/ Travel & Leisure

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

Bored people in a cinema

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.

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?

Ian01 says:
7 September 2013

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.

Philippa Sutton says:
7 September 2013

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.


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.

Grizelda says:
9 September 2013

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)

VoiceOfReason says:
11 April 2015

Grizelda I appreciate your post concerning this matter. I work in this very industry and have experience in both an avid film collector and also within this environment.

Firstly I am angry that good paying customers like yourself have to put up with this absurd nuisance.
There needs to be a complete change in the Cinema experience if it is going to succeed within a never changing consumer environment.
I have seen things which are utterly disgraceful in this industry and it makes me so very angry to see these large corporations doing absolutely nothing about it.

If I had the means I would start my own Cinema chain in the UK and this is what I would do:

Clearly state at the start of the film that any disturbance within the auditorium will not be accepted and if persistent the people responsible will be dejected.

Every customer is asked to become a member via privilege card.
The card promotes that after every 3rd film – the 4th is free.

The card is used when certain individuals decide to ruin others right to enjoyment – The card is scanned when they are made to leave and they are banned from the cinema for 3 years.
The card is scanned upon ticket sales so all the promotions and new coming films automatically get sent via email to that persons email.

The cinema prices would be far less than they are now.
In Fact I would make it so cheap and good value that the larger chains would sink.
I do have a good knowledge on the Industry and what makes it tick and I do not agree one bit with the pricing policy’s of current well established chains.
I find it unacceptable and unfair to charge customers an absurd amount of Money for taking the time and effort to invest in an industry that is lucky to be still be afloat.

The Things I have seen would make you utterly sick.
The profit margins on concessions are insane and totally unjustified.
There is a huge difference between making a profit and ripping people off and these chains do exactly the latter. I cannot believe this kind of daylight robbery is allowed and its almost like they are punishing people for simply trying to have an enjoyable good time.

These Cinemas are reaping the profits in more ways than one.
The advent of digital media means that films no longer require old spools of films on 35mm.
The films are now tiny and require far less maintenance and also delivery costs – And who benefits > The Cinema chain.
In light of this fact they should lower the prices yet year after year they raise them.

The people that run these chains are complete and utter parasites who do not have a moral standard like everybody else are machines whose only intent is profit profit profit and at the end of the day the very thing they are advertising ( Films) gets pushed back to the line and is not considered important.

When I see family’s leaving the cinema I feel angry and enraged at what they have had to pay just to watch a film while the corporations just lap up there disgusting profit margins.

The profit margins on foods is abhorrent to the point it makes me sick.
With a family of four your looking at £60+ just to watch a film and have something to eat.
There are no family deals or reductions.

These Cinema chains pay there staff minimum wage – the lowest form of payment possible which is a disc-raise considering what they are making.
If you take away the fact that films are shown you have one big rip off on a monumental scale and at the end of all that you have had to have the sheer indignity of someone else ruining your film through complete and utter lack of any form of respect for others.

What I would recommend is that all cinema goers put into a kitty and build up an independent chain throughout the Uk which is based on a thoroughly enjoyable experience instead of being treated like dirt from large American corporations who don’t care, Are evil throughout, Have no respect for anyone, Greedy, selfish and could care less how the customers feel after they have paid hard earned cash to be not even listened to.
I have a zillion ideas which would transform this Industry and in fact I am confident the Franchise would go from strength to strength.

People would want to visit the cinema instead of being concerned over idiotic prices or idiots ruining the movie experience.
I can also tell you this Grizelda, that response they sent you is a pre written one laid out on a template.I ashore you they use these templates and never respond in a personal and respectful fashion. Its a pre filled letter or email that they ask the customer relations to print off and then think this is enough of an answer.

Every year these companies raise there prices and pay the majority off staff exactly the same minimum wage – It is a total and utter mockery.
They have had it far to good for far to long and Its time the movie going public had more choice and value in this Industry.

I also have many concept for better seating and audio.
Hope you have a nice day Grizelda.

Alwyn Wood says:
9 September 2013

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.


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

Alexis Chesterman says:
24 November 2014

Horrendous experience at Cineworld Nottingham. Went to see Hunger Games, Mocking Jay at 10.30pm, sat through 30 mins of adverts? Pretty much drank my what I had in that time. Quickly popped out to grab another drink from the desk next to the screen to be told he was ‘shutting up’ and I had to go downstairs (two flights of escalators) then two large queues where only two people were serving (very slowly). All I wanted was a bottle of water! So I had paid around £10 to watch 30 mins of adverts, wait and miss 20 mins of film to get a bottle of water…and after I came back upstairs, the server was still behind the counter ‘shutting up’….surely he could have served me a meagre bottle of water? This is why I don’t go to the cinema very often, expensive and painful.