Not all disruption is good. Not every change works. And some companies are so profoundly boneheaded it is hard to do anything but stare horrified and awestruck at their capacity to make self-destructively poor choices.

Village Cinemas, it’s your time to shine.

The company is apparently introducing a Dynamic Pricing Trial, according to a report on news.com.au. The scheme will operate at cinemas in Crown, Fountain Gate, Doncaster, Jam Factory, Southland, and Werribee in Victoria.

The company’s own staff appear to have belled the cat, leaking internal correspondence explaining the change to Reddit and, in doing so, delivering a good reminder to managers everywhere that the people who work for you are often the best defense you have against yourself.

According to the documents shared on Reddit, the entertainment group is introducing what is equated to surge pricing over the Christmas and January break (although that may have been news.com.au getting carried away). Still, it is using as its justification for the price hike the busy time of the year, drawing comparisons with the tactic employed by Uber to tempt more drivers onto the road at peak demand periods.

Oh to have been a fly on the wall when the management numpties behind this gem signed off on — let’s face it — a particularly knuckleheaded and ill-considered idea. It is a good reminder that there are limits to what real-world organisations can copy from platform businesses. Just because something works for an Uber, or a Google, or a Facebook, doesn’t mean it will work for everyone.

This is an industry beset on all sides by new competitors and services, where consumers would cheerfully break the law and download movies from the internet rather than fall victim to yet another egregious corporate grift.

Here is a company whose management also appears to be somewhat clueless about what drives modern consumer behaviour. (Here’s a hint if they are reading this: it’s customer experience and a fair value exchange between buyer and seller.)

Arbitrarily increasing the prices of already expensive tickets, choc tops, and Maltesers and pretending it is surge pricing is as shameless as it gets.

The Stupid is strong in this one, Padawan. Let us count the ways:

  • Predetermined price gouging is not surge pricing — it has nothing to do with fluctuations in actual demand. And it is clearly not designed to bring more service providers into the market to meet an immediate consumer need.
  • Any Uber comparison is farcical — Uber is a significantly cheaper and far superior service to its competitors. Village, let’s be kind, is not.
  • Uber’s customers rate the quality of the service on each occasion, and the driver’s capacity to earn an income in future is directly tied to the quality of the service provided to that customer. Village should count itself blessed that it did not copy this final aspect of Uber’s business model.

Arrogance, poor service, and bad decision making dressed up as innovation. This is why incumbents fail.

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