Allocated Seating at Greater Union

On the weekend, I had my first encounter with allocated seating at the Greater Union Innaloo cinemas.

As usual, we’d bought tickets separately. It wasn’t until going in to the actual cinema that a staff member said that we were expected to sit in seats scattered around the cinema (one of which was on the very edge).

As the cinema wasn’t completely full, we did the only sensible thing: ignore the allocations and pick some seats next to each other. Looking around the cinema, it looked like a number of other people were ignoring the allocations (the seat I’d been allocated was taken by someone else in a group of about 5 people).

As far as I can understand, the reason for introducing this was to make the internet booking more compelling by letting you pick your seat. I guess they felt the need to do something, since the current system has never seemed worth it:

  • They charge an extra dollar per ticket for internet sales. This is despite the fact that they get the money earlier, and you might not even turn up (the tickets are sold on a no returns basis).
  • While there is a special queue for picking up internet sales tickets, there often isn’t anyone staffing it. I’ve only seen people in the queue a few times, and they needed to wait until one of the other ticket sellers was free.

Maybe they thought screwing with the majority of their customers’ experience would make the extra dollar worth it.

I sent a complaint to Greater Union, and in future plan to treat their seating allocations as a suggestion. It is a shame that so many other cinemas have been closing down over the years :(

3 Comments

  1. Ryan
    Posted 18 December, 2007 at 2:31 am | Permalink

    I don’t think it’s a shame that cinemas are closing down. They charge you a ton of money to sit you in a room full of smelly noisy strangers. You watch a movie that you could simply buy at the store or download, and unlike the movie purchase your cinema ticket is only good for one viewing. You don’t get any DVD extras, you don’t get to watch the show on your own schedule, you aren’t allowed to pause for a bathroom break, and if you miss the words to a crucial scene because somebody was being noisy you can’t rewind.

    It seems to me like a business model that is begging to fail. Good riddance to cinemas.

  2. Posted 18 December, 2007 at 10:33 am | Permalink

    Ryan: I haveWhile I’ve certainly been to occasional films with noisy strangers, I haven’t had problems with smelly strangers. While DVDs do have the benefits you mentioned, I’d argue that it still doesn’t equal a good cinema experience. The size of the screen and the sound certainly count for something.

    Given that DVDs are a good alternative it is a shame to see the cinemas degrading the experience, since it probably will result in more of them closing down.

  3. Lorelei
    Posted 18 December, 2007 at 4:39 pm | Permalink

    Last night I went to Greater Union Innaloo and had the same experience. Was told where to sit, not given a choice *at all* and promptly ignored it. We sat where we wanted.

    For the sake of the other comments, I believe the cinema is great, I enjoy going. We download a lot of movies and watch at home – we have a very decent tv and sound system, but it’s not the same as munching on the popcorn in the dark, completely whisked away by the whole theatre. I tend to be choosy which cinema I go to and what movie I see and when – taking into account smelly teenagers and kids. Greater Union is the pits, always has been. We only went there as we had free tickets. Normally I go to Reading in Belmont – it’s never packed out, it’s just around the corner from my house, and they don’t bloody allocate your seating!!

    I too will be writing a letter of complaint! I hope everyone who is dissatisfied does the same!