If you’ve been having trouble keeping up with MoviePass’s changes to its service, you’re not alone. The discount movie ticket app has been updating its Terms of Service every other month this year, and these aren’t just minor tweaks but major policy changes in how the service works and what its customers are getting for their money.
To track it all, Motherboard compared cached versions of each of the company’s Terms as they appeared online throughout the year. Here are all the major changes the company has made since January:
Banning class action lawsuits
In an update made on January 26, MoviePass for the first time included a clause (in all caps) that says by agreeing to the Terms of Service, users also waive their right to participate in a class action lawsuit—a clause that remains there today.
Ditching a bunch of AMC theaters
Also in January, MoviePass made headlines by getting into a feud with AMC and dropping several of the chain’s major theaters from the service. In the January 26 TOS, a new line was added that said “participating theaters, as well the time and locations for movies may vary,” and encouraging users to check the app “frequently” for changes in theater participation.
Removed notice of price changes
Previous versions of the TOS included a paragraph that promised to notify users of any price changes prior to the next billing cycle and giving a two week window for customers to opt out. In January, MoviePass struck this from its terms and didn’t replace it with any similar language.
Adding, then removing, a refund guarantee
MoviePass updated its terms again on March 8 of this year, adding a statement that the company would give users a refund if there was a service outage when the customer tried to see a movie:
But just a few weeks later, it made another update and this time struck the refund language from the terms.
In place of the refund paragraph, Movietime instead added a new term in its April update to only allow users to use the app on one device at a time, and requiring that they only change their “active device” once a month, in an attempt to prevent users from sharing their account with others.
Only see each movie once
This one, added at the end of April update, caused a lot of consternation among customers. Previously, users could see one movie every day using the pass—any movie at all, as long as it was playing at a participating theater. After the change to the TOS, now users were only allowed to see each movie one time, and then they were blocked from seeing it using the app. In a letter to customers, MoviePass explained that this was in an attempt to stop abuse of the system by bad actors:
“Many users were sharing their MoviePass app with others,” Mitch Lowe, MoviePass’s CEO, wrote. “Some were using the service to scalp tickets and earn profit. Our new policies prevent these behaviors, and we are already seeing a significant decline in our rates of abuse.”
Another crowd-pleaser was an update made to the TOS on July 5 (the most recent update). MoviePass introduced a much-derided new tactic: surge pricing. Basically if the showtime, or movie, or theater where you want to go is experiencing a high volume of ticket sales when you want to go, you have to pay a premium. MoviePass tacked this to the terms of service and introduced it immediately for all month-to-month subscribers. Anyone in the middle of a year-long subscription gets to skip this additional fee until it’s time to renew.
No more reimbursements
And to add salt to the wound, if any of the dozen or so changes in the last six months made you less keen on the service and decide to cancel your year long subscription, tough luck: the company added a new clause in July clearly stating that there will be no reimbursements for subscriptions that are cancelled early.
MoviePass was a quietly successful small business for six years before it decided to shake up the pricing model in 2017. With the too-good-to-be-true $10 per month subscription for users to see a movie every day, it quickly expanded beyond its capacity, and has been trying to keep its head above water ever since.
All of the breakneck changes to policy and terms is a signifier of the company’s tumultuous era, and not a great sign for users or investors. Rather than work out the kinks ahead of time, the company is essentially testing out different models on an active customer base. Even if it manages to avoid bankruptcy, the ever-changing business model has left many of its most ardent supporters sour on the company, and it may be tough to win them back.
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