrong.
posted by hwyengr at 7:29 AM on May 3, 2013 [6 favorites]


This not-disabled mefite thinks you're fine.

Think about how shitty it would be for your friend to go to the concert and sit in the disabled section while you did the “Right Thing” and stayed in the ableist section. Your friend wants to go to the show with you, to spend time with you. After the concert ends, this whole fiasco is really about what your friend thinks of you, and it sounds like there are not any hard feelings.

However, it is your friendship that makes this legit. If you were launching a startup to commercially exploit this loophole and pair ticket buyers with token disabled folk, then you might be an immoral shit.
posted by oceanjesse at 7:43 AM on May 3, 2013


Venues often have "companion" seats in the disabled seating area so disabled attendees are not forced to sit apart from a non-disabled companion. We don't know if this particular venue does from the OP, so we can't take it as given that a non-disabled companion attending with a disabled person would deny another disabled person an opportunity to attend.
posted by under_petticoat_rule at 7:55 AM on May 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


that a non-disabled companion attending with a disabled person would deny another disabled person an opportunity to attend.

But the disabled person in question is only going because the OP invited her, because she couldn't get seats otherwise. If the OP bought tickets during the original sale, there would still be two seats available in the disabled section.

I'm pretty well versed in companion seating; my ladyfriend uses a wheelchair. And it pisses us off to no end when people rent wheelchairs to skip lines (Disney) or bring six friends into the companion seats (Wrigley Field) or just sit in the disabled section for no reason at all (Hollywood Bowl).
posted by hwyengr at 7:59 AM on May 3, 2013


Oops, hit Post instead of Preview.

I think this is a gray area. If you were a general contractor and decided not to include the designated wheelchair access ramp or other accessibility features on a building you were constructing because you didn't want to spnd the money, that's pretty universally immoral and an affront to all disabled people.

What you've done appears to be inoffensive to your friend, and if your actions don't deny access to other disabled people then you only need to concern yourself with:

- How do you feel about it? If you feel bad, then you have violated your own moral code. The upside is that you now have a better idea of your own moral code.

- How much do you care about what other people think about what you've done?

On preview, hwyengr: The OP is not doing any of the three things you listed in your closing paragraph that piss you off. Those things are terrible, I agree. It pisses me off too when I see stuff like that. But the fact is, irrespective of motive, an actual disabled person is attending a concert of her own free will with a non-disabled person. They paid the money, they get the seats.

Disabled people are not a monolithic entity that thinks all the same things. Obviously the OP's friend has a different opinion than you. This doesn't invalidate your feelings, but neither do your feelings invalidate hers. What the OP has done is not clearly immoral.
posted by under_petticoat_rule at 8:19 AM on May 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


A fellow quad related a similar experience to me. He'd been asked by his caregiver to secure a wheelchair ticket + companion seats so some teenage girls could see N'Sync, and spent the entire concert in agony from teenage girls shrieking in his ears. "You dragged a grown man to see N'Sync in concert and didn't compensate him somehow?" I asked the caregiver, incredulous. "Seems to me you owe him big time!"

So, your disabled friend has done you a favor. There is nothing morally wrong with asking a disabled person for a favor, as long as it is within their power to grant without causing them undue pain, stress, expense or worry. But remember you owe her one, whether she has a good time or not.

And don't be the douchebag who only invites your disabled friend somewhere when you want good seats. I think, to even out the scales, you should offer to take her someplace she would need physical help to access.
posted by Soliloquy at 9:15 AM on May 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


It sounds like the only reason you asked your friend to go was to be able to get in to the event, after you couldn't get in otherwise.

In your shoes, I'd apologize to your friend for so obviously and transparently using her.
posted by DWRoelands at 10:11 AM on May 3, 2013


It's only immoral if you're friend wasn't aware that's why they were asked. Have a great time with your friend, thank them for helping you get the tickets and great seats, and as long as you normally hang out other times when not needing them for tickets, I can't see the big deal. If your friend worked for the company and could get you tickets by going with you wouldn't think twice, friends do favours for each other. So now you owe her a favour, help her move house or something.
posted by wwax at 10:32 AM on May 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


In your shoes, I'd apologize to your friend for so obviously and transparently using her.

Why does the OP need to do this? OP was open with their friend from the start, so if the friend were feeling used, she would have simply declined. Friends do favours for each other, and it doesn't sound like this a one-sided relationship. If a friend of mine wanted company for a concert and offered to pay my ticket, I’d happily go. And if my company also provided my friend a benefit? I’d be even happier to do it. I’d get to spend time with my friend, and hey, to enjoy a free concert! Who knows, this friend may end up loving the artist in question after seeing him live. The friend knows the situation and is going of her own free will so I see no reason why the OP should apologize.

On preview, what wwax just said.
posted by yawper at 10:33 AM on May 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


One of my classmates in college had this happen to them, and they were so distressed by what was being asked of them that they said yes and pretended to be totally on board with what was going on even though it was clear they were being taken advantage of and knew it. The classmate was of the mind that saying no was worse than saying yes. Your friend may have had a similar reaction.

Ultimately think it is immoral to use a person with a disability specifically to take advantage of an accommodation afforded to them BECAUSE of their disability, even if they are your friend. That's what you did and I think the best thing in this case would be to just not do it again.
posted by These Birds of a Feather at 11:31 AM on May 3, 2013


The OP is not doing any of the three things you listed in your closing paragraph that piss you off.

Are you so sure? I'd say this is just like renting a wheelchair to skip the line. If the OP could have gotten tickets any other way, the disabled friend would not be the co-attendee.
posted by hwyengr at 11:37 AM on May 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


Also: should my disabled friend fall ill on the date, I can still attend the gig and take another (non-disabled) friend with me. Which would make more sense as the original friend isn't a bit fan of this artist anyways (though open to checking him out) and taking a friend who's (almost) as big a fan as I am would mean I wouldn't have to pay for both tickets. Again, this approach seems terrible to me too so I'll probably just stick to the original plan

Oy. You buried the lede. It is decidedly not okay to go back to your friend, after she has graciously agreed to this plan in order help you out, and tell her, "about that show, I don't suppose you could fall 'ill' on the date of the concert so I can bring somebody else?" The fact that you contemplated this option (before determining it to be "probably" terrible) suggests that you have good reason to have a guilty conscience about this whole situation. Bring your friend, be appreciative, show her an awesome time. But frankly, if I were your friend and I knew you had contemplated asking me to bow out after I helped you secure the tickets, I would be re-evaluating our friendship.
posted by messica at 11:48 AM on May 3, 2013 [6 favorites]


Also: should my disabled friend fall ill on the date, I can still attend the gig and take another (non-disabled) friend with me. Which would make more sense as the original friend isn't a bit fan of this artist anyways (though open to checking him out) and taking a friend who's (almost) as big a fan as I am would mean I wouldn't have to pay for both tickets. Again, this approach seems terrible to me too so I'll probably just stick to the original plan

This is the part that makes it shady. It sounds like you are hoping friend #1 decides not to go so you can hang out with a different friend and not have to buy their ticket. That is decidedly not cool given how you ended up with the tickets in the first place.
posted by missmerrymack at 12:42 PM on May 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


This disabled person thinks you did fine.

The disabled friend could have always turned down the request if they felt uncomfortable or being 'used' for the experience. I sit in disabled seating for soccer matches, and I often have nondisabled friends sit in the 'companion' seat, if one is available. (I'm not a wheelchair user, so I'm not taking a wheelchair spot).

On the flip side, however, I've also had friends beg me to get a disabled parking pass so they can get decent parking when we do errands - and I've refused to do that. Because I'm not disabled enough to justify one (even though I'd probably qualify), and it'd take a spot away from someone who genuinely needs it.
posted by spinifex23 at 1:32 PM on May 3, 2013


But the disabled person in question is only going because the OP invited her, because she couldn't get seats otherwise. If the OP bought tickets during the original sale, there would still be two seats available in the disabled section.

There are probably going to be plenty of non-disabled people at this show who aren't big fans of this band, who have been invited by and had a ticket paid for by a friend because the fan friend doesn't like to go to concerts alone, or wants them to be a designated driver, or thinks the non-fan will do something interesting if they get drunk, or thinks the non-fan will be converted, or any other reason. Hopefully many of these not-so-big fans will have an enjoyable time seeing a concert with their friend, even if this particular concert wouldn't be at the top of their list to spend their own entertainment budget on.

It doesn't seem fair to insist that a disabled person's reason to attend must be due to their being a big fan. If the OP's disabled friend finds saying "yes" to this invitation to be something they want to do, or even if they feel that it won't be very enjoyable but they want the OP to do them a favor, the friend can certainly accept the invitation or not as they choose.

If we were to apply a test that the disabled seats only go to people who are big fans of the band, and we don't apply this test to the general audience, that's unfair to disabled people who might want to accompany someone else.
posted by yohko at 10:45 PM on May 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


I don't think that you would be asking this question unless you doubted the morality of what you're doing.
posted by kamikazegopher at 2:28 AM on May 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


Thanks all for the plentiful feedback. You've definitely alleviated a few of my worries regarding this matter and reinforced that if my friend doesn't mind, I shouldn't either.

The reason I (while buying the tickets) even enquired about the option of going without her is that due to her immune system she has health problems perhaps more often than the 'average' person. I don't currently live in London and didn't want to book and pay for a flight now if I didn't have a 100% guarantee I could go regardless of whether she was going to be able to when the time comes (it's still quite a while away). That being said, I would of course feel awfully stupid taking two seats in the disabled section without at least once of us actually being disabled so for that reason (and because I would never wish any ill on any of my friends, but that much should be obvious without saying), I am of course hopeful to have her go with me.
If it sounded as if I didn't, I am sorry. If nothing else, I just think that this fact means that if my disabled friend has a change of heart, she won't at all have to feel as if she needs to go (or else I'd lose my access to the gig). And that's a good thing, non?
The fact that I will pay two tickets instead of one is a small price to pay and goes some way in helping me feel less bad about the whole thing. Like yawper said, she might end up loving the artist after hearing him live. Stranger things have happened!

Again, many thanks for all the feedback.
posted by mrsh at 3:58 AM on May 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


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