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How Blockbuster Is Throttling You to One Set of DVDs per Week

If you are a Blockbuster Online subscriber, you may have noticed a curious pattern of delays on your account. Sometimes, you will return a DVD to a Blockbuster store, and it will take a surprisingly long time to clear your queue. Often, you will have DVDs--that are apparently being processed--sitting in your queue for multiple days. Frequently, your DVDs will take days longer to arrive than they should have.

If these strange events are routinely occurring on your Blockbuster account, you are not just a random, unfortunate Blockbuster customer. You are most likely a victim of throttling. Blockbuster may be systemically limiting the number of DVDs you receive by employing a combination of delay tactics against your account.

Below is a summary of Blockbuster Online's more common throttling tactics. Each tactic creates only a small delay, but when Blockbuster uses two or more of these tactics together, they can easily place tight limits on the number of DVDs you can receive in any given month.

Delayed Store Check-In
If you are being throttled by Blockbuster, you may have noticed you can return a store DVD to a Blockbuster store, but it might not clear your queue for hours (or days). You may have noticed the returned store DVD almost never clears your queue in time for another DVD to ship that same day--even if you returned the store DVD as soon as the store opened. Blockbuster can use this delayed store check-in tactic to slow down your DVDs by at least one extra day.

Processing Delays
One of Blockbuster's favorite throttling techniques is the processing delay. Blockbuster may indicate they are processing your DVD for shipment, but they will actually not ship it out until the following day. Blockbuster just claims to be processing your DVD so you will be less likely to complain. If you do complain, they will just defend themselves by saying, "We are processing your next DVD. We will ship it as soon as possible."

How long does it take to process a DVD anyway? How could it possibly take a full day or more to turnaround a DVD? There is no legitimate reason for this type of delay. The purpose is to slow down your shipments by an extra day or an entire weekend, therefore decreasing the number of DVDs you can watch for your monthly subscription fee.

Long-Distance Shipping
If you are being throttled by Blockbuster, you may have noticed, when Blockbuster ships a DVD to you on a Monday or Tuesday, that DVD takes an extra couple of days to arrive. This is because Blockbuster is shipping DVDs to you from shipping centers far from your house. Blockbuster could be intentionally exploiting USPS transit times to ensure that your DVD takes longer to arrive at your house. Blockbuster pays the same whether they ship a DVD to you from down the street or 3,000 miles away. By shipping DVDs from remote shipping centers, Blockbuster can add days to your turnaround time and then blame USPS for the delay.

What This Means for You
By using a devious combination of multiple throttling techniques, Blockbuster has made it nearly impossible for throttled subscribers to get more than one set of DVDs in any given week. If you are being throttled by Blockbuster, expect to be hit with a variety of delays. No matter how quickly you watch and return your DVDs, it appears Blockbuster has stacked the deck against you. Blockbuster is simply not going to send as many DVDs to you as they should.

If you are a Blockbuster subscriber, know that you are dealing with a shady company that is willing to take your monthly subscription fee while providing very limited benefits. This is just what Blockbuster is doing to subscribers now. Imagine what other sorts of unscrupulous business practices Blockbuster will be employing in the future as this increasingly irrelevant company continues to lose market share to its competitors and finds it more difficult to generate enough profits to sustain its outdated and bloated business model. For Blockbuster subscribers, things are bound to only get worse from here on out.


Anonymous said...

Selection and Allocation of Product. BLOCKBUSTER Online will automatically ship titles to you, up to your maximum number of outstanding BLOCKBUSTER Online Rentals, from and in the order that you have listed in your rental queue, subject to availability. However, BLOCKBUSTER Online reserves the right to determine product allocation among members in its sole discretion. In determining product allocation, we use various factors including, but not limited to, (i) the historical rental volume for each subscriber, (ii) historical number of outstanding rentals relative to the maximum number of outstanding BLOCKBUSTER Online Rentals allowed under a subscriber's plan, and (iii) the average rental queue position of BLOCKBUSTER Online Rentals that have shipped to a subscriber in the past.

Anonymous said...

They've determined that they should allocate their product to me at a drip pace. I rarely have three out anymore. They won't send me a new one until I return one. Essentially they've put me on a two at a time plan with no more than 3 total dvds per week.

Anonymous said...

Used to be that they would process 2 or more dvds in one day. For example if I returned them to the Store Monday, I would have 3 processed on Tuesday, getting 3 on Wednesday. Now they process 1 per day or I don't get the best selection (new movies) and if I do, don't get the last movie in the mail until Friday (Wed, Thu, Fri)

These idiots wonder why their company is on the verge of bankruptcy.... Once RedBox goes BluRay, I am done with BlockBuster.

Anonymous said...

I decided to try out one of BB's trial plans because they have titles I want that Netflix does not. I put a single series in my queue, all of which are 'available now', and so far after 3 business days and a weekend, I still have 0 DVDs 'at home' both literally and online. I kid you not. I have sent numerous emails about this and I get totally irrelevant responses. Just standard cut-and-paste answers. My favorite one is, "Since you have fewer than 10 "Available" movies in queue, we may wait an extra day or two to ensure we're always shipping the titles you want most." I won't bother pointing out the asininity and outright hypocrisy of this response. I'm really glad they are looking after MY best interests. And this is during the trial. How much worse will it get when they have my money? I am still wondering if I will get even one DVD before the trial ends.

Anonymous said...

I'm an idiot!! I've been frustrated for months and never thought to check online to see if others are having problems.

I've been a subscriber for more than five years and have finally had it with them!

When they kept giving me of their fulfillment center upgrade excuse, I asked them why they don't "upgrade" their billing systems. The sarcasm was lost. Then they tell me they will send a report to "the IT department to research the problem."

In any event, as soon as my monthly cycle is over, I'm switching to Netflix. We should just vote with our credit cards!

Editor said...

Blockbuster Online learned all of their throttling tricks from the original grandmaster of DVD-by-mail throttling: Netflix. If you don't like being throttled by Blockbuster Online, you probably won't like being throttled by Netflix either. Make sure to check out Netflix before you give them your credit card number.

The Former 786 said...

What a diabolical plan!

And I couldn't even tell it was happening!

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