Thursday, September 23, 2010

Blockbuster claims bankruptcy

Headline at (and many other places I'm sure):
Blockbuster files for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection
Click here for story while it lasts.
It's a sad day if Blockbuster completely closes for many reasons.

For one, I will lose my most favorite DVD rental membership of all time. That's right I said it. I hear Netflix is a great service and I'm sure it is. I'm just one of those that likes to get the most out of his money. For years, I didn't rent movies from Blockbuster because of their outrageous rental fee and follow-up late fees if turning in a movie late. I was a long time customer before quitting and they couldn't/wouldn't deduct these fees from my account so I dropped them like it's hot! Flash forward some 7-10 years and they had this Total Access Plan which I decided to use the trial period within the first few months they offered it. For me, it was like $14.99 plus tax. Total it was like $17 and I could rent 3 movies at a time online. I was watching like 20-30 movies a month. Hell yeah! I caught up on movies I've never seen but came out 5-10 years ago. You would not believe how far behind I was because I'm a CHEAP ass! The only movies I went to the theater to see were sci-fi like Star Wars episodes I, II, and III. I think I saw Contact, Pulp Fiction and V for Vendetta (for free) at the theater. I'm sure there were a few others that I can't recall but I was not paying $7 for a movie and now it's what, $10? Piss on that. Anyway, Blockbuster eventually added the in-store exchanges of mail-order at brick and mortar store for a free. Booyah! Another added bonus for me as the store is about two blocks away. Now, I was doubling my watching power because when I exchanged the mail-order movies at the store. I would get three movies (most of the time) and then Blockbuster would automatically mail me the next available movies in my queue. So, technically, I could have six "free" movies out at a time. I think within a years time I had watched something like 200 movies. (Yes, I had a life: I had wife, kids, work, and school. I still do. You have to make time to enjoy every aspect of a day. It's tiring but it has to be done occasionally.)

Blockbuster eventually screwed me by increasing my monthly plan but not as much or like they did late-comers. I was raised to like $17.99 plus tax which comes out to like $22. I still get unlimited store exchanges a month but they moved to three movies out at a time and they can be a combination of online and store rentals. For instance, I have two mail-order and one store rental. Until I return/exchange one, I will not get another movie. Not that big of a deal for me as my kids have gotten older and more school responsibilities, I've had to cut back on the movie watching and sometimes I'll have a movie for more than a couple of days. It bugs me but at least I'm not paying late fees on it. My coworker jumped one plan late and she went from like $22 to like $30 and she only gets like five in-store exchanges a month. She never used the in-store exchanges anyway which I thought was stupid but some of us cherished our hard-earned money than others.

So, that's where I stand on my Blockbuster Total Access Plan. If they increase my monthly dues, I will more than likely drop them. I guess it may depend on the combination of what they change: increase fee and no in-store exchanges and I'm definitely done with them.

For two, I am an immediate gratification type of guy. I want it all and I want it now. Currently, Blockbuster provides that for me. I can get a movie in the mail and then go to the store and get another. I'm almost never without a movie to watch if/when I get around to watching it. I'm also a creature of convenience and this is very convenient for me. Now that they added games, it's an even sweeter deal...although I haven't taken advantage of the games section yet because games are a longer-term commitment than a movie. I have to keep the game until I beat it and that cuts into my exchanges although since there are no late fees it probably really is a better overall deal. I don't know.

For three, my local Blockbuster store is busy every day of the week and at least most of the day. It's very well located among a wealthy neighborhood with parents that love to occupy their kids with movies/games while they do their thing and it's across the street from a college with students that are always looking to have a reason to get together with friends. I don't think it is one of those stores on the chopping block as "not profitable" so I think I'm safe for now. If they completely fold, then yes but it wouldn't be good for overall DVD/movie rental business to have one less competitor. Netflix is $8.99/mo and Redbox is $1-$2 per movie but if there is no more competition, then they would surely turn into the mindset of old Blockbuster and consider the customer as a cash cow.

I don't dish on Netflix other than what friends and colleagues have told me. Their selection of newer movies isn't as vast and their turn-around time for mailing isn't quick enough for 9 out of 10 people I know that use them. For $8.99/mo, I want...I need my immediate gratification and I don't see getting that with Netflix. Now, I know they have digital downloads but I just don't know if I'm one of those that want to use that medium yet or more consistently. I try to watch DVDs on my computer and I always get distracted and want to use my computer for something else during the time I should be watching. I like to watch on the TV and work on my laptop at the same time or even watch on my desktop computer while working on my laptop. It's probably why it takes me three hours to watch a two hour movie. :-)

I hear Redbox doesn't get new releases until a month after Blockbuster. That's not that big of a deal for me as I've already waited for the movie to begin with. Some movies I'd like to get sooner but I guess it wouldn't be too much of a hassle to wait a little longer. I'm also a little leery about giving my credit card information to a machine on the outside of a building, kind of like an ATM. I'm sure I could use it without fear. It's just odd to me.

So to hopefully close a longer story than expected, I hate Blockbuster to an extent just like other people. I'm a grudge holder and they have previously screwed me over. The way I see it is I'm the type of customer they didn't expect/want. I've taken full advantage of every aspect of the Total Access Plan and will continue to do so until I quit. 20-30 movies a month is unusual, expensive (for them), awesome (for me) and a bit weird but that's the way I need to roll to get my money's worth. The comments on some of the articles about the bankruptcy story are just downright ignorant and seems like most people need to rant about something but have directed it towards Blockbuster. Actually, most of the bitter ones seem to be people that got screwed in the past by Blockbuster when they were a brick and mortar business only. They have hung on that anger, relish in it and are giddy about the prospect of Blockbuster ending. I too feel this an extent...but that's why I feel like I'm exacting my type of revenge with taking advantage of my rental plan. When they are only making like $0.73 per movie from me, it gives me some joy no matter how minute it may be.

Blockbuster is no different than any other business: when it's good they stick it to the customer; when it's bad they stick it to the customer. Are there really any businesses left that are loyal to long-time, loyal customers? Maybe some Maw and Paw shops somewhere but even they are in it to make a profit. Blockbuster had a management decision error just like the music industry. They didn't want to embrace a new medium: BB --> mail-order/online movies; RIAA --> MP3/online streaming. It's not the company as a whole but the supposedly higher-ups that know everything but really don't know jack shit!

Well, there you have it. My daily rant while at work. It's a good thing the office is dead and the boss is out of town.

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