MoviePass competitor Sinemia has 7 different ways it can charge you fees, and many customers are furious
- Sinemia has emerged as a low-cost competitor to MoviePass in the movie-ticket subscription space.
- But many customers have complained about its fees, one of which is the subject of a lawsuit filed in November.
- There are seven ways Sinemia can charge you fees.
As MoviePass has continued to restrict the showtimes and movies its subscribers can see, its rival Sinemia has started to look like a sweet deal.
The movie-ticket subscription service, which expanded to the US earlier this year, has been advertising its low prices on Facebook and Instagram. In one paid post I ran across on Facebook yesterday, Sinemia advertised its price of $8.99 monthly for three movie tickets (to any regular movie showing, at practically any theater). That sounds like a much better deal than MoviePass, which charges me $9.99 per month for a severely restricted catalog of available movies (and likewise limits me to three movies per month).But not so fast.
Being a Sinemia subscriber can actually become a lot more expensive than it seems at first blush because of the app's sneaky fees. One new fee, introduced in October, is even the subject of a lawsuit from angry customers.
In case you are thinking of subscribing to Sinemia, or just want a clearer understanding of the fees, here's a breakdown:
- Membership initiation fee: $19.99 to $29.99. This fee can be avoided if you pay for an entire year up front, but if you want to only be billed monthly, you have to pay it when you start your membership.
- Accelerated cardless activation fee: $9.99. If you don't want to wait 1 to 2 weeks for your Sinemia plan to "activate," you can speed it up by paying extra.
- Convenience fee: around $1.50 per ticket. Sinemia does not pay the convenience fees charged by advance online ticket services like Fandango, and passes them on to the customer. Sinemia recently launched the option to use a physical Sinemia debit card and avoid online fees, however my card has not arrived yet (I paid for a card earlier this month), so my only option is still booking online.
- Processing fee: up to $1.80 per ticket. This new fee, which was introduced on top of a convenience fee in October, was the main subject of the lawsuit by customers against Sinemia. Sinemia said that the "processing fee of up to $1.80 applies so that Sinemia can continue to provide access to all showtimes for all movies in all theaters without restrictions as well as to keep our subscription plans and services consistent, as they have been since the founding of the company."
- Debit card fee: $14.99. If you want to avoid the two per-ticket fees outlined above, you can sign up to use the Sinemia debit card (and pay another fee). If you have the card, you can buy tickets at the theater and supposedly avoid both convenience fees and processing fees. My card has not arrived yet so I can't personally confirm that.
- Misuse fee: price of the movie ticket. Several upset Sinemia customers have contacted me complaining about being charged a "misuse fee" when they weren't able to check into a movie, one of whom said it was because of a glitch in Sinemia's app. Sinemia described the fee in this way in a statement: "If users do not check in 30 minutes before or after their show time, the full ticket price may be charged to the customer's payment method. Sinemia provides a warning the first time a customer does not check in, and Sinemia does not charge a fee for the first misuse."
- Monthly fee: $3.99 to $29.99. Let's not forget the actual monthly subscription fee you pay for your account, which can range depending on what bells and whistles you want.
So while Sinemia seems like an amazing deal on the surface, if you are going to take the plunge, please be aware of the fees. I have had over 150 Sinemia angry customers contact me since I started writing about the service, and the most common complaint has been that they were not aware of the fees when they signed up.
MoviePass, which has had its share of problems, charges a one-time activation fee but otherwise does not charge any extra fees beyond the standard monthly fee.
If you have any information about Sinemia, contact the author at firstname.lastname@example.org.