MoviePass Plays a Dangerous Game to Increase Subscriber Count

A struggling MoviePass has made a move that is being seen as questionable in its efforts to boost its subscriber base, automatically enrolling lapsed subscribers in yet another new variation of its monthly plan, without their consent, describing them as a “select test group”.

Those not interested in paying for the scheme have to actively opt out by October 4th, or they will be charged $9.95 on the 5th and every month after that. In the email sent out to the past subscribers, MoviePass wrote:

“In August 2018, we announced a new offering for three movies a month for $9.95, giving subscribers the ability to opt in to this plan if they wanted to continue as a MoviePass subscriber. However, our records show that you have not yet taken any action on the new plan and because of that, your subscription was suspended and your monthly subscription charges have stopped.

Because we really hope you begin enjoying your MoviePass subscription again, we have chosen you to be a part of a select test group who, beginning Friday October 5th, will be restored to unlimited movies (up to one new movie title per day based on existing inventory), the same subscription that you signed up for and previously enjoyed. If you decide that you do not want this, you must “opt out” before Thursday October 4th at 9 PM.

To be clear, unless you opt out, your unlimited subscription will be restored and you will begin enjoying unlimited movies again (up to one movie per day, based on existing inventory) at $9.95 per month, and your credit card on file will be charged on a monthly basis beginning Friday October 5th, 2018.

If you do opt out of the restoration of your subscription to the unlimited plan, your subscription will be cancelled and no longer held in a “suspended” status, and you will not be able to re-join until nine months have passed”.

Back in July, parent company Helios announced that MoviePass had reached 3 million subscribers. However, a multitude of pricing and service changes that have taken place throughout the year have caused confusion, while concerns about the company’s customer service when it comes to managing accounts and issuing refunds, as well as the overall viability of the service, have caused a recent exodus of subscribers.

Analyst Comment

I’m no business law expert (and, of course, the law will be different in the US than in the EU), but this move is absolutely baffling to me. I certainly hope that this email didn’t end up in the “Junk” folder of any of these “select test subjects”.

Additionally, that those who don’t take advantage of this enforced resubscription will effectively be penalised by not being able to sign up until nine months have passed is also a bizarre, cut-your-nose-off-to-spite-your-face sort of clause to throw in, to my mind. Legally, MoviePass must be on very thin ice with this kind of practise, which could backfire spectacularly, doing far more harm than good to its subscriber count — and its reputation. (AF)