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Buying movie tickets from your mobile; Help! Save me!

The other day I was sat in a movie theatre here in San Francisco.  I wanted to go and see Alien vs Predator (“Requiem”).  I was in the mood for some mindless action together with a bit of popcorn.  The only trouble?  Well, there was a big queue of people.  There were four ticketing windows open, each with about 10 people waiting in line.

Stuff that, I thought, I’m a mobile chappy.  I won’t stand. I’ll sit on the nice sofas, munch on some popcorn and do the booking from my mobile.

Confidentially — that is, don’t tell anyone whilst I pour out my personal foibles — I still very much have an issue ordering tickets via voice on the phone.  That’s because I spent my formative years calling up UCI Cinemas or Odeon and speaking to some right arses.

“Yes, I’d like to book tickets for the UCI Thurrock please?” I say.

“Romford, did you say?”

“No, UCI Thurrock.”

“ROMFORD?”

“No, UCI Thurrock — at the Lakeside Shopping Centre,” I’ll explain, patiently.

“We don’t ‘ave a cinema there mate,”

“Yes you do, I’m stood outside it….”

The excruciating experience of trying to book tickets that, if I had access to their booking system, I could transact in seconds, was just ridiculous.  Online booking fixed this problem for me.

I rarely ever stand in line.  I just can’t.  I can’t do that — it’s akin to a degree of sacrilege standing, waiting for 10 minutes, to buy a ticket.  It’s SO inefficient.

So these sorts of mindnumbing shite experience really effected me, I think.

I occasionally tried booking cinema tickets on my mobile in the United Kingdom.  But that’s just a stupid experience too.  The cinema companies haven’t yet got the mobile wind.  There’s a few isolated exceptions, if memory serves, where you can book a ticket and pay for it with your mobile phone bill.  I can’t recall the service name, but it’s certainly not universal.  I remember looking it up once and finding that I could only book Odeon, I think.
They’re often a lot more joined up with things like this in America.  I was hoping for a simple, easy experience.

But no.

Fandango mobile wasn’t at all helpful.  I was very disappointed.  I’ve been using them to book my movie tickets online and when I saw they had a mobile site (via a mobile Google search), I was delighted.

For some reason there was ‘no data available’ on any of the cinemas in San Francisco that I queried on their mobile site.  The data was available to query on Google and on the main Fandango site.  But not on the mobile version.

Right.  Almost useful.  So I’ve no idea if you can book tickets via Fandango Mobile.

Another Google search later… (and found this brilliant Wap Review article) and I found that MSN Mobile enables you to buy tickets from your handset — although I didn’t get a chance to try it out.. the movie was, by this time, about to start and luckily the queue at the ticket windows had reduced to zero.

Next time I’m going to book via MSN Mobile and check out the experience.

Do you have any recommendations for similar services I should check out?

By Ewan

Ewan is Founder and Editor of Mobile Industry Review. He writes about a wide variety of industry issues and is usually active on Twitter most days. You can read more about him or reach him with these details.

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