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Blockbuster Store Check-In Delays Mysteriously Vanish

Blockbuster store check-in delays seem to have disappeared as mysteriously as they arrived. In May, some subscribers may have experienced significant delays while waiting for returned store DVDs to clear their queues. These delays were sometimes adding days to the turnaround time for each DVD. At no point, did it become clear whether the delays were due to system problems or deliberate throttling measures intended to reduce the flow of DVDs to subscribers.

There are three main theories. 1) Blockbuster had some strange system glitch that coincidentally allowed them to ship fewer DVDs while still charging full subscription fees. 2) Blockbuster was experimenting with a new throttling technique, and realized the horrifying potential for a massive class action lawsuit. 3) Blockbuster was experimenting with a new throttling technique, and the outcry from subscribers and Blockbuster store managers was too great to be ignored.

The Blockbuster store managers had to hate the check-in delay problem. Blockbuster Online requires each subscriber with issues about store DVDs to call that store's manager during business hours. The managers must have resented getting calls from angry Blockbuster Online subscribers about check-in delays. Every time a subscriber called the store manager about a check-in delay, that manager would have to log into the store's computer system, confirm the DVD had been checked in, and then offer a variety of explanations about why Blockbuster Online's system was out of sync with the store's computer system. This had to be an irritating waste of time for the managers, especially since these calls only consumed the store's resources and generated no revenue.

Blockbuster needs to explain what was going on with the check-in delays. Regardless of whether the delays were due to system problems are deliberate actions, some Blockbuster Online subscribers were inconvenienced during this time and did not receive the full benefits of their subscriptions. Blockbuster needs to compensate the affected subscribers in some way to make up for the delays. Several DVD coupons or a temporary subscription plan upgrade might be sufficient.

Have you experienced any strange store check-in delay problems? If so, post the details here.


Blockbuster Online Post-Dating Appears to Be Related to Time of Day

Further tracking of Blockbuster's online system has shown that the practice of post-dating some store transactions appears to be related to the time of day at which a given transaction takes place. For store transactions taking place in the earlier part of the day, Blockbuster tends to assign the correct date in the online system. For store transactions taking place in the later part of the day, Blockbuster tends to assign a later date in the online system.

This trend suggests that Blockbuster has established some arbitrary cutoff time during the day. This would mean store transactions taking place before the cutoff time would be recorded on the correct date, and store transactions taking place after the cutoff time would be recorded as taking place on the following date. If this is the case and Blockbuster does have an arbitrary cutoff time during the day, Blockbuster has established an unfair an unnecessarily confusing policy of recording store transaction dates.

One Blockbuster Undergrounder has suggested that Blockbuster has chosen to use a posting practice common to the banking industry. For example, if you deposit money into your account after 2:00PM on Monday, the funds will be posted to your account on Tuesday. The problem with this idea is, even though the bank will post your funds on the following day, the bank will still accurately record the date of your actual transaction. Confirm this by looking at your ATM receipt the next time you make a deposit after your bank's cutoff time. The funds from your deposit may not be available until the following day, but the actual date of the transaction will be correct in the system. In Blockbuster Online's system, the transactions are sometimes being recorded as actually happening on the following day.

If Blockbuster is somehow basing their arbitrary cutoff time on shipping center hours, this is also an unfair practice. Blockbuster Online shipping center hours should be irrelevant when recording store transaction dates. The online shipping system is supposed to operate based on whether or not a subscriber has available queue slots in time for shipping. The online system has no reason to be basing anything on store transaction dates. As far as the queue is concerned, either a store DVD has been rented and returned, or it has not. A slot is open at shipping time, or it is not. What would be the legitimate reason to record store transactions one day late? We already know the Blockbuster Online system is operating beyond shipping centers hours, because the system often displays in-store exchanges quickly after they happen, even when those transactions take place late at night. Why should the system not record the actual dates of transactions?

Since the transactions in question are physically taking place in Blockbuster stores, the transactions are taking place within normal business hours for the store. Therefore, the transactions should be recorded on the proper dates. If Blockbuster is assigning different dates, they are unjustifiably skewing subscriber data. This skewed data would inaccurately indicate subscribers are one day slower when exchanging some online DVDs at stores and Blockbuster is one day faster when shipping some online DVDs after the return of store DVDs. In short, the skewed data makes Blockbuster Online look better on paper by artificially making the subscribers look less active and Blockbuster Online look faster. Some subscribers could end up getting fewer DVDs because of delays, but the records would show many of Blockbuster's shipping delays are one day shorter than they actually are.


Blockbuster Prominently Displays False Statement on Web Site

Once you have returned all of the DVDs allowed by your Blockbuster Online subscription plan, a message will appear in the At Home section of your queue. This message reads,

To have movies shipped, just make sure you have added movies to your queue that are Available Now.

There's nothing else to do. We will ship your next available DVDs within 1 business day.

This statement is false. In fact, Blockbuster may not ship another DVD to you in one business day. They may take days to ship another DVD to you. If you call Blockbuster and ask why they have taken longer than one business day to ship a DVD to you, they will give you a variety of excuses. Blockbuster's favorite excuse is that the delay is your fault because you do not have enough available DVDs at the top of your queue.

How does Blockbuster get away with insisting subscribers have certain quantities of Available DVDs at the top of their queues? As long as the subscriber has at least one Available DVD anywhere in his or her queue, Blockbuster should ship something.

The fact is Availability is a very vague concept at Blockbuster. Just because a DVD shows up as Available in your queue, it does not mean the DVD is actually available. A title may be in abundant supply for the rest of the country, but if that title does not happen to be in ample supply in your shipping area, you could wait a long time to receive an "Available" DVD.

Also, why is availability such a ludicrous problem at Blockbuster? If DVDs have wait statuses of Short Wait or greater for month after month, doesn't that mean Blockbuster's supply is insufficient? Most of these DVDs are readily available for sale on the Internet. Many of them are available for very reasonable prices. If these Internet retailers can stock these titles, why can't Blockbuster?

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