UPDATE: I have just received an email from Peerindex offering two free tickets for Skyfall at a time and place we choose. Well handled, Peerindex. The cautionary tale below should be read in that context.
Today my wife and I set off to see the new Bond film, Skyfall. We were looking forward to it, especially since the nice people at PeerIndex had sent us a couple of vouchers which read;
"Take this voucher to your local Picturehouse cinema to get free entry to the movie of your choice. Enjoy!"
Well, that's an offer which is hard to resist. Of course, there was some small print, which read;
"Terms and Conditions. This voucher is valid only until 01/11/2012 and redeemable at Picturehouse cinemas only, and cannot be used to book online or by phone. Excludes all opera, live satellite and premium-priced events. Standard terms of admission apply - see Picturehouse website for details."
Well, that all sounded fine. Our nearest Picturehouse cinema is in Stratford, close to the Olympic site. It's a few stops on the central line from our home. Since we couldn't book online or by phone, we set off this afternoon, aiming for the 3pm performance. When we arrived at 2.45pm, there were half a dozen people in the queue. It was clear that the showing would be far from full. A good sign. I reached the front of the queue, handed over the vouchers and asked for two tickets to Skyfall. The cashier looked at the vouchers and read them carefully. She said "I've never seen these before, I need to call someone" She meant it literally, shouting into the foyer for the manager. She also decided to call his phone, and as the queue was now building behind us, asked me to step to one side.
After an embarrassing (for us) wait, the manager arrived and reviewed the tickets, shaking his head. He said "I'm sorry, I can't let you in with these, since the Terms of Admission say that they aren't valid for this film. If you want to complain, contact Sony - it's their film."
That was it. No admittance. We left to the stares of the queue, and I felt almost as though I'd been caught trying to cheat. There was no indication anywhere that the vouchers couldn't be used for any particular film. We'd had a round trip of an hour, spent a fiver each on tube fares and ended up being both disappointed and embarrassed.
Naturally, I checked the terms of admission on the Picturehouse website when I got home. It took quite a time, since they are over two thousand words long. I finally found the relevant rule, 5.14, which states:
"5.14. Complimentary tickets cannot be used for free-list-suspended films. These are films whose distributors have suspended the use of complimentary tickets during the opening week(s). This restriction does not apply to Members' free tickets."
Clearly, Skyfall is currently a "free-list suspended film". But who is to know? The fact is not mentioned anywhere on the Picturehouse website. The only way to discover it is to go to the cinema, stand in a queue for tickets, and then be turned away.
It's a daft way to behave. I'd have been perfectly happy to be made aware that certain films weren't included in the offer, and provided with a list to check. It wasn't about the potential for free tickets - we'd happily pay to go and see Skyfall, and instead of the cinema, we ended up going to a restaurant. The frustration was the fact that we had an unavoidable pointless journey, on the basis of receiving a "reward". I wonder what Bond would have done?