The Blockbuster Video near my old apartment closed last fall. Not enough business in a land of early-adopting downtown Manhattan folks using VOD and Netflix, I guess. The missus and I liked renting DVDs every so often, but we learned to do without.
Now that we’re uptown, we were pleased to discover that the Blockbuster in our new neck of the woods is still open and doing a brisk business. We were less pleased when the store said we had no Blockbuster accounts. The clerk made us fill out a new-customer form and hand over ID and a credit card to rent a movie.
Here’s the thing. I’ve been a Blockbuster customer for approximately 17 years, since around the time I first got a driver’s license. I was one of the first people to have their then-impressive “universal account,” which amused me to no end when I used my Pennsylvania-issued replacement card in New Jersey. I was a happy customer when they let me start verifying my ID with my driver’s license so I could stop carrying the Blockbuster card altogether, and my account followed me from New Jersey to Pa. back to Jersey and into New York, including an account merge when I got married. All without incident. Never a late fee, never a lost-video charge, just half a lifetime of contented membership.
Frustrating and ironic, then, that after all these years I have disappeared from their system. The only reason I can find is that they probably purge accounts after a year of inactivity. If it’s been a year since I rented from Blockbuster, well, that’s because they closed my local store. And when I became able to return to the chain, a slow and aggravating barrier existed, when in fact they should have welcomed me back with a smile, and perhaps a coupon to re-engage me. A company swinging from its heels like Blockbuster should know that. So much for loyalty.
(“Breach,” by the way, was interesting but only decent.)