Cinephile Problems: What do you mean you don’t take MoviePass?!
Happy Friday, folks! And welcome to a brand new edition of Cinephile Problems! This time, the one in trouble is Justin from the fantastic Today I Watched a Movie. MoviePass is a pain in his ass! (hey, it rhymes). This is his story.
In a little over a year, I’ve reviewed over 500 movies. As such, I’m always looking for ways to save money and still keep this blog going. That’s where MoviePass comes in.
According to their website, MoviePass is:
A subscription service offering
UNLIMITED MOVIES IN THEATERS NATIONWIDE
Plus advance screenings, special events, & exclusive offers
Obviously, I thought, “Wow! This will be a great (and cheap) way to post even more reviews of currently-released films!” Wanting to be sure I was making a good decision, I downloaded the official MoviePass iPhone app and checked to make sure the theater in my hometown was participating in the program.
Imagine my excitement when I typed in my zip code into the app and the local theater popped up! I immediately jumped online and ordered my MoviePass card.
Months went by, until one day I got an email saying my card was on its way. I drove home every day from work at lunch (a 30 minute drive both ways) for a week to see if it had arrived. It finally arrived about halfway through December, and I was so excited that day that I left work as early as I could and rushed over to the theater.
The theater lobby was empty as I made my way up to the counter. There weren’t many good movies out at the time that I hadn’t already seen, so I picked Red Dawn.
When I handed the girl behind the counter my official MoviePass card, I probably had a sly “Look at me. I’m in a special elite club” grin on my face, but that grin was quickly erased when she looked at the card, turned it over, looked at me, looked back at the card, and said, “I don’t think we take this here.”
Of course, I automatically assumed she didn’t know what she was talking about. “She’s just not ‘in the know’ about this amazing program yet”, I thought to myself. I responded with, “Try it anyway.” She wouldn’t. She got the manager instead.
I tried showing the manager that their theater showed up on the official MoviePass app, but it’s hard to argue when someone tells you, “We don’t accept Discover cards here” while you’re holding a Discover card in your hand.
For a second, I thought of using my regular debit card to pay for the movie myself, but then I decided it would be smarter to try to get a refund as soon as possible. The paperwork that came with my card was all still in my car, so I sat in the parking lot of the theater that same night and called their number.
Instead of reaching a person, or even an automated menu, I heard a strange recording. I don’t remember exactly what it said, but it was something like, “There is no voice line associated with this number.” After that brief message, the call ended. I tried again. Same thing. I tried a few more times for some reason, and each time it would say that same thing and automatically disconnect the call.
By this point, I was beginning to panic. What had I gotten myself into? I was convinced it was a scam and that I was going to lose $35 every month for a whole year.
DISCLAIMER: I know some of you guys have had good experiences with MoviePass. I’m simply recounting my not-so-great (and hopefully uncommon) experience.
Since their phones didn’t work, I decided to try email. I sent what was probably the angriest email I’ve ever written, threatening to let anyone and everyone who would listen know how terrible their service was if they didn’t give me a refund right away.
After I sent the email, I got onto Twitter and put up such a fuss that I was eventually contacted by the MoviePass twitter account, which said they’d be happy to give me a refund if I sent them a picture of my ticket stub. I responded that I didn’t have a ticket stub, because the theater wouldn’t accept my card. Since they didn’t accept my card, I didn’t see the movie.
Let me stop for a moment and tell you how I think MoviePass (supposedly) works. Once you get the card, you go onto the app and “check in” to whichever movie you want to see. The card is then loaded with $13 (which is something they don’t tell you). The money stays on the card until:
A) You use the card at the theater.
B) Approximately 45 minutes passes (I can’t remember the exact time frame you have to work with)
Whatever remains after your ticket is purchased is taken back off of the card until you see another movie, and the process begins again.
I assume this is true because I also tried calling the number on the card itself, which was actually the number of the bank that issues the cards. The automated menu told me I had a balance of $13 on the card.
I say that to say this…If you request a card from MoviePass, they don’t start charging you $35 a month until after you activate your card by checking into the theater on the app the first time.
Because they can see exactly when you check into a movie on their app, you would think they’d be able to see whether or not you used the card at the theater as well (Side note: My card was never swiped at the theater at all). Apparently they can’t, though, since they were telling me they’d refund my money if I showed them my ticket stub, which doesn’t even make sense.
I eventually got an email response from them, which basically said the same thing as their Twitter account did earlier. By that time, I had calmed down a little, so I replied back to them, explaining that I didn’t have a ticket stub to show, asking what needed to be done, and apologizing for the rudeness of my first email.
I never heard from their customer service again, but I did keep getting newsletter-style emails from them for the entire month of January. Eventually, I got tired of it, so I sent them another email, asking them to stop sending me newsletters, and also stating that I was under the impression that they had refunded my money and I was no longer a participant in their service. They responded quickly this time, apologizing and saying they wouldn’t send me any more emails. In their defense, I’ve never received any other emails from them. At least they got something right, eh?
I have to stop again and say that I should have paid closer attention to my bank statements. Apparently I missed their $35 withdrawl from my account in January, and I never actually checked to make sure they had refunded my $35 from December. Why not? Because I trusted them.
In an effort to get a better handle on my finances, I recently began using my online banking account again, as well as a budgeting app (which shall remain nameless). Tonight, as I was going over my expenses so far this month, I noticed $35 had gone to MoviePass a few days ago.
I immediately sent them another email, wanting answers as to why they are still charging me, why my money wasn’t refunded, and stating once again how dissatisfied I am/was with their service and how I’d let everyone know it.
Earlier tonight, I had another Twitter rant about it, and I plan to take more action in the morning…but until then (or until I hear back from them this time), I’m posting this as a warning to you all. I hope you can learn from my mistakes, and I hope that if you’ve had a similar experience, you will help me out by reblogging this post, or sharing it on Twitter / Facebook / Google+ / Reddit / Tumblr / StumbleUpon / wherever you can.
Here’s a TL;DR for you in case you skipped to the bottom:
MoviePass has terrible customer service.
Their phone doesn’t even work.
Their required app is inaccurate.
They won’t honor their own refund policy.
They’re stealing from me.
What do you think of Justin’s current predicament? Have you ever been in a similar situation? Let me know in the comments! Also, don’t forget to follow Justin’s awesome blog. I bet that would make him feel a little bit better!