When we last checked in on MoviePass, the discount movie ticket service was taking some serious heat after it switched up its subscription model, a shake-up that significantly slashed the number of movies subscribers could see per month and all but sealed the company’s fate as the most recent entry in the “Awesome Service Is No Longer Awesome” file.
Now, two New York consumers have filed a proposed class action lawsuit in which they allege they paid more than a combined $210 for annual MoviePass subscriptions—advertised as allowing access to “any movie” in “any theater” on “any day”— and in exchange were able to see a grand total of three movies over the course of a year. Three.
As the plaintiffs tell it, movie lovers nationwide are the victims of a bait-and-switch scheme, one in which MoviePass used false and misleading representations to induce consumers into paying for a non-refundable subscription that has, let’s say, a much narrower offering than advertised.
Any movie, any theater, any day? Far from it, lawsuit alleges
MoviePass, the 42-page lawsuit says, leads consumers to believe that the purchase of a subscription provides “unlimited” access to tickets to any movie of their choosing. According to the suit, MoviePass, from its founding in 2011 through August 5, 2018 (more on this particular date in a minute), has staked its entire advertising and marketing strategy on the promise that subscribers, MoviePass card in hand, could see as many movies as they wanted, whenever they wanted, in any theater that they wanted.
That all began to change in April 2018, the case explains, when MoviePass put the kibosh on repeated viewings of the same movie, the first in what would become a number of hindrances that apparently ruffled subscribers’ feathers. A much more significant shift took place on August 6, 2018, the lawsuit says, when MoviePass announced a new service plan that would allow subscribers to buy tickets to up to only three movies per month. The email sent to subscribers reportedly clarified that “quarterly and annual subscribers will not be impacted until their renewal date,” and that MoviePass made the switch because, its CEO said, “85 percent of subscription holders only saw three movies or less per month.”
According to the lawsuit, however, this 85 percent number was misinterpreted by MoviePass. It’s not that subscribers didn’t wish to see more than three movies per month. Rather, consumers were simply unable to find tickets, and were frequently informed—sometimes in between MoviePass app crashes—that “there are no more screenings at this theater today.”
“There are no more screenings at this theater today”
For subscribers, making the most of a MoviePass subscription used to be as simple as looking up a movie, showtimes, and a theater. After heading to the theater, all a MoviePass subscriber had to do was check in for a designated show time, pull out their MoviePass card, and enjoy the show—which was covered, of course, by their subscription fee.
More recently, though, MoviePass subscribers have had a far different experience, the lawsuit claims:
When Subscription holders, including Plaintiffs and the Class members, search for movie tickets and theaters using the MoviePass App, the App routinely states that ‘there are no more screenings at this theater today,’ regardless of the time of day at which the Subscription holder conducts the search.
The App also routinely limits the available movies, showtimes, and theaters for which Subscription holders can purchase tickets, making it difficult to take advantage of the Subscription service.”
All told, the complaint alleges, MoviePass has deceptively induced consumers into buying subscriptions they otherwise would not have purchased absent the company’s false representations.
Lawsuit: Refunds? Nope.
As if matters couldn’t get any worse, MoviePass, according to the case, does not provide pro-rated refunds to those who cancel their subscriptions before the end of their subscription period. This policy applies to every subscription plan MoviePass offers, the suit says.
What happened to the plaintiffs?
The plaintiffs, a husband and wife from Sea Cliff, New York, charge that MoviePass’s representations of what consumers pay for versus what they actually receive amount to a classic bait-and-switch scheme. According to the case, the plaintiffs, who each paid $105.35 for a one-year MoviePass subscription prior to when the company began digging its own grave, found they were not only routinely unable to access tickets, but were prohibited from buying tickets to certain movies through their subscriptions altogether. Worse, the offerings the plaintiffs were actually able to access included only limited movie, theater, and showtime selections, the case says.
What the plaintiffs supposedly got in exchange for their one-year MoviePass subscriptions were tickets to only three movies, and a good number of “there are no more screenings at this theater today” messages.
How do I join this lawsuit?
As is the case for just about all class action lawsuits, there’s nothing you have to do to “join” this lawsuit. If you were or are currently a MoviePass subscriber, you’re most likely going to be included in one of the proposed classes described below - and will only need to act when and if the case settles.
Sit tight, and we’ll keep you updated as the case progresses.
Who does the lawsuit hope to cover?
The lawsuit proposes to cover both a nationwide and New York-only class of consumers who purchased a MoviePass subscription between February 1, 2013, and August 5, 2018.
The lawsuit can be read below.