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Update on the Blockbuster (Non)Deal for Switching

Written by Nickel - 13 Comments

The other day I wrote about a deal from Blockbuster.com just for cancelling your NetFlix membership. As it turns out, we recently cancelled our NetFlix membership due to a busy summer travel schedule. So shortly after posting that entry, I dug out the cancellation notice and sent it to Blockbuster. Sure enough, I got a quick response with the promo code to unlock this deal. I then promptly got busy with others things and pushed it to the back of my mind. Well, I finally sat down tonight to take advantage of this offer and was surprised to find out what kind of ‘deal’ this really is…

As it turns out, Blockbuster’s 3-out-at-a-time (plus 2 free in-store movie or game rentals) normally goes for $14.99 per month. So what happens when you enter the promotional code? As promised, you get two months (instead of the usual two weeks) free, an e-coupon for the free DVD, and a monthly rate of — get this — $17.99. Yep, that’s right! They actually have the audacity to ‘reward’ you for switching with a monthly rate that is $3.00 higher than what they charge their ‘regular’ customers. I couldn’t believe it when I read it, so I hopped on over to FatWallet and, sure enough, others are reporting the same thing. I’ve never had a very high opinion of Blockbuster, and this seals it.

What’s a guy to do? Well, I’m going to go ahead and sign up, get my free DVD, milk the free trial for all that it’s worth, and then cancel. While I could probably just cancel at the end of the free trial and then sign back up without entering any sort of promo code to get the normal $14.99/month rate, I really can’t stomach doing business with such a sleazy company — not to mention that their service pales in comparison to that of NetFlix (or at least it did last summer when I first tried them out). So… If you’ve taken advantage of this offer, consider yourself warned.

Published on July 8th, 2005 - 13 Comments
Filed under: Online

About the author: is the founder and editor-in-chief of this site. He's a thirty-something family man who has been writing about personal finance since 2005, and guess what? He's on Twitter!

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13 Responses to “Update on the Blockbuster (Non)Deal for Switching”

  1. 1
    jim Says:

    It’s funny that in this day and age where information is spreadly so quickly and freely that a company would resort to an easily detectable pricing strategy. It’s a mere $3 but the fact that they have the audacity to charge you a price different than the one listed on their homepage reeks of utter stupidity. This is even a service that requires a bit of internet savvy and computer familiarity, no wonder those guys at Blockbuster are getting hosed by Netflix.

  2. 2
    jim Says:

    Ha! I posted the comment once and not like 68465468 times, you fixed the problem!

  3. 3
    FMF Says:

    I had the same thing happen at Sam’s Club — they invited me to check out their store, then wanted to charge me an additional 10% since I wasn’t a member. (See http://www.freemoneyfinance.co.....ing_.html).

    Sheeeeesh!!! What are these companies thinking?

  4. 4
    FMF Says:

    Jim –

    Don’t be trying to get those short, cheap comments going to try and catch me. I’m watching you!!!!!

    ;-)

    FMF

  5. 5
    Ryan Says:

    I signed up for a 30 day free trial a few months ago with Blockbuster online. Everything was cool, I got a few movies, and sent them back just like I was supposed to. I go to cancel my account, the request goes through, and a few days later, I get an email saying they didn’t get Equilibrium. I sent that in with the two other movies I got!! Grrrr. They’ve tried to take $21 something from my paypal account, but I kept it lower than that on purpose, and so far they haven’t gotten anything from me. I don’t know, but can that kind of thing go on my credit report you think??
    That’s the only thing that concerns me really. I don’t want it to be a strike against me in the credit bureaus’ eyes.
    We’ll see I guess.

  6. 6
    nickel Says:

    FMF: While annoying and perhaps counterproductive, the Sam’s Club deal isn’t quite the same… After all, they’re just trying to get you in the door to take a look and decide if you want to become a member to get the better prices. Nothing is stopping you from buying a membership on the spot (at the *normal* price) and getting the member prices. The equivalent would be if Sam’s had two membership prices — one for the guy off the street, and another (higher) price for the Costco customers that they entice into switching. Or if every item had two prices based on the ‘type’ of paying member that you are… One for those that joined Sam’s out of the blue, and a higher price for former Costco members who have since renounced their allegiance to Costco and bought a Sam’s membership.

  7. 7
    nickel Says:

    Ryan: It’s too bad that you didn’t return the movies *before* cancelling — that way you could threaten to quit if they tried to hold you liable for the ‘missing’ disc. Once resolved, you could then go ahead and quit anyway. Right now, I’m not sure how much bargaining power you have. You could threaten them with the BBB, but it’s always possible that it really did get lost in the mail. I have no idea if something like this might make it to your credit report. I know that NetFlix is pretty lenient on the whole lost disc thing, although I’m sure they’d nail you if it happened repeatedly. Like Blockbuster, they also might stick it to you if you quit before the disc go lost.

  8. 8
    FMF Says:

    Nickel –

    I think the Sam’s deal is similar in that the offer is:

    1. I want you to do something
    2. When you do, you end up paying more for what you buy.

    Yes, there are ways to get around it, but, as you point out, there are ways to get around yours as well (and in fact do better in the end by canceling after two months).

    FMF

  9. 9
    daniel Says:

    i swore i would never again darken the doors of a blockbuster after their “it’s over” bait-and-switch. sorry, but you can’t advertise all over national TV that late fees are over at blockbuster, but then say it’s up to each individual franchise. i couldn’t believe it when they late-feed me. never again will they get another dollar of my hard-earned money.

    ;-)

  10. 10
    JLP Says:

    I decided I didn’t like Blockbuster when they had different due dates for different movies. Of course, it was my fault for not paying attention, but it seemed like everytime I went to Blockbuster I always had a late fee from my last rental. I just quit going there and haven’t been back in 2-3 years!

  11. 11
    Jim Says:

    i used to go to blockbuster years ago. i always seemed to get late fees due to different movies with different due dates, so i stopped going for a while. during that time i cancelled the credit card they had on file. the next time i rented a movie and returned it late, they sent a collection letter to me about a month later – not even a simple phone call or letter asking me to come in and pay their stupid $5, instead right to the collection agency and credit report.

    they are so slimy. i wouldn’t rent there for a penny per movie.

  12. 12
    Sarah Says:

    I feel compelled to mention that many libraries will let you borrow DVDs for free. :)

  13. 13
    nickel Says:

    Yep, you sure can get them from the library, and it’s a great deal if you can find something you like. However, the availability and selection for newish movies is so poor at my library that it’s hardly worth it. I do cruise that section whenever I go to the library, but have yet to find anything of interest other than children’s movies.

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