March 1 2015 Latest news:
Wayne Savage, entertainment writer
Tuesday, July 29, 2014
Allocated seats? No thanks say Cineworld customers.
The chain says the move, introduced a few months back, offers advance bookers peace of mind because they can arrive knowing their preferred seats are reserved.
Not good if you’re a spur of the moment type of cinema-goer like Ashley Maw who had an unlimited card for years but tells me: “It’s hassle having to plan when I enjoy just turning up.”
Asking what you thought of allocated seating - dubbed allo-hated seating by one person - only one of you Tweeted in favour of it.
David McAusland was just one person calling for it be scrapped immediately, going as far as saying: “I now feel unwelcome in my local cinema.”
However, a Cineworld spokesperson says the decision to introduce allocated seating was made following extensive consultation with cinema users.
“While we recognise this has not been a popular decision with some customers, the overall and majority of feedback from customers visiting our cinemas has been positive.”
Many of you though felt the chain was reluctant to listen and share evidence showing support for the switch, accusing it of having a policy of not recording social media feedback.
Chris Rand writes: “Management had a choice to acknowledge the massive objections or get defensive. Sadly they’ve chosen the latter path.”
Some of you, like Teresa Chandler, thought it was a good idea in principle but adds: “Not so great in practice when people ignore their allocation and sit anywhere.”
I just about remember the days of cinema ushers who policed the aisles with nothing but a tiny torch and a steely glare. Perhaps we need them back? The last time I politely told somebody they were in my seat the response would’ve made Quentin Tarantino blush.
Neil Marwood raised a good point, writing: “When buying a ticket you can’t see where the seat is, you only get told the area it’s in.”
Clearer info than “back, middle or front” would help. I know where I like to sit in the IMAX screen so I don’t leave with my eyes and ears bleeding but I haven’t memorised the lay-out of the rest.
Some subtle stair lighting would help those who come in after the lights go out too.
A lot of you just didn’t like the fact you couldn’t choose where you can sit or who you’re sat with. It’s that feeling of when the house next door goes up for sale, who knows who’ll move in?
Personally, I don’t see the point of a dozen people forced to huddle together surrounded by space you could stretch out in either; although there’s nothing to stop you moving once it’s obvious row q isn’t filling up any time soon.
Long-term unlimited cardholders were particularly unhappy. Several were rethinking renewing, adding if another chain ran a similar monthly scheme they’d jump ship.
Cassandra Holmes writes: “I hate it (allocated seating) so much I no longer recommend the unlimited card to people.”
Playing devil’s advocate, you seem to agree allocated seating is understandable for IMAX screenings and other new films if it’s supported correctly and if it’s relaxed after a week.
It does benefit families and those who can’t arrive early enough to get their favourite spot. There’s nothing worse than being disrupted by late-comers stood in the stairwell or mid-row looking for somewhere to sit after the film has started.
“It also means groups can ensure they sit together and customers can choose where they sit when booking online or in person,” says the Cineworld spokesperson.
Take heart allocated seating objectors, the spokesperson adds: “We are aware of the problems which some of our customers have experienced so far and are currently working on solutions to resolve these. We are, and will continue to listen to customer feedback and investigate how we can ensure we improve customers’ experiences when booking seats.”
For the full Twitter conversation thread follow @WhatsonWayne.