Everything MoviePass does just makes things worse

The company is fighting for survival and its own worst enemy is itself.

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Rob LeFebvre/Engadget
Rob LeFebvre/Engadget

I purchased a MoviePass membership back during a promotion. I paid $90 for a year of one movie a day, and got a MasterCard in the mail that I could use to purchase a ticket at the box office after checking in using the MoviePass app. The first month, I went to about 10 movies. The hassle of using a sometimes-buggy app and heading up to the counter one moviegoer at a time was worth the promise of free movies.

Then the problems started to surface. First, there was the location-tracking scandal, made worse by a loud-mouth CEO incapable of communicating clearly (or at the very least shutting up). Then it stuck all new customers with a plan that offered only three movies per month. (But it came bundled with an iHeartRadio membership, oooh...) The one-per-day plan came back a month later, but I was already worried the plan I paid for could vanish at any moment.

Soon after, I got a notification that I needed to start taking photos of my ticket stubs to prevent fraud, something users had been dealing with, along with blackout dates, for a few months. Then the ultimate treachery: new surge pricing for "popular" and first-run movies. Adding a bring-a-friend option and 3D/IMAX tickets (for extra fees) is no way to fix that issue. Now parent company Helios is bleeding cash and filing with the SEC to allow the sale of as much as $1.2 billion in equity and debt.

Making sweeping policy changes on the fly seems to be how MoviePass rolls, and it's pretty annoying. Look, I generally know that companies like this can change things up as they go without warning; it's in the terms of service somewhere. What MoviePass really needs to do is to keep customers like me happy, not sell more equity. The service has plenty of competition from similar companies and theater-sponsored plans -- it won't take much to get me to switch if MoviePass continues to downgrade my experience.

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