Hacking Netflix reports that many Blockbuster locations don’t use a centralized network to keep tabs on Total Access usage. The tip was originally reported by Kevin Tostado, who took down his post after a ball-busting conversation with Blockbuster in which they asked him to cease and desist. Fortunately, Google’s marvelously efficient spiders reached Kevin’s site before Blockbuster and preserved the post.
Here’s what he wrote:
Well, after I had blown through my 5 free in-store exchanges by mid-March (on the bottom of your Blockbuster receipt it tracks how many in-store exchanges you’ve done this month), I decided to see what happens if I go in and try a get 6th in-store exchange. Well, as to be presumed, I didn’t get a free exchange, but the online movie did serve as a $3.00 coupon off the price of the rental ($4.99 movie), which just further confused me. Apparently, buried in their FAQs it says “If the pre-determined number of free in-store exchanges is met during the calendar month, you have the ability to exchange your Online DVDs for discounted movie rentals for the remainder of the month.” The bummer is it doesn’t mention how much of a discount it is. For a .99 rental, is there even a discount?
In the process of trying to figure out the limits of the system, I realized that different Blockbuster stores are keeping track of the in-store exchanges separately. Yes, that’s right. After getting my free 5 in-store exchanges at one store, I simply took my next 5 online movies to another nearby Blockbuster and was able to get another 5 in-store exchanges during the same month.
Before dashing out to exchange your DVDs, be warned: Blockbuster is threatening vengeance on anyone who takes advantage their apparently lax oversight:
Blockbuster tracks whether individuals are abusing their online subscription plan and “gaming” the system to exceed the number of in-store exchanges they are allowed per month.
If an online subscriber tries to circumvent the terms of their plan, and in this instance gain more free rentals than allowed, we’ll know and ask them to stop if they want to remain an online subscriber, just as we’re doing with Kevin.
Make of this what you will.