Blockbuster Cancels Your Plan? Or Does It?

Can someone tell us what the hell is going on with Blockbuster? Some readers are writing in saying that they’re being allowed to keep their plan but are warned that if they change it they’ll be kicked off and charged more. Other readers are saying that their plan has been completely canceled and they have to choose another one. Still other people are on the same plan but now are not receiving coupons. We’ve gotten about 20 emails about this issue, but are at a loss to understand it.

Can we please get a straight answer about what the hell is going on with Blockbuster? They are definitely screwing you, but apparently they’re doing it in about 9 different ways, making it hard for us to write the headline.

(Photo:Maulleigh)

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  1. kewl132 says:

    My cousin works for Block Buster Online and tell me if you rent alot of new realses they delay shipping on purpose.

  2. Zennie20 says:

    I have Blockbuster Online and nothing has changed for me at all. I pay $17.99 + tax (about $19 total) a month, get 3 rentals out at a time, a coupon for a game or a movie, and in-store exchange. Granted, I used to be a lot more active with my online account. I haven’t been notified of any changes, and I haven’t been given a hassle at all.

  3. koath says:

    My plan was canceled, while my brother’s plan wasn’t changed. I think it has to do with the fact that I’m a “power” user. I get my movies, watch them and go rent a new movie in store with each one. While my brother’s rental rate was much slower.

    I have a feeling they were trying to get rid of the power users since we cost more money then users like my brother do.

  4. facted says:

    @koath: I’m a “power user” and my plan was not changed or canceled. However, like others, I was warned that if I change my plan, I will be paying more from now on.

  5. Zennie20 says:

    @koath: That makes sense. I used to be a power user before we were able to exchange movies in-store. When I had a very active account there definitely was a lot of lag time between the time they said they shipped the movie and the time I got it. Now I pretty much have my new movie a day after I exchange it in the store.

  6. chrisgoh says:

    I’ve received no info regarding a change.

  7. Skiffer says:

    I wouldn’t be surprised if the changes depend on your account history.

    I went through a “power user” period of about 25 movies/month when i first signed up and got a new TV.

    Was on the 2-at-a-time, unlimited in-store exchanges per month, $14.99.

    Now I default to the same plan, same price, but limited to 3 in-store exchanges per month.

  8. ian937262 says:

    I received the notice. Then a week to week and a half before my regular end of month date they stopped sending me movies. I changed my plan to the new $7.00 up charge and the movies continued.
    I’m not against the price change and am 110% happy with Blockbuster but I am against the early cancellation because I didn’t choose which plan.

  9. ian937262 says:

    @koath:

    I agree, fellow power user here. I can’t blame them, I still get 40+ movies a month for the new rate of $24.00. I can do .50 a movie.

  10. Uriel says:

    Hopefully, Blockbuster will partner with Verizon somehow, and Verizon will simply SET FIRE to the Brick and mortar stores, AND BURN the place down.

  11. Sathallrin says:

    I got a notice of the change of plan. I had the $7.99 plan for 1 at a time 3 per month, with in store exchanges and 1 coupon a month. This gave me 7 movies (3 by mail and 4 in store) a month for the $7.99 and I used every one of them.

    They wanted me to switch to 2 movies by mail and 2 in store exchanges for the same price. I didn’t want that so I switched to NetFlix right away. I went ahead and did a free month trial for the 3 at a time and so far it is great. They are shipping the replacement movies to me in about half the time Blockbuster was.

    I’ll probably switch my plan down to 1 at a time once the trial runs out, and I should get at least as many movies as I was with Blockbuster due to the faster shipping.

  12. nardo218 says:

    @Sathallrin: Re: switching to netflix — they slow down shipping slightly once you’re not a new user anymore. Pay attention to how many movies you watch a month and divide it by your monthly price. Because of their delays and your habits, you may find that paying for two-at-a-time means you pay less per movie than one-at-a-time.

  13. Skiffer says:

    @Sathallrin: Really? My shipping experience has been the opposite.

    Netflix friends have told me it takes on average 4 days for them between movies.

    Blockbuster would have new movies to me 2 days after dropping them at the store – seemed like they’d scan them in the store, and the depot would immediately mail out new ones – cutting out the “ship-to-depot” delay.

    Guess it depends on where the depots are relative to you, though…

  14. jaredutah says:

    We had the two movies a month, with the two exchanges in-store and a once a month coupon plan for $5.99. I was informed that this plan would increase to $7.99 (although no mention of the coupon being available going forward) or I could stay at the $5.99 a month plan, but would not be able to get the two in-store exchanges anymore. We promptly switched to Netflix because they ship faster to our area.

  15. whitedevil01 says:

    It sounds synonymous with blockbuster to cut off the “power users” at their discretion.

  16. muddgirl says:

    Netflix has actually sped up for me the longer I’ve been a user – they built a processing center in my town, so turnaround time went from 5 days to 3! However we used to average on 10-12 movies per month, so we’re nowhere near “power users”.

  17. Little Miss Moneybags says:

    @jaredutah: I have the same plan but I haven’t been told anything will be changing. BUT I just logged in to my account and see that there’s no longer any mention of the in-store coupon nor no place for me to print it out as I used to. Very irritating. I’m going to ask in the store when I swap out next (tomorrow).

  18. Little Miss Moneybags says:

    Boy did I bungle the grammar there!

    “there’s no longer any mention of the in-store coupon nor ANY place for me to print it out”

    *ahem*

  19. jaredutah says:

    @Scarfish:

    Here’s the email I received:

    Dear Jared,

    We hope you’re enjoying BLOCKBUSTER Total Accessâ„¢!

    There are some changes to our subscription plan lineup that introduce a new pricing structure and new plans which limit the number of in-store exchanges.

    As a result, your current plan will no be longer be available at the current price.

    (1 Online DVD out at a time up to 2 per month plus 2 in-store exchanges each month for $5.99)

    We’d like to extend you a new plan that includes 1 Online DVD out at a time up to 2 per month plus up to 2 free* in-store exchanges for $7.99.

    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.

    Your new plan will go into effect on your regular monthly billing date following August 31, 2007. If we don’t hear from you by August 31, 2007, we will automatically move you to the new BLOCKBUSTER Total Access plan referenced below as “Your New Plan”.

    Here are some options
    to choose from:
    2 Online DVDs with 2 In-Store Exchanges $7.99

    Unlimited Online DVDs with Unlimited In-Store Exchanges $16.99

    2 Online DVDs $4.99

    Don’t forget! All of the plans above still carry the benefits of online DVDs delivered to your mailbox and exclusive subscriber discounts and titles you won’t find anywhere else!

    If you have questions or concerns, please don’t hesitate to contact us. Remember, you can change your plan at any time through My Account.

    Your Friends at BLOCKBUSTER®

  20. Hitchcock says:

    They dropped me to 5 in-store exchanges a month for free, than $1.99 ea for additional exchanges. Same pricing and I think I still get a coupon.

  21. EnderVR46 says:

    I was on the 3 at a time, unlimited exchanges in-store, with one coupon per month for $17.99. I got an e-mail stating that that was no longer available for that price. I could cancel, stay at $17.99 but have limits and no coupon, or switch my plan to a $24.99 option that was the same as what I had.

    A nice price bump for them.

  22. BrockBrockman says:

    No change in my plan. ($17.99 = unlimited mailbox rentals @ 2-at-a-time + unlimited in-store exchanges + monthly coupon.)

    They told me “As a preferred customer, your plan will not change at this time.” If they do change it, there’s a good chance of me switching over to Netflix.

  23. lowlight69 says:

    ah, how i love my netflix. had it for years. with a new baby i dropped down to only 1 a month, but i still love them. great selection, 2-3 day turn around.

    between netflix and the king county library system who needs anything more?

  24. thedannimonster says:

    I wanted to add a comment to the recent post on Blockbuster. I have been a member of Blockbuster for approximately 12 months now. They recently sent me an e-mail (attached below) and changed my service, effective August 31.

    Previously, I received unlimited movies through the mail (three at a time) and unlimited free exchanges in the store for $17.99/mo.

    After the changes, I am only allowed a maximum of five exchanges per month in the store. Everything else stays the same.

    I will probably switch to Netflix soon- Considering that Blockbuster has a rather limited selection of many movies (especially foreign), and that all of my friends have Netflix and just trade them with each other (which is much better than 5 in-store rentals a month).

    On a final note- limiting the amount of in-store rentals will, ultimately, lower the amount of rentals customers receive in the mail. The reason is simple- when you turn a movie into the store it seems to trigger in the computer and your next movie is shipped immediately. If you return a movie via mail you have to wait until the movie arrives at the distribution location. On average, I get a mailed movie after a store trade-in in two days. If I return a movie by mail it takes three. That extra day adds up over the course of a month.

    The E-mail:

    Dear Daniel,

    We hope you’re enjoying BLOCKBUSTER Total Accessâ„¢!

    There are some changes to our subscription plan lineup that introduce a new pricing structure and new plans which limit the number of in-store exchanges.

    As a result, your current plan will no be longer be available at the current price.

    (Unlimited Online DVDs up to 3 at a time plus unlimited in-store exchanges each month for $17.99)

    We’d like to extend you a new plan that includes Unlimited Online DVDs 3 at a time plus up to 5 free* in-store exchanges for $17.99.

    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.

    Your new plan will go into effect on your regular monthly billing date following August 31, 2007. If we don’t hear from you by August 31, 2007, we will automatically move you to the new BLOCKBUSTER Total Access plan referenced below as “Your New Plan”.

    BLOCKBUSTER Total Accessâ„¢
    Only BLOCKBUSTER Total Access gives you:

    Online DVD rentals delivered to your mailbox

    Free* movie rentals and discounted game rentals when you exchange in-store†

    Subscriber discount on new and used online DVD purchases

    Rental exclusives – titles you won’t find anywhere else

    Here are some options
    to choose from: Online DVDs at a Time. Online DVDs Per Month. In-Store Exhanges Per Month. Price Per Month*
    Unlimited Online DVDs with 5 In-Store Exchanges

    3

    Unlimited

    5

    $17.99

    Your New Plan
    Unlimited Online DVDs with Unlimited In-Store Exchanges

    2

    Unlimited

    Unlimited

    $21.99

    Move to this Plan
    Unlimited Online DVDs Only

    3

    Unlimited

    NONE

    $16.99

    Move to this Plan
    See all available subscription plans See All Plans

  25. mjgrady says:

    I was on the 2-at-a-time, unlimited in-store exchanges for $15 a month. They sent me an email in late last month saying that my plan would no longer be available after August 31st, and that if I didn’t change to another plan by then, my service would not be renewed. Sure enough, I checked September 1st, and I was listed as no longer being in any plan.

    I never kept exact track of my usage, but I generally exchanged my shipped DVDs in-store within a day or two of getting them in the mail. Turnaround time was three or four days after to get new ones in the mail after exchanging. From that, I’d say we went through 30 or so in total a month.

  26. Obtusegoose says:

    Blockbuster cancelled my coupon without telling me. So I’m not too thrilled with them right now. Netflix might be getting a new member very soon.

  27. bigTrue says:

    Detroit, Mi area: We were told originally that our plan was demoted from unlimited to the 3 a month since we had the 2 at a time plan. Then, we were told we were grandfathered in.

    It’s confusing. We’re still getting free unlimited in store trades and one free game a month, plus 2 at a time unlimited rentals through the mail, so all is good for us, I guess.

  28. Cyco says:

    My g/f signed up for this last year. I use it more than her. A lot more. She signed up for the BLOCKBUSTER Total Access Premium plan. 15 bucks gets you 2 online DVDs at a time plus unlimited in store trade-ins and free coupon for game or movie rental. I use the coupon religiously on a month. To our knowledge, she has not received anything talking about a plan change and we would cancel our service if they do.

  29. SadSam says:

    I’m amazed at the amount of free time other people have to watch movies.

  30. gina227 says:

    After reading this post, I realized I never got my monthly free rental coupon. I checked the website and sure enough, the link for it has disappeared. I’m not ALL that upset about it, but I am kind of peeved that they would just drop it without even mentioning it to me.

  31. Raignn says:

    I’ve honestly never had good luck with Blockbuster. I’ve been a happy Netflix customer for several years now. Not only does it only take 1 day to get a new movie where I live, but their on-demand, watch right on your computer, selection is growing, high quality, and one of my new favorite addictions. Plus Netflix has been putting more and more emphasis on customer service.

    Blockbuster on the other hand…

  32. Teapotfox says:

    The store employees won’t be able to tell anyone much of anything about the online plan changes… all they can really do is provide the online customer service number, which is difficult to find on the website (if it’s there at all, I dunno). I can post it if anyone needs it, but expect a long-ish wait, depending upon when you phone, and understand that the customer service hours are 9am-6pm EST, M-F, as I understand it.

    All that store employees have been told is that they are NOT to say that everyone with existing plans will be grandfathered into the new pricing structure–there was a memo sent out that said existing customers will be receiving emails about their plan’s status, and while some users’ plans will not change (as long as they do not let them lapse), others’ plans will. Please don’t take out your frustrations at your local store–those folks have nothing to do with the change, and barely heard about it before customers did. Many, if not most, of those employees are probably Total Access customers, too, facing the same situation.

  33. Chicago7 says:

    Two Blockbuster stores on the near north side of Chicago have closed recently. Trouble?

  34. JohnOB1 says:

    YO SON! That Blockbuster is in my hood! BRONX IN THE HOUSE!

  35. harleymcc says:

    Wow.

    I use Zip.ca for $24 a month.

    I get 3 out at a time, unlimited mail-backs.

    I average 16 movies a month.

    Pretty good deal.

  36. Amry says:

    I just logged in to double-check…my plan is still valid and active – I do $7.99 a month for 1 movie at a time/3 total per month, can exchange these in-store for free movies, and I get a coupon for a free rental each month as well. There is a note next to the info on my plan, though, saying that if I choose to change my plan I would be limited to only those available to new subscribers, and would not be able to change back to this plan.

  37. ogman says:

    @Hitchcock: Same here.

  38. SanguinePony says:

    Wow, I feel so dumped now! I guess we’re fairly high-volume renters (probably 12-15 a month) so they just canceled our subscription at the beginning of this month. Furthermore they stopped sending discs more than a week before our last paid month was over (only a few days after they sent this email). I’m only posting it because it’s rather terse compared to the email received by another commenter. I just assumed all of the subscribers got the same treatment. Since we never really use the in-store rentals, it really wouldn’t have made a difference to switch to the new plan, without the in-store rentals, at the same price. But the way they handled this left a bad taste in our mouths so we decided it was time to say, goodbye Blockbuster, your website sucks anyway!

    Dear Pony

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

    As a result, the price of your current monthly plan, Unlimited Online DVDs up to 3 at a time plus unlimited in-store exchanges each month for $17.99, will increase to $24.99, effective August 31, 2007.

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

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


    Move to BLOCKBUSTER Total Accessâ„¢ Plan that includes Unlimited Online DVDs 3 at a time plus up to 5 free* in-store exchanges for $17.99/month

    OR

    See other subscription plans

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

    Please contact us at [link] if you have any questions or concerns.

  39. torigoshi says:

    I was in the same situation as Sanguinepony. Blockbuster cancelled my subscription even though I had 10 days left of prepaid service. Normally I would have dropped the issue (leaving a sour taste in my mouth)but reading The Consumerist everyday lit a fire in me! After many canned responses from their customer support,I finally got an acceptable outcome for this situation.

    Hello Rosalin,

    I understand that this issue is of no fault of your own but rather the company that employs you. The offer for two free weeks with an automatic renewal unless I cancel is unacceptable.I no longer feel that Blockbuster can be trusted when it comes to billing. Blockbuster choose to change the terms of service and not to honor our initial agreement to provide service already paid for. The only conclusion that I would find acceptable at this point would be to refund a portion of my payment for the service that
    you choose not to provide or to continue providing service for the number of days missed and to automatically cancel the account afterwards. I don’t feel that this request is unreasonable.If this can’t be resolved then I’ll be forced to file my complaint with the Better Business Bureau and http://www.consumerist.com.

    Their final response,

    As a courtesy, I’ve refunded your account in the total amount of $7, which is equivalent to the number of days you have been charged. Your account is no longer active.

    If you’d like to reactivate your account in the future, you may easily do this by logging in to your account with the same e-mail address and password, and click on the “My Account” link. Within the “Manage Account Settings” section on the left, click on the “Re-subscribe” link within the “Subscription Plan” section. You will be prompted with a list of our current membership plans to choose from. Click on the desired plan, then click the “I Authorize” button. You’ll be asked to review the Terms and Conditions and click “I Authorize” again. Sorry to see you go.

    I appreciate your patience and understanding regarding this matter.

  40. Knowzy says:

    Very confusing indeed!

    This decision was announced July 26th, the same day Blockbuster report a loss of $35 million dollars.

    Blockbuster isn’t saying exactly who is being signled out of a plan change. A spokesperson calls the formula “confidential.”

    A Blockbuster customer service rep. wrote that people are selected based on their “in-store activity.”

    When Blockbuster started the Total Access program, one of their main objectives was to increase in-store sales. They we’re hoping that getting customers in the store would lead to more Pepsi and popcorn purchases.

    Blockbuster is taking revenge on the customers who don’t play along; customers who rent lots of movies and never buy anything.

    That’s the skinny as I know it.

    Jeff
    The Lowdown on Blockbuster’s Total Access Plan Changes

  41. aikoto says:

    I’ve used blockbuster several times because their plan kicks netflix’s butt. I’ve never had a problem, but when I cancel I always tell them that I’m only doing it because I ran out of movies I wanted to watch and I’ll be back in a few months when more are available.

    But that’s just me.

  42. What is happening with Blockbuster:

    Occasionally, before a violent, ignominious and public death, a subject will thrash around violently and unpredictably.

  43. xamarshahx says:

    When I chose to cancel they offered me a better plan, I decided to take it and was going to cancel the Netflix subscription I had just signed up for. Then the billing date rolls over and I still have the same old plan and when I contact them, they act dumb and give me generic responses by e-mail. One even claimed I do have the plan and describe the current old plan. Now I will definitely cancel Blockbuster at the end of the month.

  44. hop says:

    why does anyone fool with this crap????????

  45. rdm says:

    I was notified about the rate change and went in and took the screwing and signed up for the lesser plan at the same amount of money. (NF is 2 days mailing from here)

    Now it’s showing I’m not signed up and that when my current month is up on the 23rd it’s not going to auto-renew, but if I try to renew now it charges me again starting today. I hate that company so much.

  46. sacto808 says:

    I received an email from Blockbuster 2 weeks ago saying I can only exchange in-store 5 times a month, previously unlimited. That is why I signed up for the service. I don’t wait for them in the mail I drive a block down and exchange it for the movie I want.

    I asked the Blockbuster clerk about it and he said when he got the paperwork from corporate he didn’t even understand it so he canceled his membership (you would think employees got movies rented for free?)

  47. adamondi says:

    I got an email saying that my Blockbuster Online plan was not going to be forcibly changed, but if I ever decided to switch my plan, I would not have the option of going back to the benefits of my old plan. So I canceled altogether and went with Netflix, which is cheaper and offers online movies. The most pitiful part? When I canceled Blockbuster, the best “counteroffer” they could give me to try to keep my business was a plan that was $1 cheaper a month. In other words, Netflix’s regular monthly price.

  48. Lee Jones says:

    The same thing happened to as happened to Skiffer. I am on the two-at-a-time plan with unlimited exchanges, which as of Aug 31st was automatically converted to two-at-a-time with 3 exchanges. Since we mostly watch TV series (Smallville, Heros), this isn’t so bad for me. We’d exchange for movies, so I would estimate we were getting 12 to 15 DVDs a month.

    @mjgrady: bummer. I didn’t notice my email until 09/03/2007, so had they just cancelled me, I would probably be with Netflix right now.

  49. glitterpig says:

    I have no idea what’s going on. I’ve been a Blockbuster.com member since it was in Beta and I currently get about 6 movies/week (3 mailers/3 instore) so I guess I’m a ‘power user’. I don’t ever spend any money in the actual store, except for that one time when they had coupons for 2L bottles of Coke for a buck. I got automatically switched to 5 exchanges a month and no coupons. I figured it was still better than the deal I’d originally signed up for and went along with it.

    On the other hand, Season 3 of The Wire has been in my queue since JANUARY and they don’t seem to be doing anything about it, and my husband is starting to think that watching videos online is a good deal, so any more irritation from BB.com and Netflix has a new customer. (Although I understand that they throttle rentals for high-volume customers, so… eh. I’m not too worked up about it.)

  50. daewootech says:

    seriously whats going on, first i get a letter telling me theyre NOT going to continue my account with then unless i choose an account with thier “new” pricing structure.

    so fine i switch from the 2-movie unlimited to the 3-movie+5 exchanges. according to thier website

    “Account Updates

    Changes to your billing amount will not take affect until your next billing date.

    Downgrading to a lower number of DVDs won’t take affect until your next billing date.”

    so i figured fine it wont change until october 15th which is my next billing date. i got to the store to exchange my current movie for another one and not only was i switched immediatly to the 5 exchanges a month setup, but they continued to tell me that i had allready met my limit for exchanges and that i couldnt exchange anymore movies for the rest of the month???

    what a bunch of scammers.

  51. kepela says:

    My Plan read:
    Blockbuster Total Access Premium
    $19.99 / month (plus taxes)
    3 at-a-time, unlimited mailings
    unlimited in-store movie exchanges
    +1 FREE bonus Movie or Game Rental E-Coupon / Month

    But I wasn’t getting a coupon, so I emailed… and this is what I got:

    “Total Access–3 at a time for $19.99. (Maximum 5 in-store exchanges.) Unlimited online rentals and unlimited in-store exchanges per month. You will receive up to 3 online DVDs, 1 at one time, plus unlimited in-store DVD exchanges per month.”

    I’m more confused now than ever. Is it three at a time or one at a time? Is it unlimited in store exchanges or up to five in store exchanges. No mention of the lack of coupon at all. So does the plan I signed up for mean anything? I can sign up for one plan and they can give me a different plan? I signed up for three at a time online rentals and UNLIMITED in store exchanges AND one e coupon a month. Bad enough that they changed the price from $17.99 to $19.99, but now they’re changing what I get for my money too.