Here in the UK, we have a cinema chain called Cineworld. They were the first to introduce a monthly subscription – called Unlimited – and the main attraction is that for a set price each month (currently from £17.90), you can see as many movies as you want and as many times as you want. This sounds like a great deal – and it is – but beneath the surface glamour of such an offer, there are a couple of restrictions that don’t seem to add up.
First, if you’re an Unlimited member, you can only make up to three online bookings at any one time. This seems counter-intuitive to what Unlimited is supposed to mean. Say you’re looking at the current listings. It’s a surprisingly good week at the cinema in the UK and there’s a bunch of movies you want to see. Being a major movie buff, you naturally want to see as many as possible, and using the kind of judicious organising that only the truly obsessive would spend time working out, you realise you can see four movies all on the same day (sure, you might end up going from one movie straight into the next with only a few minutes to spare but, hey, that’s all part of the fun). But thanks to the cap Cineworld have placed on online orders, you can only book three of them. To see the remaining movie, you’ll have to visit the cinema on the day and hope that a) the screening you need isn’t sold out, and b) if it isn’t, that you can get the seat that you want.
It doesn’t get any better at the cinema, either. Say you pick your day’s worth of movie watching and decide to just head on down to your local Cineworld, card in hand and with a serious desire to put a dent in their hot dog (or popcorn) and Pepsi Max supplies. You get to the counter and try to get tickets for each movie on your list there and then. Except you can’t. You can’t “buy” tickets in advance at the cinema, you have to “buy” each one before each separate screening. And nobody tells you why. Not even Cineworld on their website. The only way you can book in advance – drum roll, please – is online. And we know where that gets us. Now is that crazy, or is that crazy?
Membership or no membership, this is pretty poor in terms of customer service. And by extolling the virtues of a subscription deal that says as many movies as you want and as many times as you want, it seems that at the same time, Cineworld are content to put unnecessary obstacles in the way of their members actually getting to see the movies they want to see. And again, that’s just crazy.