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Netflix wins

Posted in Personal by Will on Friday, July 27th, 2007 ~ 2am

Subscribers to Blockbuster’s version of Netflix may be unpleasantly surprised to learn that as of today, unlimited in-store exchanges have been canceled. Until today, you could exchange a movie that you received in the mail for one off the shelves, rather than mail it back in the postage-paid envelope as you do with Netflix.

Blockbuster is now the same as Netflix, with only a very small incentive that you can make 3 in-store exchanges per month if you are on the 2-out plan like we are (or 5 in-store exchanges per month if you are on the 3-out plan). These very few in-store exchanges may be just enough to keep some people from switching to Netflix. But by and large, the incentive to visit the physical Blockbuster stores has essentially ended, and with it, the edge that Blockbuster had over Netflix.

If you want to pay seven dollars more than Netflix per month, you can still have unlimited in-store exchanges. But it is probably not worth the added expense; if one is quick about mailing back either Netflix or Blockbuster envelopes, one can probably get as much entertainment. (However, Netflix reportedly slows down delivery of DVDs to people who are quick about mailing back Netflix envelopes, so, perhaps Blockbuster is still the better value — just not by much, and possibly not for long since Netflix is better-known).

Update: It appears that people are being grandfathered in — “As a preferred customer, your plan will not change at this time” reads the letter that some people have received. I have not received any letter. My account still shows as unlimited. My next billing cycle is around the 20th of next month, so perhaps only after then will I know if I am “preferred” too.

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  1. Anonymous said,

    on July 27th, 2007 at 9:13 am

    I have a 3 at a time Blockbuster plan and received an email stating the changes did not affect my account.

  2. Will said,

    on July 27th, 2007 at 10:05 am

    Yeah, there are starting to be reports that some current customers are being grandfathered in. I haven’t received such an email yet. But here’s a quote from someone writing on the HackingNetflix site:

    “I received an e-mail from Blockbuster. It looks like they are grandfathering in old customer features, but increasing the price. So I was on the three-out plan before, I will still get e-coupons and unlimited store exchanges. My plan price will be increasing a dollar. Here’s the e-mail (main part)”

    QUOTE
    We want to let you know about some changes to our BLOCKBUSTER Total Access™ subscription plans. This information is provided for your reference only – your subscription plan will not be affected by these changes.

    Beginning July 26, 2007, there will be a price increase on your current unlimited plan. We will also begin to offer plans which limit the number of in-store exchanges available each month.

    As a preferred customer, your plan will not change at this time. Please continue to enjoy your exclusive subscription plan, including no monthly limit on free* movie rentals or discounted game rentals when you exchange in-store, at today’s price – far below the published rate available to new subscribers.
    UNQUOTE

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