The Trouble with Buying Movie Tickets Over the Internet

We all come across things in life that are wildly popular, even though it makes little sense to us.

Take “Duck Dynasty” — going into its fourth season, it’s one of the hottest shows on cable television.

I recently watched a couple of episodes for the first time and, frankly, I don’t see what all the buzz is about.

Then there’s sushi; it’s loved by millions of people the world over. I have friends who will eagerly drop $50 on the stuff just for lunch.

For God’s sake … why?

Awhile back my daughter, Nina, asked me to buy some movie tickets for her over the Internet using MovieTickets.com. The plan was for me to purchase an online ticket for the 7:30 p.m. showing of Iron Man 3 at our local theater, and then drop Nina off there, where she would meet up with her friends.

At the time I had never heard of MovieTickets.com.

Then again, until a few weeks ago, I had never heard of “Duck Dynasty” either.

Sure enough, when I went to the MovieTickets.com website I saw they had almost a quarter-million Facebook likes and 39,000 Twitter followers.

I’d say that’s pretty popular.

According to their website:

MovieTickets.com is the worldwide leader in advance movie ticketing and a top destination for news, celebrity interviews, movie reviews and trailers. You can also access theater information, check movie showtimes, view video clips, write your own reviews and much more.

When it comes to buying online tickets from MovieTickets.com, you simply enter your zip code, and the flick you want to see, and then you get a corresponding list of movie theaters and playing times. After making a few more clicks and then entering your credit card number — whammo! — you’ve got a ticket to the movies.

Kind of.

In my case, I wasn’t allowed to print the ticket at home; I had to get it from the theater’s ticket kiosk and swipe my credit card.

I realize I’m not the sharpest knife in the drawer, folks, but if I still have to stand in a theater line to get my ticket, what’s the point of buying it at home?

By the way, MovieTickets.com also recommends — in the fine print — that “you arrive at least 30-45 minutes before showtime.” They say that’s in order to assure you get a seat, although the cynic in me wonders if it’s also to avoid potential overselling snafus.

Now, call me crazy, but that seems to be yet another good reason to avoid the online service altogether, and the $1 per-ticket surcharge that comes with it.

Speaking of surcharges, did I mention the tickets are non-refundable? Uh huh.

Of course, Murphy raised his ugly head less than 10 minutes after I bought Nina’s ticket. She got a call from her friends; there was a change of plans. Everybody decided to go to the outdoor mall instead.

Poof! Eleven bucks gone, just like that.

Oh well, live and learn.

Don’t get me wrong; sites like MovieTickets.com and Fandango aren’t all bad. In fact, I think they’re terrific for getting a comprehensive summary of movies and showtimes in my local area.

However, I’d never consider using them for advance ticket sales unless I wanted to see a widely-anticipated film during its premier weekend. In that particular case, such a service would help me avoid the frustration of getting to the theater and then finding out that the movie I wanted to see was sold out.

I think.

But what do I know?

After all, I refuse to eat fish unless I know it’s been thoroughly cooked too.

Photo Credit: moonlightbulb

13 comments to The Trouble with Buying Movie Tickets Over the Internet

  • Richard Rogers

    If the ticket you purchased was for an AMC theater – I believe it will remain in their system until you present the credit card that purchased it. This happened to me, i.e., bought some tickets (if you join AMC Stubs – the surcharge is waived) and then could not make the movie. Next time we visited the theater – the cashier looked strangely at her POS terminal and then asked if we wanted to apply the credit from the non-visited movie to the one we wanted to see.

  • I hear ya Len. The only reason in my estimation to use one of these services is because of the deals they sometimes offer. For instance, on Friday’s this summer you can get buy one get one free tickets on Fandango by using a Visa Signature card to purchase. That is worth it! There was also a groupon deal for $6 Fandango tickets recently. I snapped up a few of those. Other than that, its pre-purchasing tickets at Costco for me!

  • Aw man! That’s too bad about your daughter’s plans being changed after you purchased the ticket. I use Fandango to peruse movie summaries and showtimes, but I’ve stopped ordering tickets online because of the “convenience fee.” Instead, my husband and I typically purchase tickets from the kiosk located adjacent to the ticketing counter if there’s a long line. There’s no extra fee for doing so and we’ve received our tickets within seconds, versus waiting in line for several minutes. No brainer!

    • Len Penzo

      Yeah, we use the ticket kiosk too to avoid the long lines, Kendal. That is, on the rare occasion we go to the movies anymore. I’d just as soon watch a pay per view movie from the comfort of my own home!

  • I’ve never bought movie tickets online. So far as the sushi, my nephew in Canada eats sushi a lot regardless of its cost.

  • When the movie theater in my town was owned by a local guy, I could buy movie tickets online and the print them off at home. It was awesome. I just took the printed ticket, and a teen with a barcode scanner let me into my show. Almost no line at all. It was great. I did it all the time.

    The local theater chain was bought out by a larger regional chain. The new process is what you described. After buying the ticket online, you then have to queue up to print off your ticket. How is it that this “big time” owner can’t seem to employ the technology that the small-timer did? It’s extremely annoying. The only “good” thing is that at least with the new system you can pick your seats. So you reserve your seat, and you can show up closer to show time. But it’s still annoying to stand in line.

  • Randall

    Some Regal theaters are now equipped with QR code readers, so you can buy your ticket through the Fandango app and have the code show up on your phone. When you get to the theater, you can skip the line and go straight to the ticket taker. I have found this to be really convenient. And Fandango stores your credit card info, so the process is very streamlined; you can literally buy the ticket while walking from your parking spot to the theater doors.

  • Karen

    Sushi? Poisonous blowfish a la carte. Swordfish with parasites which are only nullified by cooking. Over the hill fish cut in fancy pieces and wrapped around seaweed and fish roe to disguise the age of the fish. Enjoy it folks, but don’t be offended when I decline your offer to graze on sushi. My distant ancestors tamed fire for a reason! There’s no better seafood than deveined and shelled big fresh shrimp marinated in olive oil and granulated garlic and then broiled over charcoal. For $50. you can get a heap of fresh shrimp.

  • I’ve used it before but only for when my wife and I go out, just to avoid the potential of plans falling through. I think I’ve found coupon codes where the service charges have essentially been waived.

    And for the record, the line at the kiosk has never been more than 1 person, versus having to wait sometimes 10 people deep in a ‘real’ line. Which begs the question, why do ALL movie theatres start all their showings at the same time instead of staggering them to cut the lines?

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