11 December 2005

Bad Cinema Experience

In a small digression from our usual reviews, I would like to take a moment to rant about the recent change to the cinema landscape in our hometown. When Cineplex-Odeon acquired Famous Players from Viacom, it meant there was an overlap in 13 "zones" across Canada which meant that 35 screens had to be sold off to other interested companies in the interest of open competition.

So, at some point in the last few months, Silver City started accepting Cineplex gift certificates and the once-modern Capitol 6 along with the University 4 Cinemas were bought out by the Empire Theatre company.

Today was our first visit to the University 4 under the new management. The new management fumbled big-time today, leading to a very unpleasant start to our visit. We wanted to buy tickets for two adults, one child, and get our concession vouchers all at the express wickets. Unfortunately, the machines kept giving us "CARD ERROR" messages -- we tried three cards before getting in line at the kiosk where we were told they could only take cash. The poor kid inside the kiosk looked like he was having the worst day of his life... I'm afraid my grumpiness didn't help him any. We pulled out of the line and debated going to the bank machine to grab cash... meanwhile many other people were trying the express wickets and getting the same error message. By now, management was well aware of the problem, but no one put up a sign; no one stood by the express wicket to direct people to the kiosks -- all of this had to be weathered by the kid in the kiosk.

Only after we had gone to the bank, got back in line, and finally got to the front of the queue did the management re-appear with some signs printed on official letterhead with their apologies. It turns out the interac system was down (which includes credit card transactions, I guess) -- this is not uncommon on a shopping day this close to Christmas, but their poor handling of the issue still ticked me off.

Next was our trip to the concession where the trainee was doing juuuuust fine (we often order soda water which tends to confuse those who don't see a big shiny light that says "soda water" (hint: there isn't one -- it's what is mixed with the syrup to get your soda of choice so there's either a small button or you pull instead of push a lever)). So anyway, the trainee was just about to put the lid on our drink when been-there-a-week-longer fella decides to pull rank. "What's wrong with that drink?" Not wanting to wait for the inevitable back-and-forth I interrupted, "Don't correct him, he's right. We ordered soda water." The other fella shut up and went to get our popcorn.

So zero-for-two I'd say, and we'll likely be choosing a different theatre for our next cinematic outing.


EDIT - Update, 15Dec05:

Mike was unhappy enough about the service that he emailed Empire Theatres and included a link to this post. Mike was very clear in his complaint that while he realized the problem may have been beyond their control it was their handling of the incident that made the experience an unhappy one. The result was a relatively prompt reply (within 48 hours) including an apology. Given their response, we will likely give them another chance but I'd like to wait for them to work out some of their growing pains before we go back.

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