Blockbuster’s Total Access subscription service—their bid for relevance in the Netflix era—used to ship the next movie in your queue as soon as you dropped it off at a Blockbuster store in exchange for a free rental. Now the next movie won’t ship until you return that free store rental—in other words, now it will count as the next movie in your queue. Of course, in Blockbuster marketing-speak, that’s considered a great new benefit.
Running Low On In-Store Exchanges Under Your Total Access Plan? Try Visiting A Different Blockbuster Location
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.
I responded by immediately canceling my account – I gave them the benefit of a doubt the first time, but this is too much.
Looks like in addition to bad service Blockbuster wants another 2 bucks per customer who were grandfathered in by the old pricing system.
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.
Netflix has reduced the cost of its 2-DVD plan by $1 to $13.99, matching a move made by Blockbuster earlier this month. Blockbuster had expected to be dancing triumphantly atop the battered and bankrupt corpse of its rival by now, but Netflix’s staying power is causing Blockbuster to re-think its strategy. By the end of the year, Blockbuster will raise the price of its Total Access service, which allows subscribers access to its retail locations.
The company said in the filing that it planned to modify its popular Total Access plan before the end of the year to “strike the appropriate balance between continued subscriber growth and enhanced profitability.”
Netflix’s email to subscribers, after the jump:
Blockbuster may soon levy a $4-$6 surcharge for Total Access. By allowing DVDs to be exchanged as free in-store rentals, Total Access dangles a potential workout before couch-potatoes who would otherwise return DVDs exclusively by mail. Blockbuster is quietly circulating a survey to gauge potential outrage to a price hike.
One of the ideas is to offer Mail-Only plans, which would allow members to receive and return DVDs only by mail, without the option to return them at a Blockbuster store and exchange them for free in-store DVDs.