Before I give you the by-mail rental service I personally use, let me give you a full analysis of the advantages and disadvantages both of Blockbuster Online and Netflix. I’m betting there will be one pro or con with one of these
online movie rental plans that will make up your mind for you. Everyone has different movie watching patterns and different movie watching wants and needs, so any two people will look at the same movie rental facts and choose either Netflix or Online Blockbuster. So in no particular order, here it goes.
Netflix exists as a purely by-mail rental service, so the company had to learn early on to make customers happy. Therefore, their customer usability features keep the customer in mind and are top rate, with one or two notable exceptions. Those looking for the bottom line should know that Netflix is a little cheaper than Blockbuster. The common 3-movies-at-a-time plan for Netflix is $16.99, while the same plan is $21.99 per month for Blockbuster Online. That comes to $60 a year cheaper for Netflix, so you’ll be asking yourself what more you get from Blockbuster to justify that difference.
- Netflix Customer Service – But back to the positives about using Netflix. Customer service at Netflix is of the highest quality. Whenever you have broken or scratched CDs (once or twice a year), all you have to do is go to their site, click on the appropriate description of the damage, and you’ll get a replacement DVD the next business day. If you want the same movie title, you get the same movie title. If you want something else, you get something else. While I’m sure that someone sending back a broken DVD once-a-month would eventually lead to issues, I’ve never had one question when I sent back a faulty DVD.
- Netflix Suggested Titles – You can rate movies on your Net Flix account and then Netflix will make recommendations based on your ratings. While these aren’t always on the mark, you’ll get a list of suggested titles and I have found a lot of movies to watch that I otherwise wouldn’t have known about or selected. Netflix movie suggestions are definitely superior to the Blockbuster movie advice. Also, Netflix allows you to have a “friends list”, so your friends can suggest movies they enjoyed to you.
- Netflix Family Accounts – Netflix also has a nice feature where other members of your household can make sub-accounts on your Netflix account. Different members of your family can therefore set different preferences, which allow for more targeted movie title selections.
- Netflix Mail Speed – I’m often amazed at how quick Netflix turns movie around. Maybe it’s because I live within an hour and fifteen minutes of a local Netflix distribution center, but I send a movie back on one day, it arrives the next and I have a replacement in two days. So if I want a movie for Friday, then if I send it Wednesday afternoon, the movie arrives on Thursday and I get a replacement in the mail on Friday. Occasionally, my local distribution center won’t have a title in, so it gets mailed from another location. This may take several days to arrive, but a new Netflix policy stipulates that you’ll get the next movie in your Queue shipped immediately for free. So if you have a 3-movie plan and they don’t have the movie you suggested at the local Netflix, you’ll end up getting 4 movies at once.
- Netflix Selection – You also should know that you won’t have the previous scenario happen too often. Netflix has over 90,000 movies in 20 different genres ranging from “anime & animation” to “faith & spirituality”. There’s the more standard movie genres, too, like comedy, horror and romance. There are also huge sections for documentaries, television, foreign movies and “sports & fitness”.
- Netflix Streaming Video – Netflix also offers thousands of movies that you can watch on your computer through RSS feeds and video streams. While there are thousands of them, the quality of the selections could stand to be upgraded. You’ll often be selecting less popular videos for the video feeds, though the quality has gotten a little better over time. Still, these are free movies you can watch while you’re waiting for your selections to arrive, so this is a nice add-in.
As mentioned, before
Blockbuster Online is a little more expensive than Netflix, but Blockbuster offers a few options which Netflix doesn’t. Blockbuster used to get clobbered by Netflix on return times, so they instituted an imaginative return policy using their greatest strength: that Blockbusters are found in virtually every larger American community.
- Blockbuster Returns – Instead of mailing a movie back to a Blockbuster Distribution center, you can take your used rental back to any Blockbuster store as a return. This quickly goes into the system as returned and you’ll have another movie shipped out the next day. This gives Blockbuster customer more options on returns, and makes Blockbuster competitive with Netflix on shipping times.
- Blockbuster Perks – Also, people using Blockbuster get coupons for returns to their movie store. Every time you use the store instead of the U.S. Postal Service, you may qualify for a free rental coupon.
- Blockbuster Video Games – Also, Blockbuster Online customers also get 1 free video game rental coupon per month. Netflix does not do video games. Actually, Blockbuster used to have video rentals as a difference maker, but that is no longer the case.
- Blockbuster Rating System – I like the rating system better for Blockbuster, because you can customize your ratings more than you can with Netflix. If they would pair this with a top-rate friends list function, Blockbuster would overtake Netflix in this category.
Online Movie Rental Service
So which online movie rental service do I use? Well, I have to admit, I use Netflix exclusively these days. Netflix has a more helpful website and more helpful customer service, which is important to me. Also, the movie drop-offs at the store isn’t that big of a positive for me, because it’s one extra stop. Still, that’s a huge advantage for people who do want an added convenience, especially if your Blockbuster has a drive-by movie drop.
Blockbuster’s shipping times have gotten more competitive, but only if you use the store drops. As far as selection goes, both of them have trouble providing “new movie releases” immediately. If you want a new movie release the day it comes out, you’ll probably find yourself going to your local movie rental store to get what you want, which is one reason that online movie rental hasn’t put more brick-and-mortar stores out of business.
If you’re looking for obscure movies or foreign movies rather than the
top video rentals, I’ve found that Netflix has a better selection than Online Blockbuster. So when you put good shipping times, good customer service, better selection and better prices, I definitely would say that Netflix is the better online movie rental company. But I guess I’m a little biased.