Blockbuster by Mail Suckage after DISH Acquisition

If you notice I haven’t had much to complain about Blockbuster for a while. Discs have been coming to me fast, new releases were coming pretty quickly, often delivered to me on the day of release. But for the last few months things have been just bad. Everything that is relatively new is on some kind of wait and I’m getting movies that are nowhere even near the top of my list. Just when I thought that the DISH acquisition would be good for Blockbuster. Here is a screenshot of the waits:

Blockbuster Adds No Added Cost Game Rentals. Still Dying

I logged in to my Blockbuster account today and saw this:

GBMPromo960

Blockbuster is really throwing everything and the kitchen sink to compete with Netflix and Redbox. But nothing seems to be working to keep the company alive. I’m not sure why they don’t throw in free streaming like Netflix too.

Total Access (exchanging disks in store), no delay for new movies, no extra charge for Blu-Ray none of this has worked for Blockbuster online. I’m not sure how well the kiosks are doing as compared to Redbox.

In my opinion, the problem with  Blockbuster is not that they aren’t doing enough. They are just doing it wrong. None of their offerings integrate with each other and Blockbuster just seems like a combination of separate companies held together by a bandage that is too small.

When Total Access first started, it want very well integrated with the Queue. Finally when they did integrate it with the queue, they removed features that made Total Access attractive in the first place. After blockbuster started shutting down stores and opening kiosks, they made the kiosks incompatible with total access. When Blockbuster started the streaming options after buing a streaming company, there was no option to stream some items for free like with Netflix.

The allure of free streaming from Netflix is that  alot of devices come with the ability to stream from Netflix and it is included. With Blockbuster you have to pay to stream so that is not as nice as Netflix. Of course with Blockbuster you can stream newer movies but if you are getting them in the mail anyway, why would anyone pay to stream? I just don’t get it.

I’m not a gamer so this new game feature is useless for me but this might cause a few gamefly users who also have Blockbuster to possibly consolidate into one account.

Either way I hope Blockbuster stays relevant and I hope they add total access to their Kiosks. That would really make me stay with Blockbuster for longer than I am planning now.

Missing Blockbuster Stores

2 Weeks Free - Blockbuster Total Access I go on vacation and return to find all the Blockbuster stores in Charlottesville are gone. First thing I go and do is check if Blockbuster exists at all or have they filed for bankruptcy and shut down operations. Luckily they still exist, but no more stores here = no Total Access for me.

Blockbuster, could you not have kept at least one of the three stores? I really liked Total Access. Anyway, I switched from Total Access to mail only, saving a grand total of $3/month but reducing the number of movies watched by about 4-5/month thanks to a combination of not exchanging and the additional 2 day delay introduced by having to mail the discs back. Now I have to remember to drop DVDs in the mail quicker after watching them.

Blockbuster Kiosk SD Movie Rental

blockbustersdkioskThe net is abuzz with news of Blockbuster’s new kiosks with SD card movie rentals and most people just panning the idea. But I think that it is great. Here is why:

  • The kiosk doesn’t have physical media so it can potentially store millions of movies.
  • The kiosk will never run out of a particular movie
  • People can play the movies on their netbooks (no dvd drives but SD slots, yes) on the go or on their phones (iPhones need not apply) or cameras (if the media is playable on those) etc.
  • A lot of modern DVD players and TVs come with built in SD card readers, I know my Bluray player has one.
  • You don’t need to drive back to return the movie. Redbox = $1/night = $4 for 4 nights but this is just $1.99 because never have to return it.
  • SD cards go all the way upto 32GB with new 64GB cards just coming out giving you the potential to rent 10 or more movies at a time in HD if the kiosk lets you.

What’s not to like about the idea? Hopefully Blockbuster’s implementation is good to start with.

It seems Blockbuster is trying to throw everything and the kitchen sink at Netflix and Redbox. First the in-store exchanges for online rentals, then not charging extra for BluRay, Redbox style kiosks, acquiring a company for movie downloads (though they are not free like netflix), following Netflix in trying to get Blockbuster’s app on various devices like Tivo and Samsung players and now this.

Hopefully something will work out for them.

Blockbuster is upto it’s old tricks again

2 Weeks Free - Blockbuster Total AccessSince Blockbuster started its new policy of not shipping new movies until you return your in store rentals, things have been much better. Movies shipped as soon as I dropped my discs back in the mail. But this week blockbuster is back to it’s usual tricks of not shipping. Generally when I returned all my movies together, Blockbuster would ship at least one movie instantly. But this time not a single movie shipped for two days.

As usual I have complained and as usual they will probably reply back with some lame excuse about keeping lots of “Available” movies at the top of the queue. I have more than 500 movies in my queue and many of the top ones are alwyas available.

Update on Aug 29: No movies have shipped yet. That is 4 days of no shipments!! Here is what Blockbuster has to say about it:

I sincerely apologize that we have yet to ship the next available titles from your queue.

We are aware that some customers who receive DVDs from our Richmond distribution center have recently experienced a slow-down with their check-ins and shipments. This is in line with the system enhancement that is in place to better provide quality service to our customers such as you. We are addressing this situation and it will be corrected as quickly as possible.

I also see that some of the movies at the top of your queue are on a “Short Wait” and “DVD Releases” status. We want to send you the movies that are most important to you as reflected by the priority you’ve set in your queue. If your top selections do not show an “Available” status and you have fewer than 15 “Available” movies in queue, a shipment may be skipped.

I would recommend keeping more than 15 “Available” titles at the top of your queue at all times. Once you take a few moments to do so, I’m certain you’ll see something shipped by the end of the next business day.

Since we value you as our customer, I would like to offer you 2 extra e-coupons good for free movie/discounted game rentals. Just click the link and print them which you may redeem at any participating Blockbuster store. You can expect a separate e-mail within 24-48 hours. We recommend to please check your spam or junk folder as well.

We appreciate your patience and understanding.

Should you have further questions, please let me know.

So I emailed back saying that it is ridiculous that I’m expected to constantly monitor my queue and their stupid system can’t just send me the first available movie form my queue. Here is what I got back:

I understand your concern about the movies availability and managing your queue. I also understand your inquiry about your e-coupons.

In line with our system enhancement that is currently on going, we really recommend that you keep more available titles on top and consistently monitor your queue. Once we are done with our upgrade, we will ship whatever “Available” titles eventhough it is not at the top of your selections.

In the meantime, we appreciate your patience and understanding while we work towards serving you better.

Your e-coupon was sent thru a separate e-mail. I suggest that you also check your spam or bulk folders. Some e-mail providers will not allow e-mails to your inbox unless you previously approve and set it up.

Should there be anything else, please let me know.

So now I have to keep on checking that the titles at the top of my queue are available or not and never get new releases from Blockbuster the day they release.