The Blockbuster Total Access Saga, Part III: Two letters (The conclusion)

posted 5/10/09 on 2009: A Blog Odyssey

IN THE LAST EDITION OF THIS SAGA

I explained the history behind my transition from Netflix to Blockbuster Total Access — followed by my disillusionment with the latter service due to a policy change — and got fired up about writing a complaint to Blockbuster after the Urbana store manager’s suggestion to do just that.


TWO LETTERS

Ideally, I would be able to copy and paste both my eloquently written email to Blockbuster as well as the garbage reply I received. You’d be able to see how much thought I put into clever wording and not sounding too angry (a lot of editing and revision went into it, as I didn’t want them to discard my response on the spot).

Unfortunately, I was nearing the 100 MB CITES Email quota and decided to clean out my CITES Email inbox and sent folder without remembering to save those emails.

So much for that.

In short, I started off the message with complimentary thoughts on how great the service had been in the past. The convenience, the value as compared to Netflix, etc. Then I promptly lambasted their sudden change (for those who haven’t read the first two parts of this saga: Blockbuster’s crime of no longer mailing a new rental immediately upon the return of the previous one) without even notifying customers.

In this time of inflation and job loss, what customers need to remain faithful is continued good service — possibly even freebies or improvements — not a downgrade. As it is, they’re practically begging people to cancel their Total Access subscriptions.

So I sent them that thoughtful email and waited a couple days until I received — you guessed it — an automatic reply that barely even responded to what I wrote. Basically: yes, the service has changed. Tough.

I expected a little more, maybe a coupon to keep me happy, but I really shouldn’t have. I couldn’t respond in any other way but to cancel my subscription, and that was that.


MY NEXT VISIT TO BLOCKBUSTER

I returned to Blockbuster a few days later to return my mailed-in rental and pick up a new disc (Where in the World is Osama Bin Laden). I figured, hell, they’ll at least give me one last free rental. They did the same for a couple of my friends after they dropped Total Access. Seems like a fair parting gift.

No such luck. No, Blockbuster is stingier than ever. I had brought the Spurlock film up to the counter with dim hopes of not paying for it, and the cashier swiped my membership card and politely asked me for the regular rental fee. I explained that I had only recently canceled, and that I’d heard I should be able to do one last trade-in, and the cashier sympathized but insisted that I pay. I even spoke to the same manager as before, who was glad I formally complained bit didn’t seem surprised that I received an automatic reply.

I bit the bullet and shelled out the cash, swearing that was it between me and Blockbuster. No more BS plan changes. No more feeding the beast. I took one last look at the store and left in a huff.

Unfortunately, I kept the DVD well past the due date and had to pay the $1.25 restocking fee.


THE UNCERTAIN FUTURE

So what now? Do I go back to Netflix and commit to monthly fees once again without knowing if I will watch enough movies to make it cost-effective? Suffer the poor selection at Schnucks or Family Video? Try really hard to find good rentals at University and local libraries?

Just when I had resigned myself to supporting That’s Rentertainment despite the higher cost, I realized something. I’m graduating in one week and moving out of Champaign in two or three.

So everything is pretty much up in the air at this point. I’m not sure about the next movie I’ll rent or where I’ll rent it. However, it appears that Landon Cassman is no longer blogging on this site, so I might just start frequenting indie theaters and reviewing films not covered by the buzz Movies + TV staff. After I move home to Alton (for Chicago-centric readers: an Illinois suburb of St. Louis), I may just start making frequent visits to the Tivoli. It’s kind of like Boardman’s Art Theatre, except the Tivoli has three movies going at all times and serves beer.

Now that sounds like a deal.