To continue the article I wrote yesterday…
After talking with the customer service of the musical play service provider yesterday, I spoke with a friend who is familiar with law and found the service provider is not compliant with the Act on the Elimination of Discrimination against Persons with Disabilities. Their behavior may be considered as discriminative inappropriate actions towards people with disabilities.
I then soon called the customer service center again to tell them that they are incompliant with the law. However, they still gave me the same response that they would like me to pay for the premium. Before I ended the telephone conversation, I told the customer service agent that I would like their manager to call me back.
On the next day, a friend of mine suggested me to send an email to them so I can have a text record. I took the advice and sent the following message to the service provider.
This is the person who called you to request for wheelchair accessible seats yesterday.
I have asked for a return call from a manager. In order to have a text copy of our conversation, I would like to contact you via email.
Asking me paying for premium for wheelchair accessible seats is incompliant with the Act on the Elimination of Discrimination against Persons with Disabilities. Your action may be considered as discriminative inappropriate actions towards people with disabilities. Could you please look into this act then reply to my email?
A few hours later, I have received the following reply from the service provider:
“Regarding requests of wheelchair accessible seats, up until now, we have been confirming with our wheelchair user customers if they can move from their wheelchairs to the seats they purchased. For the customers who cannot move from their wheelchairs to the seats they purchased, we have been asking them to use wheelchair accessible seats.
The tickets you purchased this time is in Seat B area, the wheelchair accessible seats are only available in Seat S area. That is the reason why we had asked you to pay for the premium to use the wheelchair accessible seats in Seat S. However, after receiving your feedback we have confirmed internally and found this behavior may be considered as a discrimination of disabled people.
We are very sorry and would like to apologize to you sincerely. Therefore, we will not ask you to pay for the premium. Please do come and enjoy the show with your friends.
This is a valuable lesson for us and we will correct, change and improve our service so everyone can enjoy our shows.”
This is the very first time for me to learn law is powerful in Japan…!
The line between equal treatment and special arrangement is not really well defined and has space for interpretation. I decided to speak up this time because I realized this is just not right even after I calmed my mind. I hope there will be no more wheelchair user customers forced to pay for premium for wheelchair accessible seats.
the Act on the Elimination of Discrimination against Persons with Disabilities here is a new act, which was put into practice last April. I have heard someone said that this act is like ADA, Americans with Disability Act, in the U.S. I was cynical about that act because I thought that no matter what regulations or acts are made, they are useless if no one knows about them. I did not take any actions to know about the act.
I was wrong.
In order to help people to understand this act exists, we need to talk about it and use it when need be. I personally experienced the importance of this act and how critical it is to know about this act and help others to know about it.
In Japan, most people with disabilities are so used to endure unreasonable treatments and suppress their feelings. In order to change this status quo, everyone need to take actions!
Dear readers, if you ever encounter any discriminative inappropriate treatments because of your disabilities, please use my case as an example to communicate with whoever you need to communicate with. To help them understand this act.
Your action may greatly benefits many other people with disabilities in the future.
* I shared my experience of booking a concert ticket last summer in the US. Wheelchair accessible seats are located in multiple areas and customers can choose and purchase ones online in advance. This is a great example that Japan needs to have.