Friday, January 25, 2008

Bye Bye Blockbuster

Blockbuster Online has increased my membership cost 95% over the past two months and provides poor customer service to go with the privilege of paying more. My experience below...

At first I loved it. I could get movies in the mail just like Netflix. Unlike Netflix, however, I could then take my movies back to the local store and exchange them for new movies to watch while I wait for my new mailers to come. It was a great idea and it worked for a while...

Then last November, just two short months ago, my plan changed. Blockbuster Online decided to change their pricing structure. They said that they sent out an email informing me of the change and they may have. However, they also send out many other emails that remind me of my in-store rental due dates, that ask me to rate a recently viewed movie, that inform me that they've received my mailers back, to inform me that they've mailed out new movies, and to advertise new releases and recommendations. When you consider that each mailer received back and each mailer mailed out is sent as a separate email (we had a 3 at a time membership), that A LOT of email. Easy for the important ones to get missed. Agree?

So, one day I go to take my mailers back to the store and rent some new releases that my kids were extremely excited to see. Upon surrendering my mailers with my membership card and my new choices, I'm informed that I have maxxed out on my in-store rentals. Huh? I have unlimited in-store rentals! I always have! Apparently, when I did not go online and update my account following the above email that I may have received, they updated it for me and chose a new limited plan. My kids were disappointed and I was unhappy. Fortunately, the in-store people are wonderful and they allowed my kids to have their rentals free of cost (on their store's dime) despite my limit being reached. I went home and called Blockbuster immediately and was told that they sent out an email...blah, blah, blah. They changed my account back to the unlimited plan that it was originally been set up as. But they didn't. My next trip back to the store resulted in me again being told I had reached my in-store rental limit. Another call to Blockbuster Online finally resulted in my account being returned to normal, albeit at a higher cost (from $19.57 increased to $27.19). I went on my merry way, somewhat disgruntled about the inconvenience and the 39% increase.

Then today happens. I visit my bank's online banking website and see that Blockbuster Online has taken the monthly fee out of my account as expected. What wasn't expected was the amount. There's nothing at Blockbuster Online's website that helps me figure out why the wrong amount was removed from my account nor do they have a phone number to contact them. They only provide an online form. So, I called my local store because I know that they have a phone number since they gave it to me back in November. I called the number and was informed that they had a pricing structure change. Again?! My response? I said something along the lines of, "This is ridiculous. You increased the fees two months ago and now you're doing it again? My cost is nearly double what it was two months ago." Their response? "We sent you an email about it." That doesn't work for me...see the above paragraph. I KNOW I did not see an email about the increase. I canceled my account. They tried to interest me in a lesser plan (fewer movies out at a time or limited in store rentals) but I wasn't interested in doing business with Blockbuster anymore. They canceled my plan. I hung up.

Then I remembered something. The money for the coming month was just taken out of my account today and I canceled today. I need to make sure I get a refund because 1) I want one, 2) I won't be using Blockbuster in the coming month, and 3) I don't trust that I'll be able to continue using the plan in the coming month after November's fiasco. I called back and was informed that they do not offer membership refunds. I ask to talk to the supervisor but she can't transfer me until she has my account information. I give it and get put on hold. A supervisor finally comes on the line and tells me she can't issue me a refund but she can reinstate my account so I can use it. I'll just have to cancel it before the next billing date. Folks, I know my memory is faulty so I do not want this. Plus, I'm done with Blockbuster and don't want to do business with them again. Really! So, she offers to reinstate my account and extend it another month for free. Again, I have the same answer. I do not want my account reinstated. I want my money back. She says over and over she can't do it. I ask for her boss but apparently she is the highest up. I doubt that. She's just the highest up they'll allow me to talk to. I threaten to inform every person I know, plus every person I know online (I am a blogger after all), and contact the BBB. She tells me she'll issue me the refund and that it will show on my bank account in 3-5 business days. Just to be sure, I called my bank to see what my options were for disputing the charge on their end.

Here's the cost increase breakdown.
October 25, 2007 - paid $19.57
November 25, 2007 - paid $27.19...a 39% increase
January 25, 2008 - paid $38.07...a 40% increase from November and a 95% increase overall

Do you want to do business with a company that increases your rates 95% over the course of two months with nothing more than an email (hidden amongst the dozens of other emails they sent you) for notice? I don't.


Michelle Olsen Sasak said...

I don't blame you at all. I would dump the company too. I'm having issues with my credit card company, which I'm planning a blog about, but they take advantage of people and jack prices too...with a tiny mailer (that no one ever reads) tucked into the bill. More about that later though... Great job forcing them into a refund :)

Amico Dio said...

~This is me giving you a HIGH 5~

They did the same thing to me... took away our free in-store rentals and raised the price and for what? They have less movies than Netflix and what they do have is never available.

I've been with Netflix for three months now and I LOVE IT! I cannot complain one bit.

Go you!

Memarie Lane said...

Sounds a lot like my experience with Vonage. I ended up canceling because I couldn't take their customer disservice anymore, and they charged me $150 extra for canceling. Thanks for stopping by my blog, hope to see you back!