Unethical Business Practice At Cinemas - American Public Be Alert

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To all Americans : We were victims once...& you must have been & will be too! To : The Managing Directors of AMC Theatre SFO & AMC Theatre HQ

I am furious to inform you that I have been extremely appalled by your unethical business practice during my visit to San Francisco AMC Theatre along Van Ness Street. I am glad that I do not live there nor have to withstand your deceit as part of my daily life like the poor Americans living there who are surprisingly meek. I would advise your management to look into your business practice of over-selling your tickets of popular films and then resolving the situation by offering customers (who had bought the tickets but could not find any seat) to swap the tickets for other films. Remember, you are not an airline company and unless you can afford to arrange for customers to attend similar film at similar time at competitor cinemas, think twice about continuing with your current practice, which is deemed contrary to acceptable business practices. It is unethical to promote your less sellable films this way. Imagine customers having to rush all the way to the theatre (like we did) and be told (without a trace of remorse on the part of your staff) that there are no more seats available!!!! Customers are forced to make do with other films available in your cinema so as not to make a wasted trip there. This is a disgusting practice in a big and most developed country like yours. It is unethical to play on customers' pyschology and claim to be doing the disappointed customers a great favour by permitting to seek a refund or swap the tickets for other less favourable movies. You are blatantly taking your customers for granted and taking them for a ride again and again. If you want to earn money, please earn it the honest way!!! We are indeed shocked that you have escaped the wrath of supposedly vigilant American consumer rights' agency till now. Do stop paying lip-service apology for things turning out this way and claiming that there is nothing you could do. Your highly educated management team should have anticipated such situation when you agreed to practise lax ticket control at theatre rooms. It is YOUR MANAGEMENT TEAM'S JOB to make sure that everyone watches the film he/she paid for unless your management team have an ulterior motive for permitting it, i.e. to play on customers' pyschology so as to promote your less sellable films. It is also unfair and irresponsible to throw the dirty job to your lower level frontline staff to pacify disappointed and disillusioned customers. It is not a matter of money nor missing a good show. What we are extremely outraged and appalled by is your cinema's lack of business integrity, principles and customer service. Sad to say, we found such irregular practices rampant throughout our present trip to the most acclaimed democratic and developed nation in the world. FYI, my friends and I have NEVER EVER face such problems during our trips to 20 other countries in Europe as well as in the developing Asia. We are deeply disappointed to have such misfortunes to sour our holiday trip. Please bear in mind that your practice is detrimental to your American tourism agency's promotion efforts overseas in the long run. For goodness' sake, be an upright corporate citizen from this new year and give your fellow Americans a fair deal. Trust, once destroyed will take a long time to re-build. Always try to do it right the first time.

THE DAY WE BECAME VICTIMS OF AMC THEATRE'S (SFO) UNETHICAL PRACTICE FYI, my friends and I had booked in advance 3 tickets on 25th December to watch "Patch Adams" on the 26th December at 4.15pm. We had double-checked with your counter staff to confirm that they had tickets for us. We paid for the tickets and were looking forward to the film on the next day. However on the 26th December, when we rushed all the way from San Jose (a 2-hour plus journey) to AMC Theatre at SFO and climbed 7 floors (the highest) of elevators to reach the designated theatre room at 4pm, we could hardly find an empty seat there. We thought it was some mix-up and tried to clarify with the ticket control guy on the 7th floor. He claimed ignorance and sent us all the way down to the 2nd floor to sort out the matter with your guest relations counter staff. When we reached there, again, your guest relations staff played delaying tactics & claimed ignorance. He later called for his black lady superior who came with a walkie-talkie. That black lady, accustomed to such situations, pretended to help. She tried to impress on us that she would be doing her best to assist and patronisingly explained the guest relations guy on duty the situation as though it was something new. FYI, at the guest relations counter, there were already quite a number of customers queueing and complaining of no seat in the theatre room screening Patch Adams despite their having the tickets. Subsequently, the black lady said that she would go up with us to the 7th floor to verify the situation. She took her time and upon immediate arrival on the 7th floor, she simply turned back and told us there was nothing she could do. She issued us 2 options like an ultimatum : either swap the ticket for other films, alternatively a refund or get lost. She did not even make the least effort to go into the theatre room to check. This left us with the concluding evidence that she is a veteran in such situations which must be a daily affair given your irregular cinema practice. She then called in her staff to shoo us off. She also called in the Manager on duty, JOSE who stepped in later. He was full of arrogance and self-righteousness and literally threatened us into leaving. If not for the presence of your amicable security guy, a short black man, we would have make a bigger scene on the spot. Your manager & the black lady supervisor are downright rude and lacking in customer service. They are definitely not fit for these jobs or any service-oriented industry for that matter. Your manager asserted that the seats were on a first-come first-serve basis, implying free-sitting policy. That we understood completely. But what he mentally blocked out was the fact that there was not even a single seat available in the front row for us and many others. FYI, there were also no small prints on the back of the ticket to forewarn customers to arrive early to 'physically' book the seats within the respective theatre room. Otherwise, we would have come prepared. Moreover, considering that we were early and there was ample time to go into the theatre room to request the audience who have not purchased the tickets to leave the theatre room (which is rightfully your prerogative which your management staff deliberately did not exercise), your frontline management team's laidback, arrogant & self-righteous attitude of doing nothing truly aggravated our anger. We hope that you would take our constructive feedback and do something positive about it. Remember, once bitten, twice shy. We consider ourselves lucky not having to put ourselves open to your compromising practices again. But, your fellow Americans will be watching you. If you want to strive towards leadership in this industry, do it the honest way. Yours faithfully, Lee

-- Lee (shuyuli@singnet.com.sg), January 10, 1999

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