Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Blockbuster vs. Netflix

I've been going back and forth between Blockbuster and Netflix recently. I suspended both of them for a month after switching to DirecTv and getting tons o' movie channels for a few months. I'm back on Blockbuster, but they can be frustrating.

Netflix gives you 3-at-a-time DVD's for $16.99 a month. Blockbuster does the same at $15.99. The advantage of Netflix is they're faster about sending the DVD's to your home. The advantage of Blockbuster is that they have some titles that are exclusive to them the first couple months, titles like Miss Potter and Superhero Movie.

Blockbuster has a policy to limit Monday mailings. They told me the post office requested this; Netflix has no such policy so I wonder about that. Both of them used to be good about same-day turnaround with DVDs shipped. Netflix is still good at that, but Blockbuster only seems to be good about that on certain days. For instance, when I reinstated my Blockbuster account on December 1st, they only mailed out one title. Even though I'm paying for three-at-a-time, they didn't mail the other two titles until the 3rd. I emailed a complaint but got the usual explanation:

"To avoid shipping delay, may I suggest that you maintain 15 or more 'Available' titles at the top of your queue at all times."

Now when I talked to a live person a couple months ago I was told that when they receive a DVD in the morning, the system checks your top three titles and if one of them is Available, it will send it out that day. I've had too many examples of that not being the case. The lady also told me that on Day 2, it checks further down the list, I want to say 8.

So I mailed two DVDs on Friday. They received them Monday. I had 15 'Available' titles at the top of my queues, even though some of the titles I really wanted next were designed as Short Wait, Long Wait and Very Long Wait. Monday they sent me a title from around position 30 of the 40 in my queue. Huh? Weird. Well, at least they mailed something. Tuesday came to a close without the other DVD being sent. I called a live person. She told me that even though the title may say 'Available' it may not be Available at the distribution center near me. Really. Man on Wire was #1 on my list, and yesterday was its first day being Available. How could my center not have it in stock? She apologized and sent me an e-coupon for a free in-store rental, which I appreciate and will use. The next title sent came from somewhere around 26 of the 40 in my queue. Okay, why did it skip the 25 titles above it?

I'm paying $19.99 for the 5 in-store exchanges a month. I think it's worth it for the month, even though Blockbuster can only be counted on mailing out DVD's Wednesday through Friday. I can always check out on Mondays and see what the free rental code and get something from there.

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