Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Addition by subtraction?

Nicole and I have been subscribed with Blockbuster Total Access online service for about a year now, and up until recently, we’ve been mostly satisfied with it. (We liked Netflix before that, but the reason we originally switched was because of the in-store exchanges.) There was some issues with our queue, whereby they would always ship the 9th or 12th or 15th DVD on the list rather than, you know, the first—even though it was always available. That one seemed to straighten itself out after awhile.

However, Blockbuster has been starting to make some pretty unwelcome changes in the last couple of months. At first, we were on a 3-at-a-time plan with unlimited in-store exchanges, and it cost $14.99 per month. This plan included an e-coupon for one free new release rental in-store. Then in August, they changed the plans, getting rid of ours. Suddenly, it cost, like, $3 more per month for the same deal. So, we switched to a plan that offered 1 DVD at a time, but kept unlimited exchanges, and it cost $16.99 a month.

Then, last month, we noticed that our monthly bill (deducted automatically) was over $23.00. It turns out that nigh three months later, they raised the price of our plan again by another $5 (plus tax). Say what?? So now, our one-at-a-time plan with unlimited exchanges now costs like $8 more than our 3-at-a-time plan cost less than a year ago. What’s more, we no longer receive the e-coupon for a free new release! Here’s their “reasoning” behind that:

“We recently enhanced our plans to provide our subscribers with more options. As part of this effort, e-coupons were eliminated from most of, but not all, our plans. If you have friends who still receive e-coupons, it may be because they are on one of the older plans that still include e-coupons.” (emphasis mine)

Excuse me, Blockbuster, but eliminating a feature of a plan is the exact opposite of “more options”. It’s fewer options! What’s more, we are on an older plan, and you are taking something away from it. And another thing: when you took away late fees, you just gave everyone an excuse to hang onto their in-store movies for as long as they want to, and now, I can never find the movie I want because it’s always GONE.

It’s very frustrating, indeed. I think I am ready to switch back to Netflix. (Update: I just read that we could actually earn 1,500 airline miles by signing up. Sweet!) Now if only they could work a deal with Movie Gallery/Hollywood Video, then we’d really be getting somewhere....