It's not me, it's you. I really liked you, but you just seemed to stop caring. Today's phone call was the last straw, as soon as I can copy my queue to Netflix I'll be gone. Here is what happened.
I've been fairly happily using the Blockbuster service for a while now. I really liked that I could return movies to the store and get free in-store rentals in return. Plus, they automatically cleared the queue when returned to the store, shaving at least a day off of the ship time for my next movie. I returned my last three movies to the store on 7/23. I received one movie in the mail to replace it on the 7/26. By 7/30, I started to wonder where my other two movies were, so I went to check my queue. I had over 70 movies in my queue, about half of which were available. Since I've been with Blockbuster, I have quite a few movies that are Long Wait or Very Long Wait such that these have started to accumulate at the top of my queue.
So, I made a call into customer service. I spoke with David (Badge 11547) and was told that because none of the top thirty items in my queue were available, nothing would ship. I asked where this information could be found on the website and after stumbling around for a while could not tell me, but said he was telling me now. I was on-line at the time and read back to him from their website, which says (bold added for emphasis):
"We want to offer you the highest level of service by shipping DVDs in the order you have requested them, while ensuring that you receive the best value for your membership each month. Whenever a rental slot is open, we review the first listing in your Queue to determine whether or not it can be shipped from the closest distribution center to you. If the title is not available at this center, the system automatically searches for the requested title at other distribution centers throughout our network. If the top Queue selection falls outside of an acceptable shipping window, we will ship a title that falls lower in the queue. This process helps you receive more titles each month, based on anticipated shipping times, and allows you to experience fewer delays."
"BLOCKBUSTER Online® is committed to keeping your rental experience uninterrupted. Because our goal is to ship movies as quickly as possible in order to meet an estimated shipping time of 1-3 business days for delivery, the system reviews all "Available" titles in your Queue and determines which movies are ready for shipment from your nearest distribution center. If the estimated shipping times for your top selection(s) fall outside an acceptable shipping window, they may be skipped over for other DVDs further on your list."
To summarize, this says if item one is not available, we move on to item two, etc., until they find an item on your queue that is available and then ship it. Clearly, this contradicts what David was telling me. I asked to speak with a manager, and he said he was the supervisor on duty. I asked for his boss and he told me that while he does have a boss, for customer service purposes, he was as high as I could go and would not put me through to his superior.
So, I've got three basic problems here:
- The fact that 30+ items in my queue are Long/Very Long wait. Some of these items have been in my queue for over a year. I wonder if they even actually have them. If there is demand for the DVD, then they should acquire more copies. No customer should have to wait that long to get a DVD that is carried by Blockbuster.
- Given the situation in the above bullet, it is natural that Long/Very Long wait items are going to float to the top of the list. Logically, I would want them there to ensure I get them when they do become available. I believe David when he said they won't ship past the first 30 items because that is exactly how it appears in my account. However, this clearly contradicts how the Blockbuster site indicates the process works. Sounds to me like a lazy programmer that stopped his search loop after 30 attempts rather than coding it to work through the entire queue.
- Finally, there needs to be some kind of supervisor available to talk to customers. David seemed like he was reading from the script and could not seem to step outside the box to understand that there was a problem here.
I would think Blockbuster would at least be trying to retain the customers they have. I'm imagining that customers will begin flocking to Netflix when XBox 360 streaming officially starts in the fall. Too bad for them, they will be loosing me sooner.
Chris Gohlke is a Contributing Editor for Digital Media Thoughts. He loves Sci-Fi and loves to get his hands on real-life tech gadgets. He lives in Tallahassee, Florida, USA with his wife and three cats.