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Speed or Order: Choose How You Want Blockbuster to Throttle You

Blockbuster has added a new feature that allows you to apply new settings to your queue. On the My Account page, under Manage Account Settings, you can designate Shipping Preferences for your queue. You may choose either Speed or Order. If you select Speed, Blockbuster should ship DVDs to you according to which titles in your queue will ship the fastest with less regard to their rank in your queue. If you select Order, Blockbuster should ship DVDs to you according to their rank in your queue with less regard to speed. Furthermore, if you select Order, you will need to select how many extra days you are prepared to wait for the highest ranking titles in your queue. You may choose to wait one to five extra days.

Choose from these queue options carefully, because Blockbuster can use these preferences to their advantage. If you select Speed, you will be inviting Blockbuster to send DVDs that might be low in your queue but abundant in Blockbuster's inventory. If you select Order, you will be inviting Blockbuster to slow down your shipments with no guarantee you will actually receive your most desired titles. Either way, Blockbuster could use these settings to your disadvantage. Either you could get less desirable titles more quickly or more desirable titles more slowly.

At this point, it is unclear how these settings will affect which distribution center will be shipping your DVDs. When Blockbuster ships from distant shipping centers, days may be added to transit times. In recent months, Blockbuster has displayed a strong tendency to slow down the flow of DVDs to some subscribers by shipping from more distant centers. Blockbuster has not yet specified whether or how transit times will be factored based on a subscriber's Speed/Order queue shipping preference.

Here is the safe way to play this new Speed/Order queue feature. Set your preference to Speed, and do not have any titles in your queue that you would not be happy to receive. Keep your most desired titles at the top of your queue, and hope for the best. Blockbuster is still probably going to throttle you, but if you have your preference set for Speed and you have plenty of desired titles in your queue, Blockbuster will not have any legitimate excuses. Yes, Blockbuster will still probably throttle you, but they will have a hard time convincingly pinning the blame for the delays on you.


Blockbuster Cops out with Partial Fulfillment

Since late-September, Blockbuster has become more aggressive with one of their more cheesy throttling tactics. For some reason, the minds at Blockbuster have assumed they can get away with shipping fewer DVDs to subscribers by partially filling empty queue slots. Blockbuster may not ship all of the DVDs they are supposed to send to you, but they will at least send one or two, so you cannot accuse them of letting your account sit idle for days at the time.

Here is how Blockbuster's partial fulfillment works. On Monday, you have three empty queue slots, but nothing ships that day. On Tuesday or Wednesday, Blockbuster ships two DVDs to you. These DVDs have been sent from far enough away that they will almost never arrive until Thursday or Friday. If you are lucky, Blockbuster will ship the third DVD to you by Friday, but they might hold off on shipping until the following Monday or Tuesday.

Here is the important thing to realize: By trickling out partial shipments, Blockbuster will have the ability to claim--at almost any given time--they either recently shipped something to you or will be shipping something to you soon. At almost no point is Blockbuster living up to the terms of the subscription agreement you have with them. Blockbuster is perpetually leaving one to three of your queue slots empty while hiding behind the illusion they are shipping DVDs to you on a regular basis.

Now, here's the deal. If you have three empty queue slots on Monday morning, Blockbuster should ship three DVDs to you by Monday afternoon. If Blockbuster does anything else, they are cheating you out of your subscription benefits. Just because Blockbuster ships a DVD to you on Tuesday, it does not mean they are absolved from sending another DVD to you for the next few days.

Do not let Blockbuster trickle out DVDs to you and con you into thinking you are getting the subscription benefits for which you are paying. When you complain to Blockbuster about delays and they try to appease you by telling you they just shipped a DVD to you, fire back with, "Okay, congratulations for partially living up to our agreement. Now what about the other DVDs you should have sent to me days ago? What is Blockbuster going to do to compensate me for this delay?"


Blockbuster Tries to Confuse and Distract Complaining Customers

If you email Blockbuster with a legitimate question about unexplained delays on your account, there is a very good chance a customer service representative will attempt to confuse or distract you with irrelevant information while completely failing to address your question.

You may have a simple question about why Blockbuster has not shipped any DVDs to you even though you have had three empty slots in your queue for two days. Blockbuster will probably not address your question. Instead, they will try to bombard you with extraneous details about your account. Perhaps they will hope you will think they have sufficiently answered your question even though they ignored it.

Try this out by contacting customer service ( Ask them a simple question in an email like:

Dear Blockbuster:

I have had empty slots in my queue for days. Why has Blockbuster not shipped any DVDs to me all week?

Than You,
Joe Customer

Most likely, Blockbuster's response will be something like this:

Dear Joe (Sucker),

You returned DVD A on __/__/____, DVD B on __/__/____, and DVD C on __/__/____. We shipped DVD X to you on __/__/____.

We will ship you the next available title in your queue within 1-2 business days, provided you have enough "Available" titles at the top of your queue.

As a reminder, always keep 15 available titles at the top of your queue to ensure prompt service.

Thank You,
Blockbuster Customer (We Don't) Care

Notice that Blockbuster used data from your account to give the illusion that someone actually investigated your issue; however, Blockbuster did not actually address your question or provide any useful information. They simply just mixed some easily obtained facts with boilerplate text to fake an answer to your question.

Do not be fooled by these confusion tactics. When Blockbuster does this to you, hit the reply button and tell them they did not address your question. While you are waiting two to eight hours for a response to your email, consider picking up the phone and calling Blockbuster toll-free at (866) 692-2789. Maybe the Blockbuster employee on the phone will not be as bold about evading your questions. The important thing is to make Blockbuster explain why they are screwing you. If a company is cheating you, they should at least be forced to come up with some sort of a direct explanation, even if that explanation is a total lie.


Blockbuster Shipping Delays Spanning Multiple Weeks

Blockbuster Online must have recently determined that throttling customers down to one set of DVDs per week was not profitable enough. It now appears Blockbuster is experimenting with a throttling tactic that allows subscribers' empty queue slots to sit idle for many days on end.

Under Blockbuster's regular system of throttling, Blockbuster would delay shipping until the later half of the week or simply ship DVDs at the beginning of the week from distant shipping centers, knowing they would not reach the subscribers until Thursday, Friday, or Saturday. Regardless, throttled subscribers would not receive DVDs until the end of the week, which made it nearly impossible for the subscribers to get more than one set of DVDs per week.

During October, however, shipping has gotten slower on some accounts. Blockbuster has allowed queue slots to remain empty for extended periods, even for time periods that extend through weekends. For example, a throttled subscriber could have three empty queue slots on a Monday morning. Blockbuster might ship only one or two DVDs during the week, leaving one or two slots open through the weekend. The following week, Blockbuster might ship an additional DVD or two to fill the empty slot(s). Under this potential new system of throttling, subscribers could have to wait more than a week and a half to receive just one set of DVDs.

Blockbuster claims the October delays are due to a shipping center upgrade. At this point, it is unclear what sort of an upgrade actually slows shipping, but if Blockbuster is telling the truth, this problem should be over soon. Presumably, Blockbuster will then resume its standard throttling program, which effectively limits subscribers to one set of DVDs per week.

Watch your Blockbuster Online account closely, and make sure Blockbuster is not delaying your shipments for extended periods. If you find that Blockbuster is delaying your shipments, the best thing to do is contact them via email and phone to complain every day they fail to ship a DVD to you. If you contact Blockbuster enough, you will get free weeks of service, free store rental coupons, discounts, etc. You can call Blockbuster toll-free at (866) 692-2789.

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