AfterDawn: Tech news

Blockbuster changes prices to become profitable

Written by Rich Fiscus (Google+) @ 26 Jul 2007 18:10 User comments (56)

Blockbuster changes prices to become profitable Blockbuster will be changing the terms of its Total Access internet rental plans to limit the number of DVDs that can be returned to stores without paying extra.
Subscribers can choose from 3 Total Access plans, for 3 DVDs, 2 DVDs, or 1 DVD at a time, which used to allow them to return an unlimited number to a brick and mortar store so their next disc will ship sooner. Due to losses in the second quarter of this year, as well as well as lower revenue compared to the same quarter last year, the company will limit the number of in-store returns for each plan.

Subscribers will have the choice to either pay an additional $1.99 for each additional movie returned to a store each month or upgrade to a higher priced subscription to get unlimited in-store returns. The new unlimited return plans, called Premium plans, will cost an additional $7 per month.

Rather than characterizing the modifications as a price hike, new CEO James Keyes stressed the limit on in-store exchanges. He also said that customers subscribing to the mail only program will also be able to take advantage of the $1.99 in-store returns.

This move comes less than a week after rival Netflix lowered prices on its own subscription plans, which only allow returns by mail since Netflix has no brick and mortar stores. Ironically, Netflix decided to lower prices after competition from Blockbuster caused them to lose subscribers for the first time in the company's short history.

Despite recent gains at Netflix expense, Blockbuster posted a loss of around $50 million last quarter while Netflix remained profitable.

Source: Video Business

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56 user comments

126.7.2007 18:19

Theres nothing worse than having customers accoustomed to free instore rentals to flipping it upside down and having them pay extra. In business terms it makes sense, but the reality of it is Blockbuster will lose customers to netflix, which is cheaper and allows users to stream movies at no additional cost.

226.7.2007 18:22

Now they need to lower the prices on video game rentals,like $10 for renting a damn game thats crazy

326.7.2007 18:46

yeah, big mistake. companies always screw themselves over when they give a little and then take back--like Sony with the PS3 is going to learn. Blockbuster tried showing how much better than Netflix they were and now they realized it isn't working because yeah, it was a better deal--TOO much better. They are losing money. I hope Netflix blows them out of the water now. Netlix should start renting games as well--just include those in the movie options of any three games/movies at a time. Wonderful deal that would be.

426.7.2007 18:59

I am now going to switch to netflix. The free rental was the only reason I wen't with blockbuster.

526.7.2007 19:11

Yeah, this is blasphemous. I will strongly consider Netflix now, even though I abandoned them for Blockbuster (the reason being the well covered reason a couple of years ago).

Total Access was absolutely great.

626.7.2007 20:04

screw Blockbuster............................

wouldn't do buizz with those _astards if they were the
last store on earth.......................

they have some bad attitudes aswell

726.7.2007 20:51

With this change Blockbuster loses it's one leg up it had over Netflix.......

Just another show why Netflix is better IMO

826.7.2007 21:11

*Echos general public* Well this sucks!
This is exactly why I switched.
Blockbluster can shove it in their ear!

This message has been edited since its posting. Latest edit was made on 26 Jul 2007 @ 21:12

926.7.2007 22:57

Read this.. .. .
http://www.forbes.com/feeds/ap/2007/07/26/ap3956954.html
Who is telling the truth about this thing . .. .. .

This message has been edited since its posting. Latest edit was made on 26 Jul 2007 @ 23:02

1027.7.2007 1:17

Its only for new customers. Current customers aren't affected by any of it...for the time being.

1127.7.2007 2:48

Quote:
Despite recent gains at Netflix expense, Blockbuster posted a loss of around $50 million last quarter while Netflix remained profitable.
Let the games begin. All because of last weeks Netflix move. What a big loss too for BB.

1227.7.2007 3:32

This doesn't affect prices for the delivery to your home. I get 3 a month, never return them to the store cause I'm lazy, and I get 6 a week anyway. The price increase is for the in store return, doesn't matter to me. They have always been prompt. About 2 days I get 3 DVDs once I return the other 3. Recently, I have been getting 4 for the price of 3...so I am not hating BB.

1327.7.2007 5:30
webe123
Inactive

Originally posted by PocketQs:
This doesn't affect prices for the delivery to your home. I get 3 a month, never return them to the store cause I'm lazy, and I get 6 a week anyway. The price increase is for the in store return, doesn't matter to me. They have always been prompt. About 2 days I get 3 DVDs once I return the other 3. Recently, I have been getting 4 for the price of 3...so I am not hating BB.

All that money you spent could have went tword a decent newsgroup account and you would have WAY more than 3 movies a month! LOL!

1427.7.2007 6:35

If you saw my post on the Netflix news, this is in relation to the Blockbuster stores losing money. The returns to the store aren't costing Blockbuster anymore than it would for you to drop it in your mailbox. BB is just trying to gain another revenue stream by doing this. I think their original concept was to have you return a movie to the store, and then that would keep you in that store to rent another movie (making the store and BB more money.) Obviously that plan has backfired.

Along with their "no late fees" policy (which you must have a credit card to take advantage of, in case you don't return the movie, it's charged to your account) the online end of doing business make so much more sense, since you can return the movie at anytime, and they collect a monthly subscription. Why on earth would you rent a movie for $4 from the store, face the possibility of not returning or returning it "too late" and get stuck paying way more than the online subscription model?

Like I said before, I'm sure that Blockbuster online is making profit, I still think it's their individual stores that are causing them to bleed money.

1527.7.2007 7:57

screw blockbuster I hope Netflicks and Toshiba urinate on its ashes after they filed their chapter 11

1627.7.2007 8:09
JeriV
Inactive

Originally posted by Jasper44:
Its only for new customers. Current customers aren't affected by any of it...for the time being.
Where do you see it's just for new customers?

1727.7.2007 8:24

Originally posted by SProdigy:
I think their original concept was to have you return a movie to the store, and then that would keep you in that store to rent another movie (making the store and BB more money.) Obviously that plan has backfired.
Can't you just use the drop box outside the door??
This message has been edited since its posting. Latest edit was made on 27 Jul 2007 @ 8:25

1827.7.2007 10:35

Content of Recent letter I e-mailed to BLOCKBUSTER:

I have been a customer since you have started but once the new pricing policy starts, I will have to re-evaluate your service. Availability of online discs is terrible at best. Everything that is fairly new is either coming soon or long wait. It takes anywhere from two to three days to log-in discs which is even worse then NETFLIX when they are throttling. If you take away my ability to return DVDs to the store without paying a high premium then I might just have to cancel my membership with Blockbuster. There are a lot of negatives with BLOCKBUSTER ONLINE and it is only the additional features that you have included which have kept me in the BLOCKBUSTER camp but once you take them away I am left with a WALMART like quality of service and we know what happened to them.

This message has been edited since its posting. Latest edit was made on 27 Jul 2007 @ 11:50

1927.7.2007 11:10

Quote:
Originally posted by SProdigy:
I think their original concept was to have you return a movie to the store, and then that would keep you in that store to rent another movie (making the store and BB more money.) Obviously that plan has backfired.
Can't you just use the drop box outside the door??
Sure you could do that, but when you go to a movie rental store, don't you typically go back to return your movie and get another one? My point is BB was hoping people repeat this out of habit!

2027.7.2007 11:44

I don't completely agree with this plan. I know they may have lost a little. But to charge more for that helped increase their customer base is kinda dumb. But businesses do it all the time. The BB right up the street from me closed earlier this year so my nearest one is about 10 miles away. They save on shipping one way so I don't see the cost increase that their complaining about so much. I only drop off and pickup new movies on Sunday when I go to church. If I'm not happy I'll dump them and keep my Netflix account open. I've been looking to dump one anyway.

2127.7.2007 13:21

OK I just checked my plan, and I've been using the service since 2004. I am still on the $17.99 plan, which gives me 3 out at a time, and it says unlimited in store exchanges. Also I still get the two E-Coupons, good for a movie or Game. I consider the fact I've only watched 1/2 the movies that arrive or I exchanged, even if they filed Chapter 13/11/7, I'd have over a years worth of movies to catch up on.

2227.7.2007 14:36

Originally posted by bmkarnes:
OK I just checked my plan, and I've been using the service since 2004. I am still on the $17.99 plan, which gives me 3 out at a time, and it says unlimited in store exchanges. Also I still get the two E-Coupons, good for a movie or Game...
My Plan hasn't changed yet either. I am still $17.99 with Unlimited rentals and unlimited in store returns. If I go to check out the new plans then it says $17.99 with 5 in store exchanges per month. I wonder if current customer plans will change eventually.
This message has been edited since its posting. Latest edit was made on 27 Jul 2007 @ 14:37

2327.7.2007 14:48

Quote:
Originally posted by Jasper44:
Its only for new customers. Current customers aren't affected by any of it...for the time being.
Where do you see it's just for new customers?
That would be this email that I got from them.


BLOCKBUSTER Total Access™

Movies through the Mail. Movies through the Store.

Dear Dustin,

We want to let you know about some changes to our BLOCKBUSTER Total Access™ subscription plans. This information is provided for your reference only – your subscription plan will not be affected by these changes.

Beginning July 26, 2007, there will be a price increase on your current unlimited plan. We will also begin to offer plans which limit the number of in-store exchanges available each month.

As a preferred customer, your plan will not change at this time. Please continue to enjoy your exclusive subscription plan, including no monthly limit on free* movie rentals or discounted game rentals when you exchange in-store, at today's price – far below the published rate available to new subscribers.

2427.7.2007 15:05
jumpgrid
Inactive

I give BlockBuster credit I had a feeling they were going to raise prices months ago, but they've held off for a bit. But no worries, when Blockbuster and Netflix merge one day, everybody will have just one campany to be pissed off at.

2527.7.2007 15:59

The Blockbuster Death Spiral continues...

2627.7.2007 16:05

Originally posted by Jasper44:
Its only for new customers. Current customers aren't affected by any of it...for the time being.
right.. just like how i still get two free monthly game rentals :D

dont forget people, if you go to cancel your account, you will be prompted to stay wtih bbuster for lower prices for a certain amount of time. at least a month ago you could.

2727.7.2007 16:14

The ever-changing terms and plans of Blockbuster only proves they cannot manage themselves. If they would quit trying to win bar room and locker room bets on the "B-D" theory, they may turn a profit and stop chasing loyal customers away. Blockbuster has always appeared to have rookie pencil pushers who haven't a clue on what true business is all about in the real world. I've tried them, dropped them, went back, dropped, and tried a third time. They struck out. It's time they were benched and let the real pros play the game.

This message has been edited since its posting. Latest edit was made on 29 Sep 2007 @ 9:13

2827.7.2007 16:24

Don't know if anyone else received it but maybe 4 months ago BB sent an email asking how would it affect me if they discontinued free return rentals. Well it POed me and I trashed the email.

2927.7.2007 16:30

Better prices if you drop? That what was said about Netflix. Never got that offer. Now you say that about BB. A month and a half ago I dropped the 7.99 plan with BB because Verizon increased my Inet access fee by $8.

3027.7.2007 16:35

Whoops! BB didn't offer a better deal either. Where I live all the industry is moving or moved out. 40 miles a day is too far for me to go to a mediocre job. I've been doing my own cutbacks. Yeah and all the rich get richer and the Hell with the rest of the U.S. Who will buy their imporetd goods when no one has the money to? DUH!

3127.7.2007 16:40

The news was that the FBI and the Chinese counterpart busted a $2 billion dolar dvd counterfeiting ring. They could have given Netflix and BB competition.

3227.7.2007 16:54
jumpgrid
Inactive

Originally posted by wazzat:
Don't know if anyone else received it but maybe 4 months ago BB sent an email asking how would it affect me if they discontinued free return rentals. Well it POed me and I trashed the email.
Oh yeah I got that one, thats why I thought they were going to raise prices soon after, I think the buzz online scared from raising prices too soon.

3327.7.2007 17:28

I was sent a snail mail post card from BB stating my 3-at-a-time plan would be going up in Aug. So I guess it's true!

3427.7.2007 17:43

Heres the truth I work for the company and the online total access too me is a piece of shit. they are in so much debt right now with the whole online thing. I tried it twice and I always had to call customer care. So as a C.S.R of the company I would not even let my family use it.

3527.7.2007 17:44

Well I figured the return in store for free was a free trial to get you hooked and then offer the plan for more money. When I signed up for the service it was $19.99. Then the plan dropped to $17.99, and when it went back to $19.99, my price stayed the same. I have never changed my plan since the start, so anyone can say what they want, I did the trial offer with NetFilx, and to say the least it took to long to receive my movies. And the report an issue feature is much more trusting with BB, I've return as many as 6 at a time to the store, maybe people like me are causing them to take a new approach. I've only called the 800 customer service number once in over three years, so until they close, merge, or stop the in store returns, I'm sticking around.

3627.7.2007 18:24

I love returning my dvd's to a B.B. store and getting three more movies free. I left Netflicks just for this perk. Take it away and GUESS WHAT!?

This message has been edited since its posting. Latest edit was made on 27 Jul 2007 @ 18:25

3728.7.2007 5:20

I wonder where BB finds the morons who come up with these ridiculous ideas.
1. Keep in-store movies as long as you want. No late fees...That one was a disaster.

2. Return online movies to the store and replace them for in-store movies, FREE. With the hope that you'll spend $4.99 each for additional movies. Which, even if you wanted to, you probably couldn't because there's nothing's decent left to rent due number 3 below

3. The in-store movies are due in 2 days but you can actually keep them for a week....This is so stupid on so many levels, I don't have the time to write them out.

All of this has resulted in a 50 million dollar loss. Abysmal wait times for new online movies. In-store new releases consistently unavailable for the first 2 to 3 weeks.

So now they've come up with this cockimamie scheme of higher prices, in-store trade limits, $1.99 charges and who knows what else. This is yet another knee jerk plan that's going to backfire on them, again.

If they were smart, and could get away with it, they would buy NetFlix for double what it's worth, and monopolize the whole arena.

This message has been edited since its posting. Latest edit was made on 28 Jul 2007 @ 5:23

3828.7.2007 13:30

there is so much I hate about BlockBuster that I will be tempted to send before I say what I like so I will start with the good... which for some of you seems to be bad?

[size=5]what is wrong with taking out a 2-day movie and returning it 9 days later for no extra charge?[/size] no, I didn't actually do this... actually, I took back three with my coupon to get two 2-day and two 7-day movies... next day I returned the two 2-day movies but I forgot about the other two until they were two days late(the ninth day) I was so expecting to need to pay a $5.99 fee for each (chicago price is $5.99 not $4.99) but was surprised that they have a no-charge policy for the seven days following the due date

this means that if you borrow a two-day movie you can have it for nine days; a one week movie, two weeks. this is compared to redbox which charges for an extra day if you are three hours late

I so like this "glasnos" policy of blockbuster since I tend to be forgetful.

but on the down side... they stopped their Smörgåsbord service... which when I tried it I got so many movies it came to about thirty cents a movie (9.99 and likely got over thirty movies, some days I got 6 for the day... return three and take out three at noon and again just before midnight but usually slept most of the next day){and yes, I watched them all, the unemployed-disabled can have a lot of time on their hands!}

the store is just 2-1/2 blocks away so the trade is easy, and another store is just 1/2 mile from my church so in-store trades are easy but when I exchange on Thursday I don't get the replacements in the mail until Tuesday or even Wednesday so I don't see how someone can get six a week on a three plan without in-store trading

the store is large but the selection is rather skimpy... after a couple months, I'd be down to just new releases for my in-store borrowing and I suspect the on-line selection would also be rather low.

when I quit the intro offer, they had a page that offered to allow discounts if I continued... this immediately turned me off since this says: "we will charge you through the nose as long as you let us, and if you try to leave, we can lower our prices a bit longer until you forget to quit us"

I also hate the fact that Block Buster is getting into monopoly deals with studios... while I would never watch Hanabel Lector, the most recent movie in the series had an exclusive release through Blockbuster (from the poster, I suspect it is every movie from the studio) this exclusivity drives up prices and requires multiple services be engaged to get all the movies out there. this actually is an attempt to bring the old Theatre system to the rental market. back when the studios owned the movie theaters you needed six theaters to be able to see the movies from the six studios so are we going to need to subscribe to four services to be able to see all the movies we want to see?

Netflix, I am told, is widening their base offerings beyond the big releases... if you like comedy, you might want to try British Comedy and Netflix appears to be expanding there at least. They are supposed to have every single Benny Hill DVD in their stock and a guy told me he asked for particular British TV comedy series but told they didn't have it.... but six weeks later he got an email notifying him they had aquired the series

this shows an eye towards the customers "needs" that I haven't seen from Block Buster... and this latest money grab confirms this suspicion

those in the USA might want to check out redbox.com for a location of the nearest big red, dvd dispensing, box (in Chicago most Jewel & Osco stores have one as you enter the building) for a dollar (plus tax) you got whatever DVD you choose until 7pm the next day

so on the way home from work you can return yesterdays movie and pick up one for tonight (just don't work overtime, as far as I can tell there is no "glasnos" 7:01pm you pay another dollar plus tax) they also allow you to rent on-line so you can choose online and pay there... then you can recieve the movie by just swiping the credit card charged to reserve it at the box you reserved it at

3928.7.2007 17:51

The competition between Blockbuster and Netflix will be settled upon one and only one factor: Customer Service. The end.

4028.7.2007 19:00
sean14182
Inactive

blockbuster owns netflix for one reason and one reason alone.
no priority dvd shipping.

netflix ships dvds on priority of how few dvds you rent. so if you only rent 3 movies a month, you get a movie ahead of someone who rents 15 a month.

4128.7.2007 23:33

Originally posted by sean14182:
blockbuster owns netflix for one reason and one reason alone.
no priority dvd shipping.

netflix ships dvds on priority of how few dvds you rent. so if you only rent 3 movies a month, you get a movie ahead of someone who rents 15 a month.

4228.7.2007 23:33

Originally posted by sean14182:
blockbuster owns netflix for one reason and one reason alone.
no priority dvd shipping.

netflix ships dvds on priority of how few dvds you rent. so if you only rent 3 movies a month, you get a movie ahead of someone who rents 15 a month.

4330.7.2007 4:52

I will say as a long time user of both plans. 400+ for NF when I closed the account and BB since it started. I like BB better than NF. Both plans have their good points. I usually watch between 5-6 movies a week with the new BB. I am fearful to get in the extreme throttle mode my NF account was in.

Anyone complaining about not getting new movies with BB, my advice is go to the store for new releases. I haven't missed opening day for any new release I have wanted for a long time. Tomorrow I will pick up 300. I did not return a watched movie to be sure I had one for tomorrow. At 3 per week you can get ALL the movies that come out on the first day. I am surprised you couldn't think of it yourself or maybe you just like to complain!

pa104inf you haven't seen NF in full throttle mode yet!!! The worst throttle I have felt was 12 days to report they received my disk. I know it was them and not the mail because I sent 2 disks in the same envelope. One was posted as received 12 days after the other. I will never forget that trick. They tried to blame the mail. I could only average 2 movies a week on a 3 per plan no matter how fast I returned the disks. I would warn NF customers not to return your disks too fast. All it does is make it worse for you. Unfortunately, I live in the same town as the regional hubs for both companies. I am sure BB set up shop in the same town so they could hire ex NF personnel. The post office is actually closer than the BB store. I used to watch the movies then drop them off at the post office. They get then back instantly. Sometimes they would get them before they expected me to get the disks. This produces a divide by zero syndrome in the throttling process. I you like to watch old movies NF is way better than BB. If you are more interested in on line rental NF is also better. However, if all you care about is getting the most bang for your buck BB kills NF in the long haul. They are a bit more up front than NF who are nasty weasels in my book.

Both plans have to insure the disks in the post. The drop off is not convenient but is well worth a free movie.

4430.7.2007 6:31
jumpgrid
Inactive

I agree with you totally, Mez. BB has been bad in the past, and still have some kinks. I've gotten about 150+ movies from BB in a "short" amount of time. But hey, if NF fans don't want to use BB, thats more movies for everybody else.

4530.7.2007 18:54

I think Blockbuster sucks anyway. I never liked them even before Netflix came along. Did you guys know that Netflix has "watch now" on their website nowadays? Not only have they lowered prices but you can now watch movies streaming over the net with your netflix account. (the selection is limited tho...) Netflix FTW!

462.8.2007 4:15
agwild99
Inactive

I have had the BB account for over 2 years. Even if they raise the prices it will still be worth it. At $25 a month it is still a bargain if you get 6 movies a week. I used to have NF before that, and had the problem of getting the new releases I wanted.

I agree Mez, I always return my mailed movies on Tuesday for the new releases as soon as they come out, and then return the instores when I am done with them. I hold the coupons until there is a new release in stock that I don't have a mail movie to return it for.

4718.8.2007 20:33

This is what I got from Blockbuster today:

We have introduced a new pricing structure for our lineup of subscription plans.

As a result, the price of your current monthly plan, Unlimited Online DVDs up to 3 at a time plus unlimited in-store exchanges each month for $17.99, will increase to $24.99, effective August 31, 2007.

We will not automatically renew your subscription on your next billing date.

If you choose to continue, please select a new plan.




This was my first response:

Okay, I'm sure you are hearing from most, if not all, the Total Access customers that are upset about your price increase. Well, I am another. However, more then the increase of almost 40%, I am disturbed about how the "bait and switch" was handled. If not illegal, it certainly is unethical.

I had been a Netflix customer and was lured by the Total Access package. I very much liked it (although the selections in the Blockbuster store nearby was very limited apart from New Releases). However, in general, I was a satisfied customer and quite pleased with the program. Netflix could not compete with the advantage of a Bricks and Mortar plus Online program.

Now that you got me, and many others, you put the screws tighter. This manipulation of the marketplace will backfire. Corporate greed is not only unacceptable but practices such as "bait and switch" may have legal consequences as well.

I wish for the corporate lackey who devised this scheme the fate deserving of the vampire he/she is. May the words of the thousands of unhappy consumers be the nails in his/her coffin.

You may currently have the brick and mortar video rental business by the thought but even a vampire knows not to suck all the blood from its victim. Too bad you decided to cook the goose that was laying your golden egg. Your credibility and future customer loyalty has been drained dry.

I now add my voice to the thousands of others who cry "foul" and express their utter disappointment in Blockbuster.


This was their response:

Thanks for contacting Blockbuster Online Customer Care.

I sincerely apologize for the inconvenience that this may have caused you and I appreciate you taking the time to let us know of your concern. I would like to inform you that like all retail businesses, we must periodically review our pricing structure. In introducing a wider range of subscription plans, we considered a number of factors including the number of in-store exchanges on a given account. We’re giving our most frequent renters like yourself the option of either continuing with unlimited in-store exchanges at a higher price point or moving to a plan where the number of in-store exchanges is fixed if you'd like to continue with the same rate.

We feel we are still delivering a great consumer value and encourage you to continue your membership by selecting one of the new plans we offer. You can find the details of what is available via "My Account" in the "Subscription Plan" area. Please remember that if you do not select one of the new plans we have to offer before your next regular billing date, we will not be automatically renewing your membership. Thank you very much for your inquiry.


Sincerely,

Josweeh
Customer Care Associate
Blockbuster Online



This was my response:

Then, as I understand you, if you switched phone companies because they offered you more at the same price, and then after a few months they raised their prices 40%, that would be okay with you (assuming you are a person)? If your new Cell Phone Provider or internet provider or utilities provider increased your charges by 40% (unless you reduced your services), that would be reasonable to you?

Blockbuster lured me over with a specific plan which they are now wanting me to pay 40% more for to keep the same privileges. You see nothing wrong with that? I guess I do and will check it out with our State Attorney General. "Bait and Switch" is a form of fraud and it is pitiful that a large corporation such as Blockbuster finds it necessary to squeeze the little guy.

You, the reader of this "incident" are probably powerless to do anything about this and are being paid to absorb the punishment from irate customers, but please, if there is nothing else you can do, let the corporate thugs know the level and amount of anger they are generating by their greed. And they are using YOU as their mouthpiece. Are you being paid enough? If so, in a few months they may cut YOU 40% and hire someone to cover for them.

This message has been edited since its posting. Latest edit was made on 19 Aug 2007 @ 14:20

4818.8.2007 22:28

it is unfortunate that your letters have fallen onto "deaf ears"

you correctly point out that the ones reading it are powerless to do anything and are only paid to placate you

the only response that they will "hear" and thus listen to, would be the mass exodus of the members that recently joined their ranks... and even better if those who leave BB run to their compitition.

it is unfortunate that the only compitition is the virtual store of NetFlix because a false exodus number will be too low since those who require "Brick and Mortar" will want to leave, but stay nonetheless

the good thing is the aforementioned live watching of movies.... this NetFlix feature will entice more computer owners but if you access your account from work because you don't own a computer, then it is useless to you (unless the boss leaves early B) )

4924.8.2007 16:07

Hi Everybody,

I joined BLOCKBUSTER in September of 2004 when BlockBuster online first started and had heard that present members would be grandfathered in under the old plan which turned out to be wrong.

I sent the following e-mail to blockBuster:

I have been a customer since you have started but once the new pricing policy starts, I will have to re-evaluate your service. Availability of online discs is terrible at best. Everything that is fairly new is either coming soon or long wait. If you take away my ability to return DVDs to the store without paying a high premium then I might just have to cancel my membership with Blockbuster. There are a lot of negatives with BLOCKBUSTER ONLINE and it is only the additional features that you have included which have kept me in the BLOCKBUSTER camp but once you take them away I am left with a WALMART like quality of service and we know what happened to them.

I received the following response from BlockBuster:

Thank you for contacting Blockbuster Online Customer Care.

I'm sorry for any inconvenience this has caused, ZZZ. I’ve reviewed your account and verified that you signed up on September 2004. Your account will not be affected by the changes made by Blockbuster.

If you joined us prior to May 15, 2007, new plan options and pricing will go into effect on your regular monthly billing date following September 1, 2007. For example, if you are usually billed on the 15th of the month, your new plan and pricing will go into effect on September 15, 2007. You will receive an e-mail with information regarding your changes.

If you joined us after May 15, 2007, you will receive an e-mail at least ten days before your change takes effect.

Additionally, please keep at least 30 “Available” titles in your queue to enjoy continuous service. Please let me know if there is anything else I can help you with, ZZZ.


A few days later I received the following e-mail from BlockBuster completely contradicting the previous e-mail:

Dear ZZZ,

We have introduced a new pricing structure for our lineup of subscription plans.

As a result, the price of your current monthly plan, Unlimited Online DVDs up to 3 at a time plus unlimited in-store exchanges each month for $17.99, will increase to $24.99, effective August 2007.

We will not automatically renew your subscription on your next billing date.

If you choose to continue, please select a new plan.

Move to BLOCKBUSTER Total Access™ Plan that includes Unlimited Online DVDs 3 at a time plus up to 5 free* in-store exchanges for $17.99/month

I then e-mailed them again and received the following response from BlockBuster:

Hello ZZZ,

Thanks for contacting BLOCKBUSTER Online Customer Care.

Like all retail businesses, we must periodically review our pricing structure. In introducing a wider range of subscription plans, we considered a number of factors related to online memberships including in-store activity on a given account. We’re giving our most frequent renters like yourself the option of either continuing with similar great benefits at a higher price point or moving to a new plan if you'd like to continue your membership at a lower price point and agree to limited in-store exchanges. Additionally, our envelopes are now valid for discounts on in-store game rentals. Unfortunately, eCoupons are no longer available.

We feel we are still delivering a great consumer value and encourage you continue with the new terms and rate or consider one of the new plans we offer. You can find the details of other plans that are available via "My Account" in the "Subscription Plan" area. If you make no changes online or we don't hear from you, please remember that the changes mentioned will take effect on your regular monthly billing date following August 30th, 2007. Thank you very much for your inquiry.

I hope this information helps, ZZZ. Please let me know if there is anything else I can do for you.

After a long wait, I was able to speak with a Blockbuster Customer Care representative and found out that everybody even long-time members would be forced to change there plan. I am sorry to say this but due to the long waits and quite a few coming soon in queue, I think that the one at a time plan ought to just about cover the number of DVDs that I actually receive from BLOCKBUSTER. Blockbuster has really deteriorated over the last year.
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5026.8.2007 1:43

Deterioated a bit lately? what? from crap to a pile of crap?

I was giving them a chance to correct the problem when I recieved an email from them... or rather, a survey about them, that will earn me one free ecoupon if I qualify..., while they charge $5.99, for the video that the coupon is valid for, across the street I can get one from redbox for just a dollar, so the carrot is only worth a buck to me...

while the questions, rate this or that about Blockbuster service, were up to a dozen per page, each page only progressed by two or three percent... and when you got to a text box titled "concerning blockbuster's {whatever} service, what can we do to make you come back?" I would take ten to fifteen minutes to expand on the reasons for the poor ratings on all the points we have mentioned here... BUT THE ANSWERS TO TEXT BOX DIDN'T INCREASE THE COMPLETION!,,, after an hour and a half it was still only to 25%(I do type slow but am fast on the drop down answers so most would have taken 30-45 minutes just to the 25% mark.).. thats about fifty ratings and three or four text explanations to which they claim..."due to your answers, you you do not qualify for this questionare"

I promptly went to the email and pressed the unsubscribe link... if they want to contact me again, my lawyer will take their cash for me.


qazwiz is qazwiz everywhere. If you see me say HI!

5127.8.2007 3:37

We all like to get something for nothing. No one complained when BB baited and switched to the better deal. I agree NF has the better service if you like older movies or don't want to go to the store. BB is way cheaper even after NF dropped their price. Even with the stripped down version of BB you are still getting 6 movies from the store a month plus up to 12 movies a month by mail for $17. If my math is correct, that is $1 per movie. That beats NF 12 for $17 if you can actually get 12 out of them. I figured I was lucky to get movies for twice that cost with NF.

You can always go back to NF and if you use a new email address they will treat you as a new customer. Speaking of bait and switch, NF gives you nearly unlimited movies for the first few months then if you averaged more than 3 per week they screw you (you get less than 3 per week) while you use that same email address.

5227.8.2007 3:50

"Something for nothing"??? Are you kidding me. To get the equivalent service they want 40% more money. If you switched phone or cell provider or ISP and after a few months they wanted 40% more money, you would sure damn them wouldn't you? $25 a month is not "something for nothing." My $18 a month plus taxes was paid each month despite the slow online service and unavailability of select titles. I paid it despite my local BlockBuster store had a limited selection. But increasing the price for the same service by 40% is outrageous.

As far as Netflix, their "throttling" is a damn shame and pitiful too. Looks as if everyone wants their hand in my pocket.

I'm not looking for "something for nothing." I'm looking for some ethical behavior from the companies with whom I do business.


Peace

5327.8.2007 21:29

I work from home and watch a lot of movies in background. Lots of stop and replay but still enjoy watching movies. Neflix was great intitally with a two day turn around in getting movies. THEN I WAS THROTTLED. At first it was covert as movies would show as Very Long Wait in my Que when first came out and would be weeks before first run titles would be avaiable. Would get some old movies way down in Que. Then would take longer and longer to get any movies. Where I could sometimes get 6 movies a week I was lucky to get 2 after throttled and then had to wait FOREVER for newest releases.

Ok joined Blockbuster and a little slower on turnaround at first but got first run movies. With Total Access things got better and would mainly get older tittles on line and first runs at BB store. So now back up to 6 movies per week.

So how do I feel about increase? Well i wondered at first how they could make money with total access other than a savings on return mailing. I figured they did bulk pickups or mailings from various stores and got some savings there. Still I'm in business and felt this could not go on forever. Reminded me of the old Gas Wars of the 50s and early 60s. Eventually prices would stabilize and then raise above what they were initially. Is it any surprise that BB has raised prices looking at what Gas cost now?

Ok now let's be realistic. Netflix still throttles and even with the increase by BB there is still a value for those of us who live close to a BB store. Even if only opt for movies in mail with BB still better than being throttled by Netflix. Also when a title is not available initially at my local BB store they offered to call me when in and hold it for a short time!

When only a few new titles available in any given week and nothing in store I want, just turn in envelopes anyway and sometimes get up to 5 movies a week by mail.

For all those who complain about bait and switch tactics don't understand what bait and switch actually is. Someone offers a fantastic price on a item and when go to take advantage of it are told sold out but have sometihing else at "slightly higher price". I find it more anoying that Comcast and cell phone companies have these fantastic introductory sales that people are gullable enough to sign up for and then are so very surprised at what it actually costs after the promotional period expires.

Just remember Latin saying, Caveat Emptor- Let the buyer beware!

5428.9.2007 23:05

the CEO should be fired. The reason I switched from NF to BB is because when I was bored at one weekend and there was no DVD on hand to watch, I decided to go to the local BB to rent a movie to watch. The clerk intorduced me to the Total Access plan. BB is trying to pull their own in-store customers to their new online program. I signed up with BB and cancelled with NF because of the attractive unlimited in-store exchange deal. I watch a lot of movies and get a lot of in-store exchanges. Now I am being punished because I watch too much movies? They blame us frequent renters for their decrease in-store rentals? Didn't they try to switch their in-store renters to their online program? BB is trying to blame us for too mny in-store exchanges so the regular rental rate dropped? That is STUPID...not making any business senses. Now all the new release titles are showing either short wait or very long wait in my queue. I will for now stay with my $17.99 plan. But what I will do is to save all my 5 in-store exchange for the weekends, and rent the newest title available. hahaha....that is the busiest time of the week and most of the store rentals happen on the weekend. Doesn't matter if they want to delay my new release, I will take advantage of their only money-making opportunity (walk-in on the weekend for the new release). I suggest all of you who have subscribed to the store-exchange option, to save your exchanges for the newest release titles. Hope one day BB will realize that the loss of money is not caused by us the online renter, but caused by their poor customer service and idoitic business strategy.

5529.9.2007 5:06

In my case, I'm glad BB made the change. With a BB one mile from my house, I was hitting that place 1 to 2 times a week plus getting the mailed DVD's. I was getting so many DVD's that it got to the point where I was renting complete crap, JUST BECAUSE they were free. I'm talking about some really bad movies to. Straight to DVD - mutant creature kills everything in sight - movies. Foreign B movies. Complete schlock.

BB did me a favor with the change. I'm saving a dollar off the subscription rate, getting 5 good movies a month at the store and unlimited movies through the mail.


"Is that 3 thousand dollar bounty on the shark in cash or check?"

"We can do it the easy way...Or we can do it the REAL easy way."

5629.9.2007 8:40

I agree with ChiefBrdy. I was a slave to the TV with too many movies. For most of the first month I had both subscription and NF were actually not throttling me for that month or two. I was averaging 5 from NF and 6 from BB for 2, 3 at a time unlimited subscriptions.

I believe BB is the more ethical of the 2 companies. I like the fact that if you try hard enough you can talk to a person. I was charged a month with no service with NF and that was just "screw you", there is nothing you can do about that! If you cancel with BB, you get service until the end of the month. With NFs you 'eat the remainder of the months service. Apparently, if you cancel 3 days before the end of the service month, they charge you for the next month even though your service stopped in the preceding month. That also goes for suspending your service. You are better off quiting than suspending your service.

I suspect the loss was more to investing in new movies than an actual loss.

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