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Discuss Online Movie Rentals

Are you happy with your DVD rental service? Do you have a question or comment about Blockbuster's recent plan changes? What about alternatives to Netflix and Blockbuster?

Talk about the new way of renting videos taking the world by storm.

 

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I'm a heavy renter and I purchase films - from Blockbuster. I have also purchased candy from Blockbuster. The key seems to be the "heavy renter" part, not the purchases.

The problem is that Blockbuster does not always have the best price and so I tend to buy most of my new DVDs from Amazon.

The second part is that while Blockbuster deactivated my account, they continued shipping titles for another week, but ceased about ten to fourteen days prior to the old renewal date.

Because I paid for a full month's service and because I did nothing to end the service, the conundrum became a nasty one for Blockbuster. I had made enough noise on Hacking Netflix and in e-mails that I think they felt I might take legal action if they didn't offer some solution to not shipping discs for a third of the month.

And if they hadn't either been willing to refund the money for the unfulfilled service or do something to make up for not shipping discs, the FTC form is easy to fill out and I had plenty of ammunition.

The result was a two-week free extension for all my trouble. And permission to open another account to make up for the loss of rentals.

All in all, the experience was not pleasant and the increased stress related to dealing with copied responses was not fun. I had repeatedly told them that I was not happy over them dropping the 4 at-a-time plan, that I used it to scan films for a purchase decision, and the bottom line was that I had no problem with a price increase.

The result is that I'm actually paying less for the service, still getting the number of film exchanges that I want, and still renting the daylights out of the list. As to opening the next account, that remains to be seen as I may decide to open one with NF just to pick up titles that either BBOL does not carry or can't deliver for one reason or another (like not having the database set up to recognize a second disc in a multiple disc set).

NF is still a bad memory for me, mostly because they heavily throttled me a little over 18 months ago and provided no recourse for what amounted to delivering a 6 at-a-time plan while charging for 8 at-a-time.

At least Blockbuster has responded, but it took them going to the edge of the law before they made things right. I suspect since I was right in the middle of the time frame for dropping accounts, that they may have realized they really did not do themselves any favors the way they handled this whole fiasco.

And, in my opinion, it isn't the pricing. It is the way things were handled, especially between various renters. If it had been absolutely the same, across the board - everyone moved automatically to a 3 at-a-time limited exchange plan at the next billing date, but having the option to select one of the others, then I don't think they would be facing the kind of negative feedback that they've drawn from their most important asset - their customer base.

One store manager told me that about a third of the total access customers were dropping the program.

 

If I pay my fees and I rent the max and return them to the store for more "free" rentals, why am I then being singled out to have to change my plan and pay more? I do believe this is an unfair practice and could lead to a possible class action lawsuit with punitive damages.

 

It's a given that Blockbuster has a long history of fiddling with their pricing schemes, often at the behest of their loyal customers. First off, I'll admit that the unlimited in-store rentals (until the recent price change) did feel like a free lunch. Although, the fact that they introduced that plan and took it away only several months later smacks of an aggressive numbers-grabbing tactic, and nothing more.

I just received my plan price change email from Blockbuster yesterday: though I'm put off by my membership being manipulated only a few months after I joined, by comparison Blockbuster is still a better deal for me than Netflix. That will change if they decide to kill ALL free in-store rental exchanges, but I don't see that happening in the foreseeable future. They need a perceivable advantage over their competitor.

Regarding alternatives to either of the two? There is always the brick and mortar option... I know the majority of people are still going that route, but I really think rental stores would really like to eliminate that overhead, the same way publishers would like to just do everything online and cut out the cost of ink and paper. I'm sure that's where things will be headed eventually, and it doesn't bode well for businesses like Hollywood Video.

Number two: the wild card competition. Apple is supposed to introduce a movie rental service through iTunes soon. Since their store is massively popular and works on Mac and PC, it could very well be a game changer for NF and BB.

Another option? Well... dare I say, there is also the opportunity to illegally download movies. That's not a suggestion, by the way. I'm just pointing out that when video distribution comes down to 1's and 0's (which it eventually will), fair pricing, customer goodwill and service is how rental services will have to compete.

 

Who's gonna get the ball rolling for a class action lawsuit? Is this good business practice to offer a service agreement to customers and then change the parameters of the service with the expectations that customers will simply comply? I don't think so.

So existing customers currently on the $17.95 Total Access plan now have a limit to 5 free in store rentals per month. Otherwise they have to pay a rental fee? I'm also guessing; since I'm just now finding out about the change, that my e-coupons will most likely stop as well.

What a joke!

I found out about this when I went into my local Blockbuster store and exchanged one of my mail out movies and was told that I reached my limit for in store rentals. You can imagine how I felt. Let me just give you a hint.. I'm f'ing livid!!!! If someone doesn't take action, I'll be the first to do so!

 

I understand the promotional side, the new plans of Total Access and the necessity of the change in subscriptions. I joined Total Access immediately and then signed up for Premium.

As with any service, it should have been handled better, pro-rating between the two subscriptions.

My complaint is that now that pay more for less, they are taking two, three, even four days from the time I return a DVD to the store and they ship a replacement. It's been going on for weeks now and Saturdays no longer count.

This week I returned a DVD to the store on Wednesday. They sent nothing out Thurs or Fri and I'll have to wait until Monday to see if it's shipped.

Since I'm paying into an agreement that states they will fill this slot in one business day, what legal recourse do I have to force the company to honor that agreement? Am I not within my legal rights to get the service I prepay for???

 

We will be changing our service once again back to Netflix. The only thing that made Blockbuster better before was the e-coupon.

They are a greedy company and screw up way too much. Netflix here I come!

 

Just want to say thanks for raising this issue and allowing a forum for discussion. Blockbuster changed my plan and did not change my friend's plan. She is continuing to pay $17.99 for 3 at a time, unlimited in-store exchanges, and 2 (yes two!) free e-Coupons per month.

I have to agree with one of the above comments where it was stated that existing customers should have kept their existing plan, and new customers would get the new plan. This would have been a much fairer solution...but fair doesn't enter the vocab of corp America.

Funnily enough, I haven't exchanged an in-store movie since my plan changed. But does Blockbuster really benefit? Does it matter how many DVDs I am exchanging per month in-store (whether it's 5 or 15) if I am not paying? Maybe they thought by restricting the exchanges we would pay for the 6th rental? Seems like this back-fired and with people canceling their accounts it is happening in a bigger way.

I hope they get what they deserve.

 

Today I took my 6th mailer of the month into a BB store to see if I could still exchange it for a free movie (hoping the "system" was none-the-wiser). Well, my movie wasn't free, but my new release was only $1.99 instead of $4-something.

Not bad. I had no idea this coupon option existed.

Has anyone else heard about this? I swear, BB is sooo sneaky! Overall, I'm still OK with the BB plan changes though.

 

Today I got an email today stating that rates would raise from $17.99 to $19.99.

I've been with Blockbuster a long time. I've put up with a lot including the elimination of the e coupons and the "very long waits" but I think this is my final straw.

Netflix here I come.

 

Blockbuster does offer HD you just have to dig for them. Found it out the other day myself.

Try looking the the "collections" subcategory they should have a section for Blu-ray and Hd DVD. Or...when you actually click on a movie and go to the screen and were they have the reviews and stuff. Click the "all editions" tab and if the DVD is available in Hi def it will be in that list.

I, too, had no idea until last week.

 

Last night I talked to someone at a Blockbuster store. They told me they are still getting a 3 at a time unlimited in store exchanges for $19.99. They explained they are heavy users. In other words they were never subjected to any of the price increases or change in terms that Blockbuster imposed on some of us with little notice.

I emailed Blockbuster online about this. Here is the response I received:

Thanks for contacting BLOCKBUSTER Online Customer Care.

Based on usage, some customers won't see either an increase in price or a change in plan terms. Some other customers will be given the option to move from a plan with unlimited in-store exchanges to a plan with monthly limits on exchanges, but at no price increase from their current plan. Finally, again based on their usage, some customers will be given the option to stay on their current unlimited plan, but at an increased price.All Blockbuster members have a choice and can always change their current plan to another offering.

Sincerely,
Edgar
Customer Care Associate
BLOCKBUSTER Online

So, on top of the "next business day" issue, the huge price increase, and significant change in terms, I find out Blockbuster used some arguably arbitrary criteria to allow some customers to keep the original terms and price while the rest of use saw huge price increases and / or a material change in terms.

Again, I would suggest you contact the Better Business Bureau (BBB) and your stateAttorney General.

I asked Blockbuster for clarification and specific detailsabout the criteria used. I will post those when I receive them.

 

When we started the Blockbuster all access plan we got unlimited movies for $17.99 a month, we could return movies and have new ones the next day. Never had an issue.

Then they raised the prices to $24.99 we decided that it was still a good deal since we had gotten so many movies in the past but then it took longer for the movies to arrive and customer service was very little help.

First I was told that I need to stop returning my movies on a Friday because on Monday they did limited shipping. I found it rude to be told when I should return movies considering the schedule my family keeps.

Then there is the 30 movie minimum. I had over 600 movies in my queue and was rudely asked if it were normal for me to have that many movies in the queue. For starters if the limit is 30 then it is better for me to have 600 so I don't forget.

Also, as I told him, had he noticed most of those movies were kids movies or educational? I am stuck in dangerous neighborhood for the time being it's easier for me to let my child watch an educational movie then go outside and try to avoid gun shots.

We finally canceled and I guess just in time too. A few months later the prices were raised to $34.99 and that is a disgusting price to pay for poor customer service and delayed movies. I certainly would not pay that price. Luckily we are moving in 7 weeks so I don't have to even consider it.

 

I figured out a way to get more monthly in-store exchanges for free while still being in a capped plan. To find out how, check out my post on kevintostado.com.

Blockbuster is on to this trick and claims to be able to catch you after the fact. Spokesperson Randy Hargrove had this to say to HackingNetflix:

Blockbuster tracks whether individuals are abusing their online subscription plan and “gaming” the system to exceed the number of in-store exchanges they are allowed per month.

If an online subscriber tries to circumvent the terms of their plan, and in this instance gain more free rentals than allowed, we’ll know and ask them to stop if they want to remain an online subscriber, just as we’re doing with Kevin.

We have a number of online subscription plans to meet consumers' entertainment needs. This include the tremendous value of $20 in free movie rentals with our 3 out program with 5 free in-store movie exchanges per month. And if someone wants the added value of unlimited in-store DVD exchanges, we have multiple plans to choose from.

We want subscribers to enjoy our service and we offer a tremendous value. But like any retailer, we can’t allow the misuse of our service. If we find this is taking place, we will take action.

It remains to be seen whether they can really detect what they call "gaming" the system or if they are just trying to put the scare into you. Whatever the case, Blockbuster is very aware of the flaw. I expect this loophole to be closed before long.

 

As a business owner, and after doing my homework, Total Access is still the way to go; however, the transition imposed upon the consumer was very harsh and curt. Had Blockbuster given out some type of consolation prize per se, it may have soften the blow and still retained more customers.

After all, the idea of business is to make money. The customer supplies that money. If you are really well put-together, you optimize both sides of the court: Profit:Suppliers of Profit.

I understand their move and applaud their success. I will continue to stay with Total Access until I find something with better quality and/or better price.

 

We were on the Netflix plan many years ago. Then BBOL came out and we switched to a very good plan. We shared it with my father who lives in the same town. We live about 1 hour from the nearest BB store so in store exchanges didn't happen, but my father worked in this town (24 hour shifts) and they would rent movies and watch at work. The e-coupon's were his to rent movies at work.

When they changed everything we ended up with less movies and no e-coupon for more money than we would have to spend with NF. So it came down to us paying about $20 for 3 movies that we had a limit on how many/ month or go back to NF for about $15 with 3 movies out with unlimited/ month. No brainer for us!

 

 

I can't believe Blockbuster. I mean... why would you drive customers away?

I had no idea other people were not getting to keep their plan. I have been with them even before Total Access started..when it was just mailings. Although, I think I started out with something like $14.99 or something like that.. then it went to $17.99..then $19.99. And I am still at the $19.99.

However, for the longest time, I had the two free e-coupons. Then one day, out of nowhere.. BAM! I only get one. I tried to e-mail them and basically the answer I got was too bad, so sad! If Blockbuster really wants to profit, this is not the way to do it.

I am still getting a free coupon, for games or movies. We use it mostly for games since that makes more sense. My 2nd coupon was lost in August 2008..which wasn't that long ago.

I never realized that they were doing this to their customers. So I do still consider myself one of the lucky ones. I get unlimited in-store exchanges and 3 dvds at a time.

I think the only reason that I am still getting this is because in the past, it took me a while to go through the 3 movies and then mail it back. Now, it still takes me a while because of work and everything but I guess to them, I'm profitable?

Thank you for the article!

 

 

The only reason I joined Blockbuster on-line was for the in-store exchanges. I don't like on-line renting because it takes forever to get the movies you really want to see and you have to fill your queue up with a bunch of crappy movies just to make sure you get movies sent at all.

If the company is going to deliberately inhibit my ability to rent, why would I want to do business with them?

I won't even be renting from the store any more. I'll either wait for the movies to show up on cable or rent from my grocery store.

I'm hoping to see Blockbuster go completely bust in the near future. I feel as though I've been defrauded by this company over and over.

 

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Originally Published:  Tuesday, August 28, 2007, 5:00 PM PT

Last Updated:  Wednesday, June 1, 2011, 6:52 PM PT

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