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Sunday, August 19, 2007

Blockbuster Video pulls a "Bait & Switch"

I have been a member of Blockbuster Online for two years, maybe a bit more than that. In that time I have been a relatively satisfied customer until recently. They made one mistake after another (I won't get into detail, but...) to the degree that they first sent me a coupon for a free video rental and then gave me a free month of service.

However, the price I pay is all I am willing to allot for this, and they want to now: give me a lower level of service for the same price... or charge me more to get what I already have. I am not willing to accept this!!!

In addition to that, they want to charge me for videos I kept too long. Even if I return them, they want to charge a re-stocking fee. This too, is unacceptable. With NETFLIX this would and could never happen.

Blockbuster Execs - I hope you read this and alter your plans before you lose THOUSANDS of customers who were providing your company with STEADY MONTHLY INCOME.

Netflix doesn't make people come into a store where they're likely to spend more than they needed to on junk food alone... they let you watch movies on your computer. The catch? You need a decent enough computer and monitor to do that. But perhaps Netflix execs are reading this too and will offer a deal to their customers to purchase just such a system at a discount... or at least a nice big HD monitor.

The battle of Blockbuster and Netflix is by no means over. If Blockbuster does not agree to "grandfather in" those of us who were already getting what we had for the price we originally agreed to pay instead of raising the price on US... we will en masse switch to Netflix who will be quite happy to have us all.

I wrote Blockbuster regarding this situation but don't expect to hear back from them until the weekend is over, since I sent it to "corporate." I want to make it clear in this post that I am not asking Blockbuster to capitulate FOR ME ALONE but for all of us who have supported them from the beginning. They need to show some loyalty to their long-term customers!

Go ahead and charge new customers whatever you wish, BB... but beware of insulting those who put bread in your larder.



Added at midnight on August 31st,
the deadline to choose a new plan or say goodbye:


This is the letter I just sent them, after returning the last of the videos at 11pm. I won't even go into one of their stores for as much as a soda or candy from now on.

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Lydia Shelley
Date: Aug 31, 2007 11:55 PM
Subject: Please cancel my account
To: Blockbuster Online Customer Care < blockbuster@custhelp.com>

Dear Blockbuster,

It's been a swell ride, but when the fat wants to get fatter it's time to cut it loose.

You see, movies are not a necessity to me and many others. They're a luxury. One which I(we) once rarely afforded myself(ourselves). Prior to joining Blockbuster Online two years ago I personally seldom took the time to watch any movies.

Your service was convenient and we were happy with it as it was... but then you spoiled us with the unlimited in-store exchanges and another coupon each month on top of that. We did not ask for this, you bestowed it upon us like a gift.

However, unlike a gift, you want to change the terms now... on US, your loyal customers. Granted, I am not a big fish for you to fry... but there are a great number of us, the "little fish" who together represented a significant portion of your income.

You already controlled how many movies we got per month by controlling the rate at which we received new ones in the mail. Do you think we really believed it took a week to get our next selection to us? It never did before we had the in-store exchanges. Like Netflix, you used to pop them out to us pretty quickly.

Where you have gone wrong, dear people, is this:

Prior to this disastrous choice you had STEADY MONTHLY INCOME from those of us whom you've insulted. I predict that Blockbuster stock will CRASH by Christmas unless you admit you made a mistake and do some serious sweet-talking.

You assume that we will all start paying more or accept less for our money. This is not tolerable to those of us who are leaving you. (I'll bet 90% or more of your online customers... but even if it's less, you still lose) My budget does not change, nor do my plans for spending money. I have allotted what I have allotted and that is all I am able to spare. Likewise with many on fixed incomes, etc.

I averaged my total number of rented movies over the two years I've had your service and got a figure of 8.5/month approximately. Granted, that does not factor in the in-store exchanges I received... but even if I had that privilege for the full two years, that would equal 17/month total. So figure my 8.5 + 5 at the same price and I am brought down to 13.5/month. But that is only if you don't slow down the number you send me even further - which I have no confidence you wouldn't.

I never (check your records if you believe I'm fibbing) rented movies in a Blockbuster store prior to the "in-store exchange" program. So you're not really losing money by giving me those freebies, unless you ASSume that it's because someone else WOULD have rented it and paid for it if I had not had it. However, this may or may not be true. It certainly doesn't make you any money when it's sitting on the shelf.

IF you had initially offered the unlimited in-store exchanges as an option for a higher price, or indicated that it was a "free trial" then perhaps we would not be so irate. But the deal you offered was no deal. The price increase was too vast (nearly 40%!) and the exchanges too limited if we chose to continue at the price we were already paying. And what guarantee do we have that you won't pull this nonsense on an annual basis?

I recommend that you keep your new pricing structure, but ONLY FOR NEW MEMBERS. Grandfather in your loyal subscribers or lose us all. Many are choosing Netflix as I've found in multiple forums by doing a web search on "Blockbuster Price Increase" but personally I plan to eliminate that monthly fee altogether in favor of utilizing your tax dollars at the Public Library which will cheerfully order any movie I choose if they don't have it... and only charge me if I don't bring it back on time. Free is good. And if I do keep them past due, I don't mind putting more money into my public library. Not at all.

Greed does not elicit loyalty. GENEROSITY does. Chew on THAT fat for a while, y'all.

Sincerely and with the greatest of regrets, as I really did enjoy what I got from you while it lasted...

Your formerly satisfied customer.

--
Lydia Shelley

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

Blockbuster is really pathetic! And when you try to let them know how upset you are, you just get a computer generated answer that is just stupid!!!!!!

moreofless said...

Last night I talked to someone at a Blockbuster
store. They told me they are still getting a 3 at a time UNLIMITED in store
exchanges for $19.99. They also told me they were and still are a heavy user. In other words they were never subjected to any of the
price increases or change in terms that Blockbuster imposed on some of us with
little notice. I emailed Blockbuster online about this. Here is the response I
received:

Thanks for contacting BLOCKBUSTER Online Customer Care.Based on usage,
some customers won't see either an increase in price or a change in plan terms.
Some other customers will be given the option to move from a plan with unlimited
in-store exchanges to a plan with monthly limits on exchanges, but at no price
increase from their current plan. Finally, again based on their usage, some
customers will be given the option to stay on their current unlimited plan, but
at an increased price.All Blockbuster members have a choice and can always
change their current plan to another offering.

Sincerely,Edgar
Customer Care Associate
BLOCKBUSTER Online

So, on top of the "next business day" issue, the huge price
increase, and significant change in terms, I find out Blockbuster used some
arguably arbitrary criteria to allow some customers to keep the original terms
and price while the rest of use saw huge price increases and / or a material
change in terms. Again, I would suggest you contact the BBB and your state
Attorney General.I asked Blockbuster for clarification and specific details
about the criteria used. I will post those when I receive them.

Sister Sunshine said...

I wonder if we have the grounds for a class-action suit against them, for discrimination?

I would LOVE to see, in open court, the criteria they used to determine which of us got the shaft and which ones got treated like cupcakes.