Blockbuster Total Access vs. NetFlix

We’ve been happy customers of NetFlix for quite some time, but have been recently considering Blockbuster Total Access. We actually tried Blockbuster’s online movie service a couple of years ago and, to be totally honest, we weren’t crazy about their service. At the time, we found it to be slower than Netflix, in part because the DVDs shipped from about 1, 000 miles away. But we’ve since moved, and their shipping network has apparently expanded. On top of that, their Total Access plan makes it far more convenient to swap movies. Here’s how it works:

(1) Join Total Access (Free trial!)
(2) Receive movies in the mail
(3) Return movies by mail or to the store
(a) Return by mail: another movie ships once it’s received
(b) Return to store: next movie ships immediately and you get a free in-store rental
(4) You also get one free in-store rental coupon/month

The free in-store rentals are in addition to the number of DVDs that you can have out via your online plan, so you can really crank through the movies. While I’ve grown to love the convenience of Netflix, I really like the idea of combining movies-by-mail with the flexibility to pop into a local store.

We’re gonna give it a shot. Have any of you tried them out since they introduced Total Access?

32 Responses to “Blockbuster Total Access vs. NetFlix”

  1. Anonymous

    I have been a loyal Blockbuster total access subscriber since day 1. Today, I have decded to cancel. For me… the only benefit over netflix was the in store exchange. Now they have decided to not ship your new movies until you return your in store rental. It now takes more than twice as long for me to recieve my new movies. I was hoping Blockbuster was going to offer a free streaming service as netflix had! but still nothing. I am trying out my 2 week trial with netflix and i have to say movies arive the very next day…. The online streaming selection is actually better than I thought. I now will be getting 3 at a time unlimited downloads all for about half of what I was paying at blockbuster. In the event I absolutly must get the “new Release” rental for that night I will use amazon which downloads to my tv for still less than the cost of a rental at blockbuster.

    I will miss the friendly blockbuster store employees…. but I just think the total access plan has gotten to slow and they really should respect there long term subscribers more.

  2. Anonymous

    I agree with OL. Even when we are “out” of Netflix movies there are a handful of movies and TV shows on our queue that can be watched instantly (Netflix recently made this viewing unlimited). We don’t have a way to stream it to our main TV, but can watch it on a nice wide screen monitor in our computer room.

    Any movie that is available in BluRay comes in that format and we have only once or twice been given movies that are not the top 1 or 2 in our queue. I think this comes from wanting to see a variety of older movies and TV Show disks in addition to the latest released blockbuster. It seems that is the big dividing line between these 2 services is Netflix has greater selection and Blockbuster has more of the big budget movies in stock.

    Even if all the nearby blockbuster’s in our town were not closed I would still stick with Netflix. And thanks to BIllyOceansEleven for the Netflix flaps tip. Might be worth driving across town for some free DVD rentals.

  3. Anonymous

    Foreign films make up 75+% of my home movie viewing (and personal DVD collection), thus Netflix is my DVD rental provider.

    IMO, it’s content that matters most, far and away over what that content is viewed/heard on. Some may say, “Why not have both?” OK, let me know when the Criterion catalog is available on high-definition discs, and then I’m interested.

  4. Anonymous

    I started out with blockbuster and then switched to netflix because all of my friends were using it and I wanted to be able to rate movies and also see the movies my friends were rating. About a month ago I had to cancel Netflix because I just couldn’t take it anymore…I was always getting movies that were 20 deep in my queue which I didn’t really care to watch and they seemed to be coming fewer and further between each and every week. When I first signed up for Netflix, they shipped out movies the same day one would clear my queue but as of press time they were shipping them out on average 2 days later. I can’t remember the last time I got a new release with Netflix and every time I contacted customer service I would get the same parrot answer, that they only get a limited number of DVD’s from the movie studios. When I switched to blockbuster they gave me two free coupons since it was the weekend and then shipped two brand new releases that Monday. They also have blu ray on line and in the stores which is a huge bonus for me. I will never go back to netflix. I just hope blockbuster doesn’t start going down that same path.

  5. Anonymous

    I tried both of them and ended up going with Netflix instead of Total Access.
    I chose Netflix for several reasons. The first was the turn around time for movies. With Netflix I sent the movie in and got the next on my queue 2 days later. Blockbuster usually took over a week. Also very frequently I got a movie way down on the queue instead on the next one. Several times the movie I got wasn’t even on my queue and was one I didn’t want.
    I figured that with the long turn around times I’d try the turn it in at a store. My town doesn’t have a Blockbuster store so I drove a half hour to the closest one and turned it in. The store didn’t have very much of a selection but I got a movie anyway. Found out that getting it from the store is subject to regular rental policies and I ended up paying a pretty hefty late return fee.
    The other big factor was the selection of movies. My wife likes current blockbusters so she had no problem with the selections but I like foreign movies, anime, documentaries, and tv series. Netflix has just about everything that’s ever been put out and Blockbuster has a very limited selection. If it is a series of discs Blockbuster only has the first disc if they have the series at all.
    Also Netflix has the streaming video and while the selection is very limited it will be a major plus when the selections expand.
    The final thing is that Netflix is very easy to quit if you’d ever want to while Blcokbuster is very difficult. It took 2 months of phone calls, a letter to the Better Business Bureau, and a call from my state’s Attorney General’s office before they finally stopped billing me after I quit.

  6. Anonymous

    @OL: No Blockbuster does not have a Watch Now equivalent. That’s one of Netflix’s advantages if you have the proper setup to stream movies. Most people don’t though so the in-store thing is a better deal for them.

  7. Anonymous

    Netflix has been great for two years. Blockbuster has been horrendous for years (about 12 for me), and I have avoided them for that very reason. The employees at the store do not tend toward competent, and I was charged late fees on movies I turned in. It turned out, after legal rustling, that the movies were not only turned in, but rerented before they were due. So, I won the battle, but wasted loads of time.

  8. Anonymous

    I used netflix for quite a few months and liked it a lot but found out that with blockbuster you basically can get whatever movie (if available) you want when you want. It really is basically netflix because you could stay at home and mail them if you wanted but the ability to actually return the movie right when you get it is great if you dont want to wait for 3 days to get a movie..

  9. Anonymous

    Used Blockbuster for years. We really love the Total Access now.

    They are also offering a deal where you pay $5 a month, and every time you get a movie in the store (Total Access included) you get a free snack of your choice.

  10. Anonymous

    Blockbuster’s deal looks comparable on the surface, but their selection is terrible and it’s insanely hard to cancel.

    I’m sticking with netflix. With them, I get new selections of even the most obscure stuff I could ask for, every 2-3 business days. With Blockbuster, getting super-popular overhyped crap was mostly easy (although still slower than netflix), but getting good content was basically impossible.

  11. Anonymous

    Our whole issue was the late fees, we have the 4 disc plan with netflix and sometimes we actually have one of the discs for a few months. I prefer fast turn-around, but if I kept a BB movie for that long, I might as well buy it.

  12. Anonymous

    I’ve tried out both services and in the end found Blockbuster to provide more services. I love being able to go into a store and exchange the envelope for a new movie instantly, versus waiting around for another one to arrive. I feel like Netflix was better in terms of recommending movies to watch on their site, so for Blockbuster it just takes a little more effort in terms of thinking/finding online movie titles to search for to add to your pending shipping list.

  13. Anonymous

    I have always been a Blockbuster customer from the start and this new Total Access deal has been wonderful. I have gotten to know my Blockbuster manager on a first name basis. And what he told me is that this Total Access deal was Blockbusters last BIG stand to halt Netflix subscribers and increase their market share. He said if this didn’t work, he didn’t know what would.
    What really makes it work for me is having a Blockbuster on my way to work that I use very conveniently and I live in a Metro area that has a movie shipping location. For my experience, the swapping movies at the store has been genius and gives me so much more value for the price paid. I have been very happy with the service and I recommend it to my friends who have Netflix. So maybe it is working like Blockbuster wants it to!?

  14. Anonymous

    We don’t watch many movies but we did sign up for trials of both Total Access and Netflix. Blockbuster won out for me, I like the convenience of the Total Access options.

  15. Anonymous

    We have used both services. BB has a great concept, but I had trouble with movies clearing my shipped list after returning to the store. A typical experience was I would return DVDs to the store on Monday afternoon, BB would marked them as received Wednesday afternoon, and the next ones would finally be shipped out Thursday afternoon and received on Friday. I started going online to my account and marking the DVDs as returned in the “report DVD issues” area to speed up the process, but that only made a small difference and BB wouldn’t allow you to do that until at least a day after the expected arrival date (normally the ship date plus two days).

    NF I have found to be much faster. I put the DVD in the mail on Monday, NF receives and ships the next on Tuesday, and I receive the new one on Wednesday. I ultimately end up getting about the same number of DVDs from NF as BB without the hassle of going to the BB store.

    Another added hint for Netflix users – save the red Netflix flaps from the DVDs you receive. BB often runs a promotion on postal holidays offering NF users a free DVD in-store for every NF flap brought in. The idea is to show NF users the convenience of being able to return DVDs to the store and get a new one. They did this over President’s Day weekend and we got eight free movies with our NF flaps. I’ve since learned they do this regularly, so I am saving all my flaps in a file folder for the next time (probably Good Friday).

  16. Anonymous

    I don’t think I have ever noticed this but I know quite a few people that don’t like Blockbuster because they censor their movies.

    Currently we rent from the local BB store but I’ve been giving a lot of thought to joining NF.

  17. Anonymous

    I joined Total Access in January. I really love it, but I think it makes more sense for people that have a Blockbuster nearby (as I do). Like an earlier comment, I pay $6 a month for 5 movies total (two mailed + two free in store + one free monthly coupon). That’s a pretty good deal. Also, you can now use your returned movies and/or coupon to get videogames too.

    If you live 15 or 20 minutes from a Blockbuster, then you’re probably going to prefer Netflix, but having a store nearby provides some extra value. Shipping times have always been 1-2 days for me.

    To the guy who couldn’t find his coupon. Just use the “My Account” like on You can print it out from there.

  18. Anonymous

    We’re definitely a big fan of Total Access because we have a Blockbuster across the street. However, I think we’ve used it only 5% of the time. But, since it doesn’t cost extra (for now), it’s a bonus that Netflix can’t provide.

  19. Anonymous

    Does Blockbuster have the equivalent of Netflix’s Watch Now program? While the selection of movies is not great (hopefully it’ll get there soon), I’ve started streaming some movies to my media center. It’s nice that there’s no need to wait and the movie starts as soon as you click play.

    So far the video quality has been excellent and Netflix is currently including more hours per month than I have time to watch.

  20. Anonymous

    Until recently I was a long time NetFlix user too. After debating it a while I finally switched to Blockbuster in January. So far it’s been great. I have a distribution center fairly close by and shipping generally takes one day each way, just like NF. I get the new releases a lot faster now than I did with NF since I can get them at the store if they have it or if I get it shipped then there’s generally a much lower wait than I personally saw on NF. I haven’t tried the monthly in-store rental coupon yet because I don’t know where to get the coupon and I haven’t gone looking for it. My one complaint is they’re not always efficient at registering the return of movies to their stores. Most of the time they ship the new movie the next business day, but sometimes it’s the day after. Also, one thing to notice that’s different from NF is the return envelopes for Blockbuster are tagged with the movie. I didn’t notice that for a month or so and I’m sure I returned a movie in the wrong envelope. Nothing bad seemed to happen, but I return in the right envelope now just to be sure. Do beware bringing your child in to the store, the store has lots of impulse buys that can add to your incremental cost 🙂

  21. Anonymous

    We did the trial thing…and ended up canceling it because the Blockbuster by us never had any movies we wanted to see in the store. We would take our movie to the store, return it, then browse for a long time looking for something, anything. Half the time we ended up walking out and just waiting for the next one to come by mail. Plus, by us, Netflix movies arrived in 1 day, whereas Blockbuster took 3-4 days.

  22. Anonymous

    The whole point for getting Netflix was to save gas and not to spend extra money by popping into the store after I got the movie. I’ll stick with Netflix. Plus, they have a killer foreign videos section.

  23. Good point on the late fees, although our local store gives a one week grace period after the due date before hitting you with late fees. Not sure if that’s a general policy, or just at certain stores.

  24. Anonymous

    We’ve been using it for a couple of months, having switched from Netflix. We’re doing the cheapest plan (1 at a time, 2 per month), which works out to 5 total per month if we return every one to the store (it’s 3 minutes away).

    Personally, I love it. Schedule the ones I think of online and pick up the ones I didn’t think of while browsing the aisles.

    The only gotcha is getting the ones you get from the store back on time, lest you get hit with a $4 late fee.

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