May 09, 2006

Turning Off Your Customers

I have been a long time subscriber to Blockbuster online. I have made good use of the service and been fairly happy with it. The prices have been steady for me, in fact, each time they raised their prices for new subscribers they assured me that as a long time customer I would remain at the old rate. The old rate was $14.99 per month for three at a time rentals, plus two coupons for a free in store rental each month.

Recently they offered a "great deal" - their new plan offered a free in store rental each week. However, the coupons had to be used that week only, and you had to choose to switch to a $17.99 a month plan. Not interested, thanks.

I happened to check my bank account today and found that they had charged me more than usual - $3.25 more. Hmmm. So I went to their site and found no answers. I put in a support request and was told that


Now, we’re giving our customers the opportunity to continue their rental plan at its original non-promotional price with our free in-store movie or game coupons; still a great value at $17.99.
Except my rate wasn't a "promotional price" it was their original rate. Now they tell me I have to choose one or the other:
I would like to inform you that there are two options you can choose from. One is to remain on the 3-out at $17.99 with 2 monthly e-coupons good for movie AND game rentals. This is still a great value because no other movie rental online service can offer this benefit to their customers. Another is to change to the 3-out at $17.99 with 1 weekly e-coupon each week.

So, I decided I would check out Netflix. I hate cookies, however (you store your own damn information, unless I have a reason to allow it), so I have them rejected. Netflix, in their infinite customer service wisdom, doesn't allow you to get ANY info unless you allow cookies. No rate info, no plan info, no movie info. No cookies, no business - you can't even take a peek at what they have to offer. HOW STUPID IS THAT FOR AN ONLINE BUSINESS?!?!

I tried the phone number they list for questions and was told, by a recording, that I could find out anything I want by going online to "w w w dot netflix dot com". Idiots. Perfect chance to steal me as a customer and they managed to turn me off even more than Blockbuster did.

UPDATE: Netflix is about the same price as Blockbuster, but without the free in store rentals. I may have still gone for it, since they have a better selection, but they really turned me off by locking me out. I feel the same way about sites that require Flash in order to view them, or a specific browser. I am trying to do business with you, don't dictate stupid terms or make it hard for me. I shouldn't have to jump through hoops to give you my money. If you want to have Flash, go ahead (though in most cases I think it is just useless fluff to show how cool you are) but don't require me to have the plug-in just to see your site. </ rant >

Posted by Vox at May 9, 2006 08:32 PM | TrackBack | peeves

I had no idea you were a cookie snob. :P

Did you know your blog is storing a cookie on 2 of my computers?

Posted by: Michael at May 10, 2006 09:35 AM

I just don't want to store your information about me, unless it is handy for me. For instance, I have Chasing the Wind cookies to store my personal info. That way I don't have to reenter it every time I post a comment.

I have a cookie from Blockbuster so I get right to my info, one from my blog so I don't have to log in, etc.

But, when I first come to your site, to tell me I can't find out about doing business with you unless I let you mark me - ridiculous. There is no information that you need to store about me yet, and certainly nothing that you couldn't keep track of on your server. Bah!

Posted by: Vox at May 10, 2006 10:15 AM

I'm always amazed at companies that make it hard to do business with them. If it takes me more than 15 seconds to find what I want on a first visit to your web site, it's taking TOO LONG. Also can't stand lousy customer service in customer service indutries. If I go to a restaurant or bar, I don't EVER want to think, "Where is my server? I wish my server would come around..." There's a local bar I go to where the waitresses (and yes, they're all waitresses) huddle around some stupid coin-operated video game that's up at the bar. I'm sitting there at a table -- hungry, or thirsty, or with a question, or wanting to pay my check -- and I have to walk up to the bar and say, "Hate to break up the party, but do you think someone could come help me, please?" It's my fault for continuing to go that place, but as far as I'm concerned, that sort of thing is inexcusable. As I said, your prime directive as a server is to make sure I never have to wonder where you are, or actually have to come find you.

Posted by: Special Agent Johnny Utah at May 10, 2006 02:47 PM

I definitely agree, I have probably said it dozens of times here...

If someone is trying to give you money, make it easy for them.
If someone has given you money, don't give them a reason to regret it.

It doesn't get any more simple than that.

Posted by: Vox at May 10, 2006 03:09 PM