[Note: This originally appeared on 11 January 2006 and was subsequently deleted; I’m bringing it back here.]
I haven’t set foot in a
Cropduster Blockbuster Video store in about a decade, and apparently I haven’t missed much:
Blockbuster has always charged as much as it imagines the traffic can bear. Its late fees were brutally high, and it raised the price of rentals substantially when it removed the fees. Did it think we wouldn’t notice?
Blockbuster employees hereabouts are teenagers who don’t give a damn. There is no avenue whatever for customer feedback to get to anybody who cares. If, in fact, there IS anybody who cares.
Worst of all, Blockbuster drove out the independent video stores in our area — stores which had knowledgeable and entertaining movie buffs behind the counter and which carried lots of old movies, foreign movies, documentaries, and other things I actually wanted to see.
Blockbuster has instead arrogantly stocked its stores with hundreds of copies of the most idiotic current releases, ignoring “long tail” customers altogether. It followed the old Henry Ford business model: “You can paint it any color, so long as it’s black.”
I made my first forays into home video in 1981, buying a Beta VCR and a CED videodisc player; I followed with a LaserDisc player in 1982. I split my business between Buttons, a video cousin to the Sound Warehouse chain, which was quick to get hardware goodies, and Kaleidoscope Video, a local store with two locations and enormous quantities of nonhits on tape.
But that was then. Now I rent nothing; if I want to see it badly enough, I’ll actually catch it in a theater, or if it doesn’t play here — too common an occurrence, alas — I’ll figure out some way to get the DVD. (And I’m not above writing to the producer if I have to.)
And should I have actual time for rentals at some point, I’ll probably sign up for something like Netflix. Less hassle, better selection.
Update: And now I’m signed for Amazon Prime, but I don’t think I’ve watched a single video from them. No actual time, perhaps.