The Bijou 48 MoviePlex, Food Court, Fitness Center, and Laundromat recently went stupid. It tore out the regular movie seats and put in these big honking reclining chairs. The arm rests alone – on which you can set your 96 oz. soda, your 55-gallon popcorn tub, your movie-comfort animal, and your elbows – reduced the seating capacity by more than 100 seats. There’s room enough for just a few people inside these theaters now compared to the number who used to be able to watch movies. Consequently, The Bijou 48 has to turn people away constantly.
This is a very strange phenomenon. It’s the exact opposite of the airline industry.
My wife and I arrived at the Bijou 48 a couple of weeks ago and stood in line in the cold outside the box office forever. Why so long? The Bijou 48 went so stupid that now you also have to choose your seats when you buy your tickets, which more than doubles the wait time.
There is no more unreserved seating. Couples get to the box office window and then debate, “Should we sit here, or if we sit there would it make the screen look bigger?” as though they’re talking about some dress and her butt. MOVE IT, PEOPLE! By the time we got to the box office window, the cashier not only had to unthaw us with a blowtorch, but there were only a couple of seats left, and they were in the front row. We didn’t need the pain in the neck, and so we left.
This happened to us twice, and so when a movie we really wanted to see came to the Bijou 48, I decided to order our tickets online. Sounds simple enough, but there’s a catch. If you don’t join the theater’s Loyalty Program you won’t get your money back if you get sick or lost or shot by a movie terrorist and don’t show up. Movie tickets are expensive. Not getting your money back is like losing a fortune in the stock market, or even worse, spilling a vente mocha at Starbucks.
So, I joined the Loyalty Program, which took three hours of hassling with the website. You would think that a loyalty program would have a user-friendly format, but no. This one should be named, “You Can’t Get There From Here,” There being “You Are Now A Member!”
I didn’t realize how loyalty programs have taken over our lives. Inside my wallet alone I find “Cinemark Connections,” “Member Barnes & Noble,” “Walgreen’s Balance Rewards,” “My Panera,” not to mention several others such as Southwest Frequent Flyer Program and Amazon Prime Idiot. Half of these I didn’t even know I had, and I rarely use the other half.
But everywhere you go there’s a loyalty program – grocery stores, drug stores, retail outlets, airlines, hotels, car rentals, restaurants. “Sign up! Save Big! Keep us in Business!” And whereas the one at the Bijou 48 was a hassle to join, some of these seem to enlist you without your even knowing it. They’re sneaky!
Well, what’s next? Here are my predictions for loyalty programs:
Frequent Worshiper Program. You get a 10% deduction on your offering if you attend church at least three Sundays/month. Plus, you don’t have to stay for the sermon on months with 30 days.
Yard Sale Discount Club. Get a 50-cent discount on each item valued at $1 or more. Plus, if you find something that gets you on the Antique Roadshow, you get a free membership for life!
Funeral Home Balanced Rewards. For every regular-sized casket you purchase, you get a burial urn for free! Either that or a plot in the Pet Portion of the cemetery.