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Fandango Bucks: Not a Fan

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Ever have to buy a gift for a person that has everything? That's my mom. So this holiday season, I thought for a long time of what to get her. Remembering that she enjoys going to movies, I decided some movie gift certificates would be appropriate.

I decided to go to the first movie website that I thought of and see what they have to offer. That's how I found Fandango Bucks. I saw the tag line of "Perfect for all occasions. Good for any movie, any time, on Fandango.com."

Fandango Bucks

Fandango Bucks: Not Good for Any Movie

I have to admit, I was excited. This was going to be the easiest and best gift I've ever sent her. It was a simple instant e-mail. I checked to make sure that Fandango had the theaters near my mom's Boston suburb. I knew it would be a deal-breaker if she couldn't go to the theaters that she was used to. I might as well buy her an In-N-Out Burger gift certificate (sorry, California reference). Fortunately, I saw that Fandango had all the theaters and listed all the movie times... it was a movie, at a time, listed on Fandango.com. So with piece of mind, I made my purchase.

My mother sends me an e-mail a few days later that while it was a good idea, the certificates aren't accepted at any of the 8 theaters she goes to. They are only accepted at four theaters in Boston proper, which is not only a bit of a drive, it's also tough parking. That didn't seem right, so I read things a little closer and realize that the "Perfect for all occasions. Good for any movie, any time, on Fandango.com." is pretty much an out-and-out lie. There's some fine print that says that not all theaters accept it because they are either not partnered with Fandango or don't have the means to accept online ticketing.

I decided to e-mail customer support and ask what's up. Though a response was promised in 48 hours, a week later I have heard nothing (not even an acknowledgment that they have received my e-mail. I send another e-mail thinking the first one must not have gotten through. Still no response. So yesterday, I decided to call them up and see what's going on.

The customer service representative was really, really nice. He said that they have 3000 e-mails from the holidays and their 10 person team is a little undermanned to get back to everyone in time. He understood my problem and looked into the Boston theaters and admitted that most of the theater chains there partnered with their competitors. He suggested that my mom e-mail me back the certificates and I can use them in Silicon Valley. That's not a terrible solution, but it really doesn't speak to the main point: They promised one thing, didn't deliver, and now are giving me a response they might (or might not) be able to refund me the cash.

I will admit that I could have spent a little more time reading the fine print. However, shouldn't the fine print be a clarification or further definition of what is promised and not a complete contradiction of it?

Posted on January 15, 2010.

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4 Responses to “Fandango Bucks: Not a Fan”

  1. Geez, that sucks. My company has us select a christmas gift from an online catalog each year. For the last 5 years or so, I’ve gotten movie tickets. Not through Fandango, though, but through one of their competitors. We’ve used the tickets at a variety of theaters – from little independent theaters to big multiplexes. We’ve never had a problem.

    The great thing about movie tickets as a gift? They don’t clutter up the house.

  2. Soo-Young says:

    This rant isn’t related to Fandango Bucks, but it is related to Fandango. I had planned a date to watch Avatar, and to make sure I got tickets before they sold out, I bought them online on Fandango. I was able to purchase them online without any problems, but they charged a “service fee” for buying the tickets through them (I think it was 2 clams per ticket). I couldn’t believe that I was getting charged money to pay online (which I imagine has very little cost to the movie theaters and Fandango). I wasn’t too pleased with that, but the fun didn’t stop there. Like most people, I don’t sign up for newsletters of any sort, but I started getting them from Fandango right away. I definitely will never use their service again.

  3. Tatsuo S. says:

    I just recently purchased the Fandango Bucks thinking I would receive a $4 discount. Surprise! I just made a purchase of 2 adult tickets which cost $7 each, but with the “convenience fee” I ended up paying an additional $1.25 each…so where’s the savings?! My $25 Bucks is now down to $8.50 and I just bought 2 adult tickets!!!! Crap!

  4. Fandango Hater says:

    Fandango Bucks SUCKS! They are very difficult to use. When you select your tickets, you also have to check the box that says “Apply Fandango Bucks”. Then on the next screen if you don’t click the little blue “Apply” text, but instead hit the big yellow button that says “Continue Checkout”, then your purchase won’t be applied to your Fandango Bucks, but your credit card on file. Then they charge you $1.25 for the convenience, I would have saved the $2.50 and bought at the theater, if I wanted to use my credit card.
    I am a Web Designer and would never design a site like this. Promotion codes and gift cards are usually entered at the end of transactions, not at the beginning and check boxes usually indicates agreeing to terms of use, not using your gift card. I will use my $25 Fandango bucks and then NEVER use Fandango again! Hopefully Fandango will lose enough bucks that they will design the site for the user, not for padding their pockets.
    By the way, Fandango also partners with TrialPay or Reservation Rewards, that will charge your card each month, even though you didn’t give them your credit card information-Fandango did.
    Thanks Fandango for you being such a great company that you cheat your customers.

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