Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Merry-Freakin'-Christmas from Blockbuster. NOT.

Not too long ago I wrote about Blockbuster's sudden and substantial rate increase. People were upset, me included. I begrudgingly gave in, however, and started paying the $7.00 increase - from $17.99 to $24.99 - per month for unlimited in-store exchanges and three mail rentals at a time.

BlockBusterLetterDec27th A few minutes ago I got a very "friendly" email from Blockbuster, letting me know some of the great rentals they have available in the first paragraph, encouraging me to exchange movies in the store in the second paragraph, and then pretty much putting it to me without so much as kissing me first in the third paragraph. Here is exactly what it said (click the image on the right to see a screen shot of the actual email with the section highlighted):

"To continue to bring you the unmatched convenience of both online and in-store DVD rentals, your monthly subscription fee will change from $24.99 to $34.99. This adjustment† will go into effect on your next billing cycle on or after December 27, 2007. The benefits of your subscription plan will remain the same."

So, in the time span of about four to five short months, my monthly cost has gone from $17.99 to $34.99 per month (in other words, roughly doubled) and the services I get for the money are less (since I no longer get the two coupons a month for movie or game rentals that I got for a couple years before their August price and service change).

"Ok, but that's the last straw."

As soon as the month I have already paid for runs out mid-January, I'm dumping this mess. Goodbye Blockbuster. Hello Netflix. I feel like I have to encourage everyone to do the same. This is - in my opinion - not a consumer-friendly company. I know they need to make a profit, and I was willing to support that. But dragging your customers through this kind of mess is not the way to do it. Believe me when I say I'd likely have been willing to spend more for better service (or at least consistently good service in both the store and online, which I don't get today), had a reasonable rate increase been effectively sold to me.

If some kind of miracle happens between now and January 18th when my account runs out and Blockbuster changes their plans, I'll consider sticking around. But it won't happen. This appears to be just more of the same decisions. It's too bad.

If you received an email, feel free to make use of the comments here. What does yours say? What do you think? What - if anything - will you be doing about it? If you agree with me and want to share the sentiment, you can link to http://www.boycottblockbuster.com/, which points to this page.

Time to stand up and say something.

Added -- Some other comments made on other blogs:

And, via Gizmodo, a humorous visual that effectively captures the essence of the situation...

 

I also noted that new subscribers to Blockbuster (people who go there today to sign up for the first time) will be recruited under the "old" pricing plans, as they have not changed the information on the web site. That seems a little disingenuous, if not completely dishonest, doesn't it? Click the image below to see a fill-size screenshot of their pricing page on the site as of the morning of December 20th. I'd hope they'd at least get this problem fixed soon (unless they don't intend to increase the prices for new customers, of course).

blockbusterpricesdecember19list



Add/Read: Comments [28]
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Wednesday, December 19, 2007 8:09:45 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
#  
Wednesday, December 19, 2007 9:53:12 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
I still dont' know why people bother with rental companies like Blockbuster. You can get just about any movie now for < $10. DVD storage cost is virtually nil if you use disc wallets. Why not just buy it?

I have something like 600 movies now, and I love being able to pull one down any time and watch it.
Wednesday, December 19, 2007 11:25:30 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
I'm dumping them. If it was a miscalculation on their part as to profitability, it isn't my fault. Supply and demand. If you want it keep it, at this price it simply isn't worth it to me. I'll head to netflix.

DM
D Murphy
Thursday, December 20, 2007 8:06:26 AM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
Yep, I just received a similar email. My fee went up (not as drastically as yours) from $9.99 to $11.99, I may opt for the suggestion by DBM, I can rent just about any movie from the local library (for free) and spend my $11.99 on movies I would like to own.
Zoomer
Thursday, December 20, 2007 8:07:46 AM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
Ooops, i was refering to the suggestion by DBS not dbm, sorry.
Zoomer
Thursday, December 20, 2007 9:05:11 AM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
I hate it when companies suck you in like this, and then figure they'll do what they want. Lame. When you think about it Blockbuster's cost of running a program like this should cost way less than say, ummmmm Netflix. They've got the infrastructure in place, they have a way to get and distribute movies, so why does Netflix cost way less?

Hello Netflix.
Thursday, December 20, 2007 9:11:42 AM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
Not only do they not get the whole "take care of our customers" concept but they hammer their employees to up-sell customers as well. Two friends who have both worked there explained how they were reprimanded for not selling enough snacks, soda and the Total Access subscriptions.

If they forgot to mention it to a customer, they were pulled aside and "explained" how they were providing a service to the customer.
Thursday, December 20, 2007 9:18:01 AM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
I stayed at the $17.99 back when they turned their first customer screws, but yesterday they informed me that it's going up to $19.99 for the EXACT SAME SERVICE! I like the idea of visiting the library, using my saved dollars on purchased movies.
Thursday, December 20, 2007 1:46:54 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
All I can say is, thank goodness for blogs! I went from $17.99 in August to $24.99 (and they took away my e-coupons) and now they want $34.99. And did you know that some lucky people got grandfathered in in August and weren't affected? I am a long time customer. Why wasn't i grandfathered in? I asked them. They gave the usual PR nonsense answer. They must think we are so stupid! they NEVER just say, We're raising rates. They try to hide in PR speak. C'mon... I wrote them yesterday and got the exact same response as is here. I HATE BLOCKBUSTER!!! I am so glad for this blog!! I am not alone in my frustration with this company!!
Barton
Thursday, December 20, 2007 1:50:42 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
yea i just got my letter today. im one of the 40% who got the increase. bastards. i think i am going to cancel. Not worth it anymore. i was renting about 2 movies a week a little while ago, so it was way worth it. but now... it's going to cost me about 21 bux a month after taxes and all that.
alie
Thursday, December 20, 2007 3:44:48 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
Well, I have been on their 3 at a time setup for quite a while 19.00 with taxes, and I did NOT get an increase in august like some and I have not gotten any emails saying anything about an increase as yet. IF they take mine to the 34.99 price I am outta here and back to NetFlix again. They just billed me day before yesterday and it was the same price I have always been on with them.
Chris
Thursday, December 20, 2007 4:46:10 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
I got the notice yesterday, too. My plan went from $17.99 to $19.99. Buh-bye, Blockbuster; hello, Netflix.

Just to show me what a great company they are, they delivered a DVD today that was a replacement for a broken DVD I received a few days ago. The one I got today was THE EXACT SAME BROKEN DVD. Nice job, guys.
stpraamp
Thursday, December 20, 2007 5:49:44 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
Just got the e-mail this evening. Immediately cancelled.

What a crock message. Two paragraphs on lame info so that most of us drift off and stop reading before notifying us of the upcoming shafting. This way, they can say we were notified.

Usually, I don't have time to actually read all the drivel that all companies send on their e-mails but I just happened to notice this on.
Thursday, December 20, 2007 7:24:07 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
There is life after Blockbuster Online:

I was cancelled in August as I refused to pay the increase to $24.99. Anyone who now pays $34.99 is a fool.

The library has worked well for me. I have more than enough free movies to watch. Cable TV is another option for me.

Why they are are paying the CEO to dispose of customers is beyond me. Measuring the profitability of each customer is reprehensible, inaccurate and shifts blame away from the CEO.

They are trying to lure the people who rent only a few movies a month but pay for unlimited. Good luck. Not from me.

Finally, there has been no reason to set foot in the stores. Only high priced DVD's for sale and unhealthy candy. Even if the CEO makes a 7-11 clone out of the BBI chain I will still not go back.

See the stock price continue to fall.
jj
Thursday, December 20, 2007 8:28:33 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
I receiver the $7.00 rate hike and accepted it, then the $10.00 rate hike 12-19-07 to, I wonder how many of you are like me, I'm retired with plenty of time and enjoy watching movies, so when this total access plan started it was a dream come true. I have rented many movies and if my guess is right so have some of you and we are being targeted because we used their rental service to well. I think the rate increase will not be for all members, a small increase will happen to most, but the big renters will get the big rate hikes to get rid of them as not being profitable members. Time will tell if I'm right.
Steve
Steve
Thursday, December 20, 2007 11:54:15 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
i've read everyone's comments and i think i'm in the same boat as most...

$17.99 went to $24.99...i knew i was getting fisted, compared rates with netflix, but had to obviously weigh the benefit of picking up a "newer" movie (always unavailable online) in the store, trading a movie in immediately (i always forget to update my damn queue), or even picking up a game (even at the $5 rate, after they purged my coupons).

stuck with cock-buster, reluctantly. figured i needed to increase my usage to make it worth my while...yeah, that's how pissed i was...got in my car and drove almost daily to their stupid store (with no parking in sf), wasting more money in gas over the month than a 6 month subscription. then a $10/month increase, not even a year later??????

I agree with steve's comment that they are targeting those of us that are taking full advantage of the deal...it's their answer to Netflix's "throttling". Except they're hitting us where it truly hurts - in the wallet.

Like the rest of you, I'm done with cock-buster...4 movie plan for $23.99 on Netflix? One more movie than I had with the "blue boys." Easier website to use and find movies, better availability, a dollar cheaper, and don't have to drive to the store ($ave money on ga$) and parking.

Doesn't change the fact that it's a shame...I know 5 people that received the same message and all cancelled today!
eric
Friday, December 21, 2007 2:17:36 AM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
Huge price increase with less and less service. Good luck in getting a human being to talk to you in Customer Service. We canceled Blockbuster. We contacted Netflix and WOW!!!! We spoke to a real person. Bye Blockbuster.
Anne McDaniel
Friday, December 21, 2007 8:30:51 AM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
Blockbusters CEO came out a few weeks ago I believe and basically said that he wanted to get rid of customers that were using the service as described. When I got the price increase email I immediately emailed because of course you can not find a phone number to call and complain. The message I got back was their form letter and then they gave me some "options" I maybe interested in. Ive been a loyal customer from the beginning, I stayed even though they raised the price the first time and took away my free coupons and limited my store visits. I would think the CEO would realize that by bring customers into their stores, they may purchase their higher margin products, cant do that from my mailbox.

I made sure I went in last night before they canceled my service and exchanged my final disc.
Chris Henry
Friday, December 21, 2007 10:00:06 AM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
I too was infurated when I got the email. I instantly went and dropped my account down to a mail-only version.

The next two days revealed that not everyone at my current rate was getting shafted, only those customers that Blockbuster felt 'deserved' it.

Now I'm a Netflix guy, all the way.

What's even funnier is that in the comments section that they asked why I was leaving, you are limited to 255 characters. Hardly enough to give a thorough explanation.

Blockbuster has been a disaster waiting to happen. I should have seen it coming when they eliminated their snack program (I got a free 2-liter of Diet Coke with Every movie for one month after a nominal $12.99 fee) and the elimination of the coupons, then the $7 rate hike. This is bad business and I can't imagine that Netflix won't just mop the floor with their heads by the time this is all over with.

I liked Blockbuster's online service, and I loved their Total Access package. But I can't stand for being treated like a nuisance. I was loyal, but apparently that is irrelevant. I sincerely hope this damages their profits more than any poorly thought-out marketing scheme.

I'm 100% behind the Blockbuster boycott, and no matter what they do in the future, they will never be able to bring me back as a customer.
Monday, December 24, 2007 6:38:45 AM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
I'm pissed too, but I'm still considering keeping them. I average 6 movies per week or 24 per month
for $19.99 with the in store exchange. I will, however, keep their in-store exchange movies for an
extra long time so they can't get business off of those dvds. It will hurt them more than the $2
charge increase they are giving me. Imagine if everyone either quit or kept movies out longer than
the 2 day rental time frame. You can do that without a charge. Both of those would hurt their business.
fu bb
Tuesday, December 25, 2007 11:21:25 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
About the time when they did the last hike a few months ago, I noticed a kind of throttling control...
I used to get 3 movies mailed the day three were returned, meaning my family was going through about
6 mail / 3 in-store or vice versa each week, then they stopped mailing them so quickly. At close to 40 movies
/ month, I still felt $24.99 was justifiable, though losing the game coupon sucked. But holy crap, they have
it so we can't possibly have more than 24 / month now, no coupons for games and are treating us like fools raising
the price AGAIN so soon!
Snoopy
Wednesday, January 02, 2008 10:56:58 AM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
I changed my account from 2 DVDs at-a-time to 3 DVDS at-a-time and I am being told by customer service that
the change will go into effect on my next renew date.
THIS IS WHAT THE WEBSITE STATES:
"However, if you switch to a plan with more DVDs at-a-time, this change will go into effect immediately.
We'll send you additional DVDs from your queue right away".

What's going on???
Sue
Wednesday, January 02, 2008 11:15:27 AM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
Blockbuster needs to fire the new CEO and get back on track.
They may also want re-train their customer service department.
I question their ability to think for themselves when asked a question.
I got 2 responses that were word for word exactly the same and
sadly enough, not helpful at all
Sue
Friday, January 04, 2008 10:37:02 AM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
I received their e-mail as well. I dumped them immediately (well, after my last exchange).

I got a confirming e-mail saying they got my cancellation. It was well before the increase
was to go into effect. A few days ago, I got an e-mail stating that my next movie was on it's way.
They better not be charging me.

I joined Netflix, a company with an actual customer service PHONE NUMBER.
Chris
Saturday, January 05, 2008 4:07:18 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
I am with you guys. Poor business practice. I merely stopped Netflix as the are with Wal-Mart.....I think I can over look that part and go right back to Netflix.
I new what they offered to start was to good to be true. Pretty much like there no late fee bull......read the fine print or pay for a movie.
I hope blockbuster sinks. Hollywood Video and Netflix need our help.
Tuesday, January 08, 2008 3:46:10 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
I have used and dropped and used and dropped blockbuster 2 times.
I just signed up again for 2 DVDs in one month for $3.99
Saturday, January 12, 2008 7:59:08 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
Blockbuster had a shrewd idea by allowing in-store exchanges.
That saved them close to $.50 on each DVD return and cost them
next to nothing by using DVD's they already own.

With slower turn around time then NetFlix, raising prices, and
cutting back on services, they lose customers. But Blockbuster
may feel they are losing a less profitable market segment and that
they don't really want.

Netflix would do well to encourage putting more than 1 DVD in a
return mailer to reduce there costs.

So far, Netflix wins in speed, ease of use, and selection.
Blockbuster may be just trying to keep a presence rather than
wanting to compete with Netflix considering that Netflix doesn't
make a profit. In fact, each year that Netflix grows, it loses more
money. Only upper management with the big salaries are happy.
netflix4me
Sunday, January 13, 2008 2:12:32 PM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
Amazing. I may be the only person still at $17.99. No email, and no change in billing for me. Posted about my experience here: http://www.somelifeblog.com/2008/01/blockbuster-total-access-1799.html
Thursday, October 02, 2008 9:28:20 AM (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
I quit cold-turkey for over a year now. They tricked me with a $1 lower rate that didn't include any in-store trade ins and when I wanted to go back to $17.99 they told me it was $24. They gave me a month free for the confusion and I quit after the free month.
Ted
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