Price gouging?

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What do you guys thing? Could this instance be considered price gouging or just market demand?

New Years Eve plans weren’t set in stone yet, so going to the movie theater was determined to be a good idea. Killing a few hours at a movie would help get the evening along and help me make it to the new year (instead of being an old, grumpy person – er, like every other day).

Anyway, we only have one movie theater that is local so to the AMC we went. During the ticket purchasing process it was discovered that the normally $5+ tickets at the theater were just the normal price of $11+. Huh? What’s going on here? Discount Tuesday has been a thing for years and this last year has been no different, so why suddenly are prices not the normally discounted price?

Come to find out, because both Christmas Eve and New Years Eve are the night before a holiday, the theater suspended the special price to take advantage of the fact that maybe more people would want to go see movies. Really? They’re going to jack the normally low price up for two days just so they can take advantage of their customers?

To me, it smacks of “price gouging,” because it is taking advantage of an abnormal situation to make more money. The official definition doesn’t say anything about a “state of emergency” or “disaster,” but if you look at legal definitions it tends to lean in that direction.

I guess it probably isn’t really price gouging, but it feels really shady when you are standing in line to buy tickets with your kids and what would have been a $25 night at the movies turns into $60 (before you even buy popcorn or snacks) because you have no choice at that point. I watched family after family be surprised by the unique “price adjustment” and the unspoken visual debate between husband and wife take place via their eyes. There were some who just turned around and left, but not very many. As parents, it’s hard to turn around and leave when you have all those eyes staring at you in expectation. So, they break the budget to make it happen.

Real shady, AMC. Real shady.

Assigned seats

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Went to the movies last night and encountered something while buying tickets earlier in the day that was new – and didn’t like after I got to the theater.

The local AMC theater has always been first come, first served as far seating goes. Get there early and choose good seats. Come to think of it, I don’t think I have ever been to a theater that has done it any other way. So, when I went to buy tickets online yesterday afternoon (for a 7:15 showing) I just expected to buy tickets.

Instead I was greeted with a seating chart after I selected the movie (Spiderman: Far from Home) and I was supposed to select where I wanted to sit and how many seats I wanted. The chart showed available seats and which ones were not. I selected seats but was left wondering if this was going to be common practice or just because this was the opening night of a big movie.

After getting to the theater and asking a couple questions, turns out this has been going on for a couple months and will now be regular practice for all movies. OK, interesting.

Once in the theater, there were lots of people and single seats left all over the auditorium. Meaning, if you bought tickets late and went as a group, you would be split up for your group (as such, I have a 10 year old sitting next to me as the rest of his group was farther down the row). After thinking about this, I can’t imagine that this would encourage people to buy tickets for movies, but it might very well discourage most people.

I can tell you I don’t really like the practice. If I had logged in later in the day to buy tickets and all I saw were singletons or I was crammed into a row with people on boths sides, I wouldn’t buy a ticket.

I am still developing an opinion here, but I can’t see how this benefits ticket buyers.


What do you think? What is your experience? Do you like assigned seating at the movies?