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Blockbuster’s New DVD Shipping System Will Blow Your Mind

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.


Blockbuster’s Wednesday Shipping Tactic

If you have a Blockbuster Online account, you have probably noticed an unpleasant development recently. For months now, Blockbuster has been shipping many DVDs on Tuesdays, making Monday shipping an extremely rare occurrence. Now, Tuesday shipping is beginning to fade, and Wednesday is gradually taking its place as the first full shipping day of the week at Blockbuster.

This is an unwelcome development, which is significantly reducing the subscription benefits for which you are paying as a Blockbuster Online subscriber. If you exchange your online rentals at a Blockbuster store on a Friday night, it is quite possible Blockbuster Online may not ship new DVDs to you until Wednesday of the following week. In this case, the earliest you will get your online rentals will be Thursday, and having to wait on those DVDs until Friday or Saturday is very possible. So, with Blockbuster’s Wednesday shipping tactic, you could be facing a full week or more of waiting for your DVDs.

If your DVDs are not shipping until Wednesday, it will be nearly impossible for you to get more than one set of DVDs per week. Your only hope is that you receive and watch all of your DVDs on Thursday, exchange them at a Blockbuster store that night, hope Blockbuster Online will ship more DVDs to you on Friday, and then hope you receive the new DVDs by Saturday. This feat is going to be completely impractical for the vast majority of subscribers, and Blockbuster must know this. By limiting shipping on Mondays and Tuesdays, Blockbuster has found yet another way to reduce your subscription benefits while still charging you full price.


Time for Some Toll-Free Complaining - (866) 692-2789

Blockbuster Online’s service is getting horrible. Unfortunately, there is not much you can do about it. You can just cancel your subscription or stick it out and try to make your subscription work.

If you are going to try to hang in with Blockbuster, you will need to become very proactive to make certain Blockbuster does not take advantage of you by charging your credit card for subscription fees while failing to ship DVDs to you. Of course, you need to keep track of all of your business with Blockbuster, but you are also going to have to stand up for yourself and the subscription benefits for which you are paying. The easiest way for you to make sure Blockbuster hears you is to pick up the phone and give Customer Service a call at (866) 692-2789.

A phone call appears to be just about the only way a customer can get results from Blockbuster. The email-based support system is insanely deficient. The vast majority of the customer service representatives responding to email inquiries are incompetent, slow, apathetic, and clueless. If you attempt to resolve a problem through email, you will almost definitely be led around in circles until you give up or happen to get lucky and find someone who cares. Regardless, the email-based support system is abysmal, and you should not expect to get your problems resolved through that outlet.

The customer service representatives working the phones at Blockbuster appear to be far more competent than their cyberspace counterparts. Each and every time you have a problem with your account (shipping delays, poor title availability, etc.), you might want to consider just picking up the phone and getting the problem resolved. Making the phone call is a pain, but it often works. Besides, toll-free phone support is expensive for Blockbuster. Every time you call, you cost Blockbuster money in tolls, time, resources, etc. If customer support begins to get costly for Blockbuster, the company may decide to improve their service to avoid all of the expensive phone calls. (Of course, Blockbuster could also just further reduce benefits and/or raise their rates, but they are already doing that every chance they get anyway.)

Sadly, there is not much you can do about this decline in Blockbuster’s service. If you are not going to cancel your Blockbuster subscription, you are just going to have to heat up the phone lines and fight for yourself. Good luck.


Requesting Your Blockbuster Refund for Missed Shipping Days

With Blockbuster failing to ship DVDs in a timely manner and the nature of Blockbuster’s subscription-based billing system, the issue of refunds is becoming important. If you have one or more empty slots in your Blockbuster Online queue and Blockbuster fails to ship a DVD to you within 24 hours (Monday-Friday), you deserve a refund for the lapse in your subscription benefits.

Blockbuster has gotten quite slow about shipping lately. It is possible that Blockbuster will allow you to have empty slots in your queue for days before shipping a DVD to you. When Blockbuster Online fails to ship a DVD to you, complain to Blockbuster and make a note of the incident.

After a few weeks, you may have records of several missed shipping days. Keep in mind that--as a subscriber--you still paid for these shipping days even though Blockbuster did not provide subscription services to you on these days. Given that Blockbuster charged you while providing no benefit, it is only right that Blockbuster should issue a refund to you for missed shipping days.

Here is an example. In any given month, there are around 22 shipping days. If Blockbuster Online failed to ship to you on 8 of those 22 days, Blockbuster failed to honor your subscription for 36% of the shipping days in the month. If you paid Blockbuster $35 (plus tax) for that month, it is only fair that Blockbuster compensate you for the days of unfulfilled service by providing a 36% refund of $12.60 (plus tax).

Make your refund request to Blockbuster in writing. If Blockbuster rejects your request, you will need documentation. With proper documentation, you can pursue a refund through the Better Business Bureau or your credit card company.

It is not right for a company to collect fees for a service it cannot or will not provide. Do not let Blockbuster take your money without giving you something in return. If they cannot or will not provide the services for which you are paying, they need to return at least part the money you paid.

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