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Blockbuster Online Throttling

For those new to the world of DVD-by-mail, throttling is a practice where DVD-by-mail companies intentionally limit the flow of DVDs to subscribers who are on flat-rate subscription plans. That insidious, red industry leader invented the practice, but other companies have been accused of copying the greedy and sleazy tactic to maximize profits.

Are you a high-volume DVD renter and being throttled by Blockbuster Online? If so, please post the specifics here by clicking on Comments.

Make sure to include details about your subscription plan, past and current turnaround times, quantity of online DVDs per month, and any other details that show evidence of an intentional throttling pattern at Blockbuster Online.

Please note that slow service alone does not necessarily indicate throttling. Also, if you were not consistently receiving at least four online DVDs per week at some point, you have never been a high-volume renter and probably have not used your account enough to witness a substantial throttling trend.


Anonymous said...

I'm definitely a high user, and always have been since starting Nov 2006. Until Nov 2007 I averaged 25 movies a month in the mail and another 25 when I returned them to the store. There were glitches like in Mar 2007 when they sent NOTHING for two weeks while trying to fix a software 'glitch' they had, but for the most part they shipped the day after I returned the DVDs.
Not now, they even claim that they 'limit' monday shipping, as well as having STOPPED saturday shipping (which used to happen a lot). So they went from shipping 6 days a week to FOUR DAYS! THAT'S A 33% reduction in shipping days, and if you return on Friday, saturday, sunday, or monday, they ship on TUESDAY if you are lucky, but since 4 days of returns needs to ship on tuesday, they don't actually get them all out on tuesday.
Just last week I returned on thursday and did NOT get a replacement sent friday, or monday either. I had to complain THREE TIMES to finally get TWO COUPONS I can use at the store. I SHOULD HAVE HAD 3 DVDs sent friday, received in mail saturday, returned for 3 more saturday night, and had 3 more sent monday, which I would have received tuesday then watched and returned tuesday for 3 more! So instead of getting 6 movies in teh mail returned for 6 more, I still won't have ANY movies until at least wednesday, IF THEY DO SHIP ON TUESDAY!


Now that I know they are, I'm more determined to maximize my account.
1) Always return SAME DAY, if you don't have time to watch, just return unwatched to store for DVDs that you have 1-2 weeks to watch without holding up new shipments.
If the title is in the store, just exchange for it, or put the same title back in your queue and they'll mail it again. Too many times I think I'll watch it the next day and don't, then three days later when a replacement would have already been in my mailbox, along with the mailer to get another store DVD, I return it for 1 DVD. Cost: TWO DVDs I could have gotten.
2) Always complain, and repeatedly if they don't send replacement by the next day. And always ASK FOR COUPONS as compensation since their appologies aren't worth anything without it COSTING BB!
3) Cancel, but always the night before your next billing date. If you did steps 1 AND 2 ABOVE YOU'LL HAVE 15-20 STORE DVDs built up to watch, then return, as well as some COUPONS you can use. This should tide you over for 1-3 weeks depending on how many DVDs you watch (for me, I can last 1-2 weeks). This way you PAY $34.99 Every 5 OR 6 WEEKS, saving 3-4 months every year (last year I had movies all year long, but only paid for 9 months out of 12.
Don't cancel EARLYier than the day before your renewal date because they STOP SHIPPING 10 days before that date if you do (it's in teh small print, I got caught ONCE!).
I paid for 30 days and got movies for only 20 days!
If you want you can even keep the store DVDs for another 30 days and they are put on your credit card but then are credited back minus $1.25 when you return them. DO NOT keep them past 30 days or you own them for sure and they are used DVDs without cases and cost full price, not a discounted price.
4) When you do sign up again after cancelling, sign up for 1-at-a-time unlimited, wait until your credit card bill shows you've been CHARGED (not just pending), then UPGRADE to 3-at-a-time unlimited. They tell you that UPGRADES HAPPEN IMMEDIATELY, but billing and downgrades doen't happen until your NEXT billing date (they want you to pay more, but figuring out what to charge you based on what you had before and how long you had it is too complicated, mostly I think for them to have to explain how a $20 plan changed to $35 plan resulted in pro-rated $12.47 bill after an upgrade. The phone calls alone would negate any money it raised.
5) Get all the oddball movies that you want to see and don't need to 'wait' for anyone to watch. I get foreign and films that aren't in the store online and not ones that I want to watch with my sons, because they will inevitably prevent me from executing step 1 above (return same day). Store movies you can leave around for 1-2 weeks without it cosing anything (even 2-day rentals can be returned 7 days late before they are charged to your credit card. The real date is actually 9 days, but on day 10 they definitely charge you for it and you have to pay $1.25 when you return it within the NEXT 30 days.
6) You'll have so many DVDs that you need to keep track of the ones from the store, when they are due back. Get a receipt for EACH DVD that you rent and place it inside the covers with the top of the receipt protruding. Put the drop-dead LATE DATE (when they say you'll 'own' it) at the top of the receipt so you can see it easily.
Everytime you watch a movie or return movies to the store, make sure you return them when they are due. Remember that their drop-dead date where you own it (for 30 days) is 7 days late but that they don't really charge you until 9 days (stops most of the complaints on days 8 and 9 late).

With these tips you should get, even now with the throttling, about 20 online and 20 store movies a month, and only pay for 9 months.
Even at $35 mo that's 500 DVDs in a year for around $315+tx, about $0.70 each. That's not as good as the $0.50 each I paid last year, but it still is WAY BELOW BB's stated break-even cost of $2.00 each. Heck, the ones they mail out cost them $0.50 each USPS!
Of course if you did step 4 above and signed up for $20 1-at-a-time then UPGRADED after your credit card was billed, then the cost is LESS than $0.50 each!

Note one more thing; when you cancel you'll see in your queue an ad that says of you signup now they'll give you two weeks free. If you go for it do it by PHONE and insist that they give you the 2 free weeks. You probably won't get them (there is nothing showing you have the free weeks) and will have to hassle them for them, and when you do you'll find that you are unable to do the 'free' upgrade because the free weeks override teh ability to upgrade AT ALL. So then unless you pay the $35 premium, you'll have 1-at-a-time for the next 6 weeks, with several calls into BB to complain that you didn't get the promised free weeks. Not worth the hassle.

Lana said...

I have always been a big movie buff. I have been with Blockbuster for I would guess 20+ years. They started their Rewards Program; I got a free Gold Card, first mail program; 8 movie plan, Total Access; 4 movie plan. I was going to try Netflix because the mail program dropped the ball. Every e-mail I sent about something went unanswered except for some form of punishment. An example; I requested they allow direct access to upcoming movies. I explained what I had to do to access that information online and it would be so much easier if they just had the category. My reward for the suggestion was removing the access method I had figured out. I was a big supporter of their new systems because they were very responsive and to my surprise instituted all my suggestions. Now they have changed back. First they started with changing the subscriptions and I am now up to 37.53 a month, which I would not mind if they did what they claimed. I am suppose to have unlimited rentals. I have written them a number of times on the matter. After there are 6 movies in my shipped queue, even though they are all returned to the store (as indicated on the shipped queue), I will not get any new movies for up to two weeks. At first I thought; A) my store was not returning them on a timely basis or B) there was a problem checking them in at the hub or C) that to save postage they wait one or two weeks by policy to return them from the store. For any of those reasons I am being penalized from the FAQ one day shipping I pay for. Blockbuster will not confirm or deny. They write back saying nothing. I am sorry, and instructions on how to watch my queue as if I did not already know that. That is what I keep writing about. Therefore, I decided to look on the Internet for others who are having this problem and read that it is called throttling. They should not say unlimited, if it is not. They should just give a number of maximums per plan so you do not have to sit there and figure it out yourself and then write to no avail. Now that I have complained so many times, even with a clear shipped queue, I have only received two movies over the last two weeks. I am wondering if they punish you hoping you will quit or trying to teach you a lesson for complaining. Oh yes and I have over 70 movies at any one time with about 98% available, so there is no excuse there. I read Netflix settled a class action suit on this? Is that what it takes to get the promised results?

Anonymous said...

Blockbuster is just a terrible, terrible company. Plain and simple.

No use complaining to the company. It does not care. It will just response with nonsensical replies that it is YOUR fault that you did not get any shipment because YOU did not guess correctly which title is present at which distribution center.

Don't forget, this is the same company that would arrive in town, undercut all the independent shops until they no longer could stay in business, then it would raise prices and late fees.

Blockbuster is just reverting back to it old self of high prices with terrible service.

Another proof how two-face Blockbuster is that it said publicly that it does not throttle, yet in its T&C it states it "reserves" the rights to throttle. So, it throttles and said it does not. How convenient.

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