Monday, August 29, 2011

Wehrenberg adopts zero-tolerance cell phone policy

CAPE GIRARDEAU, MO (KRCU) - If you went to a Wehrenberg movie theatre this weekend, you may have noticed announcements about the theatre chain’s new “zero-tolerance” approach to cell phones.

Starting on September 15, movie-goers who talk on their cell phones or send text messages during a movie will be asked to leave the theatre without a refund. Wehrenberg is playing pre-recorded messages prior to movies, using on-screen announcements and handing out brochures to inform movie-goers about the upcoming policy change.

Wehrenberg spokesperson Kelly Hoskins says large, back-lit screens interrupt the movie experience for many customers. But she says this is nothing new in the movie theatre industry.

"We’ve always had a problem with communication in an auditorium," Hoskins says. "We either had excessive talking through the 60s or 70s, or feet on the back of the seats. There’s always been a difficult time interacting sometimes with other people inside an auditorium. Now in this day and age it happens to be cell phones."

Other theatre companies block cell phone signal in auditoriums, but Hoskins says Wehrenberg chose against this course of action out of respect for parents, doctors and emergency officials who still need to be in contact with the outside world during a film.

"We felt by leaving it up to the individuals and then drawing a line in the sand with this no-refund situation, that everybody can take care of themselves and learn better manners and put their phone on vibrate," Hoskins says. "They can still be in touch with the outside world, but we’re just being a little kinder to those movie-goers around us."

Hoskins says 90 to 95 percent of customer reaction to the policy change has been positive.

Jacob McCleland, KRCU


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