Odeon complaint generates over 120k Likes and 10k comments in 4 days

A wall post complaining about the cost and quality of an Odeon cinema experience that appeared on the official Odeon Facebook Page on Friday has generated an astonishing 122,468 Likes and 10,408 comments. To make matters worse, the complaint has come on the UK summer bank holiday when the Odeon’s social media team appear to have been “on holiday” and have not responded to the complaint.

The  disgruntled cinema-goer left a 466 word complaint entitled “Dear Odeon” and criticised the cinema company for overpriced tickets, food and drink, lazy customer service at the refreshments kiosk and their movie being disrupted by the cinema screen next them showing The Dark Knight Rises (the films booming sound effects being audible through the walls). To round of his complaint, the Facebook user scoffed at the anti-piracy notice shown at the beginning of the film promising that the cinema experience was considerably better than a pirated download.

It follows the complaint last week about a woman being charged €300 to print out boarding passes for a Ryanair flight. That generated more than 350,000 Likes on the Ryanair Facebook Page, thousands of comments, and received national media coverage.

It is likely that the Odeon saga may go the same way. This comes as a stark reminder that poor customer service and social media can be a deadly concoction for brands if not dealt with properly. You don’t need to be a fan of the Odeon Facebook Page in order for the complaint to appear on your newsfeed, merely you just need a friend to ‘Like’ or ‘Share’ for it to appear. As such, the complaint went viral over the weekend and a lack of response from Odeon only spurred on more Facebook users to vent.

In May it was revealed that 18 million UK consumers used social media as a customer service channel and 65% prefer it to the traditional call center – this is expected to rise. Whilst it is unfortunate for Odeon to be caught on the bank holiday, it doesn’t really stick as an excuse. Brands of Odeon’s size cannot continue to treat social media as a 9-5 weekday channel, it needs to be constantly monitored, measured and responded to if they are to catch any early signs of a social media crisis. Crisis management plans need to be in place before any such crises happen in order to ensure a quick response time and avoid confusion among staff around who should be doing what.

Brands cannot simply pick and choose which complaints they want to deal with and when such complaints go viral and escalate, they need to ensure they are being clearly seen to be dealing with it.


Sean Walsh (@walshybhoy) is Head of Social Media at Leeds Social Media Agency Blueclaw (Leeds) and founder of Football Social Media blog – Digital-Football.com.

  • http://www.stayhappyanddontdie.com Stuart Witts

    Sean, I’m not sure how you expect Odeon’s social team to ‘deal’ with this. It’s endemic of the cinema experience to pay over the odds for food and tickets and so the solution lies much further up the management chain.

  • http://www.stayhappyanddontdie.com Stuart Witts

    What would’ve made more of a story is figuring out how this one comment became so successful when hundreds and thousands of similar complaints simply drift by without anyone caring.

  • Sean Walsh

    Hi Stuart,

    I think the story is rather a focus on how failure to do anything (aka. not monitor or respond) over the bank holiday (cinemas are still open…) has seen this spiral out of control.

    I agree – it’s a tough complaint when the whole industry is like that, but surely they should then have already planned for such negativity. A simple reply such as the most basic “Can you message us your details/get in touch with us/we’ve messaged you about the staff and cinema screen in question” would instantly deflate the situation and they could at the very least respond to criticism with a “we’re working on resolving it” response. That’s the most basic and general way to offset social media crisis.

    The fact this hasn’t been done, even now, suggests to consumers and the industry that they are all in meetings trying to think of how to get out of this debacle in a clever PR way.

    I think there’s many interesting tangents for this story as you suggest – 1) The implications of Edgerank changes that is giving wall comments like this on brand pages more exposure in newsfeeds and 2) Why this well crafted, emotive and well delivered comment received attention more than others. But for the purpose of this – I was surprised no one else had reported the huge figure of 120k Likes in the industry and wanted to position the article as a news/information rather than an analytically look (which I agree, would be better).

    Needless to say, treat social media like it’s a shop. If you are open for business – accept that you should be dealing with complaints when they occur. If you are absent and hiding from the storefront – customers will either a) leave or b) have a tantrum (quite rightly).


  • AJ

    So what should Odeon have done?

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  • http://twitter.com/jamesmulrennan James Mulrennan

    An epic fail and surprised to see Odeon have not yet responded (unless I missed it from the 10,000+ comments, as was just skimming)

    A holding message should have been activated to state they would be in contact to identify which store it was and that they will address the issues he raised. As a good will gesture they should have also given him vouchers off his next visit.

    If they really want to be ‘social’ then they should take this a step further and work with customer feedback to improve the instore experience. Perhaps work with the most active page ambassadors to select a group of secret shoppers, this way they can also gain positive comments on the page.

    Some brands need to realise social is about conversation, whether these are positive or negative, not about broadcasting messages

  • http://Webliquid.com Ritchie

    Thanks for your blog Sean. Great read. You are absolutely correct in the need for Odeon to have reacted to this immediately.

    One thing we have built for all of our SM clients is an alert service. This invariably means that if a negative post gathers momentum, no matter what time, where in the world you are, the alert is acted upon – either by us on behalf of our clients in the generic way you have outlined, or by our client SM team who take it in turns to ‘be on call’.

  • http://www.chaptereight.com/blog Natasha Green

    I must admit, when I saw this in my Facebook news feed I was quite pleased someone had flagged a complaint as I’d had a similar experience on Friday in Harrogate. On a personal level, I felt that it was about time someone complained about Odeon cinemas in the UK because they are appalling for the price you pay.

    But going into the marketing side of it – the fact the comment was ignored and gained the amount of ground it has means that the social media team should be taking it to management and act on the comments that have been made; potentially saving them from further embarrassment and rescuing a few customers along the way. With this type of complaint, I don’t think any amount of discounts or freebies is enough to redeem reputation, so the only choice they have is to explain that they’ve taken this seriously and something is going to be done about it.

    Clearly the social media team need to make sure the Page is installed in a smartphone app and / or that the notification emails are still being picked up out of the standard working hours, so even if staff are out of office they can still take the necessary action when a comment like this comes through.

    Speaking on a personal note, and I’m sure I’m not alone on this one, the improvements to the cinema chain have been needed for a long time now and they should have seen this coming.

  • Sean Walsh

    AJ – See my above comment.

    James – totally agree. They could’ve easily done the basics and controlled the situation. As you suggest, they could’ve gone further with it and tried turn a negative situation into a positive one by doing something proactive.

    Ritchie -Sounds a good service and I agree, need to plan for all kinds of potential scenarios and disasters. If you’re not manning the social media customer service desk 24/7 then at the very least you need to have some form of monitoring tool that alerts you when the volume of comments goes over an “above the usual threshold”.



  • Sean Walsh

    Natasha – agree that the complaint itself is very well written and I agree with nearly all of it myself.
    Re. the marketing aspect – I also agree that they need to take this further up the ladder and let it be known. But really – the time for service improvements is later. Instead they need to be talking to management letting them know about it, getting some senior PR direction and consulting their crisis management plan – if it exists…

  • Sean Walsh

    Should note that based on the Facebook comments looks like BBC Radio 4 are picking this up and doing a show about the cinema experience. They even commented on the original wall post!

  • Alex

    Hi all

    I look after Social Media for ODEON We replied to this post within 24 hours here: https://www.facebook.com/ODEON/posts/523396924342167?comment_id=118156690&offset=12798&total_comments=12810

    And followed up with him via Private Message over the weekend, with the issue being resolved yesterday. We also followed up publicly to Matt here: https://www.facebook.com/ODEON/posts/523396924342167?comment_id=118184395&offset=0&total_comments=11912

    There is no truth in the fact we didn’t reply to him or indeed that we didn’t act quickly enough, and we’re pretty certain this was a result of a coordinated campaign. That’s all part of Social Media thought and how viral these things can spread, to which there’s an element of what you can, and can’t control.

  • Sean Walsh

    Hi Alex,

    Thanks for the update. Unfortunately I can’t get those links to work so I can’t check (maybe a browser issue) but I’m sure you’re very much telling the truth. With such a huge volume of comments do you not think ODEON should’ve recognised that perhaps they need to be a bit more visible with their response? E.g. a dedicated stickied wall post informing everyone it is being dealt with. Simply commenting in that huge stream of comments gets lost and it is next to impossible to go through it all.

    I’m not saying every complaint needs to have a big song and dance made out of it, but surely once the number of responses gets into the 50/100+ area then its about damage limitation – launching a complaint app, highlighting the response, making customers know that you are doing something. Equally, the radio silence in comparison to past days when your Facebook has been busy seemed to suggest that (combined with the lack of visibility of action) you were trying to ignore it.

    I’m sorry to have misreported you and I will be sure to update the initial article stating that you responded as soon as I can actually find those responses….it may take some time trawling through 13,000 comments!

    Needless to say I stick my original point – Odeon needed to do more.



  • http://Webliquid.com Ritchie

    Hi Alex,

    While I agree with you that this beast (social media) can be pretty wild at times, I still think you can manage it much more effectively than Odeon have done in this case. There are lots of examples of well executed crisis management manoeuvres to stop the potential viral escalation of social media discussion.

    For waht its worth, I don’t believe that ‘just because you posted a response’ you should have then ignored the escalating sentiment that followed.

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  • Laura Hendriks

    True you do not need to like Odeon yourself, if a friend shared the complain it’ll be should on your news feed. This is also why it is hugh mistake from Odeon not to react immediately. Social Media can help generating traffic to Odeon’s website, but it can lead to a bad brand image as well, once they let the matter get worse.

  • john

    whatever you do, when using online booking if you make a mistake don’t bother calling to cancel. I was on hold for an hour to VUE cinema from my mobile. Cost over £25 to cancel 2 tickets costing £9 each – epic fail.

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