Reply from Cineworld

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After sending my original missive (Dear @ cineworld…) on June 20th, I waited the three working days I was told by the automated email for a response. I then chased them and was told they’d not received it and could I mail them it again? I did. Five days later I chased it again. Apparently they didn’t get it. I sent it again. Over 2 weeks later and finally I have a response.

Do note that Gillian has already cancelled her card and I am trying to cancel mine. Perhaps I should have rung them like she did, but the terms and conditions clearly state that they only accept cancellations in writing by post or email… and then don’t furnish you with the details to contact them via either! The main reason for cancellation is impending babyhood, in fairness.

Their response follows. My comments inserted and will be in my reply back:

Thank you for contacting Cineworld.

I would like to apologise if you feel that there is a lack of 2D films at Cineworld Glasgow Parkhead and Renfrew Street. I can advise that we do aim to screen as many 2D versions of our 3D films as possible. We do also rely on the film distributors in providing us with enough 2D prints of their 3d films in order for us to distribute them to as many of our cinemas as possible.

This doesn’t explain the single, solitary 2D performance of Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter at Parkhead, being shown at 13:30 each day. The cinema obviously had a print of the film which could have been shown more than once per day. They chose to show it only once, and at a time completely inconvenient to anyone with a job!

Our Film Buying department do also analyse the popularity of the performances that are screened on a weekly basis. Depending on the box office success of the performances, adjustments do have to be made. We are however always happy to receive customer feedback with regards to any aspect of the service we are providing to our customers.

I would expect nothing less. However, let’s take the situation above which prompted me to contact you in the first place. I would guess that there were very few bums on seats for this 13:30 performance, which in turn is going to make the 2D performances seem somewhat unpopular. After all, far more people paid to see the 3D ones. Is there any chance this was because they were on at a far more convenient time?

My background is science. You cannot get good, sensible, comparable results without comparing closely-related data. When designing an experiment you change as few variables as possible between runs. In this case, for instance, your variable should only be whether the performance is 2D or 3D. You should otherwise be comparing screenings at the same time of day, on the same day of the week, and at the same distance away from pay-day. Any data collected about the “popularity” of AL:VH in 2D at Parkhead that week  is therefore useless or, worse, wildly inaccurate.

All customer comments are taken on board and if there are any changes that can be made as a result of this, every effort will be made to do so. In light of your comments, I have passed on your feedback to the Film Buying department in our continuing efforts to collate customer feedback.

Thanks for that. It is appreciated.

I would also like to apologise if you feel that the lack of advance booking with your Unlimited card is not suitable. I can advise that your unlimited card is like your credit card, personalised for each individual. It is vitally important staff issue tickets to the correct customer, and the photo on the card helps us identify customers. As with any service, there are terms and conditions members need to adhere to.

The condition, which you refer to, has always been part of your Unlimited contract. Please see condition 7.4 under ‘Unlimited terms of use’ at the back of your contract.

This condition has been set in place to reduce card misuse/fraud. Too often customers have given their tickets/cards to other customers to use. So to reduce this from happening, we can only issue tickets over the counter to the cardholder. This process has been put in place to safe guard our customers and make sure only they benefit from the subscription paid to us.

[The solution I mentioned was for Unlimited cardholders to be able to book online, but perhaps have their account linked to a debit card. If they didn’t pick up their tickets, then they’d be charged for them. This would help prevent people just booking seats which paying customers may want, and then not turning up for screenings. I specified that they could collect them at automated ticket machines as existing pre-bookers can do using their credit/debit cards]

You’ve made a very fair point as regards the fraudulent use of the cards. May I suggest, therefore, that I adjust my initial proposal slightly? The Unlimited card is still linked to a bank, debit or credit card so that the tickets must be paid for if they are not collected. However, the card holder must collect them directly from the box office rather than using an automated machine. This is, in fact, what I do with tickets I’ve pre-booked for the kids at Parkhead anyway.

This way, you’re covering yourselves from people bulk-booking tickets online and not using them. You’re enabling cardholders to pre-book so they can actually go as a family/friend group with non-cardholders. You’re preventing the risk of fraud or card misuse. As a bonus, at cinemas like Parkhead where tickets and concessions are sold at the same counter, you’re not missing out on the chance to up-sell food and drink.

OK, so we have to queue to get the tickets – but at least we know we’re going to be able to get them.

I can also advise that our toilets are checked and cleaned at regular intervals by our staff members. However, we do not have the resources to assign a member of staff to each toilet for an entire shift, so we do rely on the public being courteous to fellow customers by cleaning up after themselves and flushing toilets etc.

Of this, I have no doubt. The facilities in the cinemas are generally of a very high standard. The issue with Parkhead’s toilet isn’t down to someone not flushing, it’s been there for months and I fear it’s something that’s leaked and soaked in somewhere. I’m no plumber, though!

As a gesture of good will, I would like to offer you two complimentary Unlimited retail vouchers which are valid for either 1x Regular Popcorn, 1x Regular Dispensed Soft Drink, 1x Regular Hotdog, 1x Regular Nachos or 1x Regular Coffee for you to use during a future visit to Cineworld. This is with a view to having a much more pleasurable experience. If you would like to accept this offer, please reply to this email with your full postal address and we will have your vouchers sent out to you as soon as possible.

We appreciate the gesture and our address follows. However, do please note that my partner has already cancelled her card (although it still has a couple of weeks’ use left) and I am trying to cancel mine although – again – I’ve had no email response back in the stated time. I mailed on the 9th of July using the contact form on the website as no direct email address can be found on your website. The reference I received back was SA44322X.

I will likely give them a call today, but I do note that the Terms & Conditions clearly state that cancellation can only be done in writing, either by email or post. I only hope I haven’t missed a direct debit date as a result of this delay and will have the card for an extra month. Please be aware that we are primarily cancelling as my other half is due to give birth very imminently and it will be difficult for both of us to go out together for a couple of months.

I would like to thank you for taking the time to contact us with your feedback regarding your recent visits to Cineworld Glasgow Parkhead and Renfrew Street. We do appreciate all customer comments we do receive as this gives us the opportunity to improve the level of service we provide to our customers.

Kind regards

On the whole, a fair response but one which misses the point on a couple of issues. We’ll take the vouchers, but I’m not sure if we’ll get to use them around the baby arriving. We will miss our cinema trips, but it’s a) going to be hard round the new arrival and b) was getting frustrating seeing performances advertised that we couldn’t attend. It’s especially annoying when such things have been ongoing for years, people have complained and yet nothing has been done.

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