At the end of my reel: poor service from my cinema

by , Assistant Digital Producer Consumer Rights 7 September 2013
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It’s no surprise that the UK film industry is worth billions, but after a poor experience at my local Cineworld, I was left feeling like an undervalued customer.

Bored people in a cinema

I’m a great lover of watching the latest flicks at the cinema. The humungous screens and tasty popcorn often beat watching films on my small laptop at home.

However, having to wait 30 minutes just to enter the theatre definitely took the shine off my latest silver screen experience.

A monstrous evening at the cinema

A few weeks ago, I bought two tickets to see Monster’s University at my local Cineworld and arrived 20 minutes before the 5.10pm showing, as recommended on its website. But no sooner than getting to the top of the escalator did the problems begin. I strolled up to the theatre entrance, ticket in hand, ready to get a good seat for the film.

However, when I handed my ticket over to the staff member, I was told that the screen wasn’t ready and to wait to one side. No biggy, I thought. So, I stood with all the other Monsters, Inc. fans in the foyer for ten minutes before trying again. Once the ten minutes were up, I was again told that the screen still wasn’t ready but would be ready in five minutes…

You may be able to guess what happened next. Five minutes came and went without anyone being let in, all the while, the amount of loitering and frustrated cinema goers continued to grow. Eventually, at 5.20pm, 10 minutes after the film was meant to start, staff started letting customers into the screen. The trailers were then started from the very beginning, meaning the film didn’t actually start until 5.50pm.

Sweeten the pill with a gesture of good will?

At no point did any of the Cineworld staff explain why there was a delay, or apologise for the inconvenience of having to stand in the cinema foyer for 30 minutes. When you’re paying more than £10 per ticket, I expect much better customer service and a much more enjoyable experience. Having said that, the film itself was excellent.

I logged a formal complaint with Cineworld about my experience, to which they responded and apologised:

‘I can advise that on rare occasions unforeseen technical difficulties can arise when screening a film and I can understand your frustrations if they delay the start of the film. We always strive to eradicate any unforeseen problems that may arise as swiftly as possible, to minimise the disruptions experienced by our customers. We apologise if we were not able to rectify the problem more swiftly on this occasion.’

Cineworld added that they would speak to the management at my local cinema to make sure problems are dealt with swiftly in the future. However, I wasn’t offered a goodwill gesture – do you think I should have been? Have you ever had to wait an age for a cinema screening to open?

6 comments

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Ian01

The first insult has to be rip-off rate 0871 telephone number for enquiries and the rip-off rate 0844 telephone number for complaints.

These numbers cost up to 41p/min when called from a mobile phone.

Using these numbers for customer service will become illegal once the provisions of the Consumer Rights Directive pass into law.

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Philippa Sutton

My beef is about wheelchair access. It gets more difficult for me to manage, so the last time I went to the cinema was to see the last Harry Potter film. I have no complaints about the prices, since they let me take my carer in cheaply, and the layout of the foyer etc was fine.

Once in the cinema, it was another story. They had fully accessible “wheelchair spaces”. We used one of those, plus the adjacent seat – and after 5 minutes, we knew it was impossible. The seats were right under the screen – I had to tilt my head back to see what was on the centre of the screen and – should any action take place outside that central area – I had to move my head back and forwards as if at Wimbledon.

Maybe if all your disability is not having 2 working legs, then you might – just – put up with that. My problems are more complex and I wouldn’t have the energy to tilt my head back and I could tell that after only a few minutes I was going to be unable to do the “Wimbledon” trick without getting very tired and probably getting serious eye strain.

That last time I managed – between the trailers and the main feature – to struggle up half a dozen steps to a seat which made it less of a penance to look at the screen. Afterwards it took me 10 risky minutes to get back down those steps to my wheelchair again. My physical condition continues to deteriorate and I don’t think I could manage those steps again.

There’s no point in giving people wheelchair access only to give them unusable seats – unless the access is there to get you regulatory approval and not to help customers.

Did I complain? What would have been the point? They aren’t going to re-design the studios for my benefit. I’ll save the money for a DVD and hope to get some popcorn in from time to time.

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Robert

The complaint featured is really about Customer Service and not specific to a cinema.
The service provider failed to communicate with its customers when the service was delayed due to problems probably beyond its control ( projectors do break down ).
A peace offering in the way of money off vouchers would have generated some good will.

Missing out the adverts isnt that simple – surprisingly – the show would have had to be rebuilt and there are contractual issues but not impossible.

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Grizelda

I would like cinemas to do something about the noisy behaviours and full scale picnics had in the cinema.

I have had the misfortune to struggle to hear a film ove the family next to me rustling carrierbags of sandwiches, crisps drinks etc from the nearby M&S food. They then absent mindedly playing with the wrapping because the film bored them. (Yes I did ask them to stop rustling and got a rude rely for my efforts)

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Alwyn Wood

My visit to Showcase cinemas at Stockton-on-Tees to see Les Mis was disappointing. There were 30 minutes of advertisements before the film began. These adverts were blasted out at an unbelieveable noise level. It was a waste of time if they were trying to attract the audiences attention as the noise just distorted the sound. It reached the point where you felt please not another one as it was painful to the ears and I developed a headache. As the decibals were well above what you should have to endure I contacted the local council’s environment section who said it was the responsibility of the cinema. An e-mail to Showcase Cinemas website was ignored.

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Panda

Odeon If you want to avoid the queues
they charge 50p booking free online for each ticket

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