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rjbs (4671)

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AOL IM: RicardoJBSignes (Add Buddy, Send Message)
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I'm a Perl coder living in Bethlehem, PA and working Philadelphia. I'm a philosopher and theologan by training, but I was shocked to learn upon my graduation that these skills don't have many associated careers. Now I write code.

Journal of rjbs (4671)

Sunday January 16, 2005
08:43 PM

an open letter to blockbuster

[ #22742 ]

[ You, dear reader, are getting this before they are. They'll get it once I LaTeXify it. ]


I am tired of you, and struggling to find any reason to keep visiting your store. Many of the people who work at my local Blockbuster store are friendly and try to be helpful, but it seems like you are not interested in giving them the means to satisfy the customers.

A few weeks ago I headed into the store to rent some video games. I wanted to rent Ninja Gaiden and Silent Hill 4. I was a little surprised to find out that the price had gone up to nearly $7 per rental. "You should get our game pass," the clerk suggested.

"Well," I said, "the problem is that you don't have a very good GameCube selection at all, and that's what I usually play." She shrugged and said that she had the same problem. She had a Cube and couldn't rent much from her own store.

A few days later I was working at making a dent in "AFI Top 100 Movies" checklist. I went in with a list of movies I still hadn't seen: Frankenstein, All About Eve, Bringing Up Baby, the African Queen, Wuthering Heights, and maybe some more I can't recall. The store stocked /none/ of them. These were all movies from the American Film Institute's list of the best movies of the 20th century, and you had none of them.

Months earlier, I'd been watching all of the Freddy and Jason movies with my wife, in preparation for Freddy vs. Jason. I couldn't just get them all from your store, because the stock was atrocious. You had something like "Friday the 13th" parts 1, 3, 4, 6, and 10. The collection of "Nightmare on Elm Street" movies was the same.

So, you've shown that you're not very good at stocking masterpieces or pop pieces. Of course, there's always a decent selection of soft-core mysteries like Naked Weapon and Teach Me Tonight. I don't understand.

I was a kid when Blockbusters first started popping up, and my father and I went to our local store all the time. We rented every Hitchcock movie, there. We rented The Prisoner, a somewhat obscure BBC program from the 1960's. Blockbuster sold us a little booklet that summarized all of the movies to win the major Oscars since the 30's, so we rented most of them. It was as if you wanted us to rent good movies, so you told us about them and made them available.

Now you don't. You also seem to stock a lot of movies only in pan-and-scan, so even if you have the movie I want to see, you don't have all of it.

Your rent-by-mail program certainly has a better selection. Of course, Netflix has that kind of selection, too, and anecdotal evidence tells me that they've got a much better turn around time. I've been using their service for a few months now, and it's really helped me realize how much your local store fails to offer. So, I think I'm done. I'll head over when you send me free coupons, I guess, but that's it. From here on out, it's Netflix and GameFly.

I'm not going to pay $7 to rent games from you and validate your horrible choice in stocking. (How could you buy only one copy of Resident Evil 4, one of the most anticipated games in months?) I'm not going to pay four or five dollars to rent the pan-and-scan, bowdlerized version of a movie that I want to see.

And, finally, the duplicity of your recent "no late fees" promotion is offensive. You've extended the viewing period and made the penalties for late return more vicious.

I enjoy instant gratification and window shopping as much as the next American. I hope that you will fix the problems with your operation, so that there are things that will be interesting to browse and rent at your retail locations. Until then, you'll see me once a month, when I get coupons.

Sincerely, Ricardo Signes

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  • Good to know I wasn't just being paranoid when I assumed that Blockbuster was lying about the late fees thing. :)

    On a related note, I can't tell if I'm having a problem with XBox live or not -- when I look at you in my friend-list, you don't seem to have a level at all, and I don't know if that's because you've never played any match games or if the ranking system errors recently just aren't showing your current rank. Do you still come on to Live?


    You are what you think.
    • The way that late fees work now is: when you rent a movie, you get it for a week... except really two. You can keep it for up to a week longer than the return date. After that, they "convert the rental to a sale" and charge you the purchase price. If you bring the movie back after that, they will refund the purchase price, less a restocking (but really "late") fee.
    • Well, I haven't been on Live in a while, but I should have stats.
      You can see them here:

      I suck.
      • You could be doing a lot worse. 4 Skirmish wins out of 11 isn't terrible.

        If you do come on in the future, I'm typically on a few days a week, between 7 pm - 12 pm EST. (Mondays are a lot more flexible for me, so if there's a time on a Monday that you happen to know for a fact you'll be on, let me know, and I can probably arrange to be there.)


        You are what you think.
  • I would like to start of by saying, yes. I work at a blockbuster. And no, I don't disagree with, frankly, most of what you said in your post. The late fee thing, however, just isn't true.

    First off, about the lack of inventory. It sucks. And you're right. Different locations have different inventories. That's about the most I can say on that. My store has the second best inventory in the area and it's still really bad.

    As for the late fee thing, the penatlies are, quite simply, not as harsh. This is most pe

    • I will re-check my information. I'd gotten the impression that the "restocking fee" was significantly more than $1.25. As for $7 game rentals, I think it's evidence of something that's going on at restaurants all over the place: portions too large.

      There is a little greasy spoon down the street. I can go there and get a pancacke and a cup of coffee for about three dollars. If I go to the big chain family restaurant, I get two pancakes plus a muffin and homefries and coffee as the smallest pancake breakf