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Blockbuster Keeps Finding New and Exciting Ways to Suck

At first, Blockbuster Online was breathtakingly amazing at sucking. When Blockbuster Online first became available in 2004, it was an absolutely horrible service. The unstable Web site was a flashback to 1996. DVDs were limited. They took too long to ship. They took too long to arrive, and when they finally did arrive, they were often the wrong discs in the right envelope. The service was so unbearably bad that subscribers were practically tripping over each other to cancel. The subscriber cancellation problem was so severe Blockbuster had to beg subscribers not to quit. Many disgruntled customers got discounts, free months, and other benefits in exchange for being patient with the hapless new online service.

As time went on, the Blockbuster Online team got their act together. Service gradually got better with each passing month. Eventually, Blockbuster Online subscriptions became pretty good values. Subscribers began to enjoy the service, people were getting all the movies they could want, and the party lasted for a while.

Apparently, Blockbuster determined that offering a good value may make customers happy but does not necessarily translate into a profitable business model. Suspiciously, as if it were planned, service began to gradually decline at Blockbuster Online.

The first thing to start sucking was online customer service. Whereas online customer service used to be tolerable and a reasonable avenue for pursing resolutions to account problems, online service soon became ridiculous. Subscribers in need were greeted with delays, form letters, and boilerplate solutions. Online customer service became mindless. To this day, it seems like the average online service representative does not understand the most basic customer inquiries. Don’t you just love it when you fill out Blockbuster’s online support form to ask why a title has been sitting at the top of your queue for six months and you get a reply telling you to add more titles to your queue?

A new nasty surprise came in the summer of 2006 when Blockbuster quietly eliminated all weekend DVD processing. This was an unwelcome turn that considerably reduced subscriber benefits by increasing turnaround times. USPS works weekends. Why can’t Blockbuster be at least as good as their carrier?

In the summer of 2007, Blockbuster found an absolutely spectacular new way to suck by dramatically raising prices and limiting in-store exchanges for many online customers. Blockbuster basically, turned their standard plan into TotalAccess Premium and then created a lesser plan, which was then presented as Blockbuster’s new standard plan: Total Access. What sort of company does something this outrageous?

Toward the end of 2007, the most egregious of Blockbuster’s sucking initiatives came in the form of tremendous cutbacks on Monday shipping. With the new reduction in shipping days, Blockbuster decreased its normal (full) shipping days to Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday. That’s nearly half the week! The limited shipping days make it extremely difficult for subscribers to get two sets of DVDs in a week. Way to go, Blockbuster. Not only is this an excellent way to suck, it’s a bit sleazy too.

Within the last few weeks, Blockbuster found yet another fun new way to suck by eliminating in-store rental e-coupons for many subscribers. Even those who were getting two coupons per month, got downgraded to one per month. This is just the latest in a series of declines in Blockbuster Online subscription benefits.

When it comes to delivering bad service, Blockbuster has spared no creativity in finding new and exciting ways to suck. What’s next? How much worse can Blockbuster Online get? In the near future, maybe Blockbuster will start limiting online customers to selecting movies from the remnants of Blockbuster’s pan and scan VHS collection. Don’t be surprised when you look into your mailbox and see a thick yellow and blue envelope containing a severely worn tape of Beverly Hills Cop 3 (Full Screen Edition). Oh, and by the way, it will probably arrive postage due.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The new management has the harebrained idea of buying Circuit City and turn the combined company into an electronic retailer. And it's not going to pay for the deal by spending money on sending out movies or hiring qualified customer service personnel.

Expect Lacklaster to get worse.

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