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Troubled Video Rental Chain for Sale

Blockbuster is up for sale, and bidders are welcome. If you have a little extra money, and you are looking to sink it into a company with a tainted brand name, a Chapter 11 filing, and no clear path for regaining its market footing, this may be your opportunity.

Seriously, the number on the table as of today is $290 million. Blockbuster is hoping to sell for at least that much. It is unclear exactly why anyone would want Blockbuster. Perhaps the purchasers are interested in liquidating the company.

How many scratched DVDs and barely touched Blu-ray discs does it take to add up to $290 million anyway? If Blockbuster can unload the used discs for an average of $5 a piece, they will need 58 million of them to hit the $290 million mark. That sure seems like a lot of used discs.

Blockbuster does have more than used video discs, however. Blockbuster has all of that overpriced candy, drinks, and popcorn. Do not forget about all of the stuffed animals, key chains, and those framed movie posters no one ever touches.

No one is sure what is going to happen to Blockbuster, but it looks like Blockbuster is moving ahead quickly. Probably, by the end of April, we will find out who is buying Blockbuster and for what price. After that, we will either be treated to a tremendous reincarnation/re-branding of Blockbuster or the most massive clearance sale of used DVDs, games, and movie-related merchandise the nation has ever seen.

The sad thing is that very few people care. Not many people were upset when Blockbuster went Chapter 11, and there will not be that many people upset if Blockbuster is transformed or liquidated. How often do you hear someone praising Blockbuster, or excited about making a trip to a Blockbuster store? It's pretty rare, isn't it? That is the real problem. Most people just do not care about Blockbuster anymore, and why should they?


Blockbuster Online's Processing Decoy Tactic

It appears Blockbuster Online has begun favoring a particular throttling tactic. This one is the processing decoy tactic. Blockbuster will tie up your queue for an extra day by holding a DVD in Processing status overnight and then canceling shipment of the DVD the following morning. Here is an example of how it works.
  1. On Monday morning, you have an empty slot in the At Home section of your Blockbuster Online queue.
  2. Later that day, Blockbuster will move one of your most desired DVDs (normally one with an Availability status of Long Wait or Very Long Wait) to the empty slot in the At Home section of your queue. This DVD will be tagged as Processing.
  3. The DVD will sit in your queue for the rest of the day and into the night with the status of Processing.
  4. The next morning, the DVD will have mysteriously been moved from the At Home section of your queue back down to its original position in your list of desired DVDs. This leaves an empty slot in the At Home section of your queue.
  5. Later that day, the empty slot will likely be filled with a different DVD from you queue. That replacement DVD is likely to ship that afternoon.

This throttling tactic is bad for you for two reasons. 1) The delay automatically adds at least one day to your turnaround, reducing the number of DVDs you can receive during the subscription month and thereby reducing the value of your subscription. 2) By holding one of your most desired DVDs in Processing status, Blockbuster is discouraging you from renting that title from another source for at least one day. You will probably not rent a DVD from a Blockbuster store, Redbox, etc. if you believe Blockbuster Online will be shipping that DVD to you in the immediate future.

Blockbuster might think they are being clever with this tactic, but they are only annoying subscribers. We all know Blockbuster Online generally knows whether it can ship a particular DVD or not. Those DVD envelopes and sleeves are barcoded and tracked through their inventory system.  Yes, sometimes returned DVDs arrive damaged or in the wrong sleeves or envelopes, but generally Blockbuster knows what DVDs it has in its shipping centers.  If Blockbuster is going to throttle subscribers, Blockbuster needs to stop playing games and just be straightforward with it.

Come on, Blockbuster, don't be such a tease. Just leave those shipping slots empty until you are satisfied with how much extra money you have milked from the subscribers. Irritating your last few loyal customers is not a good way to pull yourself out of bankruptcy.

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