MoviePass competitor Sinemia is locking certain accounts until 'misuse fees' are paid, and some subscribers are fuming

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  • Sinemia has emerged as an alternative to a struggling MoviePass in the movie-ticket subscription space.
  • But the startup has been plagued with complaints from subscribers, over 150 of whom have contacted Business Insider since November, mainly over sneaky fees.
  • Since December, 20 of those Sinemia subscribers have contacted Business Insider to complain about a "misuse fee," which they said had been unfairly applied.
  • Some claimed Sinemia's tech was to blame for them missing a "check-in" in the app, which prompted the misuse fee.

While MoviePass has struggled - from a new class-action lawsuit by customers, to its parent company getting kicked off the Nasdaq - its competitor Sinemia has also faced a litany of criticisms from subscribers.

Earlier this month, some Sinemia subscribers got upset when the movie-ticket subscription service demanded two forms of ID to verify their accounts. But of the over-150 angry customers who have contacted Business Insider about Sinemia, the biggest complaint has been its sneaky fees.

One particular fee that has rankled Sinemia subscribers lately is a "misuse fee," one of seven ways Sinemia can charge customers.

Here's how Sinemia explained the fee: "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."

That seems reasonable - but only in a world where Sinemia's tech functions properly.

20 Sinemia subscribers contacted Business Insider complaining that they had been charged misuse fees unfairly, with many claiming glitches in Sinemia's app prevented them from checking in.

"I bought an advance ticket this weekend, but when I tried to check in to my movie at the theater, the Sinema app wouldn't let me," one person said. "I got an email from them the next day saying because I didn't check in, my account was locked and I had to pay a $17.50 misuse fee before I could use it again. I replied right away to let them know what happened. They replied fairly quickly back, saying that their reports indicated I hadn't opened the app since I bought the ticket. I replied again mentioning there must be a fault in their reports because I opened the app several times the day of the movie and the day after. Their last reply says there was no problem on their end, and they're still holding my account hostage."

The feeling of having an account held "hostage" was echoed by many other subscribers who complained to Business Insider, since Sinemia does not let customers continue using its service until the "misuse fee" is paid.

Many also said they tried to resolve the issue with customer service but got insufficient help.

"I have been charged misuse fee of $29.99 for not checking in which I tried to check in and wouldn't let me," one subscriber said. "I got an email saying I got charged because I didn't check in. Since then, I emailed them about 30 times regarding the misuse fee and have never got any response back from them. I am very disappointed and don't know what to do next. I have paid about $300 for the whole year."

In November, after Sinemia was hit with a class-action lawsuit over a new fee, the company pledged to make big changes, including beefing up customer service.

"Sinemia has increased their customer support team to help address any issues users have and to get answers to them faster," the company said at the time.

But Sinemia subscribers have continued to contact Business Insider since that time, complaining about its lack of adequate customer support.

Its rating from the Better Business Bureau has, however, climbed from an F to a C.

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