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Distant Shipping Cuts Blockbuster Subscriber Benefits

If you have noticed your Blockbuster Online DVDs abruptly began taking an extra day or two arrive, do not jump to conclusions and automatically blame USPS for the delays. This is a case where the post office may not be at fault. The delays may be occurring because Blockbuster has chosen to ship DVDs to you from shipping centers that are far from your home.

When Blockbuster ships DVDs to you from a local shipping center, you should receive the DVDs generally within one or two days. If, however, Blockbuster chooses to ship DVDs to you from a shipping center that is hundreds of miles from your home, the DVDs may spend a few days in transit.

This extended transit time is an issue, because every extra day you have to wait for a DVD is an extra day you cannot enjoy the subscription benefits for which you are paying. In effect, the increased transit times are reducing the value of your subscription. You are paying the same amount of money each month, but receiving less for it.

Now, there is something positive about distant shipping. Perhaps, you want to see a movie that is not available at your nearest shipping center. It is nice to still be able to see that movie, even if you have to wait a couple of extra days for it to arrive. A problem could arise, however, if Blockbuster actually has the DVDs you want at a local shipping center but chooses to deliberately ship all of your DVDs from distant shipping centers with the primary intent of exploiting the extended USPS transit times to reduce the overall flow of DVDs to you. Netflix began using a similar tactic by 2005. The old Blockbuster (before the bankruptcy) was doing this as early as 2009.  

Remember, postage costs the same regardless of whether a DVD gets shipped from one mile away or a thousand miles away. Yes, having a bunch of DVDs floating around in the mail system ties up Blockbuster's inventory, but the cost reductions in processing and postage make up for that disadvantage.  Theoretically, Blockbuster could increase profits significantly just by shipping all of your DVDs from distant shipping centers. Under this throttling practice, you would get fewer DVDs each month, Blockbuster would save money on processing and postage, and you would still pay full price.

Look on your Blockbuster Online return envelopes, if the addresses are for shipping centers hundreds of miles from your house, consider contacting Blockbuster and asking them why you have to mail your DVDs to another city. If you live near a major city but your DVDs take more than one or two days to arrive, consider contacting Blockbuster and asking them why all of your DVDs are coming from so far away.

Blockbuster will tell you they sometimes ship DVDs to you from distant shipping centers to make sure you get the DVDs you want most. This may be true for some titles, but if Blockbuster is shipping all of your DVDs from distant shipping centers and having you return the DVDs to distant shipping centers, there is no reasonable excuse for this inconvenience, and there is a strong chance Blockbuster is intentionally taking advantage of you by creating artificial delays on your account (a.k.a. throttling). If you suspect Blockbuster is throttling you, consider contacting them and asking them why.


Anonymous said...

I dumped Blockbuster Online several years before they went bankrupt. At the beginning of this year I received several invites to return because they were now "new and improved." So I decided to give them a try. However, I kept my Netflix account which I have had since the 90's. The results after four months:

Both accounts are serviced from their distribution centers in Louisville, KY. I live in Cincinnati, OH.

Netflix's track record:
1) On Monday email from Netflix that they are shipping a DVD.
2) DVD arrives on Tuesday.
3) DVD returned Wednesday.
4) Thursday email from Netflix said DVD received and a replacement has been shipped.
5) Replacement DVD arrives Friday.
6) DVD returned Saturday.
7) Monday email of return received and a replacement DVD is sent.
8) Tuesday said DVD is received.
And so on and so on. This averages out to be 2 DVD's a week or 8 per month.

Blockbuster's pattern is quite different:
1) Email on Monday that DVD is being sent.
2) DVD arrives on Wednesday ... always TWO later, without exception. Although returned DVDs seem to be received and processed the next business day without fail.
3) DVD returned on Thursday.
4) Email on Friday that DVD has been received. However, no DVD is prepared for mailing.
5) Email on Monday that a replacement has been mailed. However, if a DVD is received on Mon, Tue, Wed, or Thur, an email is always received that a replacement has been mailed.
6) One can conclude that Blockbuster does not prepare DVDs for mailing on Fridays. It is common knowledge that Blockbuster's distribution centers do not operate on Saturdays, as does Netflix's. Likewise, Blockbuster probably pepares DVDs for mailing on one day but does not actually mail them out until the next business day.

With Blockbuster it is impossible to average receiving more than 1 DVD per week (4 per month)

My subscription to Blockbuster costs more than my subscription to Netflix (about a buck or two more). But the service is a lot less, significantly less.

I emailed Blockbuster this analysis this morning. Will let you know what reply, if any, I get from them.

Their Total Access plan has become a joke in this area since there are very few Blockbuster stores still open. The nearest one for me is a real hassle to get to. But even when I used the plan for about a month and a half I only managed to average about 5 DVDs per month instead of the current four.

Anonymous said...

I have a free 12 month subscription to Blockbuster At Home through Dish Network. If I am lucky, I can get one DVD per week. Sometimes I get one DVD every 9 days. They changed my return shipping from Dallas, TX to Atlanta, GA (an extra 100 miles). They should be shipping my DVD's from Baton Rouge, LA (90 miles) instead of 300 miles from Dallas, TX. At a cost of $10 a month this service is not worth it. I can go to Redbox and get 10 DVDs a month instead of 3 or 4. Blockbuster at Home rarely has anything newer than 2010 either.

Fed Up with Delays said...

Since I started keeping track of Netflix mailings (over 700 movies, the ship/receive ratio is better than 99% the next day. BOTH WAYS! On the other hand, Blockbuster's "one day transit" ratios area follows: receive ratio is around 30% and their send ratio is around 17%. The only shipments I've removed from the above figures involve storm delays which affected both services equally(Only a very few instances over quite a few years). My distribution centers for both are well under 100 miles. In addition, Netflix will only ship a movie to you from another location if it is not available from your closest center AND they send you the next available DVD in your queue at the same time. Blockbuster does not do this! In fact, I cannot think of one thing they do that benefits their subscribers more then the online service.

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