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Blockbuster Stoops to New Low with Friday Sleeper Shipping Delay Tactic

Just when we think Blockbuster Online cannot get any worse, they surprise us with another delay tactic, which ultimately results in a reduction of subscriber benefits. The latest stunt in a long line of repugnant and sleazy corporate behavior is Blockbuster’s new Friday shipping delay. We will call this the Friday Sleeper shipping delay tactic. In this scheme, Blockbuster Online leaves one shipping slot in a subscriber’s queue open almost all week and then ships out a DVD to fill that open slot on Friday afternoon.

Here is an example of how this Friday Sleeper shipping delay tactic appears to work. Blockbuster Online subscriber, Bob returns Online DVDs A1, B1, and C1 to a Blockbuster store on Friday, January 9. The store clerk scans in the DVDs, immediately opening all three shipping slots in Bob’s queue. Now if Blockbuster were living up to their end of the subscriber agreement, they would ship out three DVDs (A2, B2, and C2) on Monday, January 12. In this scheme, however, Blockbuster Online will wait until Wednesday, January 14 to fill only two of the three open queue slots by sending out DVDs A2 and B2. Blockbuster Online will then leave the one remaining queue slot open until the end of the shipping week and then finally ship out DVD C2 on Friday, January 16.

In this scenario, Bob gets hit with the standard Wednesday shipping delay plus the new Friday Sleeper shipping delay tactic. Bob will have to wait nearly a week to receive the first two DVDs (A2 and B2), and he will have to wait more than a week to receive the third DVD (C2). He should have received all three DVDs in just a few days, so Blockbuster has successfully and dramatically reduced the number of DVDs Bob can receive during each month.

At this point, it is not clear if Blockbuster is using this Friday Sleeper delay tactic to throttle all of its customers or just its heavy users. Regardless, this is a blatant abuse of the Blockbuster shipping system and a likely breach of contract. Make sure to keep careful records of your DVD rentals and your interactions with Blockbuster. Blockbuster appears to be willing to do just about anything to systematically minimize the benefits of some subscribers. There is bound to be a class action lawsuit at some point. If so, having good records could be to your benefit. If you do take any sort of action against Blockbuster in the future, documentation will be your friend.

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