Does the web site FreeFlixTix distribute free movie tickets?

Claim:   The web site FreeFlixTix distributes free movie tickets.

Status:   Sort of.

Origins:   Sometimes the issue in evaluating whether a free offer is on the level goes beyond merely ascertaining whether the promised goods or services are supplied as expected — one must also consider just what the concept of “free” really means. In the case of FreeFlixTix, one can indeed get four movie tickets which are “free” in the sense that no monetary payments are necessary — however, the other requirements involved may make the offer undesirable to many people.

First of all, one must establish an account with FreeFlixTix, a process which entails providing personal information such as name, address, birth date, and e-mail address. As FreeFlixTix states in their privacy policy, they are free to sell or give this information to others:

FreeFlixTix collects and retains the email addresses and postal addresses of all registered users, and reserves the right to rent, sell or market this information to any other third party.

FreeFlixTix also states that they use HTML-encoding to record information about the e-mail messages they send:

Pixel tags are tiny graphic files that are included in HTML-encoded e-mail messages. We use pixel tags to gather information about the e-mails we send to our registered users and to recipients of secret interest messages. When such a message is opened in an HTML-capable e-mail program, the recipient’s computer accesses our server to retrieve the pixel tag file, and allows us to record and store the date and time, the recipient’s e-mail address, and other standard logging information. The pixel tag also may read cookies.

Secondly, one qualifies for free movie tickets only after referring five other people to FreeFlixTix and getting all five of them to register as well:

You can earn movie tickets (admission certificates), up to a maximum of four (4) certificates per household, by registering for a account, answering a brief survey about yourself, and referring five (5) eligible friends who must then join

We facilitate advertising and direct marketing for our partners. Our deals with them enable us to offer you free movie tickets (admission certificates). Plus, remember that we only give away free tickets when 5 referrals sign up. If you get less than 5 referrals to sign up — sorry, no free ticket. Household limitations in effect — maximum of 4 tickets per household.

Once these hurdles have been cleared, the user must:

. . . submit a Redemption Form (within two (2) weeks of earning the free ticket), confirming that you and your friends have met our eligibility requirements — primarily that all of your referrals are real people, that you didn’t just make them up or use other email addresses that actually belong to you. Provided you meet these requirements, you will receive a free movie admission certificate (a “Free Ticket”) from Hollywood Movie Magic, good for any movie at thousands of eligible movie theaters across the country.

(How the user confirms that his “referrals are real people” and that he didn’t “just use other email addresses that actually belong to [him]” is not explained.)

The ticket vouchers take 6-8 weeks to arrive and valid for one month only. The offer is limited to one set of free tickets per household.

Some people have reported to us that even after fulfilling all the listed requirements, they were informed they would not receive their tickets until they had purchased something through one of FlixTix’s offers, so even the “free” part of this offer may be in question.

Last updated:   30 October 2007