Showcase Cinema – How NOT to do customer service

People make mistakes, right? It’s how you deal with them that matters, but unfortunately Showcase Cinemas in Dudley don’t care very much about ‘customer service’.

Two weeks ago, my elderly parents took their 3 year old grandson to see Puss In Boots. The staff neglected to tell people buying tickets that the heating had broken. My Mom has Raynauds disease – an unpleasant circulation problem that means that a freezing cold cinema screening is best avoided.

My parents complained after the screening and the manager apologised. He admitted they should have warned people in advance, and issued them with some tickets that could be used ‘for any film, at any time.’ Great! He’d dealt with that in the right way. Problem solved!

So why have we just been turned away from Showcase Cinema?

I’ve just got back from Showcase after a very disappointing exchange with two managers. When we tried to use these ‘emergency tickets’ (that’s what it says on them – I quite like the idea of an ‘emergency ticket’, maybe I should just frame it, stick it on my wall with a sign above which says ‘In case of emergency – break glass’) we were told that as The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo is a latest release, we can’t redeem our wonderful ‘emergency tickets’.

Now, I understand that because of contractual obligations with different studios, it’s not always possible to offer free tickets for the very latest releases. But having been explicitly told by the manager ‘for any film, at any time’, I was expecting that this little problem would be resolved quickly.

It wasn’t.

The manager passed the buck ‘I wasn’t the manager who issued the tickets so I can’t do anything’ and simply wouldn’t budge no matter how many times I politely informed her that the cinema had messed up once and had now screwed up again. It didn’t matter that the one manager had admitted they were at fault. It didn’t matter that I’d politely asked ‘what can we do to sort this out?’- there was no hope of some common sense from the manager of Showcase Cinema in Dudley.

We’d gone from ‘for any film, at any time‘ from one manager to a firm ‘no!‘ from a different manager who should have a photo of herself in the Oxford Dictionary next to the word ‘smug’.  There was no apology, not the slightest whiff of an attempt to do anything to rectify the situation, it was just ‘no‘.  We asked to speak to another manager and were told that she was the only one working there today… this lie was then cruelly exposed when the other manager who gave my folks the ‘emergency tickets’ in the first place then appeared from nowhere.

This guy was more reasonable and he all ready to let us in to see the movie.  He admitted that it was his fault and that he had said ‘for any film, at any time‘, but unfortunately the other manager must have been having a terrible day and by body language appeared to overrule him. She didn’t even blink when I told her that she hadn’t just lost about £20 in cinema takings that night, but hundreds in future revenue (it’s our local cinema and we’ve been going there since it opened in about 1999).  That’s when it hit home, she really didn’t care about customer service.

So to recap- Showcase Cinemas screw up the heating and give us some tickets that can be used ’for any film, at any time‘, we then try to use them and find that ’for any film, at any time‘ actually means ‘for some films, at some point and yes we did screw up but that’s just tough luck… NEXT!’


7 Responses to “Showcase Cinema – How NOT to do customer service”

  1. Alastaire AlldayNo Gravatar Says:

    A sad tale that’s unfortunately all too true these days.

    It’s not really a like-for-like comparison but a couple of years ago I blogged about being turned away from a bowling alley with a friend when we were refused the cheap Tuesday night lanes advertised on a billboard outside because we hadn’t booked in advance (no mention of that on the billboard) and had to pay full price (x4 more). The place was absolutely empty – and as well as losing our custom that night we never went back.

    Whatever happened to “the customer is always right?” It’s not just the one sale you lose, it’s the future sales from that customer, as well as any future sales lost if he tells his friends.

    Anyway, that blog post went on to become one of my most popular posts so good luck getting Showcase Cinemas to notice this and make amends!

  2. Steven NashNo Gravatar Says:

    “It’s not just the one sale you lose, it’s the future sales from that customer, as well as any future sales lost if he tells his friends.” – that’s exactly what flummoxed me at the time. I could not understand what they had to gain by not making any effort to rectify the situation (despite admitting fault on both issues). A cinema ticket is not like a physical product with real value, any loss involved would have been minimal (they’d have a profit if we’d bought drinks and snacks) if they’d simply said ‘we’re sorry about that, walk on through’.

    Instead they’ve lost hundreds in future revenue because I don’t want to spend money with them when I could support the wonderful Lighthouse Cinema in Wolverhampton, or The Electric Cinema in Birmingham.

    Perhaps customer service is not seen as important in the Cinema business because it’s a relatively low value item and the assumption is that people will always go to their nearest cinema. Despite an initial response yesterday morning from Showcase Cinema on Twitter asking me for my email address, I’ve yet to receive an apology for the behaviour of their staff and haven’t had an email yet, hopefully they will make contact.

  3. Louise PiearceNo Gravatar Says:

    Showcase Cinemas, Erdington are equally atrocious.
    We went to see the great movie ‘The Villagers’ and the boom mic was in the frame the whole time! We informed the Showcase Cinemas staff several times throughout the movie but they continued to ignore us. It was bobbing up and down for the entire film, being completely distracting and thus ruined the film. Upon complaining, two of their female managers shouted at us, rolled their eyes and were down right unprofessional, in front of many of their customers.
    On another occassion, we were told ‘down the left, screen 2′, when after 20 minutes of adverts, the movie started and we were in the wrong screening, and should have been ‘down the right, screen 4′. Another fine example of the incompetence of Showcase Cinemas. I have steered clear since and advise you and anybody else to do the same to avoid further annoyance.

  4. Mark ReedNo Gravatar Says:

    Silly me, I thought “Any Film Any Time” meant “When we feel like it”. It’s not as if you were blocking an unsold seat and denying them any revenue were you? Poor service and a dogmatic failure to bend self-imposed, pointless rules is often the first step to a business failure. How arrogant, and stupid of whatever cinema it is.

  5. Tone of Voice (or, politeness costs nothing) | Freelance Copywriter, London, UK Says:

    [...] an extreme example, but there are cases cropping up like this all the time. @Nashienet received terrible customer service at his local cinema and won’t be returning – once again a company loses out on business because it doesn’t know how to treat its [...]

  6. Mel ANo Gravatar Says:

    We have recently had issues with Dudley showcase but it was down to the staffs hands being tied when it came to kicking standard people out of premier seating. As of yet I’ve not had a response from my email and by the looks of it I probably wont.

  7. Tone of Voice (or, politeness costs nothing) | Freelance Copywriter - Alastaire Allday Says:

    [...] an extreme example, but there are cases cropping up like this all the time. @Nashienet received terrible customer service at his local cinema and won’t be returning – once again a company loses out on business because it doesn’t know how to treat its [...]

Leave a Comment