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Block(head)buster Video
Here's some smart business for you. I went to rent some DVDs at Blockbuster for my trip to Philly for the Human Behavior and Evolution Society conference. (I'm writing this blog item from Philly, and I'll be blogging or live-blogging some of the sessions here, including Daniel Dennett's talk on Saturday night.)

Anyway, I like to watch French movies on my iBook on the plane when I'm not writing or trying not to die of coach-class hypoxia from being something of a fragile canary when it comes to altitude acclimation in oxygen-deprived environments.

Getting back to Blockbuster, I asked the very nice woman ringing me up if they could please carry a few more French movies, as I'm pretty much through all the ones they have, and I'll start having to go to Vidiots (actually, I LOVE Vidiots, and prefer Vidiots, an independent movie rental place, but it's far from me). The clerk told me she wished they could order more foreign films, and other movies they know their customers would like ("We know our customers better than they do," she said), but Blockbuster won't let individual stores request videos. They just send everybody the same shit.

Hello? Have they noticed Netflix eating their lunch?

It does sound like they're going to have some Internet vid rental program -- but, naturally, they didn't give their employee a very good script to go through about it. And, as a sporadic renter (only for travel -- I have Dish Network, including TV5 from France at home, with the capacity to save programs and watch them later), I'm really not interested.

Yoohooo, Jackie...what do you have to say about this business genius? And anybody else have other examples of "customers last" dimwitted business practices like this to share?

P.S. More from HBES probably later, and/or in the next few days.

Posted by aalkon at June 8, 2006 6:05 AM

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I noticed just last night walking through Manhattan a huge Blockbuster that closed- right near NYU, between the East and West Village. And Blockbuster does have an internet rental program that rivals Netflix, but I don't think it's doing as well (and of course, it doesn't have near the selection of foreign films that Netflix does!) Don't worry, I think Blockbuster is getting what's coming to them, all in due time.

Posted by: MissPinkKate at June 8, 2006 11:53 AM

By the way, a friend of mine, Steve Hallaway, runs a programme so that troops in Iraq can have DVD's to watch, donated from all of us. It is at:

Its a really great programme and a good way to show some real support to our troops.

Posted by: eric at June 8, 2006 1:04 PM

There was an article about how bleak the future is for those people. Hollywood tried to be nice to Blockbuster when they were at their peak. But now that the physical-media rental business is collapsing, the studios will shed no tears. Blockbuster has long-term contracts on pricey urban square footage, whereas Netflix can operate cheaply from wherehouses anywhere in the world. For guys who short stocks, it's a slam-dunk.

Posted by: Crid at June 8, 2006 1:37 PM

The clerk may have been feeding you a line of balogna ... I used to work at a b-buster in high school, and one of the assistant managers was charged with stocking films in categories other than new releases (those they just send to you). A raging homosexual, he ensured that we had the largest musical section in town. I'm not kidding ... we had as many musicals as comedies. Funny, many of them disappeared when he moved to Ft. Lauderdale. So unless they've changed their policy, they can order them if they want.

Posted by: Jamie at June 8, 2006 3:33 PM

Ugh, my wife and I refuse to go to blockbuster. I once dropped off a DVD at the wrong store, and didn't find out about it until a week later, where it still sat at the store. Finally store A FEDEXED it to store B, which was a mile away. I ended up with a $20 bill. My wife did the same sort of thing, only store A actually lost the tape. We were charged the cost of the tape. I like their new policy but the inanity and usual customer hatred will hopefully ensure they will go out of business. I'll throw a party when that happens. I now rent DVDs from a kiosk at the supermarket for a dollar a day,

Posted by: Rob at June 11, 2006 7:35 AM

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