Saturday, April 15, 2006

Netflix vs. Blockbuster Online

Well... I had to choose one or the other and after what I've deemed the "Netflix Nightmare", I've chosen Blockbuster.

For those who may remember, I signed up for both Netflix and Blockbuster on the same night.
A few days later I received my first discs from Blockbuster and nothing from Netflix. I waited and still nothing. Meanwhile, my Netflix queue kept saying "We expect to ship your movie (the next day)..."

After a week of this, I called customer support. Surprisingly, I wasn't even in their computer. The lady on the phone, however, was quite helpful and said that not only would she find out what the cause of the problem was but she also said that she'd extend my free trial for another ten days.


Unfortunately, the movies still didn't get sent.

Disgruntled, I decided to cancel.

Calling customer support again, I was told that I still(!) wasn't listed in their computer. During the course of the conversation, I discovered that Netflix authorizes your credit card for the monthly fee before they process your membership. Apparently, this is where the problem stemmed from as I use a Netspend card for all my credit card purchases.

For those not aware, Netspend is a debit card type thing, from Mastercard, that you put money on and use like you would a regular card. You put amounts of money in increments of $5 on it, with a charge of $2 each time. And it charges $1 for each transaction you use it for.

At the time of applying for membership, I only had $3 on my card. I don't put money on it until I'm about to use it.

Now, I had previously found that Netflix looked to have a couple seasons of The Avengers that Blockbuster didn't. I was mistaken. For some reason, just typing "avengers" in the search bar turns up only some of the sets. You have to type "avengers 67" or "avengers 68".

So, with my new knowledge of their search bar, I was happy to find all the sets available at Blockbuster.

This, coupled with my current frustrations, made me positive about cancelling.

But seeing that I wasn't in their computer, I couldn't cancel.

So I asked they guy on the phone if it was likely that it would keep trying because I didn't want to put the money on for Blockbuster and have it taken by Netflix, thereby messing up my Blockbuster account.

He advised me to change the card number on my account and I should have no problem. So when I got home from work that night I did just that.

Next day, I get an e-mail saying that my first dvd has shipped! It appears that the new card number (which is an older Netspend card from the same account) passed the authorization and accepted me as a member!

Once the discs arrived, I was already set on cancelling and sticking to Blockbuster, so I sent them right back and emptied my queue list to prevent it from happening again.

I even changed the card back to the one I'm using now (the one it didn't accept the first time). I'm just hoping that it won't intercept my Blockbuster payment.

Another thing that led me to choose Blockbuster (as if I needed another reason) was that I get a free rental each week at my local Blockbuster just for being a member. Which is really like having four movies at a time instead of three.

Meanwhile, I just received disc four of Avengers '65 and I have Spartacus lined up to break the sets up a bit before I dive into '66.

I also found out that there's a sequel to the excellent Merlin movie (mini-series) that starred Sam Neill. It's called Merlin's Apprentice. It's been added to my queue, as well.


shilohope said...

A Side-by-Side Comparison and Conclusion

When comparing Netflix with Blockbuster Online, there are so many similarities that it may seem like a toss-up. The giants of the online DVD rental explosion are feeding off each other's ideas, spawning lawsuits and smearing campaigns that rival the cola wars of the mid-1980's.

Both programs allow us to pay a monthly fee, for which we receive DVD movies sent through the mail. When we return them in the postage paid envelopes, we receive more DVD's. It's an ongoing cycle that fits almost perfectly with the current American need to get the most out of the least -- more movies for less money, less effort, and less time.

Side by side, they are almost identical, but here is how they stack:

Speed of Delivery
Netflix used to have the clear edge here, but expansion to include more distribution stores has brought Blockbuster up to par. Still, for those who rent less, Netflix "ramps" the movies to these higher priority customers, pushing the heavier renters further down the list. To this, they have admitted. Blockbuster has not admitted to this practice, but their denials are not firm. Still, Netflix will have a higher overall percentage of 1 day turns on movies than Blockbuster.
Edge: Netflix

There is not a current difference in cost, though this seems to change every few months. When one lowers, the other matches. When one raises, the other follows. It is similar to airlines manipulating the markets towards their own unintended dooms. In the short run, Blockbuster offers a free month while Netflix offers 2-weeks. Blockbuster also has a customer service crew that offers discounts and "mishap compensation" more easily.
Edge: Blockbuster Online

Netflix is approaching 60,000, while Blockbuster is closing in on 55,000.
Edge: Netflix

From talking to many users, it seems that while the concepts of listing movies on a queue and searching for movies in several different ways is the same for both, Netflix has the superior overall layout and useability. Its website seems smarter, though sometimes a bit slower during peak periods.
Edge: Netflix

Fringe Benefits
Netflix has none. What you see is what you get. The fact that Blockbuster offers a free in-store rental every week is extremely helpful in getting the newest releases. With both programs, you sometimes have to wait weeks to get the hottest titles, even if it is at the top of your queue. Being able to walk in and grab that week's best title is something that Netflix cannot touch.
Edge: Blockbuster Online

Netflix has more experience with online DVD renting, both in regards to time and sheer mass of customers. Blockbuster, as mentioned before, has superior and more responsive customer service. Having a human being available at the local store to help during problems is a big benefit. If there was a large enough gap in any of the above mentioned criteria, I would say that they supercede the intangibles. In this case, there is no substantial difference. The more human aspect of Blockbuster makes it the choice.
Edge: Blockbuster Online

When all is said and done, Blockbuster online seems to be the choice. I would suggest doing like me – try both. Just email me and I'll send you a promo code for a free month of either or both.

Republic of Replicants said...