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I’m a Dad to a toddler and newborn, I don’t get out much, but tonight’s different! You see I’ve managed to wrangle a night off from my parental responsibilities and decided to take in a movie, remember those? I don’t? I’ve seen 2 in about 6 months, and heck and I’m a Discovery Vitality member!

It should be simple right? Go on-line to Ster Kinekor, book tickets, see a movie, have a few hours of blissful escapism. I mean come on their tag line is ‘Your happy place’!

So I book a ticket for one to see Skyfall, the latest Bond film. I arrived at the cinema, take my seat along with hordes of other people (tends to happen on opening week, esp. with a film of this magnitude) and we start watching the film.

Fast forward to the climax and BANG! We loose the sound system! The movie continues to play, sans audio and I’m expecting a piano player to pop out somewhere and for Charlie Chapman to mouth ‘It’s all been a big misunderstanding’.

Silence. We sit, a frozen celluloid frame our only company. It feels like an age, but in reality it’s 23 minutes, I know this because of the time stamped conversation I’m having with my wife over Whatsapp which starts at 10.04pm and ends at 10.27pm when I move to another cinema.

In that time do you think we had ANY clear direction from Ster Kinekor management as to their chosen choice of action?

At 10.17pm we receive our first feedback, ‘Ladies and Gentlemen, the sound system is not working’… really? It took a genius to work that out? 3 minutes later we hear the show has been cancelled!

The only recourse we are given is to sneak into the adjacent cinema and watch the end of the movie, screened several minutes apart. No direction as to seating arrangements, no complementarity tickets or condiments offered for the inconvenience, in fact I’m sure the words ‘We’re sorry’ ever even left the manageresses mouth!

Ster Kinekor, you’ve failed me, this is not what I’d call ‘My happy place’.

BUT wait, there’s more! The movie ends, the mass exodus occurs and like cattle we herd ourselves towards the hallowed halls of Cavendish Square’s Parking Pay Stations.

HALT! You shall not Pass! The WHOLE of P1′s pay stations are out of order. No staff on hand to indicate this though, just those ominous words displayed across the LCD screens. A friendly ring of the ‘Help’ button is met with the retort ‘Use the other pay stations on the other levels’.

Stupidly I oblige, only to stand in a line that would make a line for the bathrooms at a sold out Cape Town Stadium concert seem like a walk in the park. I FINALLY get to the pay point, insert my ticket and money, expecting change, infact, the screen indicates ‘returned’, but alas, no minted coin goodness is dropped down the change canal. I’m greeted with sweet nothing.

So I return to P1, where my car is parked, paid ticket in hand, but changeless. I call for ‘Help’ yet again, which is proving to provide the dictionary description of ‘oxymoron’.

I politely ask them to send someone up from the bowels of parking purgatory to return my money, only to be told to ‘Come back tomorrow!’. WHAT! Excuse me, you took my money, I’d like my change, I’m not changing my course of action to come BACK here to collect my R5 change (it’s not the amount, by now it’s all about principles!). I ask her to call her manager. She responds, ‘There are no managers on night duty’. I politely ask her to call him/her and plead my case, she thinks I’m joking, I’m not.

I then tell her I’m not leaving until someone meets me to return my change. I’m informed that someone is coming up, a few minutes later she does. I’m presented with a blank piece of paper requesting my personal details.

I leave this note:

Matt Allison took R5, your service sucks!

So Cavendish Square Center Management, yip, that was me, there is a nice little ‘contact’ link on the side of the blog, if you want to touch base, I suggest you use it.

So am I in a happy place? You tell me, it’s 12.16am, I got home just before midnight from an 8pm movie screening and will no doubt be up to feed a baby in 2 to 3 hours, and then again in 5 to occupy a 2.5yr old toddler… would you be happy?

UPDATE After posting this I contacted Ster Kinekor and Cavendish Square via their respective websites.

I received a call from David, Interpark’s manager with an apology and that measures would be put in place, though no measures were given or how they plan to prevent this happening again other than having more cash on hand for the machines. I’ve accepted his apologies, but would have liked to know how they plan to prevent this going forward.

Ster Kinekor responded on Twitter saying they’ve escalated it to Head Office, but still no response, despite leaving my phone number and e-mail addresses.

UPDATE 2 It took 3 days but I finally received a call from Ster Kinekor’s regional manager. Sadly he couldn’t answer me as why the issues were not addressed on the night and has said he’ll be doing a formal inquiry and I’ve asked to receive a report back and will relay this info as/when it comes in.

UPDATE 3 Interpark Cavendish apologized for the inconvenience and explained that there was an issue with their coin delivery service and that they have put measures in place to prevent it from happening again. As compensation they offered me a R50 parking voucher, which I accepted.

Ster Kinekor came back to me to share that their formal inquiry highlighted issues within the department that has lead to disciplinary action being taken and have assured me it won’t happen again, they offered me free tickets, which I declined.

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6 Responses to “Skyfail, the trials and tribulations of 3rd World Service”

  1. Hennie @ Batonage

    Matt… I feel your pain. I have had screaming fights with Ster Kinekor’s management over similar scenarios. I’ve stopped going to Ster Kinekor cinemas because I cannot be bothered to pay for a product and not get it. They screw it up from start to finish. The movies often start late, the sound is sub par, often the sound is broken, the projector is not lined up with the screen properly, the seats are broken and so on and so forth. I REFUSE to pay for shit like that. We’ve been going to Canal Walk and Nu Metro for the past 3 years and it is better. Still not a 1st world experience, but compared to Ster Kinekor it is like having the movie stars in your house with you.

  2. Tony

    Matt … I really feel your pain. I have had so many hassles the Ster Kinekor at Tygervalley and Bayside that I feel incredibly bad to keep complaining. And why do I even go back?

    Dodgy screenings, stale popcorn. I’ve had them lose the audio, lose the video (with the audio keep playing). I’ve sat through movies with broken aircons (150 people in a packed movie-house generating masses of heat).

    Ster Kinekor gave me some free tickets as an apology and on Sunday afternoon I went to watch a movie with a mate – only to find… broken aircons (no notice to tell us about it!), no ice for the cold-drinks – which were flat anyway (sorry, we’re out of gas – but we’ll keep selling it at full price – and we don’t know where the manager is).

    It’s just one bumbling issue after the next. Not to mention the R30 you pay for Astros or Jelly Tots!

    And it’s not like I can ditch SterKinekor and go to Nu Metro. Canal Walk is even worse!

    And the truth is I’m a movie fanatic. I could easily hire a movie and watch it at home – but it’s the “happy place” thing – the popcorn, the vibe, the immersion.

    And then SterKinekor screws it up completely. Every. Single. Time.

  3. RethaVS

    Ugh, I like the Cavendish centre but their parking pay stations are the WORST! Especially after movies when they should have people on duty on every floor! This is after all their busiest time! I have only ever seen queues there after the late movies – patrons have nothing else to do there, nowhere else to go but home, all at the same time… Surely, if you and I can work this out, they should be able to? Hope they pay you back.. Out of principle! :)

  4. Matt

    Hi Guys. Thanks for sharing your own experiences with me, it’s sad that its come to this, but clearly something in their process is broken and needs fixing. The regional Ster Kinekor manager has been in touch with me and I hope there is some resolve on these issues. I was offered a free ticket, but declined and shared I’m more concerned with how they plan to address these issues than receiving compensation.

    Cheers

    Matt

  5. Thaya

    I can’t remember when last there wasn’t a visual or audio fail at any movie house in CT. Considering we have to drive 1 hour to the movie house, with tickets, snacks, a meal and petrol amounting to almost R1000 to watch a film, I’ve given up!

  6. Matt

    Yeah, I rarely get a chance to go, even with my discounted tickets through Discovery and I NEVER buy condiments because they are a rip off, it kind of takes the fun out of it, in your case R1,000 would REALLY take the fun out of it :/

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