By Loretta Carr | For The Sun —
I had been looking forward to this trip to Palm Springs for years. Every winter my husband would hear me complain, “I’m so tired of this cold, depressing weather. I wonder what the temperature is in Palm Springs?”
Well, we finally went this March, partly for the sun and partly for the tennis. I don’t play, but I like to watch the professionals on tv and dreamed of seeing a favorite player or two at the PNB Paribas Open at Indian Wells.
I bought tickets online from my desktop computer a couple of months ago. Splurging a little to secure better seats during the first round of play, I printed out the confirmation receipt, the tickets with my name, stadium, section, row, and seats.
We flew down and went to the Indian Wells Tennis Garden on one of the first free days just to look around. I checked in with the box office to ask where we should go on the day of our scheduled games. The clerk asked to see the QR code on my phone. Besides all the paperwork, I showed her the text message confirming my purchase, but my flip phone could not download the code.
Game over. From that point on, all she would do was shake her head no. Despite all the other proof I presented, I would not be allowed to attend because I couldn’t show a little black square on my telephone screen. There was no other option offered. I thought about asking our hotel manager to help us but was informed that even printing the code on a piece of paper would not be accepted. As I looked down the wall of box office windows, many other frustrated senior citizens were encountering similar problems. The use of smartphones by seniors has grown but is still well below that of people below age 65.
Evidently, the mobile-only policy was attributed to the Covid pandemic, but California’s Covid restrictions have been lifted. No proof of vaccination was required, and I did not see people wearing masks at the venue, so why was the ticket policy still limited? Money. It’s the growing practice of ticketing agencies such as Ticketmaster and AXS tracking users, harvesting data, and selling it for profit, according to the website Ticket News.
It’s not only a loss of privacy, it prohibits admittance to sporting events, concerts, and other public gatherings for those who cannot afford smartphones or choose not to use one. Either way, it’s discrimination that should not be tolerated. I don’t begrudge anyone else their smartphone. I choose to carry a flip phone in case of emergency, but I choose not to live my life attached to a device every hour of the day.
I’ve contacted the tennis venue, the Indian Wells newspaper sports department, and AARP with no response from any of them yet. I hope that California will follow New York in legally requiring tickets to be offered to consumers in paper format. Otherwise, be ready to have the door shut in your face.