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#PokemonCenterLondon

I'm heartbroken I have to write this.

On Friday 11th November me and my best friend travelled from Cornwall to London to visit the Pokemon Center.

I had planned this journey for months, from the moment the pop up store was announced.
I checked the #PokemonCenterLondon hashtag daily.

I became increasingly anxious about the long que times, I'm sure many people did.

I knew that, personally, I would not be able to que for 7-12 hours to get into the store. I would struggle to que for more than 1-3 hours.
I'm autistic, this means that I struggle with crowds, noise and can become overwhelmed by my surroundings easily.

I began looking into accessibility.

I was delighted when I found a thread by a member of staff stating that the Pokemon Center had an accessibility que.
I researched this and discovered that in order to quality for this que you must be disabled or have had a long term physical or mental medical condition for over a year.

To access the que all customers must provide photo ID and one of the following-
-A Blind Registration Card
-A Personal Independence Payment (PIP) letter
-A Disability Living Allowance (DLA) letter / Attendance Allowance
-Doctors/School/Employment letter
-Freedom Pass
-'Access to Work Declaration' letter dated within the last three years
-An Incapacity Benefit Letter
-A Blue Badge holder
-A Carer Pass
-An Access Card
I had a diagnosis letter in my paperwork. It stated my condition (Aspergers), how my condition effected me and, perhaps most importantly, that I was protected by the equality act.
I arrived at Westfield around 4.30pm Friday 11th November. I planned to que from 7.30am on Saturday but just wanted to double check my paperwork and what time the accessibility que would be open Saturday.

I approached the security for the pop-up shop.
They let me know the que was closed for the day, which I expected. Afterall, I had only entered Westfield to do some light shopping with my friend and enquire about the following morning.

I showed the security guard my diagnosis letter and photo ID.
I was unaware at this time that I was speaking with management.

The member of staff took a VERY brief look at my letter and said that it was not acceptable evidence.

I was gobsmacked. It met the criteria set out and I had followed the #PokemoncentreLondon hashtag to ensure...
that the evidence I had provided would be accepted.

The security guard explained to me that they were vetting people trying to use the accessibility que more thoroughly and that I would now need to provide a PIP entitlement letter or a doctors letter stating I am unable to que
and that my disability effects me to such an extent that I need a full time carer.

The board did not say this. I had followed many Twitter users who had been granted entry with similar evidence.

I was heartbroken, I began crying.

I explained to him that I simply couldn't cope
using the standard que. That my disability met the criteria and that I needed to know if I would be declined Saturday morning as, if so, I would not be coming as I simply could not que that long.

The member of staff was dismissive and unwilling to listen to me.

By this point
I was fed up of having to justify myself when I had followed the criteria put forward.

I asked to make a complaint to another member of staff who was managing the que. This member of staff was polite and spoke with other staff about what was happening.

Unfortunately,
She repeated what I had previously been told and said that everything would be okay and that I should try to perservere and take the standard que.

I know my disability better than anybody else, I understand my limitations and I followed what the board had stated.
I became overwhelmed and had to leave Westfield to sit outside and calm down. I asked my friend to stay there and try and reason with the staff.

My friend spent a long time, approx 15 minutes speaking with them. She went through the letter with them,
Explained how the board clearly outlined the criteria and that the criteria had been met and fought for me. (I love her)

Only for one member of staff to turn around to her and ask why I would want to go into the store in the first place if I had sensory difficulties!
Spending twenty minutes in a store, with the support of a friend, for a game that I've connected with for most of my life is vastly different to queing for 7-12+ hours in a large crowd.

Yes, I'm autistic, yes some things are more difficult.

That does NOT mean I do not get...
to do things that I enjoy, ESPECIALLY when the equality act is meant to 'even the playing field' so to speak.

One member of staff did say they could 'try' to get me into the accessibility que Saturday morning. Unfortunately, this isn't good enough.

I struggle with uncertainty
I did NOT want to cry or become overwhelmed in front of hundreds of people AGAIN.

I decided that I couldn't go using the standard que and went shopping around London with the support of my friend.

I managed to have a lovely time, this was my treat for my 25th Birthday.
To make things worse, I came home to see that SINCE I had spoke with staff several people had been granted access to the disability que that Saturday, including one person who provided a near identical diagnosis letter!
I DID NOT want to publicly tweet this. I don't want people to think that I am acting entitled or spoilt. The point is the accessibility que was designed to enable everybody to visist. I have been let down and discriminated against.
I know that many people have had positive experiences well visiting the Pokemon Center. I cannot tell you how happy that makes me. I would never want to take away from that.

Unfortunately, the pop up store is difficult to contact.
I'm left with no other way to make a complaint.

Thank you for reading.

If you disagree with the concept of an accessibility que, I don't know what to tell you.

I will not respond to hateful comments.
EDIT **8TH NOVEMBER** I'm tired and nervous about this post.
My inbox is now open.
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