MoviePass competitor Sinemia has been hit with a class action lawsuit brought by two plaintiffs who allege the subscription-based service “essentially became a bait-and-switch scheme.”
In recent months, Sinemia launched a plan at the same price as MoviePass and with the same number of movies, but without the restrictions on movies or showtimes that MoviePass began imposing in August. Sinemia also gave subscribers the ability to book tickets in advance.
However, customers claim the service contains hidden processing fees that chip away at the value of the subscription.
"It lures consumers in by convincing them to purchase a purportedly cheaper movie subscription, and then adds undisclosed fees that make such purchases no bargain at all," according to the lawsuit, which was filed by the law firm Chimicles & Tikellis LLP in Delaware on Friday.
"Sinemia fleeces consumers with an undisclosed, unexpected, and not-bargained-for processing fee each time a plan subscriber goes to the movies using Sinemia's service."
Customers hit with many processing fees
One of the plaintiffs, Paul Early, said he signed up for Sinemia in August and paid $191.88 for a year plan of two movies per month for two people, plus an additional $9.99 for early activation.
In October, Sinemia introduced a new $1.80 per movie “processing fee,” which even customers who had already paid for an annual subscription were subject to.
“The first five times Early used Sinemia, he incurred a $1.50 third-party ‘convenience fee’ (from using ticketing sites like Fandango). Sinemia had disclosed before he'd bought the subscription that he'd have to pay that fee,” Business Insider reports.
When Early went to use the Sinemia app on October 22, he was charged another $1.80 “processing fee” per ticket, according to the lawsuit. He incurred the same fee several more times and contacted customer support to cancel his plan and get a refund for the remainder, but he never heard back.
"The movie plan Early is now stuck with has lost significant value with the imposition of the processing fees," according to the suit.
Processing fees “out of our control,” company says
In a statement to Business Insider, Sinemia acknowledged the processing fees but said they were “out of our control.”
"From the beginning, the goal of Sinemia has been to make the moviegoing experience much more affordable and enjoyable for moviegoers by covering for the cost of the movie ticket. While nobody enjoys fees, there are certain costs related to booking and processing outside of the price of the movie ticket that are out of our control,” the company said.
“A processing fee of up to $1.80 applies so that Sinemia can continue to provide access to all showtimes for all movies in all theaters without restrictions as well as to keep our subscription plans and services consistent, as they have been since the founding of the company.”