Phil Gyford


Sunday 11 July 2004

PreviousIndexNext Inaccessible Odeon

The Odeon cinema chain has sent nasty letters to Matthew Somerville, forcing him to remove his accessible version of their site. It’s bad enough that a company which had previously welcomed Matthew’s efforts about-faced and got nasty on a site that made it easy for people to give them money. But it looks even worse if you try to use Odeon’s own site to book tickets.

If you go to a movie at an Odeon you see a lively advert which claims their website is easy to use. I’ve long thought this required attention from Trading Standards given the over-engineered nature of their booking system. It’s bad enough if your browser works with their site. I once raced the site against their telephone booking line, sitting in a lengthy phone queue as I plodded painfully from one page to the next. Despite the length of the queue I still reached the front and spoke to a real person before I managed to complete an online booking.

So yes, the site is bad enough even if you can use it. But should you wish to give them money using a browser such as Safari or Mozilla/Firefox you have no luck. None. All I can see is the page’s background image. It’s not just a little inacecssible, but completely and utterly useless. These are easy browsers to build websites for. When I’m developing sites they generally Just Work in these browsers, so it takes a special kind of talent to make a site entirely vanish.

I can only assume Odeon’s cinemas are too full and they’re looking for ways to cut down on attendance levels.


This is just so depressing. I spent half an hour last Saturday fighting my way through their telephone ticket line (automated). Then - failing after 10 minutes on the phone shouting 'Yes' and 'Wimbledon Odeon' very loudly - tried the website.

As you say, it doesn't work. I recalled Matt's version and tried that - though I couldn't buy the tickets, at least I could see that there were seats available.

Finally, I got through to a human being and (after another ten minutes) got four tickets for Shrek 2. Goodness only knows what it cost.

It is time some businesses woke up to the fact that there are tons of people, like Matt S, who like to help. The traditional, monolithic, 'not made here' approach should have died long ago but sadly persists. As you say, Odeon must be seeking to curtail viewer numbers.

Posted by Tim Aldrich on 12 July 2004, 10:24 am | Link

...and in unrelated news, manchester's historic odeon on oxford street faces the final courtain
not suggesting this is due to slumping sales as a direct result of their inaccessible version, but i think the problem is more fundamentally that of a past dinosaur struggling to keep up with changing times. their website was already dated back when flash intros and table based layouts were all the rage, their physical facilities (speaking of the oxford street one, anyway) were ridiculously bad, and the whole "experience" could not be compared with that offered by the larger multiplexes like manchester's filmworks.

anyway, i'm rambling...

Posted by Patrick H. Lauke on 12 July 2004, 11:30 am | Link

I too hate the Odeon website and booking line. I once tried to book tickets for the new Star Wars film using the automated booking line. I had to shout repeatedly down the phone outside the pub on a Saturday night "Leicester Square" only for it to repeat back "Liverpool" or "Leeds" or "Leicester" and once I think even "Reading" or somewhere like that.

When I did eventually get through it turned out that my seats weren't, in fact, booked when I went to pick up my tickets. Since then I've never used the automated phone line

The website is terrible to use as an able-bodied person, let alone a person with accessibility problems. With their liberal use of dodgy rollover menus and inaccessible drop downs it's probably time to get a Watchfire audit done on the site and report them to the Disabled Right Commission. I'd be surprised if the site passed Level 1 accessibility.

Posted by Roy on 14 July 2004, 2:38 pm | Link

My wife has just spent 20 minutes on the phone to Odeon trying to book a ticket. They had to ring us back because they were not sure if their system had booked the tickets or not!!! I can't use their website for some reason. The Odeon logo an menu options appears, but my mouse does not change to a hand over any of the menu options. I'm using IE6 and don't have this problem at other sites. It's years since I've been to an Odeon cinema. I'm only going now because the UCI in Hull has shut down. Compared to the UCI website, Odeon is pants.

Posted by rick on 16 July 2004, 6:04 pm | Link

I booked for Return of the King last December, two tickets for me and a friend. The first time the website crashed before the end. It did the same on the second time. So I phoned and booked the tickets. Went to the cinema, what happened? I got six tickets. The manager said she couldn't do anything for me at that time as I had to wait and see if the Odeon central office cancelled the charge automatically. She gave me her phone number snd told me to call her if there wasn't a credit on my next bill. there wasn't, so I phoned her. She never seemed to be in the office and none of her lackeys knew anything about what had happened to me. After about another month I managed to get a refund for one set of double tickets out of Odeon. I never got the refund for the other set of unnecessary tickets as they claimed they'd aoready credited me for it. It was March by now so I gave up. Although I'll use their site to check the film times at my local cinema I won't book tickets from them again.

Posted by Loz on 16 July 2004, 10:32 pm | Link

I've come to think of the Odeon website as having been designed in the sixteenth century, such is the complete uselessness of it to 21st century cinema-goers. I wanted to book two tickets for Star Wars, saw that there were plenty of seats available for every performance, entered my credit card details and waited and waited and waited...and then the screen went blank, giving me no information as to whether my seats had been reserved. Naturally, you can't speak to a real person on the 'phone, so myself and my son jumped into the car, drove to the park and ride, waited for the bus and finally arrived at the cinema. The pre-paid ticket machine had no record of my booking, so we queued up at the ticket office, where it was confirmed that my payment hadn't gone through on the website. Never mind, I said, I'll just take two tickets now. Well, every performance is sold out, I was told. No, that can't be right, the website listed every performance as having lots of seats left. Don't know about that, the ticket person said, the website's nothing to do with us.

So I asked to speak to the manager, who also claimed the website was run by a separate entity and was effectively nothing to do with anything that bore any connection to the real world.

I went home and wrote to Odeon's Head Office. They replied, saying that when seats are listed as being available for performances on the web, this refers to DISABLED places. Although there's nothing to say that's what they are. They didn't seem at all concerned about posting this misinformation on the site, or indeed, upsetting (potential) customers.

My problem is that I live in a place where it's the only cinema around for miles, so they have a complete monopoly which allows them to treat their customers with total disdain, 'cause they're going to fill the place anyway.

Posted by Diane on 12 August 2004, 6:52 pm | Link

Anyone have an email address for Odeon HQ London?



Posted by Ian Dean on 20 October 2004, 6:28 am | Link

Currently work in progress and will soon be rolled out nationwide, but for the moment an rss feed for today's films at Brighton Odeon..... @

Posted by Stephen Ticehurst on 10 December 2004, 10:47 am | Link

Yes I too think the odeon web site and phone system is f.....! i am also on the phone right now and been waiting over 30 minutes to book, god knows how many times ive heard your caller number 2 and we expect to answer your call in approx 30 seconds. more like 30 hours!!! i have also gone down the road of booking online which the web site just doesnt work at all. im sick of it. get it fixed odeon!!!!!!!!! how hard can it be

Posted by Andre on 4 February 2005, 6:27 pm | Link

I was asked to book at an Odeon Cinema last Friday night and was forced to telephone a premium rate number 0871 and communicate with a cacophonous, recorded female voice and worst of all a thoroughly irritating, disingenuous happy tone. It took me 15 minutes to get to try and book a ticket by 'pressing buttons' and then I was asked to announce my cc number to the machine. I didn't do it and waited for a human being to speak to me. No humans, I was cut off. The result:
I will never ever visit an odeon cinema again and having found this web site in my search for the odoen one. I can see I am not going to be the only one who is disgruntled. What a sad demise for a once great Company. This lack of marketing skill usually means there are too many accountants running the show!

Posted by Jonathan Dell on 12 March 2005, 10:37 am | Link

I too have just given up trying to book via the Odeon website. Having failed to get past an early page displaying their logo, I tried the text-only version of the site, which worked fine right up to the point where I finished submitting my credit card details, when it gave up with a 'page not found' or similar error. Even attempts to get to the non-text booking page by finding its URL via Google failed. And I can't find their phone booking line on the web site either. Completely useless.

Posted by Ben Finn on 19 March 2005, 3:29 pm | Link

The phone number is available via the F.A.Qs, it is not a premium rate number.The site will one day work with opera etc It currently has java incompatabilities.

You are all cocks!

Posted by Pete Mann on 23 March 2005, 8:15 pm | Link

Excellent, thanks Pete. Nothing like reasoned discussion to further an issue.

Posted by Phil Gyford on 23 March 2005, 11:28 pm | Link

You have to wonder why a company deliberately witholds a phone number on their corporate website. Because they know they 'll get indundated with complaints? Poor sight lines, filthy cinemas, a massive snack price rip off - alltogether a rather unpleasant experience all round

Posted by pete on 27 April 2005, 12:19 pm | Link

Tried to quickly book tickets online for Nanny McPhee on Friday. Went all the way through to the payment bit. When asked for card type it didn't have Maestro only Switch, so I chose Switch. When it came to confirming the details it kept asking for the start date for my card as it was required for Switch. OK so I am a really stupid person. Obviously can't book online using a Maestro Card. So, telephoned the 0871 Number. Got to the payment bit again. Keyed in my Maestro Debit Card Number and this REALLY annoying female kept telling me that I had put my card number in wrong and perhaps I would like to do it again. So I did. Three times. And it still didn't accept it. For God's sake all I want to do is book 3 tickets for a film on Friday. Does it have to be this complicated. Now I am trying to locate a number where I can actually talk to someone, but even if I do manage to locate it, how do I know they are going to get it right. Would dearly like to say forget the whole thing, but my 9 year old daughter really wants to see the film. I am just so cross. George Orwell wasn't far wrong!!!

Posted by Alexandra Malloch on 25 October 2005, 11:08 am | Link

The Odeon web site is undoubtedly the worst on this internet planet! It is staggeringly incompetent and frankly they could have had a better one designed for £150 by the (nice) geek who inhabits my villages computer shop. If I were in their Marketing Department I would be getting my CV into Michael Page Recruitment pretty darn quick as some time soon, surely, some bean counter will ask for a report comparing hits on the booking page with actual bookings. I imagine the success rate is about 5%. 95% of lost revenue?....hmmm. The chap above says they have some incompatability problems - they sure have but it with their brains not their Java. This has been going on for ages now. I now give up! There is free parking at my local Odeon, not at my local UGC, but I will now happily pay for parking and go to UGC every time. It is Wallace and Grommit I am going to see - but Wallace could have made a better on line booking system out of an old toaster, knitting needles, string and cutlery I guess!

Posted by Brian Middleton on 30 October 2005, 12:22 pm | Link

There's nothing quite like discovering that it's not you're not useless with technology but that technology is useless. Having just failed to book tickets online for Harry Potter 4 I was looking for the Odeon's telephone booking number. "Odeon Telephone Booking" into google gave me this page as the top hit. Have decided not to bother and to wander down to see if any tickets are left. Or possibly check out my other local cinemas. Thank you to all previous posters however for significantly improving my mood.

Posted by Tom Birch on 20 November 2005, 6:07 pm | Link

Here's a good one. I live in Oxford, where good old CS Lewis taught for 30 years, often while sharing a pint with Tolkien in the Eagle and Child.
Odeon's latest mag refers to the new "Chronicles of Narnia" film as being written by Lewis Carroll. Twice.
Perhaps we can look forward to "Gullivers Travels" written by Charles Dickens or maybe " The Lone Ranger" written by Barbara Cartland....

Posted by Nimrod Ping on 7 December 2005, 6:59 pm | Link

My biggest complaint about the Odeon is where wheelcahir users are placed in my local Odean. We are at the front right next to the screen. I spent a very uncomfortable 90 mins waching a film there. Not only that I had to sit by myself. My wife and daughter both suffer from migranes so sitting close to the screen is a no no.

I complained to the Odeaon about this but after they phoned I was even more disgruntled. They couldn't see why I was complaining, they even told me that the front rows are the most populr at cinemas and that other disabled people and groups were grateful to the Odeon for the good access they provide. Ye, right, i;ve not met a single wheelchair user in my local area who is happy, the only group who seem happy is a local group called the Dunfermline forum on disability. They also told me that I should be grateful that the town now has a cinema I can enter. Worse, they used the local newspaper along with odeon to praise the good access Odean provides.

Personally i'm suspicious.

Posted by Peter Lockhart on 20 January 2006, 6:27 pm | Link

I have just returned home with my husband after trying to get in to the "senior morning" showing at our local odeon.We were amazed at the number of people in the foyer (at least 150) and soon found out why. They had sold a great proportion of the tickets the previous Wednesday after the film that had been shown then. This has been our very first visit on a Wednesday morning and will most definitely be the last! A great number of other people told me that it too was their first visit, some of whom had paid £3.50 in car park charges. We and a lot of others, had paid to go into Aylesbury by bus. The attitude of the staff when approached was really of a couldn't care less, nothing we can do about it attitude.
I asked if it could be put onto one of the other screens - after all there were plenty of us to fill it - but oh no - not possible. I was told that the next film due was a "blockbuster". Our film was due to be finished around and at 12.30 pm so I challenged whether that particular screen would in fact be a sell out at 12.30!!! I think not! There is a big lesson to be learnt by all of us Senior Citizens, don't even bother to think about going out on a Wednesday morning (or whichever morning your cinema chooses) to the cinema - we are not catered for and in fact no-one forward plans as to what response they will get to a particular film. The film we wished to see by the way was "Mrs Henderson Presents".

Posted by Avril Jackson on 8 February 2006, 3:36 pm | Link

They`re advertising "MUNICH" and YES we want to go and see it but not at 9.15 pm and that`s absolutely everywhere in our area.When I rang and asked "why so late?"I was told "because it`s such a long film".I`d have thought that if this is the case,why not put it on earlier?
And has anyone noticed how the prices of seats go up rather frequently lately?

Posted by Liz Howgill on 17 February 2006, 5:27 pm | Link

We went to the odeon barnet yesterday,the show was spoiled by us being blasted out of our seats by the exessive volume. Do they think their audiences are deaf?
I have asked on three seperate occasions for the manager to do something, but it is ignored.
Does anyone know the correct email address to register this problem with head office.

Posted by Bob Telfer on 1 March 2007, 1:03 pm | Link

To see one film is something,to hear the soundtrack of another while concentrating on the film one has paid to see is something else.Well Odeon I have a surprise for you Watch the papers as there are a lot of disgruntled people out there who want to give you a piece of their mind,the only thing stopping them at the moment.

Posted by John Gibbons on 30 March 2007, 7:44 pm | Link

I went along to see a film in Kingston a month ago and as you should I turned off my phone but mistakingly put it on my seat. I was the last one out of the last showing and as I got down the street I realized I had forgotten my phone so I run back. The manager when he finally turned up wouldn't let me go and find it and said a cleaner would pick it up and hand it in mmmm. Anyway I went back to the odeon before it opened the next morning and to my surprise!! it hadn't been handed in and wasn't in the screen I had been at. The manager when once again he finally turned up after half and hour reluctantly wrote my number on a scrap of paper that looked like a bus ticket and that was that. quite obviously it was taken my someone working there so should have been hard to find out by who and no further action would have to be taken. Now I'm stuck with a £200 pound bill to Kingston, illford and India. I have tried to get through to head office but never can, does anyone have a email for there complaints department not that it will do any I gave up on the web site.

Posted by Tony on 7 November 2007, 12:43 pm | Link

I am appalled at the prices the Odeon charges for drinks and snacks. I went last night to see Quantum of Solace in Aylesbury, with my husband, daughter and her partner...Odeon charged £8.40 for 4 bottles of water...not even a recognised brand.( Drench, if thats not a made up brand then what is !!!!!) ..£9.00 for 4 bags of sweets and then the worst of all £17.00 for 4 large popcorns....To buy all this even in a motorway garage would have cost £13.20 so how come we were charged £34.40....One thing is for sure I will not be buying anymore food and beverages at an Odeon....The staff are useless and the hygiene leaves a lot to be desired.....They charge enough for the film and now they are clawing back extra revenue on hugely inflated prices on the food and beverages......

Posted by Shirley on 5 November 2008, 11:50 am | Link

Look out for some of the staff in Odeon Salisbury. You will often find a good few goofing around with the poster boards right by ticket check, skiving off in one of the auditoriums or reading a book in their feeder rooms too. If not that then they are usually writing a scathing statement against more competent fellow employees to get a free back pat by the even more disorganised and incompetent management team. I've visited that cinema enough times to have known some wonderful people who worked there and were driven away because of such bullies. I'd name and shame if I wasn't as low.
Price of food is deplorable too.

Posted by Brian on 24 January 2009, 4:32 pm | Link

this is just the usual shit, everything's being privatised, necessized, downsized, oversized, undersized, supersized. all i want to do is check a time and there is purposely no way to do so - without spending MORE GODAMM MONEY! money! money! money! god help us all. this is just more marginalisation of the poor, there are millions of examples.look into where money is made and you'll see that we are in a prison of control and this is just another anonymous way to make us PAY!!! PAY AND KNEEL MAGGOTS!! PAY AND KNEEL!!!!!!!!!!!

Posted by james barron on 7 May 2009, 5:25 pm | Link

Odeon in Whiteleys, west London have really gone downhill. They have cancelled several one-off screenings that should have been special occasions. Last one I attempted was the Iron Maiden film "Flight 666". It was nearly full, and there was only one chance to see it, no repeat showings. Then after waiting ages and ages someone came out to tell us there would be no film due to technical problems! Can you imagine how furious we all were. We got refunds eventually, but that's it. Complaints fell on deaf ears. Not even a decent apology......... I am NEVER going to an Odeon cinema again, even if they takeover every single cinema on the planet.

Posted by Eddie on 14 July 2009, 1:36 pm | Link

since ODEON was sold by RANK some years ago all odeon care about is money ther old cinemas were the best these new one are crap shoeboxes with a tv screen money thats all they want i worked for them there pay is crap there kiosk prices are over the top and these new cinemas are dirty and cheap looking .its because the company that own them have shareholders .the labour goverment could do a better job and thats saying somethink .and they take on cheap labour kids with no brains BRING BACK ABC CINEMAS ........

Posted by lee unwin on 20 July 2009, 3:39 pm | Link


Posted by lee unwin on 20 July 2009, 3:51 pm | Link

This week's listings showed Odeon Switch Island as having Il Divo. Hurrah! But the blind, deaf, dumb and infuriating telephone line doesn't mention it. The website does show it as available but gives no times or further details. Do I have to drive there to break into system?

Posted by Keith Thomas on 12 August 2009, 5:17 pm | Link

My sister and i recently came to the odeon in whiteleys to see julie and julia which is rated 12A. The cashier would not sell us the tickets to the film because we did not have an adult with us. I am 14 and my sister is 12. We just wanted to show you the criteria of a 12A film and that that the cashier should be informed of it to.. thank you..
Suitable for 12 years and over
Exactly the same criteria are used to classify works at ‘12A’ and ‘12’. These categories are awarded where the material is suitable, in general, only for those aged 12 and over. Works classified at these categories may upset children under 12 or contain material which many parents will find unsuitable for them.
The ‘12A’ category exists only for cinema films. No one younger than 12 may see a ‘12A’ film in a cinema unless accompanied by an adult, and films classified ‘12A’ are not recommended for a child below 12. An adult may take a younger child if, in their judgement, the film is suitable for that particular child. In such circumstances, responsibility for allowing a child under 12 to view lies with the accompanying adult.
The ‘12’ category exists only for video works. No one younger than 12 may rent or buy a ‘12’ rated video work."

Posted by Emily on 20 September 2009, 4:28 pm | Link

i have worked at the odeon leicester freemans commen since february and i got forced to leave by david holmes i am not happy about this as i was a good worker i did nothing wrong this is classed as unfair dissmisal

Posted by lisa burrows on 8 November 2009, 12:24 pm | Link

I have been trying to find out if the odean brighton is showing Sherlock Holmes and book a ticket for 26 December since their are big posters all over twon advertising it.

I cannot seem to be able to find out this sumpole information. Waiting for the right question to come up on the automated phone and it understanding my answer I eventually foung out that it is not currently showing but I cannot ask "will it be showing? If so when?" Obviously one has to organise things for the holdays and the 26th December is not far away.

I am fed up and think I will gofor a walk instead on boxing day.

Posted by jill on 20 December 2009, 12:54 pm | Link

Have just wasted half an hour of my life filling in details only to be told oops problem with your booking.
Then onto the premium rate booking line 10 min gave up.
Will never use odeon again awful overpriced experience.

Pete Mann - what a cock!

Posted by John Carress on 20 November 2010, 11:29 am | Link

Hi, could anyone please tell me the address of Odeon Head Office? I need to contact them with regard to a serious incident which happened in one of their cinemas and was not handled appropriately by their manager.

Tried fruitless seraches and have come up with nothing so far.

Thanks very much in advance

Posted by Jayne on 24 November 2010, 10:00 pm | Link


ODEON & UCI Cinemas Group
54 Whitcomb Street

The chief executive is Mike Kinski.…

Posted by Doods on 28 November 2010, 12:26 am | Link

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