Blockbuster Raises Prices, Gives You Until Yesterday To Change Your Plan

Blockbuster would like you to know that you are a valued customer… and that you have until yesterday to change your plan before the new pricing goes into effect.

Reader Melissa writes:

This email arrived in my inbox at 1:23am on July 27th letting me know that Blockbuster is changing their subscription plans. Don’t worry they say, because this won’t change my current pricing, but any change after July 26th will result in the new price structure. Nice timing there eh?

Whoops! Guess they “accidentally” sent out the email a bit too late.

Blockbuster writes (to Melissa):

Dear Melissa,

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.

At any point, you can log in and review your current subscription plan or see all available plans. Keep in mind that if you want to change your subscription plan at any point after July 26, 2007, your new plan will be subject to prices and terms available at that time.

Please don’t hesitate to contact us if you have any questions or concerns.

Sincerely,
Your Friends at BLOCKBUSTER

Meanwhile, Netflix just lowered prices. Again.

PREVIOUSLY: Netflix Sticks It To Blockbuster, Cuts Prices Again

Comments

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  1. compuwarescc says:

    Seems to me that it’s not raising her subscription price, but letting her know that if she wants to change anything about her plan from this point on she should be aware of pricing changes that will apply to her then.

    Awkwardly worded message at best.

  2. DashTheHand says:

    Keep hammering in those nails to your coffin Blockbuster. I will do a dance of glee at my nearest brick and mortar location when your stupid asses go out of business for horrible customer service, late fees, and incompetence.

  3. Yaotl says:

    Wow, they’re actually eating away at the only thing that was giving them any kind of advantage. Time to start looking for netflix coupon codes or something.

  4. MostNutsEver says:

    Oh that Blockbuster…. There’s got to be a law against this sort of thing….right?

  5. Coder4Life says:

    I have blockbuster online and I have not gottena letter yet..

  6. hmmmm – i have received no such e-mail regarding my Blockbuster account. But after checking the my account tab on the BB website, I see that suddenly the monthly account I have has a limit to the number of in-store exchanges per month? wtf? that’s the only reason I use you Blockbuster!

  7. supra606 says:

    Interesting…I use that service because if you can get past the fact that it’s Blockbuster, it really is a pretty good deal. But I haven’t gotten that email…

  8. getjustin says:

    Last night the Mrs. and I decided to rent a movie, (which we rarely do) and we decided to go to Blockbuster (which we do even more rarely). And I must say they were nicer than any Blockbuster employees I’d ever been in contact with. It was kinda creepy. However, $4.50 for a DVD is ridiculous. We’ve switching back to Netflix once the summer traveling is over.

  9. Anonymous says:

    I used Blockbuster online for a bit, back when they offered the two free in-store rental coupons per month. I almost always gave those coupons to friends, simply because the local Blockbuster had nothing I was interested in watching (or they had one copy which was out).

    In addition, they were pretty unhelpful and when you did get an employee’s help, they were abrupt and rude.

    When Blockbuster rolled out no late fees (now we call them restocking fees), my local Blockbuster didn’t participate.

    Not surprisingly, my local Blockbuster has closed up shop.

  10. bravo369 says:

    I have blockbuster and I didn’t get this email either. 2 things, if my price doesn’t change and I keept the same features then i don’t care as long as i don’t change my plan. I do have a problem with the limiting of in-store exchanges. With Netflix cutting prices, I was tempted to switch but the free coupons and in-store exchanges kept me with blockbuster. If that is now limited then I guess i’m switching to Netflix

  11. Tortfeasor28 says:

    Look at the letter again. What it is telling him is that there is no pricing change for him as he is a prefered customer, even though the plan price is changing for everyone else. Further, if he were to change his plan, he price would then have to change to the published prices.

    No harm on Blockbuster here, they just can’t write very well.

  12. jeblis says:

    Netflix sent me a note yesterday that they were lowering my rate.

  13. upon further examination, I was wrong about my account. I still have unlimited in-store exhanges, but people who sign up in the future at my particular price point will not.

    So yeah, no harm from BB.

  14. Timewalker says:

    Yeah, this isn’t adversely affecting the subscriber here. BB didn’t so anything wrong.

  15. animatedantmo_ says:

    I agree with “TORTFEASOR28″

    Sounds like current subscribers get to keep their old pricing while newbies get the shaft. I dont understand how this move is going to hurt netflix though O_o

  16. yg17 says:

    @jeblis: Same, they lowered mine by a dollar a couple months ago for the 2 out plan.

    Blockbuster’s just digging their grave. Anyone who’s passed Business 101 knows you don’t raise prices when your biggest competitor has just lowered theirs.

  17. bravo369 says:

    I checked my account after I already posted. My account is staying the same. 3 at a time, 2 coupons and unlimited instore exchanges for $17.99. If someone signs up now for $17.99, they get 3 at a time and only 5 in store exchanges. No coupons either.

    I’m getting more than enough movies under my plan so I doubt i’ll have any reason to change it.

  18. cgi5877 says:

    Consumerist Loves To Shock It’s Readers For High View Counts

    Yeah, C’mon Consumerist–try actually reading the letter yourself before coming up with a deceiving HEADLINE. People who already have an account will not be affected–me being one of them–still says:
    $17.99 / month (plus taxes)
    3 at-a-time, unlimited

  19. superqueen23 says:

    Maybe I’m reading it wrong, but it seems to me that the email states that her plan will stay the same price. The price changes will only affect new members who sign up after July 26th or those current members who change their plans. Anyone else get this impression?

    I do love that my Netflix plan keeps getting cheaper. I definitely made the right decision on which company to go with there.

  20. mishy says:

    I got that email this morning too, but didn’t look at the date. Like others have mentioned, the prices are going up for new customer but not for people have a plan and don’t change it. I guess it would have been nice to know earlier in case you wanted to switch plans though…

  21. 5h17h34d says:

    Blockbuster was the worst service I’ve ever encountered. They seemed to take days to mail stuff when Netflix can get the disc to me in 1 day from a similar location. BB out and out lies in emails saying something is shipped then it shows up 4 days later. The one time I got a cracked disc from BB they counted it as one of my 2 I got at a time while the thing mailed back and was re-sent. Netflix doesn’t.

    I too will be happy to stand there and piss on their grave when they finally go under.

  22. hallik says:

    @ DashTheHand and GetJustin

    With Blockbuster, you can have up to 6 (3 more than NetFlix) DVDs at a time.. What you do is simply go to the nearest blockbuster store, hand them your return sleeves, and you get a free rental per sleeve. At the same time, Blockbuster considers that you handed in your movies, and sends you 3 more from your queue. So all this, plus a free game rental per month for only 19 dollars is a great deal.

  23. Timewalker says:

    @mishy: Yeah, but the other plans didn’t exist before then. Different levels of Total Access existed, but this created the two levels of Total Access (one w/ unlimited store exchanges and one with 5/month) and the by mail only level. Existing subscribers are grandfathered in to the best possible plan. New subscribers get to choose which plan fits them.

    Since our local BB stores are franchises and don’t have to play by the rules (e.g. they don’t accept By Mail returns and exchanges, but they do accept the free rental coupons), I would drop down to the By Mail only plan, except it only saves a dollar a month, and the two rental coupons are worth more than that.

    I imagine it will change again and the Grandfather status will expire at some future point – probably the end of the year – forcing people to choose between the three new plans.

  24. MikeB says:

    I got the email and checked my account this morning. I am still paying the same amount for 3 movies out at a time but am getting only 5 in store exchanges. I am fine with this, I am still getting a good deal. if you do not want the in-store exchange you will be paying $1 less. The new plans are (3 out at a time and of course, +tax):
    24.99 Unlimited in-store exchanges
    17.99 5 in-store exchanges
    16.99 0 in-store exchanges

    So, I am paying nothing less, and truthfully I have been expecting them to make this change. And if you do not want in-store exchanges, you pay the same price as Netflix.

    Also, if you make more than 5 in-store exchanges a month, 24.99 will still save you money.

  25. MikeB says:

    @mishy: Taking a look at the new user plans, the prices are the same as for existing users.

  26. EdwardLund says:

    Looks like the Consumerist staff want to hit that quota early on a sunny Friday… And I’ve just cleared what has become a useless subscription in my RSS reader… Thanks, Meg, win/win for poster and former reader!

  27. medic78 says:

    They just opened up a Family Video (regional chain) in my neighborhood, and now Blockbuster is a ghost town. Serves em right, because FV is cheaper, has nicer employees, and has more options (1-5 night rentals on a sliding scale).

    Added to that is that the last time I was at Blockbuster was to complain about one of their employees starting an online account under MY account, and shipping it to someone else. After a loong talk, the only response was, “It is impossible for us to make that mistake.” At which point my yelling began, and the rest of the customers heard the problem and flipped off the manager on the way out.

    Kinda nice to have the whole place kinda rebel against them. To this day, I have never received an apology from them, despite calling corporate.

  28. thekicker says:

    I’ve been a customer of Blockbuster Online since it was in its beta stages about 2 years ago. I’m grandfathered in with the 2 free in-store game/movie coupons, as well as the Total Access package.

    I haven’t received anything like this, but if they do raise the rates again, I think I will finally have to drop it. When I first started out, it cost something like $14/mo for 3 rentals at a time. Now it’s up to $20 (but you get to exchange your mailers for in-store rentals now).

  29. clarient says:

    “Keep in mind that if you want to change your subscription plan at any point after July 26, 2007, your new plan will be subject to prices and terms available at that time.”

    THIS is the real issue. If she wanted to change her plan because of the price change (say, to a better plan that would not be so good after the price hike) she had to do it BEFORE the 26th.

    And they sent the email on the 27th.

    That’s a total sack of crap.

  30. crichardson79 says:

    @Coder4Life: You have blockbuster online you sad person. Netflix rules blockbuster blows.

  31. crichardson79 says:

    Sad little blockbuster you should have bought Netflix for $50 million a few years ago, but you didn’t now your their bitch. I can’t wait until they close down all of the blockbuster where i live.

  32. QuirkyRachel says:

    I’m an online customer of Blockbuster and I haven’t gotten any email. I just checked!

  33. cgi5877 says:

    @CLARIENT

    This is a non-issue. They didn’t let people in on it precisely because of that. “Hey we’re raising our prices so if you want to upgrade a level or 2 you better do it now or else.” They are just letting you know that from now on, if you upgrade, you will pay the new prices. It still has no effect on current subscribers with their current plans.

  34. hallik says:

    Looks like Blockbuster just shot themselves in the foot. The only thing they had going for them was unlimited in store exchanges. Now they are down to 5. Seeing as how I’ve probably exchanged DVDs about 20 times this past month, this is total horse sh*t. [gizmodo.com]

  35. crapple says:

    I found out about this last night when I went to swap out my online movies at the store and the clerk told me about what was coming. If you’ve signed up before May of this year, you have an extra month with the old pricing. He was pretty dumbfounded why they’d think of doing this.

    Earlier today, before I even read this, I sent an email to Blockbuster letting them know that as they’re raising prices and Netflix has dropped theirs, that I’d no longer be part of their Online program in a month.

    While googling for the information on this while I was composing my letter, I came across a blog somewhere that calculated how it worked – and BB has been losing money with all the marketing they’re doing – they spend roughly $2 per person just to get them in the doors, so the online program has just been bleeding money to take away market share, and then they’d jack up the prices. Apparently they weren’t able to wait long enough to jack it up.

  36. crichardson79 says:

    Sucks to be Blockbuster. When r u people going to learn Blockbuster is the devil….:)

  37. mdkiff says:

    I’ve stuck by Netflix since I signed up a few years ago – they have consistently stayed ahead of Blockbuster in service and price. Plus, they have added the “Watch it Now” feature if you want to download a movie onto your computer – even better than dealing with going to a Blockbuster (I live in Fairfax VA and couldn’t tell you where the closest BB is to me).

  38. facted says:

    @clarient: You are right, but that doesn’t make it Blockbuster’s fault and they really didn’t do anything wrong. Why does blockbuster have to provide you with information on their new pricing structure if the change doesn’t effect your current plan. It’s just telling you that if you change, you’re going to pay more or be more limited with your plan.

    There is no harm in my opinion.

  39. waggss says:

    I keep reading everyone talking bad about BB and I really don’t get why. There aren’t any other places you can go (at least not around here) that give you the selection and the number of copies they usually have. I’ve had maybe one or two customer service problems with BB and they’ve been able to handle it at the counter or over the phone. Yeah I hate that they raised their prices so I’m probably gonna call and complain about not being notified before and I’m willing to bet they either let me upgrade my account at the lower price or give me a free month. I’m sure they’ll do something. I know the only real competitor I can think of is hollywood video but for the most part from the stores I’ve seen it’s like comparing K-Mart(Hollywood Video) to Target (BB).

  40. Timewalker says:

    @facted: Exactly! How many places do you know that warn you in advance they are going to be raising prices on an ongoing charge?
    This was just a warning that if you do decide to make any changes after the new prices go into effect, there will be no going back. Just like my cell phone plan that no longer exists. As long as I keep paying month-to-month, I’m golden. But if I sign a new contract, I will be upgraded to a more expensive plan since mine no longer exists.

  41. yg17 says:

    @facted: Because based on the wording of the e-mail, it sounds like they’re giving her an opportunity to upgrade her plan and lock her into the old rates on the upgraded plan.

  42. JustIcedCoffee says:

    I think someone mentioned that as an existing customer we get an extra months of unlimited exchanges… meaning that we will be limited to 5 soon enough… that would suck.
    does anyone else have info that might confim this?

  43. Mary says:

    @mdkiff: I live in Northern Virginia too and imagine my surprise when I looked it up, there’s a Blockbuster less than a minute from my house. I guess I just naturally block them out since I’ve disliked their business for about ten years now. I guess we really do have everything here.

    Even though I prefer Netflix, this email isn’t anything bad or strange. They’re saying, repeatedly, that everything is staying EXACTLY the same, but if she decides to change her plan it’ll be at the new prices. Standard grandfathering, I believe. It’s worded almost exactly like the letter I got from Netflix which said that the plan I’m on was being discontinued, and I could continue to get it, but if I ever changed my plan I wouldn’t be able to go back to the one I have.

  44. TVarmy says:

    Hmm, Netflix drops their prices, Blockbuster raises their prices.

    I don’t mean to be a fanboy, but Blockbuster is setting themselves up for a collapse. They completely missed the point behind online rentals (Avoiding the store and its small selection). Free brick and mortar rentals mean nothing to me, as the brick and mortar stores around here only have the big budget, low quality popcorn movies. They don’t have any of the good foreign and independent films that pass by 95% of the country.

    Netflix’s response to Blockbuster’s service, online viewing, is a great deal. The only problems are that they didn’t work on getting it to work with DVRs to get it on regular TVs easily and it doesn’t work yet on Macs and browsers other than IE (Get the new version out, Netflix!). I don’t get why Blockbuster didn’t offer that, because I would think they’d have an even better relationship with the movie industry, as well as a big enough IT department to put one together.

  45. glitterpig says:

    Didn’t get the email and checked my plan, nothing’s changing. I still prefer the in-store exchange – I go through about six DVDs a week through Blockbuster (much cheaper than cable!) and have no interest in watching wee little movielettes on my 15″ monitor. It does depend on your store – the most convenient to me has a great kids’ selection, but got rid of their westerns and sort of randomly files everything else under “drama” or “comedy” so good luck finding anything. The store close to home has a whole IFC section and a great selection of westerns, but not many tv series. If I weren’t grandfathered back to the beta days, I probably wouldn’t sign up for the service today, but if you work it right, there isn’t a better bargain out there. (And no, I don’t expect it to last, but I’m gonna rent like a madman until Blockbuster bankrupts.)

  46. jrowley says:

    Wow, those of you who get to be grandfathered in are lucky. My email from Blockbuster says that my plan will not be renewed unless I choose to upgrade or select the plan with limited instore returns. Guess I was too high volume for them.


    Email (grammatical errors all Blockbuster’s):
    Dear Jason,

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

    As a result, the price of your current monthly plan Unlimited DVDs up to 3 at a time with unlimited in-store exchanges each month for $17.99 will increase to $24.99, effective August 1, 2007.

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

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

  47. mcpazzo says:

    I can confirm that Jrowley is not the only user not grandfathered in. I have been on the 3 disc plan since January 07 and the new price will be the same as offered to a new customer- 17.99 only gets you 3 at a time mail-ins and 5 in-store exchanges. They have been giving me a lot of movies though. Netflix would be a no-brainer with the 17h of PC movies but I have a Mac for my home computer.

    BLOCKBUSTER(R) MOVIES
    ———————————————————————–
    BLOCKBUSTER Total Access(TM)
    ———————————————————————–
    Dear Patrick,

    Due to changes in our subscription plan pricing, your current BLOCKBUSTER Total Access plan Unlimited DVDs up to 3 at a time with unlimited in-store exchanges each month for $17.99 will no longer be available at the current price as of August 1, 2007.


    You will be moved to our new plan that includes Unlimited DVDs up to 3 at a time with unlimited in-store exchanges each month for $24.99. This plan will not include an e-coupon for in-store DVD and/or game rentals. The new subscription plan and pricing will go into effect on your regular monthly billing date following August 30, 2007.*

  48. wick104 says:

    If you haven’t received an email yet its because you are already on the newer pricing structure. I signed on with Blockbuster when they first came out with online rentals, I got unlimited in-store exchanges and 2 coupons for free rentals on the $10 plan. They had already taken away one of my coupons, now I am informed that my plan is being downgraded. Downgraded? Who downsizes their customer’s plans, are they trying to get us to leave?

    Companies who want and appreciate your hard earned cash look for ways to improve customer service, not disregard it. Blockbuster should honor their agreements and the customers who have the original pricing structure should be grandfathered in.

    Blockbuster’s original strategy must have been to offer this phenominal deal with unlimited in-store rentals in order to steal as many customers as possible and when they got us hooked, they change the rules. I guess they think we’re either too stupid to notice or too apathetic to care, pretty insulting.

    I have an offer for blockbuster, honor your original agreement or I’ll be revisiting Netflix.

  49. EnderVR46 says:

    I was on their in-store, three rentals at a time plan, then switched to the mail + bring them in to rent from the store plan with one coupon per month. Now I just got an e-mail telling me that I will no longer get the unlimited in-store rentals but will instead get only 5 per month and no coupon. In order to stay with the plan I currently have I’ll have to pay $25 per month.

    The same amount I was paying for my original plan. My only concern is: How long until I am once again forced to switch plans? This hasn’t been the most hands off experience.

    I actually prefer the in-store rentals as it’s easier and quicker to get what I want.

  50. lancekdr says:

    I have been with BB for more than a year and have had the total access from day 1. It looks like it is a $7 price increase in order to maintain the 2 online + unlimited in store plan I have had. They may have gotten away with a buck or two increase, but that is a pretty steep jump.

  51. NukeRiskGuy says:

    Here is what the BB random letter generator spit out to me on Aug 17:
    ————————-
    Dear Andrew,
    Due to changes in our subscription plan pricing, your current BLOCKBUSTER Total Accessâ„¢ plan, Unlimited Online DVDs up to 3 at a time plus unlimited in-store exchanges each month for $17.99, will no longer be available at the current price.

    You will be moved to our new plan that includes Unlimited Online DVDs 3 at a time plus up to 5 free* in-store exchanges for $17.99. This plan will not include an e-coupon for in-store DVD and/or game rentals. The new subscription plan and pricing will go into effect on your regular monthly billing date following August 31, 2007.†

    In addition, exclusively for BLOCKBUSTER Total Access customers, we have introduced in-store movie rentals for $1.99* per movie should you need more than the in-store exchanges included in your plan.

    If you don’t feel this plan is right for you, please feel free to take advantage of one of these other options:

    [1] Move to a new plan that includes Unlimited Online DVDs up to 2 at a time plus unlimited free* in-store exchanges each month for $21.99/month

    OR

    [2] Move to a new plan that includes Unlimited Online DVDs up to 3 at a time for $16.99/month

    OR

    [3] See other subscription plans.

    OR

    [4] Cancel Now

    We appreciate your business and hope to continue meeting your movie and game rental needs online or at one of our neighborhood BLOCKBUSTER® stores.
    ————————-

    So, it looks like I can do nothing and lose my e-coupons and only get 5 free exchanges a month OR I can pay $4 extra per month and get 2 less movies per batch (3 in the mail, watch ‘em, take ‘em to the store, get 3 more = 6 movies vs. 4 with the new plan – but after 5 exchanges, or 1.5 batches, I have to pay $1.99 per exchange; generally I do 4 – 6 batches per month; this would cost me an additional $10+ per month) OR save $1 per month and lost 3 movies per batch (no free returns) OR see their other subscription plans.

    I’m a damn nuclear engineer and I’m confused! I’ll have to crunch some numbers and see what I come up with. Looking at the other posts, it looks like everyone is getting a different deal – maybe it has to do with location? I live in a small town <20,000 people with 1 Blockbuster and 1 mom-and-pop rental. Coincidentally, I got the e-mail from BB the day after I canceled my Netflix account!