Cinemas’ ‘price gouging’ trial
VICTORIAN moviegoers have slammed Village Cinemas for upping their prices at peak periods over the school holidays.
The Dynamic Pricing Trial kicked off at Christmas and will be in place until the end of the month at selected Victorian locations including Crown, Fountain Gate, Doncaster, Jam Factory, Southland and Werribee.
The increased prices will affect sessions beginning after 5pm on Friday and Saturday nights, which are usually peak movie watching periods for cinemas across the country.
The new scheme will raise the price of tickets as well as snacks and drinks from the Candy Bar by up to one dollar per item.
Surge or dynamic pricing is a tactic famously used by ride sharing platforms like Uber and Lyft.
It is a pricing strategy which allows businesses to set flexible prices for products or services based on current demand.
But many customers have been outraged by the "greedy" price hikes, which also coincide with the summer school holidays - a time when many Australian families turn to cinemas as a way to keep their kids entertained.
Reddit user kennethdaniels posted details of the new surge pricing to the site, including the new Candy Bar price list and what appeared to be a memo to staff.
He described it as "a scheme to grab more money from consumers".
Under the newly-revealed pricing, a range of snack combos will go up by one dollar while some popcorn sizes will increase by 50 cents.
Choc tops and Mount Franklin water will rise by 30 cents each - however, some items such as Maxibons and Connoisseur ice-creams will remain at their original prices.
Fellow Reddit user browsingfromwork posted: "I would rarely have gone to the cinema on a weekend so I am not their target market but these changes will help ensure I am never part of their target market. If we continue this model, soon Coles will be charging more as the queue at the registers increase."
PastaOfMuppets wrote: "So let me see if I understand this ... A corporation within an industry which is facing immense challenges due to disruptive innovations and market changes (ie streaming and what have you), decides the best move forward is a trial to put prices up? Brilliant strategy!"
In the apparent memo shared on Reddit, staff are urged to respond to customer inquiries about the new prices by saying "Village Cinemas have commenced a pilot investigating dynamic pricing models at different times at selected sites across the summer period. Village Cinemas is committed to provide affordable cinema options through our Vrewards offers and discounts, promotional pricing and tailored screening programs."
However, as one Redditor pointed out, what Village Cinemas was doing was not true surge pricing but was instead "a predetermined uplift in prices", as they had no way of determining the demand on the day for any particular movie session.
"I don't think this is even 'surge pricing', it's just a predetermined uplift in prices and not driven by demand. What if it's a quiet night? It's a bit cheeky to call this dynamic," majoeyjojo posted, while others like epicpillowcase urged moviegoers to boycott the chain, posting "Support the smaller cinemas. They're way less greedy."
Other users suggested the company's profits could suffer as a result of the decision, as it might lead customers to turn their backs on the company and embrace their rivals.
Villages Cinemas could not be reached for comment.