Blockbuster Cancels Your Account, Will Let You Have It Back If You Pay $18 More

Long time reader, first time tipper. I’m sure you’ve heard plenty about Blockbuster and their shady Total Access dealings, but I thought I’d send along my experience with them.

My girlfriend and I have been using the service for a few years now, almost since day-one, and while it was pretty easy going for the first year or so, things started to get strange last summer. Her account was inexplicably put on hold when she had to change her debit card number. The CSRs told us that it was going to be a week or two to authenticate the new card, but months went by and nothing changed.

Then, a month ago, out of the blue, two DVDs showed up in our mail and the service was reinstated. No explanation, no nothing, but there was a nice debit from her account in the form of $16.99. We took the mailers into the local branch, got them replaced with a couple more movies, and it looked like everything was back to normal.

Then today, she checked her Q to see if the next movies had shipped – they had not. She checked My Account, and sure enough, the account was cancelled, and the only option open to her was to re-subscribe. I wondered if it was just a glitch because of the old debit card issue. I logged into her account to re-sign up, and I’m presented with the new options. (see the photo below) Just notice our current plan, and those not available to us.

Our $16.99 account will now run us back $34.99. A $18 price bump. Or we can stay at the same price-level, and get a crippled in-store exchange program (which for us was the main advantage of going over to Netflix). What a great way to treat a couple of loyal customers.

Thanks Blockbuster, but I don’t know if we’re going to take you up on the new offer, or the Mario-Kart pre-order offer either.

Thanks for listening Consumerist. Keep fighting the good fight.

Yeah, we’d pass if we were you. There are other fish in the sea.

Comments

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  1. frogpelt says:

    Wow! This coupled with the positive press NetFlix has received here on Consumerist spells bad things for Blockbuster subscription service.

    Good luck Blockbuster!

  2. ? graffiksguru says:

    Why does this not surprise me? Blockbusters Total Access Plan has always been handicapped in one way or another. Now that the price is jacked up, its time to switch to Netflix.

  3. rellog says:

    What about the $16.99 they stole from your bank account?!? They did something like this to me back in December. I canceled the account because they raised rates and limited my in-store exchanges while leaving other customers’ account still intact. When I canceled, they offered 2 months free to stay, so I figured I’d use them for 2 months THEN dump them. They then proceeded to cancel the account outright and stopped shipping movies a week before the end of the month… tack on to that, I found out they charged me for the “free” month of service that was cut short. I filed a chargeback and recently was notified that I had prevailed.
    Screw Blockbuster. I hope they sink like the Titanic.

  4. David_Dawg says:

    I think the pic says it all “Why choose Blockbuster?” Netflix will probably steal some customers via this story coupled with the positive reviews lately.

  5. rmz says:

    $34.99 a month?

    Holy CRAP.

  6. weshigh says:

    As a comparison, I changed address on my debit/credit card that I was using with NetFlix. I got an e-mail notifying me that there was a billing error because the address did not match what they had in their system. Made the change, less then 8 hours later, on a Sunday. I got an e-mail back telling me that the billing issue was corrected and we were back in action. Could not be happier with the service.

  7. Notsewfast says:

    @rellog:
    When I left for Netflix (They jacked my price up despite having been with them since day 1), they offered me 3 free months and I told them I was leaving on principle…

  8. Infe says:

    This may seem a strange thing to say, but them doing this is extremely good in my opinion.

    This is what we should WANT companies to do. You want to make more money? Increase the price. People will pay it or they won’t. What you SHOULDN’T do is squeeze in bullshit fees, make the service worse, overcharge on purpose, etc.

    But I’m still glad I have Netflix :)

  9. muddgirl says:

    When did Netflix jack up prices? I recall a 1 dollar price drop last year, and a price restructuring that grandfathered in old accounts, but I don’t recall a price increase.

  10. picantel says:

    The new CEO ruined blockbuster. We canceled also after turning down multiple rate jacks. I hope they enjoy their much smaller base now.

  11. JohnMc says:

    One word — NetFlix.

  12. snclfe says:

    Blockbuster has always been evil. For years they wouldn’t rent NC-17 films and insisted studios edit content out of films before they would stock them. I have no idea why anyone would choose them over Netflix in the first place.

    And btw, I’ve been with Netflix for nearly two years. They’ve lowered my rates and added features.

  13. gnubian says:

    Blockbuster is still having issues even in the brick and mortar areas .. I don’t rent frequently enough to justify using netflix. I walk-in and rent when I notice something interesting has been released.

    When I began using Blockbuster less than a year ago, I was paying $2.79 for a new release. Now they are at $3.49

  14. thegooch49 says:

    NetFlix isn’t a saint either when it comes to price increase. They raised their prices (from $19.95 to $21.99) in late 04 due to ‘increased cost of business’. They then lowered their prices (to $17.99) a few months later when Blockbuster entered the online rental business. Did their cost of business suddenly get cheaper? Of course not. They had to compete when BB came around.

    Once folks leave BB, they may be forced to lower their prices.

  15. Infe says:

    True, so I guess we should at least hope Blockbuster doesn’t get out of the online rental biz. Whatever happened to Wal-mart’s attempt?

    Nowadays, I see the rental kiosks everywhere and while it’s a neat idea 5 years ago, it doesn’t appeal to me right now. I did peek a couple, and they never had the newest releases or they were all rented out. I didn’t bother to read the fine print, of which I’m sure there’s some hefty late fees or something.

  16. CyberSkull says:

    I avoid going to Blockbuster as much as I can. I either get stuff from Netflix and Gamefly; If I must have it now I drive much further to Hollywood Video.

  17. bosshogVSdukes says:

    After RedBox came to my area, I cancelled Blockbuter and never looked back. Most people dont know you can rent/reserve movies online at the closest Redbox, so Im always able to get the titles I want when i need them for a buck.

  18. sibertater says:

    All of the Hollywood Video stores in Indianapolis are closing or closed. I don’t know exactly why, but video rentals are a thing of the past, I think. Or at least going to a store that does it. Too bad HWV didn’t go to NetFlix and try to push a deal with them.

    IT’s all about downloads and delivery. I love our NetFlix. I wish they’d get the play it now thing for Macs. Now I just suffer with watching it thru Parallels, which is a RAM hog so that’s all we d.:(

  19. sibertater says:

    @muddgirl: Exactly. The only changes to our pricing plan NetFlix has ever made involve lowering it and adding that play it now thing….which I love.

  20. sibertater says:

    @bosshogVSdukes: Yeah, I don’t completely know how this works, but I’m thinking seriously about utilizing it. It seems to be the way to go, honestly. I remember when they first popped up the movies were all bad. Like, “Big, Bad, Biker Bitches Gone Wild,” and things of the like. Strange. Now they seem to be normal.

  21. MyPetFly says:

    Well, Ballbuster is or was owned by Wayne Huizenga (spelling?) who is or was the owner of Waste Management Inc. So Ballbuster and garbage have a long history together.

  22. AustinTXProgrammer says:

    I’ve been a Netflix customer for over 8 years and never had a problem.

  23. Tool says:

    Hey Netflix train I’m glad you all found each other. I Left Netflix after their price increase and their throttling B.S.
    Blockbuster’s 3 out (no throttling), unlimited in store, and a monthly game rental for $19 is Waaaaaaayyy better than Netdix.

  24. TPS Reporter says:

    Redbox is only $1 per night plus tax. If it is close you pick up on the way home and drop off next day on the way home. If you keep it a 2nd night, only $1 plus tax.

  25. Saboth says:

    I was with Blockbuster Online since it’s inception. I was the first person to turn movies in to my local blockbuster.I enjoyed the service from the start. But after 2 price hikes in 6 months, and the removal of 1 free game a month coupons, the value was completely removed.

    Now I subscribe with Netflix…the service and speed is awesome, the selection is 2x better, and the price is cheaper. Oh well Blockbuster…maybe you will learn you don’t win customers over by removing value and services.

  26. jtheletter says:

    They’re just trying to keep up with movie theater prices.

    /ducks

  27. dieselman8 says:

    It’s intentional. At 16.99, they’re losing money. They’d rather lose you as a customer and take the risk.

  28. ManiacDan says:

    @gnubian: “When I began using Blockbuster less than a year ago, I was paying $2.79 for a new release. Now they are at $3.49″

    Someone call the time police! We have a poster from 1997!

    Seriously though, I used to work at blockbuster in 2001, and new release DVDs were $4.10 after tax. The prices went up to $4.60 in the year that I worked there. Now my local blockbuster charges $5.15 for a new release DVD. Where do you rent!?

  29. alfundo says:

    I suspect BB still throttles, but usually if you complain they will send you some coupon for free rentals. $34.99 is a lot but I think it’s still worth it. I get an average of 16 through the mail each month and an additional 16 at the store for a little over a dollar a title. Also consider Blockbusters postage costs which are about 90 cents per movie shipped. I bitched after the second increase but it seems the OPs account was idle for the middle increase. The fees went from $17.99 to 24.99 to the current 34.99. Clearly they were losing money at 17.99, at least on my account.

  30. Kostadinos says:

    Same thing happened to me… I canceled and now use Redbox.

    Blockbuster will not be getting anymore of my money.

    They treat their loyal customers like dirt…

  31. @Tool: and that’s my you’re a “tool”

  32. why*

  33. djrobbo67 says:

    Just a couple of points to add, #1 The ACTUAL price for 2 out at a time, unlimited in store trades is $29.99 only a $5 difference, but still misleading. #2 Netflix is NO angel, I actually used to be a member and because I was considered a “heavy user” when I woud return discs, they would sit on them for 2 or 3 days before sending out replacements. Thats not whay I consider “unlimited rentals” I ahev been a happy customer of Blockbuster online and although not perfect, they are in my opinion more efficent AND a better bargain. I have never aited more then a couple of days for them to mail me new dvds. AND new releases are plentiful. If you want to rent the artsy or foreign stuff maybe Netflix is a better choice, but overall I am much happer with Blockbuster.

  34. Krack Of Dawn says:

    Your account was likely cancelled due to your lack of in-store spending. I was working at BB from the start of the online program and around april of 07 they told us that customers that did not “attach” a little something with every in store exchange were likely to get booted off of the older, better plans. Witnessed this personally with dozens of customers, this isn’t anything new. That being said, I quit 6 months ago. Horribly company.