Blockbuster Brings Back a Classic (For the Most Part) to Lure Unhappy Netflix Customers

Once upon a time I was a Netflix subscriber and life was glorious. Then we had some friends over for dinner and they commented that they were Blockbuster Total Access subscribers. At the time, Blockbuster was offering a similar DVD by mail program, but with the added benefit that you could return the mail delivered DVD to your local store and receive a free in-store rental. We switched and life was even more glorious. It was a couple of dollars more a month, but we were getting twice as many DVDs and we found that we were getting more timely access to new releases in the store. Our relationship with Blockbuster eventually soured, but not enough to consider switching back to Netflix until Blockbuster announced that they were going to limit the number of in-store trades, effectively ending the “Total Access” part of the plan. That was when I asked my wife to partake of a Netflix trial so that I try out their new streaming service that had the Internet all-a-twitter. Needless to say, we have been Netflix subscribers ever since.

Evidently, the recent turmoil over Netflix’s rate hike has Blockbuster reaching for the wayback machine:

Now notice, I said they were bringing back a classic “for the most part”. If you are familiar with the original Total Access plans, this new plan is not exactly the same and there is some fine-print reading worth doing.

For one thing, the original Total Access plans included a monthly in-store rental coupon that could be used for a game or DVD rental. Of course, the original plan did not include online game rentals so that could be considered a fair trade. The bigger difference is in the fine print. In the old days, Blockbuster would ship your next online rental the moment you returned the mail delivered DVD to the store and also give you the free in-store rental. With the new plan, the in-store rental counts against your DVDs out a time, so the next online rental is not shipped until you return the free in-store rental. This was one of the changes to the program that had soured us a bit on Blockbuster in the olden days, and is really worth keeping in mind if you have to go out of your way to get to your local Blockbuster.

Now personally, I think the most interesting part of all of this is that I suspect that Blockbuster is just the first company to make a go at attracting disgruntled Netflix subscribers and I am curious to see how some other competitors such as Redbox or Amazon might try to get in on the action. I wasn’t necessarily upset by Netflix’s new pricing scheme, but it definitely prompted me to consider how I was utilizing the service and check out the competitors for the first time in years and I doubt I was alone. I learned about this particular Blockbuster deal through the Facebook newsvine, but I had been on the Blockbuster site just the day before to review their current offerings.

Blockbuster Total Access Promotion