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"Available Now" Means Little at Blockbuster

Blockbuster Online needs to make some dramatic improvements to the accuracy of their availability statuses. Frequently, a DVD will be listed on the Blockbuster Web site as "Available Now"; however, the DVD gets passed over during queue shipment selection, and Blockbuster sends a DVD from a lower position in the customer’s queue.

Why does Blockbuster list a DVD as "Available Now" when they are not going to ship it? Why doesn’t Blockbuster just list the DVD as "Short Wait"? Here’s what Blockbuster has to say about this issue.

Question: Why didn't BLOCKBUSTER ship the first movie in My Queue?

Answer: BLOCKBUSTER Online is committed to keeping your rental experience uninterrupted. When we are ready to ship your next selection, we review the My Queue priorities and the availability of your top titles. If the first movie is not available, we ship the next available title to ensure that there is no delay in your movie rentals. "Availability" indicates the estimated wait before you will be able to receive your movie. It is dependent upon many factors, including the number of copies we have, the popularity of the movie, and the priority you set in My Queue. Even though some titles have longer waits than others, you should keep titles in the order you would prefer them. We can't guarantee you'll always get your highest priority titles first, but we will ship out copies as soon as they become available, and you may receive titles much quicker than we estimate.

Our goal is to ship your movies as quickly as possible in order to meet the expectation of 1 to 3 business days for receipt. We review all "Available Now" titles in your queue, and determine which titles are available for 2-day shipping at your nearest distribution center(s). If the requested title is outside the 2-day shipping window, it will be skipped over for a title further on your list.

We understand this may be frustrating if you are waiting for a specific title that is continuously being skipped. We are currently reviewing this process in order to improve in this area. We appreciate your patience as we do this.

Descriptions of Availability Statuses:

Available Now - This title is currently in stock, and we anticipate that it will be available for shipment when requested. However, please keep in mind that due to the constant change in availability factors we can't guarantee that this title will be the next title we ship you, even if it has the highest priority in your Queue.

Short Wait - This title currently has a few more requests than copies available for shipment. We anticipate that we will be able to ship you the title within the next 2 weeks.

Long Wait - This title currently has a high number of requests compared to the number of copies available for shipment. If the demand stays high, it may take 2-4 weeks before we can ship you the title.

Very Long Wait - This title either has a limited number of copies or an unusually high number of requests. It may take 6 weeks or longer before we are able to ship you the title. However, if the popularity stays this high, we may choose to buy additional copies, if possible.

Coming Soon - This title is either on order or is not currently available for rent. Please check the Release Date on the product detail page for title specific information.

Blockbuster’s clarification does explain the availability status problem, but it does not excuse it. It is encouraging that Blockbuster is making every effort to send DVDs from the nearest shipping centers, but Blockbuster should invest much more effort in their inventory tracking, so they can be accurate with the availability statuses.

Until Blockbuster’s inventory tracking improves, they need to stop listing DVDs as "Available Now" if there is a chance that they will not ship those DVDs. They should just avoid irritating subscribers and start labeling the questionable DVDs as "Short Wait" or invent a new status of "Possible Wait."

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