back to article Mamma Mia! UK film fans forced to Q as Vue's website craps itself

Cinema chain Vue's wobbly website frustrated customers for a second day today as would-be film-goers found themselves dumped into a queuing system in order to buy tickets. Problems began over the weekend when users reported long waits even to retrieve showtimes. Website is terrible, it was the same story yesterday, I had to …

  1. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge
    Coat

    We don't want your

    "Money, Money, Money"

    I don't want to appear to be a "Dancing Queen" but could Vue have met their "Waterloo" as their IT Director says, "Why Did It Have to Be Me?"

    Coat with the Abba Songbook in the Pocket.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: We don't want your

      At least it's a website and not a phone going "Ring Ring" while you think your chance for a ticket is "Slipping through my fingers" as the wait goes "on and on and on" - after all you probably only want a ticket for "one man, one woman" (though single women may buy both and ask someone to "gimme gimme gimme a man after midnight" to use the spare ticket). Sounds like the whole system has gone "Andante, Andante" - maybe soon it will be back to being "As Good as New" but its probably too late and you're full of "Disillusion" and you want to tell Vue "I've been waiting for you"

      (Never mind the Abba Songbook - song titles here are courtesy of wikipedia)

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: We don't want your

        Don't get me wrong, I like ABBA, but I always found the "let's see how many song names we can jokingly 'hide' in a comment" thing gratingly Colin Hunt-ish, whatever the band. >:-(

        Your punishment will be to be held in solitary confinment until such time as you can figure out a scenario where one could surreptitiously slip the following ABBA track title into conversation with no chance of arousing suspicion:-

        "Pick a Bale of Cotton"/"On Top of Old Smokey"/"Midnight Special" medley. (#)

        Good luck! If you're well behaved, consideration may be given to your release after The First Ten Y... the first decade.

        (#) Fun fact; I might be wrong, but I think that was the only cover ABBA ever recorded...

  2. BrownishMonstr

    Odeon only seem to run in cities. Vue has 228 sites in the UK with Odeon having 122, I'm not quite surprised by the news to be honest

    1. envida

      Your numbers are out a bit, your figures for Vue are their worldwide numbers not UK.

      Vue has 228 sites spanning 10 countries, in the UK it has a 89 cinema estate has 854 screens. They are the smallest of the biggest 3 cinema chains in the UK.

      Odeon cinema group has over 360 cinemas worldwide, in the UK it has 121 cinemas according to their corporate web site and over 900 screens

      If you add Cineworld in, they have a massive 793 sites worldwide (9,538 screens), their UK operation has 120 cinemas (including picture house) with 1,081 screens

      1. BrownishMonstr

        Thanks for the correction.

        In the north I've seen more vue cinemas than odeob, to me odeon are mostly in cities or the bigger towns.

        The Odeon in Preston is just terribly cold but the Trafford centre one isn't too bad

        1. Aqua Marina Silver badge

          "The Odeon in Preston is just terribly cold"

          Try the Vue on Capitol Way instead of trapsing all the way to the Trafford. Every seat is a big reclining leather seat with tray-table. Oh and call in at the Waitrose next door for the sweets and snacks for 30% the Vue cost!

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "Nina Pretty Ballerina"

    One place I used to live, the next door neighbor was called Nina. And... she was a pretty ballet teacher!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: "Nina Pretty Ballerina"

      I don't suppose you drove a Cortina at the time as if so you could have been doing very well!

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: "Nina Pretty Ballerina"

        No Cortina...

        And a few years later, I was over in Dublin where into the next apartment moved a pair of Russian "Dancing Girls" - who went to work as I was invariably coming back from work around 9pm. A big BMW 7 series with an equally big chauffeur/bouncer used to come to pick them up. They worked at one of the establishments over in Leeson St. Apart from running into them at the lift occasionally, I never did summon up the courage to go around to their place with an empty sugar bowl...

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: "Nina Pretty Ballerina"

        That would depend on whether he lived in a particular Essex conurbation.

        Thanks for the ID+B reference - made me smile :o) That song always cracks me up - having met a few Essex "lads" over the years.

        1. Huw D
          Thumb Up

          Re: "Nina Pretty Ballerina"

          Yup, I inwardly chuckled at the reference.

  4. SImon Hobson Silver badge

    Yay, I second the suggestion to support your local independent cinema. We are lucky to have a good one in town here, although many youngsters take an attitude of "WTF !" when they find a break in the middle and a nice lady (or gent) comes out with a tray of ice creams. IMO that's something lacking in these horrible modern multiplexes.

    Only one screen, so limited selection of films - but they do do it "properly" (with an interval) and I believe have gone all modern with a digital projector and Dolby surround sound (as well as the old film projector). And prices are better than Vue as well.

    1. LeahroyNake Bronze badge

      I totally agree, it was nice going to the Monico in Cardiff when I was (Much) younger. It closed in 2003 and as far as I know there are no independent cinemas left near me.

      http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/wales/2709873.stm

      1. Chunky Munky
        Pint

        Does Chapter Arts Ctr in Canton not have a cinema anymore? Many's the happy hour I spent there as a lad. with a brew or two in the bar after

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      We've got a local "independent" cinema 5 mins walk away .... excellent value (< £6 per peson). However they now serve wine and cocktails alongside the popcorn so have to take care what films you go to there as if you go to anything that will attract the 25-35 female demographic will end up with a cinema full of loud young women seemingly more intrested in their cocktails than the film (had a group of 4 in front of me at one film who (a) took a selfie during the film and (b) spent the next 20 mins passing the phone between them to read the comments on the FB page where they'd posted the picture) .... which makes you think that waiting for the film to come out on DVD/BluRay and watch at home is a better idea.

    3. Sgt_Oddball Silver badge

      We're spoilt for choice in Leeds. Cottage road and Hyde Park picture house are 2 of the 3 oldest (and still independant) cinemas in the UK (also the birthplace of moving pictures)

      The Hyde park even still has working gas lights...

  5. Giles C

    The

    Might get double posted but.

    If you live near wisbech go to the luxe cinema in the town centre, cheap good cinema and I prefer it to Peterborough which is where I live.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Really, really pathetic performance. Only in the UK would this happen.

    1. teknopaul Bronze badge

      downvotes?

      I imagine because the British enjoy queueing.

      Its not often website makers rebuild the experience of waiting inline for a ticket.

      Only a British company would develop this feature.

      I used to enjoy waiting in line in the rain for a ticket to the show.

      I'm going to buy from Vue while standing in the shower with a waterproof mobile phone to re-live that experience.

      Vue should consider adding a feature where you dont necessarily get a ticket at all after that wait. Offering instead a link to a caf next to a bus stop on the way home.

  7. davenewman

    Buy at the cinema

    You don't have to buy your cinema tickets through a website. You can turn up and hand over some cash.

    OK, the blockbusters will be sold out, so you end up seeing a higher quality film.

  8. Gordon 10 Silver badge
    WTF?

    Queuing system WTF?

    Why waste the effort coding a queueing system rather than recoding and scaling out the bottlenecks. Talk about getting your priorities wrong.

    Sounds like a PHB solution to me. The number of bookings you can handle is directly proportional to your revenue, it makes no sense to artificially limit it.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Queuing system WTF?

      The answer is... because its a SiteCore site and each server instance costs a new separate licence in the multi-£k range.

      Also since I know which firm wrote it (made in Newcastle-Upon-Tyne), and how bad it was (released and pulled within 6 hours) that SiteCore had to be called in to consult on how to fix it and how long it took to get right before it could be released again (6 months)

      Anonymous for obvious reasons, like not getting sued even though my NDA runs out in 3 months

      1. druck
        Facepalm

        Re: Queuing system WTF?

        The website was still queuing at 7pm last night. The cinema is a only 10 minute walk away, but it was a last minute decision to go, and we wanted to make sure there were a couple of good seats, ended up taking longer on line than the walk!

      2. Gordon 10 Silver badge

        Re: Queuing system WTF?

        "new separate licence in the multi-£k range"

        But thats only the margin on a couple of bags of popcorn! Still silly to code around licensing issues rather than hit them head-on. Its also amazing how flexible vendors can be at the end of a sales quarter or when a notice to terminate is issued.

        Whole website is a UX nightmare as well. I particularly love(d?) the way that under the default filters it shows me films that aren't on yet.

  9. revenant
    Thumb Down

    Seamless???

    ...we put in place a queuing system during peak hours to help customers have a more seamless experience

    Seamless is when the system gives the impression that it is totally devoted to servicing requests for the venue you are interested in. My daughter found at one point that she was in a queue of 1700 - giving the distinct impression that requests for all venues were going through the same single thread of code.

    What a BS explanation.

    1. Stu Wilson

      Re: Seamless???

      Actually no, I can believe that, see the comment above

      The queue system for the **_** core codebase involved pushing a JSON object into a SiteCore message queue object as payload, and then and having a queue handler pull the object and try to process it.

      Things that never really worked very well:

      * its a queue and was therefore single threaded (last time, I remember, the attempt to make the queue multi-threaded failed with a distinct inability to lock an object without race conditions)

      * Auditing and the lack of it

      * Failures were deleted or moved into a SiteCore bucket (i.e. forgotten)

      * zero logging

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Seamless???

      Actually no, I can believe that, see the comment above

      The queue system for the **_** core codebase involved pushing a JSON object into a SiteCore message queue object as payload, and then and having a queue handler pull the object and try to process it.

      Things that never really worked very well:

      * its a queue and was therefore single threaded (last time, I remember, the attempt to make the queue multi-threaded failed with a distinct inability to lock an object without race conditions)

      * Auditing and the lack of it

      * Failures were deleted or moved into a SiteCore bucket (i.e. forgotten)

      * zero logging

      1. Aqua Marina Silver badge

        So good they commented it twice!

        “Re: Seamless???”

        Who made this comment? Stu Wilson or Anonymous Coward? :p

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Christine Baranski

    sigh

  11. GruntyMcPugh Silver badge

    "This is similar to other ticketing sites such as Ticketmaster,"

    Nah, if it was like Ticketmaster, you'd be in a queue for forty minutes, only to be told the event had sold out, and get redirected to a secondary site where the ticket you want is available, at several times the face value.

  12. tiggity Silver badge

    I usually wait for the disk

    As it's so rare to find cinema without lots of random chat and other noises (amazing how a small number of people can make loud rustling snack packet noises for the whole duration of a film), coupled with expensive tickets and obscenely expensive food & drink that I don't bother going to the cinema but watch the disk far later, far cheaper and without disturbances.

    I miss out on the "big screen" experience, but that's fine (especially as cinemas set the sound levels too high usually so it can be painful to listen to some SFX)

    Caveat, there is a good indy cinema near me, where patrons behave, and a film can be enjoyed, but as members get advance first dibs on tickets its rare that there are any spares available at the later date when non members get their chance to book.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Since when is a 503 error not a crash

    After trying on Saturday with no apparent queuing system but the system falling over repeatedly ......

    Then on Sunday welcome to the queuing system. 20 minutes with more than 20 thousand people ahead of you in the queue. Queue counter was north of 250k.

    Get to front of queue only to error with cannot retrieve data and\or a 503 error. Yep that's not crashing honest .....

    No issues on rivals website that have more seats.

    Whilst I get the previous comments about the design and that won't help I would love to look at the real stats assuming they could collect them.. Even late at night there seemed an inordinate amount of people in the queue.

    To me the numbers look more like somebody is helping along with a Denial of Service attack too. Or possibly it is self inflicting one.

    Really you need to queue just to look at the show times ....

    Either way they need to sort out their website and IT team .....

  14. 89724102172714182892114I7551670349743096734346773478647892349863592355648544996312855148587659264921

    film fans?

    It's ABBA fans, this film would make my film fan head explode..

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Customers will just have to grin and Paddington Bear it (sorry)...

    Huh? {Grunt}.

  16. Dan Wilkie

    I don’t know about the rest of their team, but from those twitter messages they seem to be getting their money’s worth out of “Dani”

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