Robert’s recent experience with his local Blockbuster just underscores how ill-equipped the rental chain is to compete against Netflix and new-star-on-the-block Redbox. Whether Robert has caught them deliberately throttling his account, or he’s just the victim of a poorly implemented system, it’s not the kind of customer experience you should have to settle for anymore.
Within the last 2 weeks I have noticed that Blockbuster seems to be throttling the queues. When you exchange an online envelope for an in-store rental, it shows up in your queue within a few hours. When you return that movie to the store, it won’t clear your queue for at least 2 days.
I returned a movie on Monday evening well before the store closed, and it has yet to clear my queue (today being Thursday). On my rental history it shows rentals being returned to the store 2 days later than normal. And there isn’t really anything I can do. The store has checked it in, and when I go to report a problem on their website, it says since it’s an in-store rental, I have to contact the store.
What’s surprising about this is the 2 day delay is for a movie Robert rented from the store’s physical inventory, then returned to the store. Imagine if you’d rented a movie from Blockbuster and turned it in, and the store refused to acknowledge it on your account for at least 48 hours—and wouldn’t release that rental slot so you can get another movie in the meantime. That’s what Robert’s experiencing.
He pointed us to Blockbuster Underground, a blog that describes catching Blockbuster at some of the same tricks. That blog notes,
Even if you personally return a store DVD to a Blockbuster store and call the manager of the Blockbuster store to confirm the DVD has been scanned into the system, the DVD can still sit in your queue and occupy a shipping slot indefinitely. Every day a returned DVD incorrectly remains in the At Home section of your queue is a day you are not able to fully benefit from your subscription. Please note that Blockbuster will continue to charge you the full subscription fee even if unnecessary shipping delays of this nature are Blockbuster’s fault.
The best thing is to call Blockbuster at the first sign of any shipping delay. You can reach Blockbuster toll-free at (866) 692-2789. Blockbuster may ask you to wait twenty-four hours before reporting a delay, but this is a ridiculous request. Blockbuster’s system should be able to update at least hourly. If their system updates less than that, they need to fix it.
Your other alternative: see if there’s a Redbox, and make the switch to Netflix.