As with most free or discounted tickets, they came with many restrictions so as not to hurt their bottomline.
Condition (1): Pass not valid on Thursdays, Fridays, weekends, eve of public holidays and public holidays.
This implies that I can only watch the movies on most Monday to Wednesday. I have no issues with that, since it’s a rule that makes economic sense to the cinema operator. Giving free attendance during lull times comes at no extra cost, especially if it is given to people who already have no intentions to watch that particular movie show. Hopefully, the free show will translate to the patron generating interest to visit the cinema again for more sales to the company.
Condition (2): Pass not valid for advance bookings, telephone and internet bookings.
This continues to build on the “free or discounted means you will not be treated equal” rule. We won’t be able to get choice seats for free tickets, since we can only redeem the moment when we reach the cinema. For us working folks, that normally means just within an hour before the show starts. But it's fair enough.
In general, free also means that we should not complain too much (Asians have this very bad hanit of complaining even if things are free). After all, no one is forcing us to redeem the tickets. It is an option we can choose to execute if the benefits outweigh the inconveniences.
What bothered me was the next condition.
(3) Pass is not valid at all Golden Village cinemas, IMAX Theatre and at The Picturehouse.
It list the cinemas we cannot redeem the pass at. For the layman (or possibly the naïve), it means that I can go to ANY theatre that distributes the show, other than those listed.
And so, Wifey and I went to the Filmgarde cinema in Iluma to redeem the tickets. When I gave the ticketing staff the ticket, she started looking a little confused. It appears to me that she has not being briefed about such a promotion. She went on to read all the terms and conditions, and then moved on to ask another colleague about the validity of the ticket. Her colleague was not sure, and she ended up going into the office to check with her supervisor. When she got back, she told me that it cannot be redeemed at Filmgarde.
What the POOK???
So Wifey and I made a wasted trip down to Iluma, and I went back home, a little pissed.
That night, I called the credit card company to question and told them that the redemption does not work at Filmgarde. So which cinemas were eligible? The poor customer service guy who answered the phone didn’t knew the answer, and just paraphrase out what was written on my redemption voucher "All participating cinemas except Golden Village cinemas, IMAX Theatre and at The Picturehouse". That’s not exactly very value-adding. So I got him to ask his supervisor, who couldn’t give any better answer.
I was told to check with the various cinema myself. Back to square one.
Due to the restrictive days of the tickets, and the fact that I am not always free on weekday nights, I almost ended up missing the deadline of redemption of the ticket.
I finally ended up watching in another Cathay cinema (since Picturehouse is mentioned as one of the cinemas not eligible, it means the parent company, Cathay must be inclusive in general).
The moral of the story is that when you do any marketing or sales, keep it simple for the layman. You can state terms and conditions to cover your backside, but make it clear so that you won't suffer any repurcussions. Or even lawsuits - there was a recent lawsuit for a local bank over some "Terms and conditions".
In my case, I thought they could have used a mixture of inclusions and exclusions to define the participating cinemas. Probably something like "All Cathay, XXX and YYY cinemas except The Picturehouse."
Don't assume common sense is very common.
No “No” is normally treated as a “Yes”.
About the Author: Shingo T does not understand why a minibond has the word "bond" when it's not even one.