Sinemia, the subscription ticketing service that has been billed as an alternative to MoviePass, has had a rough two weeks. While its app prevented many users in the U.S. from buying tickets the weekend of March 23 (“Us” opening), even more furious customers whose subscriptions were cancelled due to accusations of fraud have taken to Reddit and Twitter — as well as reaching out to publications like IndieWire and Business Insider by the hundreds — accusing the company of following the path of MoviePass and trying to stay afloat by denying active users the ability to purchase tickets.
Sinemia Founder and CEO Rifat Oguz granted IndieWire a 75-minute interview to answer questions last Friday afternoon. It was, at times, a contentious interview, with Oguz expressing surprise at IndieWire’s description of the extent of the problems users are facing, but promising the growing company is committed to fixing its problems.
The following is an edited (for clarity) version of that conversation — by the end of it, Oguz said he would reconsider keeping the door shut on those who have recently been kicked out of their Sinemia subscription. The conversation is split into five topics: 1) app problems, 2) fees, 3) requiring users to upload a selfie holding their driver’s license, 4) customer service, 5) fraud and termination of users.
1. Problems with the App
Let’s start with an update. What’s the status of the maintenance of the app?
Oguz: Maintenance. What do you mean, maintenance? Currently, we always work on the new app updates in Sinemia. What is the question, actually? I don’t understand.
Sure, let me clarify. This weekend, the service was not working and–
Oguz: Well, okay, that was news that [was] actually in your paper, right? That’s not true. We weren’t down.
What customer service told–
Oguz: Users [were buying] tickets and actually the issues only happened in the advanced tickets [sales]. So the cardholders, which are the majority, were using Sinemia as intended, but we weren’t down. I think that was coming from where? Reddit or Twitter?
Well, let me be very specific with you, users were told by Sinemia Support [crosstalk]. Please let me finish. Sinemia Support said that the app was “under maintenance, please wait for the update.” People who were using the app were unable to purchase tickets this weekend. I have literally hundreds of examples of people, including personal ones of trusted sources, unable to use the app.
Oguz: Can you send me the exact messages? That our support … because I just want to make sure, maybe because “under maintenance” is maybe because we were working on unlimited [Sinemia introduced a new “Always Unlimited” plan], but we weren’t down, I am repeating again we weren’t down. People were buying tickets and tons of people, thousands of people bought tickets last week.
So you’re claiming people that were using advance tickets feature through the app, there was not a problem?
Oguz: No, I’m saying that there was a problem, I can talk about it, but it wasn’t down. There were two reasons that we found. One of them is because we [changed] our ticketing process to direct users to movie theaters’ own websites, so we [stopped] directing them to third party ticket sellers like Fandango and Atom Tickets. And they were directing them in the outdated version of the app.
So let me just clarify what you just said. You have a policy now where users are mandated to buy tickets directly from the theater website. That’s a new policy and because of that change users needed the updated app, or they had errors when they clicked to purchase tickets?
Oguz: Yeah, because we always update it. The technology is always updated, currently we are updating almost every two days… so people always need to update and not use the outdated version, that’s right.
The second problem is [at the] beginning of the March we started a detailed misuses-and-fraud analysis and around two percent of our users were terminated. I can talk about that more, but if you were a terminated user, you can’t use your app.
I want to talk about the fraud, but I want to first talk about people that were not terminated and having difficulty using the app. My concern is that the problem that people were having continued after the update. Even after they did the update they were still having trouble purchasing tickets.
Oguz: And they are not terminated users?
Not terminated users.
Oguz: Maybe they’re terminated but they don’t know that. Okay.
We’re talking about the 99 percent of users who weren’t accused of fraud.
Oguz: Not 99, 97.
97, 98, we can talk about those numbers later, because that’s an issue as well. I’m talking about the 97 percent – there have been system wide problems of people not able to purchase tickets even with the updated app. What people were told by Sinemia support was that maintenance was being done-
Oguz: I’m repeating that we weren’t down.
That’s fine, but what I’m asking is what would you say to the people in good standing that have not been able to purchase tickets?
Oguz: Chris, let me just clarify this, if you can just send me those and I can maybe find out who sent it to you and I can check and come back to you. That’s what I’m aware of. I told you that there’s two reasons — now you’re saying system was down and I can tell, we weren’t down so.
Last night it took me 90 minutes to buy a ticket and I have the updated version [of the app].
Oguz: 90 minutes to buy the ticket. So what do you mean 90 minutes?
I got a lot of “Fail, try again” messages.
Oguz: Hmm… I’m sorry that you had that and I’m sorry to hear that, but here’s actually – if you could provide–
This isn’t about me. I gave you that example because I need you to understand I’m not taking this from internet chatter. I’m hearing directly from readers too, but I have trusted sources, people who work in the industry who use your service, friends who use the app, and when I hear there’s problems with Sinemia, I ask them, “Are you able to use it?” And across the board this weekend iPhone users were not allowed to use it. Some iPhone users have had trouble using it throughout March. I just signed up again and had problems.
Oguz: And how did you end up buying [the ticket last night]?
Oguz: Persistence. Oh.
Across the board this weekend, trusted sources were not able to use it. Across the board they were told by support, “DM us, wait for the update, maintenance.” Slowly, some have been able to buy tickets with persistence this week.
Publicist: Rifat, is that something you can maybe check in with maybe the customer service team and get back to them on?
Oguz: That’s what I right now really want to do and because that’s the persistence cannot be an issue and also something I need to dig into and find out. That’s because we are aware that the terminated users cannot buy the tickets and we had to actually seven updates last week. Let me check back. I’ve never heard–
I just want to be clear, you have not heard of an increased volume in people unable to purchase tickets through the app?
Oguz: There was an increase, yeah because we just [moved away from using] Fandango this weekend. All I can give is that maybe a bigger problem than our knowledge, because right now we thought, after terminating two percent of our users, which is a lot of people, this was a normal amount of complaints, but let me check, Chris.
OK, let’s move past that. Is the back end of the app a huge undertaking for a company like yours? Keeping it updated for all these different operating systems, along with all the changes you are making to the subscriptions – which is a ton, rules are always changing – is that back end a bigger deal than you had imagined?
Oguz: So you know we were founded about four or five years ago in Europe and we actually came to the United States and we moved to Los Angeles in 2017. After a month we saw an increase in our users. Then there was MoviePass with their unlimited model for $9.99. We calculated and decided we would not be able to sustain if we followed them. We grew, even though there were was MoviePass, we grow 50% month over month for maybe 14 months. If you calculate that’s more than 2000 times growth. So yes, along the way, the back end and server have always had problems.
So we had some moments that can go down and can go up, but our engineers are working almost 24/7 and that’s because we have two teams, one in Europe and over here, so that’s overlapped. We also know that we are a startup and we are struggling, but also we are making movie goers go to movies and we’re the only one offering the any time, any theater, any movies. We are not limiting movies, not limiting showtimes. And since we were actually growing that much I can see that we can also have a growing number of customers and customer complaints, and you can see in LinkedIn maybe, but we also increased our employee number maybe 30 percent this year, maybe 40 percent, so we’re growing and we’re advancing with increasing our customer support, increasing our team. We doubled our engineering team this year. And we are growing to do that, but as a start up, we are also [facing challenges] and that’s how we try to overcome [them]. We are trying to do something over here and that’s really not easy.
2. Fees and Physical Cards
[Editor’s Note: One of the chief complaints from Sinemia users is surrounding fees. Some, including those involved in a class action law suit, believe Sinemia is pulling a bait and switch — if you use your monthly subscription to purchase advance tickets you pay two additional convenience charges to the theaters and a second $1.80 charge from Sinemia. If customers want to avoid those charges, you must pay a fee to purchase a physical card that can be used at the theaters.]
It would strike me that the card, the physical card used in theaters, is a way to solve some of those problems, so I want to talk about that. It seems as if physical cards went away, it was then hard to find how to order the card, and now I went to order a card last night and it couldn’t tell me how much it would cost. So it’s hard for me to understand–
Oguz: It didn’t tell you?
No. It used to be $14.99, that’s my understanding. Now it says “Do you want to order a card” and then it says, “Price will vary based on” I want to say “usage.”
Oguz: Huh. Usage? Okay, let me just have a look into this.
Editor’s Note: Sinemia’s exact language regarding ordering a physical card: “Sinemia card fee is determined based on the usage and operational costs vary depending on the plan. Sinemia covers the online convenience and processing fees for physical card users when the card is used in person, at the box office unless told otherwise. Physical card orders cannot be canceled nor refunded. Sinemia reserves the right to make changes to applicable fees and introduce new rules at any time.”
Oguz clarified during the interview that cards cost $14.99 to $29.99. Oguz went on to discuss the $1.80 fee associated with purchasing tickets online, in addition to the theater’s convenience charge.
Oguz: After growth and seeing that the [volume of] online transactions [at one point in early 2018, 87 percent of Sinemia tickets were purchased online in advance] there’s a conveninece fee and to pay that convenience there’s processing fee that we also handle. There’s also a cost behind it in our operation, we had to engineer for that, there’s producting for that, and we started to charge outside of the ticket [because] that’s a cost for us. Payment processors also get some fix amount of dollars whenever you transact a cardholder and we were transacting this convenience fee, because if you want to buy an online ticket you have third party providers asking for convenience fees.
This is the $1.80?
That $1.80 represents what you’re being charged for a processing fee? Because that’s a very high processing fee.
Oguz: No, that’s not equal… and there is operational cost for it.
Yeah, but normally the processing fee is somewhere in the neighborhood – for a credit card or a service like that – is three percent, right?
Oguz: No, no. There’s also a fixed amount for every transaction. It’s not three percent. It’s more than 30 percent. Even if [the convenience fee] is $1, the fixed amount is always there.
Can we work through an example? Last night I bought a $17 ticket at Alamo Drafthouse. As instructed, I bought that ticket from the Alamo website. They had their own convenience fee of $1.75, you are going to pass that onto me. I know that. But then in addition, you’re going to probably charge me $1.80, right?
Oguz: Yes. Because advanced tickets have some cost to us. And that’s actually not three percent of that $1. It’s more than that. It’s more than 30 percent.
Right, so you bought me a $17 ticket. You’re passing on the Alamo Drafthouse convenience fee to me. The issue is that $1.80 is 10 percent of the purchase.
Oguz: To take that convenience fee from you and send it to Alamo Drafthouse, there’s a cost associated with that.
Alamo is charging you as well?
Oguz: Not Alamo, the credit card processors.
Oguz: Even though we’re charging your card [that fee], I can tell you almost half of it is going to the payment processors.
Half of it. Approximately half is what you’re saying?
Oguz: Yes. There’s costs associated with an operational costs, and the virtual card cost, so we cultivated [the $1.80 fee] to maintain the service starting [in] August. Netflix increased their price three times, right?
Everybody understands increased subscription charges, but I know you’ve heard the accusations of bait-and-switch and I know that you’re facing a lawsuit over that. The problem that people have with the fees is it works against the appeal of subscriptions, right? It’s a set cost. I spend x dollars a month and I know what I can do with it. Yes, Netflix is gonna increase costs. Maybe one day Spotify will increase costs.
Oguz: And that’s why we have physical cards right [to avoid the $1.80].
But you’re not increasing subscription costs. What you’re doing is these things accrue. It’s $1.80, $1.80, $2, before you know it, this thing that it thought I was spending $8 or $9 on a month to see a certain number of movies is now costing significantly more if I actually use it. It works against the subscription model.
Oguz: If you really think that, you’ll not use Sinemia. Just your example, you bought a $17 ticket, and you paid $8.99 you said, maybe for three tickets (a month). You paid, let’s say $2 for every transaction, $1.80, right?
Oguz: For one of them, you’re paying $11 and you get $17. Almost a 50 percent discount that you can never find in any of the other, anywhere, right? [With] the second, you’ve paid Sinemia $13 and you have $34 [worth of tickets] that we paid for you. Then your third ticket, it’s gonna be $51, and you’re paying Sinemia $15. When you’re buying tickets, it’s $51 that we are paying for $15 we get, it’s more than 75 percent discount.
[Editor’s Note: In this scenario, that $15 does not include the theater’s convenience fees, which would add an additional $4.50 to $6.]
To avoid the $1.80, the answer is to move towards a physical card [a $14.99 to 29.99 fee], correct?
Oguz: That’s if you really want to avoid the $1.80, if it is really, really important. I can tell you this right now, even physical card holders, again, they’re buying the online tickets [and there are fees].
Are you having problems with the card? Are there any technical problems in implementing these new cards? We discussed the backend of the advanced ticket purchase in the app, are you having similar problems with the cards?
Oguz: With the backend?
Are people having problems using the cards in theaters?
Oguz: No, not that I’m aware of. Where is this question coming from, actually?
There’s been a lot of problems over the last two months.
3. Customer Service
When people are having problems, such as myself last night, or people that are in the theater are having a problem – maybe some of these problems are really solvable, maybe it’s user error, things that are really fixable – is there a way to have customer support become more responsive? MoviePass, which was a terrible failure, but when you were in the theater and you were having a problem, you could get someone over text chat or you could get someone on the phone, “I can’t buy this ticket.” Is it possible to get customer support to be more responsive when users are having the problem?
Oguz: Of course there’s a way.
Is that a goal?
Oguz: Where we’re going, that’s of course a goal. That’s why we’re increasing our customer support every month. We never decrease our customer service. We’ve always increased for the last 15-16 months. I can tell you that my ideal goal that they will not have the problem at the first place. That’s why we are more dedicated to product itself. But we have also the most sophisticated and most complex, and [different] versions of the subscriptions – we have the family and group functions that no one has, and it comes with its caveats.
Sure. People love the options. The problem is for the last two months people have had trouble using the service. Let’s just use an example. There are people who are busy with Sinemia, there’s one movie they want to see, there’s one theater that’s convenient for them, there’s one specific showtime they want. If they have friction buying the ticket, if they can’t get customer support to help, they’re gonna move on. Most people are too busy to do what I did last night and stick with it for 90 minutes. There are people not using the service because of this and sometimes they’re buying the ticket themselves, and so part of it is everybody loves the plans, and they love it when it works, but there are people, especially over the last month and dating back into February, that are having trouble using the card, and using the app itself for advanced ticketing.
Oguz: Okay. Okay. In a sense, when you had the problem, we need to – that’s maybe true. If you’re having a problem and it’s solvable and you reach the customer support and they can solve it, that’s our goal.
I can tell you right now, I’ve yet to see an example of customer support helping someone work through a problem. In fact, the standard customer support is coming in many hours later, and is telling people “sorry, we have a no refunds policy.” What people are getting is that, or “hold on, we’re updating the app.” That’s the customer experience that people are having, in particular of late. That’s what I’m asking you about, but it sounds like that’s not something that you’re aware of. It doesn’t sound like that’s something you’re experiencing.
Oguz: Well, we have a huge team over there and huge leadership in customer experience team, and they’re working 24 hours because it switched in two shifts. You’re frustrated, that’s why they’re working.
Are you not hearing that frustration, as the CEO and founder of this company, are you not hearing that frustration? I apologize, but you’re making it sound like I’m the delivery man here. I am asking, is what I’m explaining to you not something that you have heard?
Oguz: We hear both. We also have happy customers. Happy customers are not going to Reddit or Twitter and writing about it, but we can see from the transactions, we can see from the rating that they gave, feedback that they gave, but I see both.
Oguz: I know as a startup founder and as a startup, we will have problems. We will have complaints, but Uber has tons of complaints and if you can go to BBB [Better Business Bureau], it’s F, but they’re going to IPO. What I’m saying is you will have your problems and you need to try to solve it every day, and that’s what we are trying to do.
4. Requiring a Photo of Each Customer with their Driver’s License
[Editor’s Note: This winter, Sinemia started requiring customers to upload of photo of themselves holding their up their driver’s license near their face.]
Could you explain to me why a customer taking a photo of themselves with their driver’s license was necessary to send to Sinemia?
Oguz: Sure. We’re working in the entertainment industry, but we are using the fintech technology. [Editor’s Note: Oguz talks about the various types of very serious fraud his company has faced and offers an example of hundreds of movie tickets being scalped on the dark net.]
I don’t want to minimize I’m sorry, I want to focus this on something. I know that fraud is a problem, and I know that there are difficulties of fintech. What I’m specifically asking is how does someone taking their picture with their license help? How is that being utilized?
Oguz: We didn’t invent this process. This is the process that the payment processor does–
Your payment processor wants this, because it’s new to me. I have loans, bank accounts, online financial accounts, credit cards.
Oguz: The banks are seeing you physically. We’re an online business. Any website, they’re asking for the same process. We didn’t invent this process.
Who needs to see that? I guess what I’m saying is if I go in and I use your service to buy a movie ticket, I’m curious as to at what point you need to see my picture and my license in the same photo? That’s the part I’m confused by, you don’t have cameras in the theater.
Oguz: Well, I can understand where [you’re] coming from. You can fake an identity and we know that’s you are in that photo. We’re just checking your photo and you in the same picture.
Do you understand why people would be wary? Do you understand why someone would not want to send your company a photo of themselves holding their drivers license next to their face?
Oguz: Of course. Of course. Of course.
Why are they locked out then? People haven’t been able to access their subscription because they refuse to comply with this recent request, which came after many signed up for the service.
Oguz: Yeah. Well, that’s their choice. This is the way to use Sinemia. We can’t grow with the fraud that we are facing.
Do you promise users that that photo and license will stay internal and never be shared with another company?
Oguz: Well, I can tell you more. It’s only stays 24 hours in our system.
Great. That’s a yes? You can promise that that will not be shared?
Oguz: Yes. I can promise. Of course. I can promise.
5. Fraud and Terminated Users
How many users were terminated this month for fraud?
Oguz: As a private company, we don’t disclose our user numbers, which [public companies like Cinemark and MoviePass] have to, and we are keeping our user numbers to ourselves, and we actually told the percentage.
When it was announced that it was less than one percent, an enormous amount of people came forward complaining that they had been wrongly exited, and that number then went to “approximately three percent.” I’m wondering if you could, at the very least, put some kind of hard number on this because to be frank, that’s a little vague.
Oguz: We’re not gonna put any hard number on it, Chris.
Fair enough. Did you conduct the fraud search internally? Who conducted the investigation?
Oguz: Yeah, we are always doing that internal, of course. We have a fraud team.
I saw your press release about fraud. Fraud is very serious. I don’t mean to undermine that, and certainly even people just buying tickets for friends that is something that is a danger to your business and you have to take that seriously. I just want you to know that you’ve been heard on that, and I’m just taking it as accepted truth, so I want to move past that. Is there a chance in your mind that some people got caught up in this investigation who have been falsely accused of fraud? Is that possible?
Oguz: That’s a good question. That’s a good question. That is actually, I can tell you this, that there is of course and, well, I can’t say that… There’s a high reason of fraud. Let’s say that you change your device because you have 10 devices, [if] you’re changing it and we canceled your account because [we] actually think that you’re selling it, that’s not fraud. But think about when you just bought a ticket, and [then] go and forget about it. There’s reasons that people might not [commit] fraud, but that’s a violation of our terms.
I guess this gets into the issue of what you guys categorized as misuse of a card. That got folded into this, is that correct?
Oguz: Come again, sorry?
If someone misused a card, not fraud – fraud meaning someone intentionally manipulated the service – if someone misused the service, it is possible they got folded into this fraud search, right?
Oguz: Yes, yes.
Here’s my problem, if people are having trouble using this service, and I’ll be honest with you, it’s complicated, you got to get used to it. I have misused the service, I made mistakes in the beginning. This with the combination of there being a lack of customer support when there’s a problem and genuine misuse, why are you not open to at least having that person having a conversation with your company about misuse, or making their case?
Oguz: We’re actually open to that. We are having those conversations, with our support team, we’re trying to address that question. We actually recently reinstated some accounts.
You understand support is telling customers right now, “The conversation is over.” That’s the language being–
Oguz: I know, the conversation’s over. I think it’s in some cases, but maybe you’re talking about the misuse, that’s why I’m talking like this. The forgetting about check in, that’s something we always have a conversation with [customers], there’s a misuse fee for it. We don’t always cancel you, because you just forget to check in, and there’s some conversation.
What would you tell an honest user who got caught up in this? Right now, that user does not know what to do? They’re being told by your company the conversation’s over, you’re gone, fill out your refund form. What would you tell my reader that feels that they’ve been cut out of this system, they’ve been accused of fraud and they did not commit fraud. What would you tell them to do?
Oguz: Well, everything that actually we’ve sent to the users, that’s a process that we are doing–
What you sent users is that conversation is over. You’re telling me the conversation is not over?
Oguz: No, no, no, in the misuse of check ins. I’m not saying that the conversation is over in every case. I was talking about the misuse case. You said that you’ve misused the card, I can tell you that we want to care [for] our customers, and we always listen. We can of course try to do more, but right now, we need to fight the frauds to actually maintain the business.
Sure. I’m not unsympathetic.
Oguz: Our competitors said they were at 20 percent misuse of service, now they are liable. [Editor’s Note: Oguz multiple times makes reference to MoviePass’ claim that 20 percent of users misused their service and all their customers suffered as a result.]
Oguz: On the other hand, we are giving full reasons and full refund of what you paid in the transaction left.
Sir, you are not giving reasons for termination. The problem I’m having here is you’re not giving reason for termination, there isn’t customer support, and there’s no way for these people to reach out. Also, if they’re a customer–
Oguz: [crosstalk]. We told them our [reasons], and you’re giving accusations, I’m giving an answer, and you’ve just giving accusations. It becomes one sided. You’re saying that we’re having problems. [crosstalk]
Let me ask you this. Are you telling users specifically why they’ve been terminated?
Oguz: I think we are a fintech company [inaudible] and people think we are an entertainment company… [Editor’s Note: Oguz goes on to reference that Sinemia’s fraud investigation followed the model of an unnamed Fortune 500 company, “one of the biggest companies in the world,” which afterwards terminated accounts without giving a specific reason. He argued that how Sinemia handled it’s fraud investigation was standard operating procedure.]
I know you’re not going to be able to tell me how you searched for fraud, but it is obvious the information came from users’ app. My concern is this, that the app is buggy. I was with a friend who went to check in, couldn’t check in, then got accused of misuse, then customer support said, “We can see you haven’t opened your app. We know that you didn’t try to check in.” My concern is this, if the customer support is saying, “We can see you didn’t open the app,” and I’m sitting there and I can see that they were trying to check in, and they couldn’t, my concern is that if you’re going into the app to search for fraud, based on my experience with your app, that they are not getting accurate information.
Oguz: I understand. Honestly, in technology, there can be problems and we’re always making updates. I understand that you’re thinking if you can’t check in, and that’s why I told you in the check in process, if you couldn’t check in, our customer support has always tried to help. We don’t cancel their accounts for that. There is misuse fee for that. That’s why we don’t cancel the user accounts.
Misuse is listed as a reason for the termination.
Oguz: Yes. This misuse, like can’t check in, we just tell people there’s a misuse fee process. If it is the one time only, we don’t do that in the first time.
I have a regret in my reporting over MoviePass. I believed in them, but what I didn’t know is I didn’t know they weren’t on financially stable ground and couldn’t handle debt. Are you in a position that if you go into debt, can you absorb that as you grow subscriptions?
Oguz: That’s a good question. The public companies are different. Start-ups, we always fight. We found something and we’re trying to make it. That’s what Google did, that’s what Uber did. They’re losing money in there, Spotify, they’re losing money until this year.
Oguz: It’s also the ability to raise [money], of course it’s about the market, it’s about the KPIs [Key Performance Indicators] that grow, and the retention. I can tell you we were super happy with our growth, and that’s been helpful, our retention is high. We are growing.
You’re pointing to companies that as they grew, they had to take on debt. Is part of your business model that you’re going to have to take on debt as you grow?
Oguz: Well, we need to raise, because we have almost one-hundred employees right now, and of course, we have costs. I can tell you for revenue per member basis, we are profitable. We need to raise. That’s if you’re asking, we need to raise.
You need to raise, okay. You feel comfortable with your ability to do that and take on debt?
Oguz: It depends on everything, I can tell you that we are starting our new round.
You’re starting your new round, okay. Well good. I need you to know, I’ve been hard on you, but I am rooting for you, and IndieWire’s rooting for you – these subscriptions can be great for people seeing movies in theaters. The issue is that right now there’s a ton of suspicion about everything that has happened. I know your ratings are low, but the key is going to be the next step and how you move forward with the user experience. Right now, the user experience has really crumbled over the last six to eight weeks and it’s led to a lot of suspicion.
Oguz: I can see that. That’s our work to maintain that and can have these times. We overcome these times over and over again. That’s our dream, affordable movie-going every time. I understand where you’re coming from. That’s why we want to make it sustainable. If we can make it, then we will all win together.
You have people that are in this terminated group, I’m going to be 100% honest with you, because they’re sources of mine, you have people in this terminated in this group who are not fraudsters. These are people who actually work in film. These are people who want to support something like Sinemia. The fact that they have no venue to talk to people, they have no place to take their complaint, they have suffered through poor user experience and they’re very, very suspicious of what just happened. No one denies the need to get rid of fraud. I’m sure there are fraudsters on Twitter, on Reddit, that are emailing Business Insider and IndieWire, but I’m also telling you, and I can promise you this, there are movie fanatics that want this service to work and that wanted to use it, and you’ve cut them off. Once again, I know people who work on these $50+ million movies, they are the last people who are going to try and steal a movie ticket, and you cut them out.
Oguz: I understand.
I don’t know how to express the fact that that is a problem.
Oguz: I do understand you. As a start-up, we made our best to analyze this and get the results. We would look at this on parameters. I understand that’s the parameters. We can’t know the person, and the reason. The parameters are the terms of the user, but I understand you. That’s one thing that I’m getting from this interviewer. Even right now, I’m talking with the board and we’re trying [to figure out] what [more we can do]. That’s why we [announced] the roll over for every [customer].
That’s great. The roll over’s great. The new plans are great.
Oguz: We had the rollover for free. What we want to do is, if we actually have upset customers, that’s also something we will want to work. If there’s terms and there’s parameters, as a business, I told you that the same process that we’re following, it’s actually the largest company in the world and the fortune 500 companies… We didn’t want to invent the process.
My concern, and I’m going to say this again — I’m very, very concerned that people got swept up into this with bad information coming from that app.
Oguz: I also know where you’re coming from, and not against what you’re telling me. We are a growing technology company, we have complexity. Whenever we have some new feature we had to overcome the problems. We are a pioneer over here.. . We have a huge engineering team, but we have also our problems. We will solve that problem. To solve that problem, we need to sustain the business.
You need to open the door to customers that are not being able to use the app, and customers that are coming back to you, “I was not fraudulent.” You have to open the door to them. I have not had this level of readers reaching out to me with this level of anger my whole entire time at IndieWire.
Oguz: Okay. Yeah, that’s also the great thing that we had, that attention, but knowing that is a complaint that we need to overcome.
Please do. When you are ready to open that communication, when people have been cut out, there is a venue for them to come back to you, please have [the publicist] email me the details of that, because that’s what we need to share with the readers more than anything. Right now, the message is conversation is over, fill out your refund form.
Oguz: You know what Chris? In this conversation…since we talked like an hour, that’s something in my mind right now. I’m saying, we can come up with you, even before you write, that maybe we can something work out for that. Different channels.
The publicist has my number. Thank you.
Editor’s Note: This weekend Sinemia created a new customer service site specifically for users to contest their terminations. You can find that here.
The company also created another customer service site specifically for reporting bugs in the app. You can find that here.