More details have surfaced about Blockbuster’s new DVD shipping system. The full truth is complicated and unbelievable.
The shipping system works on an expanding hierarchy search method. Presumably, every Monday, the shipping software searches the queues of subscribers with open queue slots. The catch is the software looks only at the first three positions (for a three-out plan) on Mondays. If you, the subscriber, have some immediately available titles in the first three positions of your queue, Blockbuster may ship DVDs to you on Monday. If you do not have any immediately available titles in your first three queue positions, Blockbuster may not ship a DVD to you on Monday. (Do not have great expectations for Monday shipping. Monday is not a full and legitimate shipping day at Blockbuster anyway.)
On Tuesdays, the software repeats the same process. The only difference is the software searches the first six positions of your queue for immediately available titles. If you do not have any immediately available titles in the first six positions, no DVDs are likely to ship on Tuesday.
On Wednesdays, the process continues by searching only the first nine positions of your queue. On Thursdays, the software considers the first twelve queue positions. Not until Friday will the software search your entire queue for immediately available titles.
This shipping system is confusing, so here is the breakdown.
Mondays – Only immediately available DVDs from the top three queue positions may ship.
Tuesdays – Only immediately available DVDs from the top six queue positions may ship.
Wednesdays – Only immediately available DVDs from the top nine queue positions may ship.
Thursdays – Only immediately available DVDs from the top twelve queue positions may ship.
Fridays – Any immediately available DVDs in your queue may ship.
This new shipping system is harsh enough, but here is where things get incredibly frustrating. You might think you can beat the system by keeping the first twelve positions of your queue free from titles with statuses of “Short Wait,” “Long Wait,” “Very Long Wait,” etc. Sadly, it is not that easy. Just because Blockbuster designates a title’s status as “Available,” it does not always mean the title is immediately available in your area.
In Blockbuster language, “Available” means the title is in reasonable supply nationwide; however, the status does not indicate availability in your region. For example, you live in Seattle and have Donnie Darko at the top of your Blockbuster Online queue. Donnie Darko may be abundantly available throughout most of the distribution centers in the eastern United States, but there may be no copies of Donnie Darko at distribution centers in your region. In this case, Donnie Darko could still have a status of “Available,” but since Blockbuster does not usually ship DVDs long distances, the DVD will most likely not be shipped to you.
Making matters much worse, if you had Donnie Darko and two other “Available” titles, which are not actually available regionally in the first three positions in your queue, these three titles could prevent shipments from your queue all day Monday, every Monday. If you had six such titles in your first six queue positions, Blockbuster might not ship to you on Mondays or Tuesdays. If you had nine such titles in your first nine queue positions, Blockbuster might not ship to you on Mondays, Tuesdays, or Wednesdays. If you had twelve such titles in your queue, Blockbuster might not ship a DVD to you until a Friday. Even on Fridays, you have no guarantees.
If you are thinking all of this is ridiculous and makes no sense, you are correct. This shipping system is absolutely ridiculous, and it is not supposed to make sense. The only logical explanation is that Blockbuster has found a way to systematically reduce the number of DVDs it sends to subscribers each week. This incomprehensible shipping system drastically reduces your ability to manage your account and receive your full subscriber benefits. Now that you know more about the system, maybe you can use the information to your advantage or, at least, gain some understanding about why you are not receiving DVDs from Blockbuster as quickly and frequently as you should.