Cinemark Sued For Allegedly Shorting Customers On Beverages

Shrinkflation has come for Cinemark, with a proposed class action accusing the movie theater chain of duping customers on concessions for its largest beverage container.

The lawsuit, filed in Texas federal court on Tuesday, claims Cinemark’s 24-ounce cups aren’t true to size and can only be filled with a maximum of 22 ounces of liquid. It claims the alleged deception is “part of its systemic packaging and pricing practice.”

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For theaters, roughly half of money from ticket sales go to studios, while they get to keep all the money from food and beverage sales. Struggles in recent years to fill seats have pushed them to reimagine concession offerings and pricing, which propelled Cinemark in 2023 to record its highest concession sales of all time, according to chief executive Sean Gamble in a February earnings call.

Tuesday’s lawsuit alleges that Cinemark swindles customers by shortchanging them on sales for the 24-ounce beverage cup.

Among the thrusts of the complaint is the argument that consumers believe that they’re getting a better deal by buying the largest beverage container. If the allegations in the lawsuit are true, consumers actually pay less per ounce by buying the 20-ounce cup.

“The size of the container in relation to the actual volume of the product contained in it was intended to mislead the consumer into believing the consumer was getting more of the product than what was in the container by a twelfth,” the complaint states.

The lawsuit against Cinemark, which didn’t respond to a request for comment, doesn’t mention whether the 20-ounce cup, if filled to the brim, can actually hold that volume of liquid.

Texas resident Shane Waldrop, who bought Cinemark’s largest beverage container in February for $8.80 before tax, says he observed that the cup didn’t seem large enough to actually hold 24 ounces. His suspicions were confirmed when he took the container home and found it was “merely able to contain 22 ounces of liquid,” the lawsuit says.

The class action brings claims for negligent misrepresentation, fraud, unjust enrichment and a violation of Texas’ Deceptive Trade Practices Act. It seeks a court order barring further alleged misrepresentations and disgorgement of profits. The lawyers for Waldrop also seek to represent other purchasers of the 24 ounce cup.

During February’s earnings call, chief financial officer Melissa Thomas referenced “pricing sophistication” as an area the company continues to develop as it aims to maximize sales.

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