Friday, 13 April 2007

I used to be a Netflix user. In fact I was subscribed for well over a year, but after the first few months I never built the queue back up and I just didn't care to use the service. I found myself constantly forgetting about it. Movies sat around the house after being watched. My monthly fees were going nowhere. Then an opportunity came along to sign up for Blockbuster's online service, and I took it - and promptly canceled my Netflix account. As it turned out, Blockbuster not only offered three movies at a time for a competitive price, but I would also be able to get free rentals in the local store by using monthly online coupons that I'd just load in my browser from the web site and print out at home. That sounded pretty cool to me.

Fast forward about a year, and Blockbuster enhanced their online rental service to allow you to return movies to the local store - they call it Total Access. On top of that, when you return your movie in its mailer to the store instead of dropping it in a mailbox, you get to exchange it for a free store rental of your choice. Now that's a great deal. In the end, it means I can sit at home and set up my rental queue, and rent online, and when I drop them at the store I can get three more movies to watch while I wait for the next set of movies to ship in the mail from my queue. And I still get the two free rental coupons (which can be used for movies or video games) each month. It's pretty awesome. We are watching a lot more movies as a result, and we're also watching more movies that fall into the "interesting" category, too.

I have only one wish-list item for Blockbuster to improve its service, and this is a big one in my book: Right now, if I put movies in my online queue to have mailed to me, there is no intelligent connection between what I rent in the store and what sits in the queue. So, if I put Children of Men in the online queue and I also rent it in the store because I find it on the shelf while I am in there, currently there is no way for the online service to "know" I have already rented it. What Blockbuster needs to do (in my humble opinion) is to compare what I rent in the store to the list of movies in my online queue. If I pick up a movie in person, they should prompt me to remove it from my queue, or allow me in my account settings to have that film automatically removed. More than once I have picked up a movie at the store only to have it shipped the next day or so from the mailing service. In those cases I have just taken the duplicate mail copy and exchanged it for an in-store rental, so no real harm or anything, but I would sure like to have some inventory and queue connection happening with my account.

I highly recommend Blockbuster Total Access. They ship fast, the selection is good, and I am really enjoying the in-store integration.

Add/Read: Comments [10]
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Saturday, 14 April 2007 21:12:31 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
Big +1...I've switch to BlockBuster from NetFlix, and you've nailed it. The #1 problem is when I have a new movie at the top of my queue, find it at the local store, then get a duplicate in the mail the next day.
Sunday, 15 April 2007 09:32:55 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
So what about late fees? If you pick up a movie from the store and forget to drop it off before you head out on a week long trip, do you get socked with a daily late fee?

The issue I have always had with Blockbuster and Hollywood is the concept of a daily late fee that is equivalent to the 5 day rental price. I've always thought I should only have to pay for another rental period. After all they are only out the potential income from not being able to rent that movie to someone else.
Monday, 16 April 2007 08:37:14 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
Hi Steve - late fees are essentially no longer an issue. Blockbuster changed their policy a little over a year ago because it was hurting business (vs. the competition) and some legal actions made them see the errors of their ways.

There are no late fees for online rentals. It's essentially the same as Netflix.

Essentially, the "rental periods" for in-store purchases are still the same as they always were: Two days for new rentals and one week for others. They have to manage store inventory somehow, after all. But late fees don't apply anymore if you don't get them back right on time. You'll get a one-week grace period for all rentals. And, if you don't return it by the end of the grace period, your account is charged for the cost of the movie, minus the rental fee you already paid. Finally, you then have one month to return the movie to the store and have the purchase charge removed, less a "minimal" restocking fee (I think it's just under a couple bucks but I'd have to go back and look). I have yet to be charged for something I didn't want (although I have left town unexpectedly for an extended period, and have paid the restocking fee once or twice in the past year due to a late return).

It's a good deal. I know several die-hard NetFlix users who switched and are glad they did. But to each his own, as they say. I like Blockbuster's offering better. And the fact is that the incentive to return the mailers to the store means I tend to get the DVDs that I rented in the store back sooner, as well.
Monday, 16 April 2007 10:11:25 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
Wow! Sounds great. I think we'll have to give it a try. And thanks for taking the time to post the info! :)
Monday, 16 April 2007 23:42:59 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
I think you nailed it with that intelligent connection mention. If they did offer this, I would be watching more movies I think.
Matt Hartley
Wednesday, 25 April 2007 13:31:43 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
Im a Blockbuster fan all the way. I just love that I can trade in my movies anytime!
Wednesday, 06 June 2007 11:31:06 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
Netflix has a much larger selection of movies, don't they? I hate going to the video store so it works for me. Netflix has forced BB to get better, but Netflix is still the best at what they do IMO.
Tuesday, 19 June 2007 08:35:45 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
Most Blockbuster stores that I've seen now have a computer sitting at the checkout that lets you login and remove the movies from your queue manually. It's an improvement, but yeah, I agree - it should be automatic.
Tuesday, 26 June 2007 15:55:02 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
Netflix still reigns in this area.

This, imho, is one of the problems with blogging - it is so amazingly sad that the content of this post is nearly identical to Blockbuster's press releases as well as the crafted copy they carry on their home page.

At least on their information they are required to call out the disclaimers that state you are subject to in-store return dates as well as late fees for any movies exchanged in-store.

Please, if you are going to act as a pr talking head, take the time to inform your reader base completely.
Friday, 17 August 2007 20:36:22 (Pacific Standard Time, UTC-08:00)
Cory - I am far from a PR talking head, and I've never read their press releases. Rather than acting as an angry smartass, please take the time to recognize that not everyone will agree with you, and I have written here about the late fees and changes in that area, as well.

Everyone else - Bloackbuster's effectively raised their prices. See this entry and do your homework.
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