MoviePass competitor Sinemia changes its terms to prevent users from suing as it fights a class-action lawsuit

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  • MoviePass competitor Sinemia added a clause to its terms of service to try and prevent its subscribers from suing.
  • The clause says the user waives any rights to “bring or participate in a class action whether brought in arbitration or in any state court.”
  • Sinemia is already the subject of a class-action lawsuit over a new fee.
  • The firm that brought the class-action told Business Insider it wasn’t concerned about the change in the terms of service, saying: “Courts have repeatedly held that these types of unilateral, one-sided changes to contracts are not enforceable.”

MoviePass competitor Sinemia is trying to prevent subscribers from suing.

In late March, the movie-ticket subscription service added a clause to its terms of service that says the user waives any rights to “bring or participate in a class action whether brought in arbitration or in any state court.” The terms also say the subscriber waives the right “to bring a lawsuit in court.”

Being sued by subscribers isn’t a theoretical scenario for Sinemia. The company is the subject of an ongoing class-action lawsuit – filed in November and amended in February – that alleges that the service “essentially become a bait-and-switch scheme” because of a new fee.

The firm that brought the case, Chimicles Schwartz Kriner & Donaldson-Smith LLP, said it’s unconcerned about the new clause, however.

“Courts have repeatedly held that these types of unilateral, one-sided changes to contracts are not enforceable,” Benjamin F. Johns, a partner at the firm, told Business Insider. “We are not concerned about it.”

“The arbitration and governing law provisions were recently added as part of a normal review of Sinemia’s Terms of Use,” Sinemia said in a statement. “The term at issue is consistent with US law and is enforceable. Similar terms are routinely used by other companies within the ticket industry space.”

The crux of the class-action lawsuit is a $US1.80 per-movie “processing fee” introduced by Sinemia in October to subscribers, including those who had prepaid for a yearly subscription. The suit alleges that the new fee “dramatically changes the value proposition that customers thought they were getting.”

The suit claims Sinemia’s conduct includes “fraud, breaches of contract, violations of state consumer protection laws, and unjust enrichment.”

“While nobody enjoys fees, there are certain costs related to booking and processing outside of the price of the movie ticket,” Sinemia said last month in a statement to Business Insider in response to the amended lawsuit. “As our customers are already aware, the processing fee is a requisite part of Sinemia subscriptions. This allows Sinemia to maintain being the only movie ticket subscription service to provide access to all showtimes for all movies in all theatres without restrictions.”

In addition to the processing fee, Sinemia has faced criticism from customers on topics ranging from unfair account terminations, to “misuse” fees, to demands for ID verification.

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