Situations When It’s Perfectly OK to Ask for a Movie Ticket Refund

Are you thinking of asking for a movie ticket refund? If you are, you might be unsure of when it’s OK to ask for your money back and when it’s not. The Cheat Sheet reached out to a few experts to get their take. Here’s what they said about when to ask for a refund and what to do if you’re denied.

Good reasons to ask for a refund

Women watching movie

Technical difficulty? Ask for a refund.| LightFieldStudios/iStock/Getty Images

Technical issues. If there are any technical issues, you’re free to go ahead and ask for a refund. For example, if the picture is not showing correctly, or if the sound isn’t working, there’s no need to sit through the entire movie.

Uncomfortable temperature. If it’s way too hot or cold in the theater, it will be difficult to finish the film. So, if the heating system broke down in the middle of winter or the air conditioning isn’t working well during the summer months, it would make sense to request a refund, Relationship Expert April Masini told The Cheat Sheet.

Noisy people. If you can’t hear the movie, what’s the point of staying? It’s fine to ask for your money back if your seat mates simply won’t be quiet.

Anything within the theater management’s control. Michael Alexis, a refund expert, says anything within the theater management’s control is fair game when it comes to requesting a refund. “When you buy a movie ticket, it’s a simple contract: you agree to give the cinema money, and they agree to show you a film. To the extent the cinema or business falls short of this agreement, it is perfectly okay to request a refund,” Alexis told The Cheat Sheet.

Bad reasons to ask for a refund

empty movie theater

Empty movie theater | tifonimages/iStock.com/Getty Images

Although there are legitimate reasons to ask for your money back, there are also some terrible reasons to make a request. Don’t count on getting a movie ticket refund if you have one of the following reasons.

You’re offended by the language or nudity in a film. Movies have a clear rating system. If you see a film and then decide you’re offended by the content, that’s on you. Audiences are warned beforehand when it comes to what might appear in the film. “Remember that when you buy into art—whether it’s a movie, a performance, or a book, you’re taking a calculated risk. And those ratings are there to give you a head’s up about what might offend you, so you can make a choice to opt out,” said Masini.

You want money back for a situation that’s not within the theater management’s control. Don’t expect the movie theater manager to provide a refund for something that is outside his or her control. Alexis says making a refund request in this situation is sure to leave you empty-handed. “You should stick to service elements that are within the cinema’s control. If bad weather or a flat tire prevents you from reaching the theater on time then this is outside the cinema’s control and you should not request a refund,” says Alexis.

What should you do if you’re denied a refund?

Man with thumb pointed down

You might get a “no” from the manager. | istock.com/SIphotography

You could just walk away, but if you’re determined to get your money back, there are a few things you can do.

Ask to speak to a manager. This should be your first step if you’re denied a refund. Daniella Flores, creator and author of iliketodabble.com, a blog about creative money tips, says she used to work at a movie theater in high school. Flores found some managers are willing to offer a perk instead of a refund.  “You may not get a refund, but you will get something better for complaining. They may either give you free vouchers to see another movie, free vouchers for food, or a gift card for upcoming visits,” she told us.

Send an email. Alexis recommends sending an email explaining your situation and why you would like a refund. Here’s the advice he offered when it comes to emails. “If a movie theater worker is not willing to issue a refund, then find the email for the manager or customer service, and email them a message like this”:

I’m a regular customer; I come to your theater five or six times per year. Last night I had a bad experience. The movie was good, but the three guys sitting in front of me talked through the whole thing. It was hard to focus on the movie. Would you be willing to send me two free passes to try again?

Call the corporate office. “Most movie theaters are parts of larger chains, so you can always appeal to the corporate offices of that chain,” said Masini.

Contact the movie studio. Masini says reaching out to the studio that produced the film might be worth a try. “Feeling ballsy? You can contact the studio that made the movie and explain why you want your money back. It’s a long shot, but if you don’t sound crazy to them, they may be interested in your feedback,” she said.

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