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A recent “enhancement” of the Blockbuster Total Access plan is angering many of their customers.

The plan – which distinguishes itself from Netflix by allowing free, in-store exchanges – used to ship a new movie from a customer’s queue when they dropped off their envelope at a local Blockbuster store. The new terms of service tell a different story…

You’ll receive one free in-store movie rental for each online rental sealed in its return mailer, up to your plan’s limits. The maximum number of free in-store movie exchanges is based on the plan to which you subscribe. At participating stores, your free in-store exchanges will not have due dates. You can keep them as long as you want without incurring additional fees, as long as you remain a BLOCKBUSTER Total Access subscriber. However, in all cases, any free in-store movie exchanges will count towards how many online rentals you may have out under your plan. Your next online movie will ship after the in-store movie exchange has been returned to the store you rented it from. Emphasis added.

So, now a new movie from the queue will not ship until the customer returns any in-store exchange they made. Blockbuster is advertising this as “No More Due Dates for Total Access In-store Returns”.

I think the problem here is that Blockbuster – in an effort to compete with Netflix – released a plan they could not sustain and that cannibalized in-store revenues. They are now trying to correct this, but all it looks like to customers is more restrictions and less reason to stay with the service.

This situation is just another win for Redbox, as many disgruntled Blockbuster customers will be looking at other options. Next time they head to the grocery store, they will give Redbox another look.

What do you think? Have you been a Total Access subscriber? Is this going to hurt Blockbuster?

[via consumerist]

25 Responses to “Blockbuster “Enhances” Total Access, Angers Customers”

  1. Visitor [Join Now]
    sarcaster632 [visitor]

    I have been a Total Access user on and off for the last three years. Just yesterday I was wondering why only one of three movies shipped, and it is probably because of this rule change because I still have 2 in-store rentals out. This doesnt surprise me at all. As a student a couple of summers ago I would’ve considered myself a power user, movies would come and leave with in a day. After about three months of this I noticed that movies weren’t shipping as reliably. I later learned that BB may have been/was throttling certain customer queues that saw heavy use. On the other hand Redbox comes in handy when needing to supplement a day or two with new releases.

  2. Visitor [Join Now]
    Cher [visitor]

    I am NOT a total access subscriber. I tried a trial, but cancelled due to cost/value ratio.
    I used to be a netflix “power user”… but noticed the turnaround time and availability diminished significantly after 3 months… so I cancelled that too.

    I did opt for the total rewards program @ $9.99/yr
    buy 5 new releases get one free (2x/month)
    mon-wed rent a new release get a non-new release rental free
    I save my freebies for video game rentals (8 bucks a pop)

    They jacked the rental rates up to $4.29…soon to be $4.99 for a week.
    and I was told they will add a one night rental option for $1.99 but it WILL have a late fee if not returned in time AND those rentals will NOT apply for the total rewards.

    I’ve been using REDBOX a lot lately but I notice that the newest releases are nearly NEVER available! If I wait about 3 weeks to a month then I have better luck….

    Catching last weeks new release with the MOnday freebie code has only happened to me once. But I’m totally NOT complaining. I LOVE REDBOX

  3. Visitor [Join Now]
    dustin [visitor]

    I was a moviepass user for in store rentals only. Meaning, I could walk down to the store, grab a movie and continue to do so as many times as I could in a day. I cancelled after two months because the selection was horrible. Why pay $22 a month when they have two copies of a new release blu ray. Sucks I spent all this money on an HD TV, PS3, bla bla bla and I go to the movie store and the most recent blu ray they have is from three weeks ago, maybe….
    Blockbuster blows, backs to redbox! FTW!

  4. Visitor [Join Now]
    Kerri [visitor]

    Redbox does not have BluRay though.

  5. Visitor [Join Now]
    JERRY [visitor]

    I was a BB user and I loved that I could get free movies when returning my movies to a store but when they raised the rates I figured it was no longer worth it. I would usually get my 3 rentals and watch them on my 1st day off go to a store the next day and get 3 more to watch over the next five days while waiting for new movies to come in the mail. I figure if I was still doing this I would be canceling my BB subscription now.

  6. Visitor [Join Now]
    Jackson [visitor]

    I’ve tried both Blockbuster and Netflix, and Netflix was clearly the superior service. I think Blockbuster is desperate and trying to find ways to cut back the service without making it seem like they are.

    At the end of last year I invested in a VUDU Box and I totally love it. I don’t even have to leave my house to rent or purchase movies in HD.

    Maybe it is just me, but discs are getting more and more obsolete everyday. Digital is the future.

  7. Member [Join Now]

    I’ve been a Netflix customer for many years, very satisfied with their service, except when the postal employees were stealing the mail (always happened in December). I filed complaints with USPS Inspector, they installed some video cameras in the distribution station, found the temp holiday employees who had sticky fingers (clue was that multiple neighbors in same area were missing dvd’s), and charged them appropriately. Netflix and USPS very serious about tracking down mail theft for obvious reasons.

    I’ll occasionlly suspend Netflix for a month or two if there aren’t too many new release movies coming out that I want, or if I can count on getting them at Redbox instead.

  8. Visitor [Join Now]
    Dex [visitor]

    I tried the Blockbuster “total access” plan for a while, but found it – even before this latest “refinement” – to limit access severly v. the Movie Pass. My tastes are not that specialized, but if one doesn’t keep a huge list for Blockbuster to pick from, they have never shipped quickly. The new refinement is more like what I was actually experiencing anyway – I’d return a movie and get one from the store, and then 3-4 days later they might ship out one from my queue.

    What I can’t figure out is why everyone in the world hasn’t signed up for the movie pass – the unlimited in0store movies for a single price per month (which as I’m standing in line I often notice is paid for a single night’s rental of 4-5 movies) seems like an awefully good deal to me – even at 1 or 2 out at a time.

    One could, in theory, swap movies multiple times a day on the movie pass. Try that through the mail!

  9. Visitor [Join Now]
    Steve [visitor]

    I was a BB Total Access customer about a year or two ago. I dropped the program because they kept switching the user agreement and the prices. The deal got progressivly worse and more expensive. They should have grandfathered in their customers with every change. I might still be a customer of theirs if they had. Shortly after I ended my TA membership I gave Redbox a try. I haven’t been back to a BB since and never will. The knock on Redbox is that they don’t have older movies. Well, I use a Redbox at a Walmart. If I want an older movie Walmart sells them for $4-$7. Why would I pay $5 to rent it from BB? I am happy to see the decline of BB. They used their market position for years to take advantage of customers. It just goes to show that when you do business like that, the first chance people have to leave you they will. Had BB spent all those years building up customer loyalty, I doubt Netflix and Redbox would have grown so quickly.

    • Visitor [Join Now]
      CeridianMN [visitor]

      We started with the program right when it started and were grandfathered in every plan change. I think one time our price went up, but our number out and in-store exchange options were not trimmed. (We had the free game rental option long after it was changed to a coupon.) Our big problem came when we moved. The in-store exchanges were no longer convienent, and we changed to a digital cable plan for the DVR functionality. We gave it a couple months and cancelled Blockbuster due to no longer using it. Now between ondemand/payperview and three redboxes within easy bike-riding distance I think we’re done with movie rentals through other means. Game rentals I keep meaning to get into gamefly for – but haven’t had time to play enough to justify it.

  10. Visitor [Join Now]
    Rod bennett. [visitor]

    Have you tried BB in store rentals. You can rent 2 or 3 rentals at a time with no limits per month. This has worked well for me in the past. It includes all movies. new erleases and old.

  11. Visitor [Join Now]
    Rod bennett. [visitor]

    Have you tried BB in store rentals. You can rent 2 or 3 rentals at a time with no limits per month. This has worked well for me in the past. It includes all movies. new releases and old.

  12. Visitor [Join Now]
    Trevor [visitor]

    I loved BB when they had unlimited in-store exchanges, but was really disenchanted when they did away with that. I now use Netflix, and actually use the Watch It Now feature the most. For $9.95 a month we can watch as many movies as we want, and we use it almost constantly. I still use Redbox to get new releases occasionally.

  13. Visitor [Join Now]
    the dude [visitor]

    I switched to netflix the last time blockbuster pretended to make their plans “better.” I have not looked back. The combination of Redbox, especially with promo codes, and netflix (watch it now highly underrated because it started slow) >>>>> blockbuster.

  14. Visitor [Join Now]
    Dawson Lande [visitor]

    I was a Blockbuster manager for over 11 years. We knew they were headed for disaster when they allowed an exchange policy with TA. We had less and less of New Releases for our walk in customers. They put quotas on all employees to sell their TA plan which was downright cruel and illegal. Now stores are closing, revenue down, their TA is a disaster and more customers are using redbox and netflix. It is only a matter of time that Blockbuster, Hollywood, and Movie Gallery are just memories. Management deserves what they have sowed. I now use the reservation feature at redbox, and use netflix for older movies and television series.We were offered stock at 16 a share. Now trading at pennies. Too bad for those loyal employees that are treated like scum.

  15. Visitor [Join Now]
    i2x [visitor]

    i would bounce back and forth between netflix and blockbuster, for movies that i dont care if its blu-ray or not, ill use redbox. but once quantum of solace comes out…im gonna need to do a 1 month plan 2 movies @ netflix!