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.”
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?