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Not as good as it used to be
Cineworld Unlimited Card
Member Name: tommy7
Cineworld Unlimited Card
Date: 03/07/09, updated on 03/07/09 (2030 review reads)
Advantages: Can be good value
Disadvantages: 12 month minimum contract
I first signed up to Cineworld's unlimited card scheme in November 2007 and was delighted with it. For £11.99 a month I could watch as many films in the month as I wanted and there were no catches other than I couldn't go to certain Cineworld cinemas in London West End (I believe the deal that includes these is £16.50 a month). At the time ticket prices were around £6.20 so going twice in the month would save pennies but any more visits and you are looking at decent savings.
The first day I was going to see Beowolf 3d which had a supplement of £2 with it being a 3d film. However, with my Unlimited card this didn't effect me, as they explained it's unlimited! So instead of Beowulf for £8.20 it was £11.99 for a month's worth of viewing, albeit with a 12 month minimum contract. In addition I was told I would get
Preferential invitations and discounted tickets to advance screening, festivals and events.
Exclusive food and drink offers.
As I average going to cinema 3 or 4 times a month there was no down side to this card and I signed up immediately.
The sign up process took about 10 minutes and was very straight forward. The employee took my picture and we filled in the usual name and address forms and the direct debit instruction. One thing to note though is you need two forms of id and they were quite strict with this. I took my driving license, passport and gas bill which were enough. You are given a temporary card for the two weeks it takes to produce your permanent card. The temporary one was flimsy but easily lasted the two weeks. The temporary card is activated instantly so you can set this up and then go straight to a film. There is also the option of signing up online by submitting your own photo through the website and then presumably posting evidence of id.
The card has been great for me, in the time I have had it there has only been one month where I have not gone at least twice so I have saved a lot over the period. In addition, the system allows you to 'buy' more than one ticket at a time i.e. for more than one showing that day. For example, when I was late for a showing of Rambo, it was over 2 hrs to the next one. However, I noticed U2-3d was on. I had seen it the week before and although it was 30 mins into it I was able to get a ticket to it to bridge the gap until Rambo came on. I was given both tickets at the time so the system was open to abuse but worked well for me.
The only downside is you always need your card with you. The company who run the cards are separate from the cinema. It's not a problem for me as I always carry my wallet but when we were out my girlfriend had left her card in another bag. I thought that if she showed her bank card and evidence of who she was the cinema would admit her but they said the systems don't speak to each other so no card means you have to pay. It was a bit annoying having to pay when you have the card but at least we know this now and I now carry both cards.
I received a letter a few months ago telling me the price was increasing to £13.50 per month. I didn't have a problem with this as the ticket price is now £7 so they are maintaining the ratio between ticket price and unlimited card monthly fee. To offset this they gave me a card allowing 20% (from memory) off food and drink, valid 'til March 2010. I thought this was good of them until the guy at the counter informed me it was one use only so I saved about 40p on my coffee. Sadly, this is typical of the exclusive cinema food and drink offers. I think it was only the second one I have received and the first was equally poor.
They then followed this up by introducing a £1.50 additional fee if you go to a 3d film. I only found this out at the cinema the other day when I attended Ice Age 3d. They claim to have sent a letter or an email (they couldn't say which or when) about it but admitted most people had not received it. This annoyed me a lot. £1.50 is very little but goes against the original idea of an unlimited scheme. I would much rather they charged £13.75 or £14 a month and stuck to the unlimited idea. Their justification was that these films are more expensive to make. I would argue that this is offset by higher attendances and although unlimited customers are not paying we usually buy at least a couple of overpriced drinks. Also, I was charged the same price for Lord of the Rings as I was for Doubt. I imagine the budgets were at polar opposites but there was no reduction or increase based on the cost of making those. I think it's a poor argument and is just another way of trying to increase profits. I have no problem paying to get the glasses and I can keep them but giving every customer a pair of glasses and not collecting them at the end is crazy to me.
Another annoyance is that you have to queue to get a ticket as normal. Surely a machine could be introduced for unlimited card holders to use in the same way advance booking tickets are collected. This would be open to abuse but they could check your photo against the Unlimited card when you hand the ticket over, as they do randomly at the moment.
So, to sum up I still like this card although it has annoyed me recently. It is good value if you go more than twice a month and although you are paying a monthly fee it feels free when you actually go to the cinema. However, it is a 12 month minimum contract so I would urge caution before you sign up as you are committing yourself to £162 (£198 if you include London West End) over the year. You do have the option to pay annually in advance but there is no reduction in price so I can't see the point in doing this unless it's a gift to someone.
I also find that I take a chance on a lot more films. If they are rubbish I just walk out so it does open your horizons a little. Finally when you do see a great movie there is nothing to stop you going back again which is a real benefit although I have only done this three times.
Recommended to some but not to all. Like everything, make sure you read all the conditions.
Summary: Look into it before committing.
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