Don't Sell Me a Dirty Cup, Dude! The Cinemark Tinseltown Brand Experience

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This will be quick. Sometimes when you have a bad customer experience at a store, you can whine and complain, display 6 types of anger all at once, or just blog about it, as I'm choosing to do here.

So there I was, out with friends, a couple and their kids, ready to see the new Star Trek movie.  We got to the theater early, early enough for me to get some snacks. I went to buy two icees and a bucket of popcorn.

I got a blueberry flavored icee and the popcorn, and they sold me an large, empty cup but told me to come back in 10 minutes for the coke-icee. I noticed the manager was cheerfully reciting a limerick: "There once was a man from Nantucket."

I came back ten minutes later. The coke icee wasn't ready, so I wandered off again came back 5 minutes later.  This time, I passed my shiny cup over, and asked for the cherry flavor, since the coke was still freezing...  and that's when things got interesting.

The guy took my clean empty cup with a lid on it, wheeled around, and held up another cup - one that was clearly wet - filled with droplets of something and something like "I just dropped your lid, but let me fill up your cup."

I was surprised and said: "That's not my cup. My cup was dry. That's not my cup, and you know that."

He insisted: "That's the cup you just gave me."

I replied: "Don't do this man, you know what you did."

At this point the limerick-manager comes over and says: "That's the cup you gave him. Don't talk to him - I'm the manager, talk to me about it."

I explained again: "I gave him a brand new cup. The one he's got is wet. It's used."

The "manager" turns up the volume and says: "That's the cup you gave him."

Flashback to high school - back when I worked at a theater in the summers. I realize what's going on.  The concessions staff is measured by the cup. They sell cups, not drinks. So each cup is worth 5 bucks. I know that's how the movie theaters make their money - from their concessions.

I said: "All right. What's your name and may I take your picture?  You know this is wrong."

The "manager" replied in a disdainful tone: "My name is Brandon. And go ahead, take my picture."


I did (see art-photography above).

He then said: "I can give you a new cup. Give him a new cup."

To which I replied: "Do, and can I please watch you get my drink?"

The "manager" proceeded to fill my drink with style and a flourish of his hand.

"May I have a straw with that?" I asked.

The "manager" handed over a straw slowly, with another flourish.

I asked him his name again, to which he said "Brandon Phillips, and I will see you on the screen."

I wonder what that means. 

So basically that's my story.  The fact that the "manager" was "in" on the sell-the-dirty-cup trick means one of the following:

a) employees are punished for losing cups, i.e. filling out a lost cup report is held against them,

b) employees are making extra money selling used cups,

c) the practice is part of the business model, and it's just how they make better margins.

Regardless, I have decided to never buy anything from the movie concessions ever again.

Brand destruction lesson: don't mess up on trivial stuff and then treat your customer like an idiot. You will loose the customer for life. 

Do the math, Cinemark.

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This page contains a single entry by Christian Sarkar published on May 18, 2013 6:37 PM.

The Kodak Moment: A Failure of Management Imagination? was the previous entry in this blog.

Farewell, David Beckham is the next entry in this blog.

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