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Final Gravity

Insider Gossip
Blockbuster Total Access - Is It Worth It?!

Back on November 1st, 2006 Blockbuster Inc. announced that it was giving online renters unprecedented access to movies through the introduction of BLOCKBUSTER Total Access™, a movie rental program that gave online customers the option of returning their DVDs through the mail or exchanging them at more than 5,000 participating BLOCKBUSTER® stores for free in-store movie rentals.

Although somewhat riding in on the Netflix coat tails, the new program meant Total Access subscribers didn't need to wait to get DVDs through the mail, essentially allowing them to double the number of movies they can access each month. Which was the one true oneupmanship over the aforementioned Netflix program.

Netflix hadn't (couldn't) offer customers the option of returning their movies to the store and exchanging them for free movie rentals. So, the participating BLOCKBUSTER® stores created 'Blockbuster Total Access' to ensure that nobody should ever have to be without a movie.

It wasn't neccessarily a bold move, but one that perhaps could have been orechestrated a few years earlier. That said, and with the timing still seemingly perfect; along with the fact that all current and new online rental subscribers received an automatic upgrade to the 'Blockbuster Total Access' program at no extra cost, the tide of interest turned nearly overnight.

The program is great, is easy, and is seemingly flawless. Everyone now has the option of mailing back their online movies, exchanging them at any participating Blockbuster store, or a combination of the two. Indeed, and as a wickedly entertaining idea, for each online rental exchanged in the store, customers can receive a free in-store movie rental. And as previously mentioned, current subscribers to Blockbuster's lower-priced $5.99 and $7.99 plans were also included in the Total Access program and were instantly able to exchange their online DVDs for free in-store movie rentals.

But the goodness didn't stop there! Another wonderful feature 'Blockbuster Total Access' offered their subscribers was a faster shipping cycle. When subscribers return their online rentals to a participating Blockbuster store, the store check-in process automatically initiates the shipment of the next available movie(s) in the subscriber's rental queue, whether they took advantage of the in-store exchange option or not. That means Total Access customers generally received their online movie(s) a day faster than if they had dropped the return movies in the mail!

Of course, there are a few more excellent benefits to this new program that we discovered along the way - such as 'Blockbuster Total Access' customers also receiving a free in-store rental coupon each month just for being involved in the program - but one of the nicest aspects was that movies received through the in-store exchange option (or with the rental coupon) did not count against the total number of DVDs an online customer can have out at any one time per their subscription plan.

Signing up for the program was easy also. Whether it be online with the promotional code as we did or right in the actual stores - where the store personnel can sign up new subscribers on the spot - joining this fantastic new program just couldn't have been made any easier.

And as for the actual mechanics of the program. Well, with more than 60,000 titles to choose from online, Blockbuster delivers those chosen DVDs right to the subscribers' mailboxes in return-pre-paid postage envelopes. There are no due dates or late fees with movies rented from Blockbuster's online rental service, and subscription plans start as low as $5.99 a month. That said, and having chatted with a few of our fellow co-horts, we believe the $17.99 three-out unlimited movie plan would become the most popular.

Finally, Blockbuster still has a two-week free trial membership to 'Blockbuster Total Access' available, including to those customers who have previously tried Blockbuster's online rental service - but are not currently subscribing to the service.

For more information visit