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Netflix Is No Alternative to Blockbuster

If you are a displaced Blockbuster customer and you are looking for a new home, it is unclear what the answer is, but the answer is probably not Netflix.  If you are considering singing up with Netflix, make sure to do plenty of research before you give them your credit card or bank information.  If you browse through the years of articles on  Netflix Underground  (Blockbuster Underground's sister site), you will find Netflix has a sketchy reputation built around more than a decade of sleazy corporate behavior.  Make a list of everything you hated about Blockbuster Online and multiply that by three. 

Yes, Blockbuster was a profoundly lousy company with many sleazy tactics, but many of their tricky tactics in the DVD-by-mail business were pioneered by Netflix long before Blockbuster Online even mailed their first DVD.  If you are a Blockbuster refugee and you are considering giving Netflix a try, do yourself a favor and first browse this site or do some Internet searches with the following terms.

Netflix throttling
Netflix lawsuit
Netflix credit card charges
Netflix missing DVD charge
Netflix cancellation problem
Netflix delay
Netflix tactics
Netflix staging media event
Netflix price increase
Netflix shipping

What you will find will not be pretty, but at least you will be armed with some knowledge before making a decision that could lead to a lot unnecessary aggravation.


The End of Blockbuster As We Know It

Well, we all knew this day was coming.  The only surprise is that it took so long. 

Dish is closing all remaining Blockbuster retail stores and shutting down the DVD-by-mail service.  Dish will continue to use the Blockbuster brand and offer streaming service, but the DVD-by-mail service will end around the middle of December 2013.  The last stores will be permanently closed in January 2014. 

It's here.  This is the end of Blockbuster as we know it.


Very High Demand Status at Blockbuster

If you have checked your Blockbuster Online queue recently, you have probably been surprised to see a lot titles marked as Very High Demand, High Demand, Medium Demand, etc. This seems like something new, but it really is not. The is just Blockbuster's way of putting a positive spin on a bad inventory problem.

The title statuses used to be Very Long Wait, Long Wait, Short Wait, etc., but those terms sound negative. The terms automatically imply there will be a wait, and waiting for DVDs is no fun.

Demand, however, is much more positive. Everybody loves demand. Demand implies desirability, as in "We're terribly sorry, but Disc 3 of Happy Days Season 2 is in Very High Demand. We have only one copy of that disc for the entire country and Gus from Grand Rapids has been hanging on to it for months while he is perfecting his Fonzie impression for the community center talent show."

Don't be misled by the slick change in terms. You are not getting those DVDs that have been sitting at the top of your queue for over a year, because Blockbuster does not have them in sufficient quantities. Blockbuster could buy more copies of those titles, but that would cost them money. As long as you are loyally paying for your subscription each month and not threatening to cancel, why should Blockbuster be concerned with meeting your needs as a customer?

This is the point we all realize the new Blockbuster has already jumped the shark.


Why a Blockbuster Online Subscription May Not Be a Good Value for You

If you are thinking about subscribing to Blockbuster, you may first want to determine if the subscription will provide a good value for you. On paper, a Blockbuster Online (Blockbuster by Mail, Total Access, etc.) subscription looks like an excellent value, but the reality is quite different. Actually, a Blockbuster subscription comes with many hidden pitfalls that dramatically reduce the value. Here are some significant issues you may want to consider before signing on with Blockbuster for one of their various plans.

Few Store Locations
One of the biggest benefits to a Blockbuster Online (Total Access) subscription is being able to exchange by-mail DVDs at stores. With more and more Blockbuster stores closing, many subscribers are being forced to drive longer and longer distances to reach a Blockbuster store. There is no point in spending $10 on gas to pickup or return a DVD that rents for a fraction of that amount. Any Blockbuster store that is not easy for you to reach is a store that is useless to you.

Reduction in Store Hours
The Blockbuster store near you may be reducing its daily business hours. This may be an indicator the store is performing poorly and may be closed in the future, but it also poses an inconvenience. Fewer store hours mean fewer hours for you to pickup and return DVDs,

Insufficient Selection and Quantities of Store DVDs
Once upon a time, you could go to a Blockbuster store at almost any time and find loads of popular titles. Those days are long gone. Blockbuster stores may have loads of DVDs on the shelves, but they are not the titles people want to see. There are plenty of old undesirable titles and bad new straight-to-video titles, but the stock of popular DVDs you might actually want to see is very low, and many of the classic hits are missing from the inventory all together.

Poor Online Availability
Blockbuster's selection of online DVD titles can be a bit limited. Some desirable titles are just not in the inventory. Making matters worse, many titles are in incredibly low supply. If a title has a status of Long Wait, you may have to wait months or years to see it. If a title has a status of Very Long Wait, there is a very good chance you will never see it. Even titles with a Short Wait status may take weeks or months to ship.

Undesirable Queue Shipments
Blockbuster may skip over several Available titles in your queue to ship less desirable titles to you. When this happens, the titles that get passed over are generally newer, more popular titles, and the titles Blockbuster ships are older, less popular titles. Blockbuster must have a philosophy of keeping subscribers busy with unpopular titles while carefully rationing the popular titles. Perhaps Blockbuster intentionally holds back the more desirable titles to ship to its more profitable low-volume subscribers. A more innocent explanation is that Blockbuster is just really bad with inventory management. Regardless, if this happens to you, you may wait weeks to see titles at the top of your queue even though they are marked as Available. The lesson here is: If you don't really want to see a title, you had better keep it out of your queue, because Blockbuster might send it to you when you least expect it.

Shipping Delays
Blockbuster should be able to ship a DVD to you the day after you have an empty slot in the At Home section of your queue, but Blockbuster may not ship when they should. Blockbuster may choose to leave the empty slot open for an extra day or keep a DVD in Processing status overnight. Every time Blockbuster does this, they deprive you of at least one day of your subscription benefits.

Distant Shipping
One of the sleaziest things Blockbuster does is ship DVDs to subscribers from distant shipping centers. If you live in or near a major city, DVDs should normally arrive at your home the day after Blockbuster ships them. If Blockbuster chooses to ship DVDs to you from a city that is hundreds of miles from you, DVDs will take an extra day or two to arrive. Every time Blockbuster does this to you, they reduce the amount of DVDs you can receive during each billing cycle, but, of course, you will be charged full price anyway.

Poor Customer Service
Compounding all of these negative factors is Blockbuster's extremely poor customer service. Blockbuster allows subscribers very few customer service options, and not one of them is sufficient. The toll-free customer service works best, but the hold times can be long sometimes. The customer service-by-email system is good only for ironic entertainment value. The incompetence in this area of Blockbuster is staggering. Your chance of getting a simple problem resolved through email with Blockbuster is about one in four. If you have a complicated problem with your account, you will spend days bouncing emails back and forth with Blockbuster and still not resolve anything.

The Bottom Line
To sum up, depending on your needs and viewing habits, there is a chance a Blockbuster subscription may be a good value for you, but there are many hidden factors that could have a tremendous impact on your ability to use your account and enjoy the benefits you must pay for each month. Before giving Blockbuster your credit card number, carefully consider the negative aspects of a Blockbuster subscription and determine if Blockbuster is prepared to meet your expectations as a consumer and provide you with an acceptable value for your money.


Alternate Blockbuster Customer Service Email Address

This is probably very temporary, but if you are having problems on your Blockbuster account, you might try reporting the problems to Blockbuster at This might not do anything for you, but you might possibly get some results. At this point, any sort of result is probably better than the responses you have been getting from Blockbuster during the last couple of weeks.

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