MoviePass is the hottest new thing for movie lovers: you can see a new film in the theaters every day for just 9 bucks a month, or even less with a promotion.
It is a sort of Netflix for bricks and mortar theaters, where for just $9.95 a month you can see a first run movie 30 days a month if you want.
But dozens, if not hundreds, of members all over the country say they've just been dropped from the program, and are wondering if it was all too good to be true.
Account canceled without warning
Kathryn Deffinger of Mason, Ohio loves movies, whether on Netflix or with her MoviePass. But a few days ago, Deffinger says she felt like a Star Wars Jedi fighter suddenly under attack.
"I got an email saying my account was canceled," she said.
The email said her movie pass had been canceled because she violated terms that said no "premium" movies are allowed, such as more expensive 3D, IMAX, or digital showings in luxury theaters.
Did she go to premium movies? "No," Deffinger insisted.
The same thing happened to Deb Tobin.
"My pass was terminated," Tobin said. "They claimed that I had used the pass for premium tickets."
Did she ever see a premium movie with Movie Pass? "Never, I am a rule follower," Tobin said. "Never."
Deffinger and some other customers are wondering if MoviePass is trying to eliminate members who are trying to see too many movies, such as 4 or 5 movies per week, which would carry a retail value of more than $50 weekly.
MoviePass explains terminations
MoviePass, however, insists that is not the case, and says it is only trying to cut down on fraud.
MoviePass CEO Mitch Lowe told us in an email that the theater may have mistakenly sent the user to a premium showing. He explained "it is incumbent on the subscriber to not let the theater overcharge them for a ticket to a movie they are not going to see, like a premium movie." (See company's full statement below).
But consumer lawyer Christian Jenkins of Minnillo Jenkins, who is representing Deb Tobin, wonders if MoviePass is looking for reasons to drop some overly active customers.
"The economics of it, it really appears to be challenging for them to buy all the tickets they are committing to provide," he said, "so we are not surprised to see some people being trimmed."
Many of those people are now on social media complaining that in their case it was too good to last.
How to protect yourself
Bottom line: MoviePass is legit, but if you join, read the rules, and make sure you follow them.
And if it appears a ticket agent is accidentally selling you a premium seat, or 3D showing, don't do it, so you don't waste your money.
Full MoviePass statement:
"A small percentage of MoviePass users were removed from the system, due to violating the terms of service. We diligently review card transactions to prevent fraudulent activity and take our Terms of Service agreement very seriously. If individuals abuse the service, we must take action so that our model continues to be sustainable for everyone. If customers do feel there has been a mistake, they should feel free to reach out to MoviePass customer service via the phone number on the back of their card. We are diligently reviewing all complaints on a case by case basis."
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