Dear @cineworld …

Cineworld
Ah, we used to love you so much…

After a disappointing evening and some wasted time trying to see a film, I want to make some feelings clear with Cineworld that are hard to fit into a tweet. They’re good at replying to them – whoever monitors their Twitter feed does a good job – but too many things are bothering myself and Gillian these days.

First up, we’re heartily sick of 3D films. We don’t want to see them, they’re a rubbish novelty that exists only to rake in money for cinemas showing them. I have it from various sources that the prints for films cost the same for a cinema to obtain regardless of whether it’s a 2D or 3D print. The same projector is used. So why is there a surcharge to watch the film in 3D? As far as I can tell, the only expense lies with the film-maker who’s decided to shell out thousands to turn a perfectly good film into a blurry, dull, migraine-inducing mess.

3D film technology should have been kicked in the head until it started to go cross-eyed and drool, dragged into the forest and left to die slowly of exposure.

It’s not the fact that you have to pay extra, per se. Assuming a film gets a 2D showing you can at least opt to go and watch that instead of being ripped off £1.50 plus extra for the eyewear if you’ve not already got some. Well, you can… sort of.

The 2D versions very much come second fiddle as far as both number of performances and actual performance times are concerned. To whit, the issue we had this evening.

Our preferred cinema is the Cineworld at Parkhead. It’s got free parking right by the door, is easy to get to while avoiding most traffic and the staff are lovely. OK, so it’s a little poky compared to the Renfrew Street behemoth but it’s far more convenient. The parking, right now, is quite important as Gillian’s 8 months pregnant and we have two other kids. Plus, parking in Glasgow before 6pm is bloody expensive.

Thing is, Parkhead only have one showing a day of Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter. And it’s at 13:30. Therefore, we can’t see it. Conversely, there are four screenings (three on Thursday) of the 3D version. This is incredibly annoying. We’re essentially being told that, despite paying a monthly fee for an Unlimited Card each, we don’t have the freedom to choose which films we want to see.

I mentioned this on Twitter and they recommended going to Renfrew Street who had a showing at 6pm. Initially we thought “nah”, but relented and drove through. After battling through traffic and forking out for parking, we made it to the cinema to find that the 2D showing had sold out.

What a waste of time and money.

And it brings me to my second major point: not being able to pre-book using an Unlimited Card. More than once I’ve been in the queue, listening to someone who’s arrived with their friends or children and can’t get in to see a film. The others had pre-booked online, the Unlimited holder couldn’t and the showing has sold out.

I have “discussed” this over Twitter, as have others, with Cineworld and I can understand their one over-riding concern: people booking tickets online and then not showing up, thus depriving other paying customers of seats. I absolutely agree, this is something that shouldn’t be allowed to happen.

So I suggest the following. Allow Unlimited holders to book online. Give them the same restrictions as are already in place (although this actually varies from cinema to cinema) in that they can’t book another ticket until the showing for the one they’ve reserved is finished. In addition, if they do not collect their ticket, they get a “strike”. Each card-holder gets one free strike per month. The second time they fail to collect a pre-booked ticket in a one-month period, they lose the ability to pre-book for 3 months.

The one strike seems fair. Sometimes things just happen – the bus doesn’t come, the kids start to projectile vomit just as you’re leaving the house, whatever. But it should stop people being frivolous.

Alternatively, if a pre-booked ticket isn’t taken then the card-holder is charged for it at the standard rate, a debit/credit card being required to make the booking but not being charged otherwise.

Surely the technology is pretty much in place to manage this?

I just feel like a second-class customer despite forking out a reasonable sum each month of guaranteed income for Cineworld.

As things stand, Gillian’s likely to cancel her Unlimited card when baby SkullKrusher arrives. I was going to keep mine, but I’m thinking more and more about just cancelling it. I love going to the cinema, especially for big action films. But it’s reaching the point where it’s inconvenient finding a showing that we can guarantee seeing and which isn’t in 3D.

With the advent of the likes of NetFlix etc., we could be paying a lot less just to watch them on the telly at home when it actually suits us – and for less each month. Sure, it’s not the same, but it’s cheaper and less stressful.

Don’t get me wrong. On the whole we like Cineworld, the staff, the experience. We just feel we’re getting a raw deal right now and we’re, frankly, pissed off at the time wasted this evening compounded by the two issues highlighted above.

So there you have my points:

1) Give some respect to those of us who don’t want to watch 3D films.

2) Let Unlimited holders pre-book

3) Find out what’s making that awful stale piss smell in the gents’ loo at Parkhead (and has been for months) and sort it out. Please. It’s minging.

Just thought I’d throw that last one in there while I’m on a roll.

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