Wednesday, August 19, 2009


Note: Updated Thurs Aug 20

Blockbuster had a great mail service for DVD rentals - as good as Netflix, possibly better, competitively priced, adequate customer service, fast enough delivery. That is, until a few weeks ago. Someone exploded a corporate-wide Stupid Bomb over Blockbuster. The entire concept of the Queue (the heart of the delivery system) was dumbed down.

Instead of shipping the first available title on the queue, the order-picker now checks the first three titles of the queue. If none of the first three queue titles are available, Blockbuster will ship NOTHING. I thought this was stupid, since there are 75 other available choices for them to send me, but two e-mail "service incidents" and an 800 telephone "incident" i am convinced that this is an accurate portrayal of their new service policy.

I'm cancelling my Blockbuster service, as soon as I transfer my list over to Netflix. I wrote a letter to Blockbuster Corporate Headquarters, just in case they are interested in serving customers (stranger things have happened!). And I promised to share the letter, and any response I received, with you, my faithful readers. So, here it is

Milwaukee, Wisconsin 53207
19 August, 2009

Blockbuster Inc.
1201 Elm Street
Dallas, Texas 75270

Attn: Customer Service


Good Morning:

Thanks for all the enjoyment you've bought to our home over the years. I appreciate everything about BLOCKBUSTER by Mail. The mailing service was prompt and versatile. The tracking of the shipments was superb. On two occasions where discs were almost lost in the mail, Blockbuster fixed the problem seamlessly.

However, I am now forced to cancel my service, because Blockbuster has decided to stop sending me movies. Please check my records, for collaboration. Online Account No.:*********

Today is August 20th, and I haven't received any titles since July. There is one disc presently outstanding, which I have yeat to receive. I am on the 3-disc home-only plan, and my “At Home” total has not been over “1” in weeks. Of the 88 items in the queue, over 75 are available.

I called the help line and I've sent e-mails to investigate what the holdup was. Email incident numbers are

Incident - no movies (090814-000863) <<#8-861532#>> on 8/14/9
Incident - no movies (090814-000863) <<#8-861532#>> on 8/16/9

In addition I have talked to the people at the 800 number. They all told me the same incredible thing, which I'm sure you will also find incredible:

What Blockbuster Told Me:

Since the first three selections of my queue have a “wait” status, Blockbuster will not ship any of the other 75 “available” titles from my queue to me. Consequently, nothing will be shipped.

The suggested “help desk” remedy for my problem was to re-order the queue, putting only “available” items on top, which worked for one movie, but not for the next two titles that I moved. This reordering is a totally idiotic suggestion, since the prioritizing of the queue does not need to be micro-managed. If #1-#2-#3 are not available, we ship #4. If #4 is not available, we ship #5. That's how the queue works. Or how it worked until three weeks ago. Something in the service changed, and Blockbuster simply stopped shipping movies to me.

If the titles are constantly micro-managed, as the help desk suggested, constantly moving only “available” titles on the top, the “waiting list” titles will **never** be shipped, since an “available” title will always (artificially) be at a higher priority than the “waiting” title.

Since it would be foolish to be paying Blockbuster $15.99 per month for not shipping me any movies, I have separately canceled my membership, and enrolled for comparable service with one of your competitors.

As a warning to my friends, I am posting this correspondence on my web site, and will, in fairness to you. post any response or note any lack of response on the web site as well.

I write you this in hopes that your service can be restored to the exemplary customer service we once knew.


Gary A. Guetzlaff


UPDATE (added 8/20/9 9:55 pm):
Last night, after publishing this letter, I transferred my queue to Netflix and cancelled my Blockbuster subscription - they sent me an official cancellation order. THIS MORNING, I RECEIVED SHIPPING NOTIFICATIONS FOR TWO MORE TITLES. Truly, the distribution center runs all on its own. - g

Thanks for listening and contributing. For up-to-the-minute thoughts, come on over to I'm @dimbulb52


Lydia said...

Absolutely unbelievable! Except it is, because they stink. Do you know at one point something like 75% of their revenues were from late fees?

Not a good business model. You will love Netflix. Smart & easy.

Power to the people!!

Beth said...

Yikes! Glad I stuck with Netflix instead of transferring like we'd thought about.

Leslie Hanna said...

That Blockbuster policy would only work if they also micro-managed your fees - no new movies = no charge that month. Otherwise, you are right - it sucks.

I had Netflix until I ran out of movies I wanted to watch. They were great!