Some MoviePass customers reportedly unable to cancel their subscription as new plan launches

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Aug 14, 2018, 2:06 PM EDT

Another week, another strange twist in the increasingly complex saga of movie ticket subscription service MoviePass

The company is set to enact its new plan Wednesday that will allow users to see up to three movies per month, plus $2-$5 discounts on other tickets bought through its app, for the monthly fee of $9.95. That used to be the price subscribers paid for the ability to see one movie per day, and this change, plus restrictions the company's placed on access to tickets to hit first-run movies, has led many subscribers to simply cancel their plan rather than migrate over to the new pricing structure on August 15. 

That should be simple enough, but apparently numerous MoviePass customers are having problems cancelling. The Verge has been contacted by several MoviePass users who opted to cancel their service prior to the August 15 change, only to receive emails that told them they were still subscribed, along with a preview of the new plan details.

“Please note: if you had previously requested cancellation prior to opting-in, your opt-in to the new plan will take priority and your account will not be cancelled,” an email sent to subscribers read, indicating that MoviePass was not necessarily honoring cancellation requests, or at least not honoring them in a timely manner. Users also took to Twitter to post screenshots of the emails they'd received after attempting to cancel the service.

To make this more puzzling, users are also reporting that their attempts to re-cancel their plans after receiving these emails from MoviePass resulted in error messages. Whether it's an oversight, a technical error, or some combination thereof, the impression many customers are getting is that MoviePass is simply, somehow, not allowing users to cancel their subscriptions at will.

So, what's really going on here? It's quite possible that it's simply a legitimate error in the company's automated system that MoviePass will have to address. It wouldn't be the first time customers have reported technical issues with the service, and the subscription model has shifted so much just in the last few weeks that it's easy to imagine such an issue was overlooked. Then, as The Verge notes in its report, there's the issue of billing dates. Many users who've reported these issues having billing dates that arrive after the August 15 start date for the new service, so even though some users have cancelled their subscription they are technically still granted access to the service if their billing period ends on, say, August 20. That could explain the "confirmation" emails for the new service, though it does not necessarily explain the confusing language about an "opt-in" taking precedent over cancellation requests, particularly for customers who did nothing except request a cancellation.

The issue is the latest headache in the ongoing saga of MoviePass, which has been grappling with pricing, available films, and customer service for the past two months. During that time the company suffered more than one major outage, ran out of money, changed its subscription model (more than once), limited first-run film access for customers, and added new charges for major opening blockbusters, all while also grappling with the looming specter of a competing service from AMC Theaters, which is quickly gaining subscribers

It's not clear yet just how widespread this issue is, what MoviePass plans to do about it, or if customers whose billing dates haven't arrived yet will indeed actually be charged for a new plan they never signed up for. Right now, this is just another customer relations frustration for MoviePass, and the company has to be praying right now that it doesn't turn into something more.