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Ashford Cineworld bosses refuse to bow to public pressure after hundreds vote against controversial new allocated seating rules

By Samantha Williams

A cinema giant says it will not revoke its new seating policy - despite customers' threats to take their custom elsewhere.

Cineworld, which has more than 80 cinemas across the country including two in Kent, introduced allocated seating nationwide last month.

The move prompted hundreds of complaints from film fans - and, as of midday today, more than 1,500 people had voted against it in a KentOnline poll.

Customers were surprised to see Sir Paul at Cineworld in Ashford

Critics said problems with the new system include confusion over row and seat numbers, people ignoring rules, arguments and problems with booking tickets online and the website crashing.

Yesterday, KentOnline revealed an argument had broken out during a screening of Mrs Brown's Boys D'Movie in Ashford when a group of five sat in the seats booked by other customers.

Little Burton resident Kirsty Poynton said the beginning of the film was interrupted due to the disagreement.

She said: "There was an argument between a large group of people at the screening.

"It seemed that five people had already sat in the seats that a party of seven had booked.

"In the end the seven people chose to ignore their booked seats and sat elsewhere as the film had started."

A disagreement broke out over allocated seats during a screening at Cineworld

Our story included a poll, asking if allocated seating in cinemas is a good idea.

More than 2,000 people have voted so far, with a staggering 67% saying no.

Despite this, bosses from Cineworld say they will not be revoking the move - even if their customers are calling for it.

Instead, the cinema chain insists it has consulted cinema-goers ahead of the move and that the overall feedback received has been "positive".

A spokesman said: "The decision to introduce allocated seating was made following extensive consultation with cinema users.

"Whilst we recognise this has not been a popular decision with some customers, the overall and majority of feedback from customers visiting our cinemas has been positive.

"We are aware of the problems which some of our customers have experienced so far and are currently working on solutions to resolve these.

"We are, and will continue to listen to customer feedback and investigate how we can ensure that we improve customers' experiences when booking seats. There are currently no plans to remove allocated seating."

Should you be able to use your phone in the cinema? Stock picture

Cineworld says the benefits of the new system includes peace of mind for customers, who can now select their seats in advance and arrive at the cinema knowing their preferred seats are reserved, as well as ensuring that bigger groups can sit together.

In addition, the rows and seat numbers have been re-labelled to make it clearer which seats have been allocated, they said.

However, since it was introduced, several customers have threatened to cancel their Unlimited Card or take their custom to other chains.

Ian Chinery said: "If the allocated seating is not abolished in a month I will be cancelling my Unlimited Card, along with hundreds of others by the looks of it. An absolute shocker of an idea."

And Amy Nahome said: "Sadly not a good first experience of allocated seating. Booked specific seats for a reason and arrived to find people in them.

"They moved out of them... eventually, and not before managing to make me feel rude for telling them to move.

"We have always been happy to just arrive early to get the seats we need. Most likely will end up cancelling our unlimited cards if allocated seating remains!"

A Facebook page titled "Say No To Allocated Seating at Cineworld" has also been set up and has so far attracted nearly 3,000 "likes".

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