Are Blockbuster guilty of false advertising?

27 September 2012

blockbuster pageYou’ve got to hand it to Blockbuster. They are still in business in the modern age of TV and media, although they have now wisely dropped the “Video” from their name. However, it seems that their continued success may be down to a kind of bait and switch with gamers. Either that or it's plain and simple false advertising.

Avid Bitterwallet reader Danny wrote to us after reading his current issue of Gamesmaster magazine. He noticed that Blockbuster had a full page advertisement in the mag, offering 5 day game rental for £5. Fairly simple offer, hard to get wrong.

blockbuster 6However, when Danny went to his local Blockbuster to rent the latest computer game of his heart’s desire, he found that the price had changed. It was no longer £5 for 5 days, it was £6 for 5 days. Which is far less catchy a price point, and more importantly, is a 20% price increase.

So Danny went back and checked his magazine. It definitely said £5 for 5 days. He checked the date of his magazine- it was the current issue and the next one is not out until 9 October, almost 2 weeks away. Danny was confused.

Now, we thought what you are all thinking. Those pesky terms and conditions in the white box at the bottom of the ad probably say something like “prices subject to change” or “deal available until…”. Danny thought of that too. The terms say nothing of the sort. Danny tried contacting Blockbuster to ask them about it. They ignored him.

blockbuster termsSo we asked Blockbuster ourselves, offering them the excuse that it was a mistake, either in the advert or in Danny’s local store. They did not take our easy way out, leaving us to conclude this is a deliberate ploy to get people in the store by advertising one price, despite the fact that this price is not actually available. This seems to breach a number of clauses in section 3 of the Advertising Code, which ought to be upheld by the Advertising Standards Authority.

So what price is your local Blockbuster charging? Danny’s store had clearly been charging the higher price for some time, and had the corporate-style labels to prove it.

TOPICS:   Games

23 comments

  • Richard
    I used to rent games from blockbuster until I realised that 99 times out of a hundred you can buy the game, keep it for longer, and sell it for a smaller loss. If I get a particularly good preorder deal and complete the game in a couple of days i'll often end up making a profit when I sell it.
  • Seymour
    Seriously? Borderlands 2 is just out, therefore it is going to be a more popular game to rent and demands a higher price point. I bet there is other titles available at £5 for 5 night's and as per usual, this is just arseholes being arseholes.
  • Kevin
    But it doesn't say 'apart from new games' Seymour
  • phil l.
    just do what i do, for £7.99 a month online you can rent games from blockbuster and keep them for as long as you want, save you going to the shop and renting for just 5 days. Downside you have to create a list and play what they send you but still a better deal.
  • R. S.
    @Seymour I have the same magazine and it clearly says 'any game'. Your incorrect assumption proves you to be the arsehole. @phil lee That's what I thought at one point phil, but within a matter of weeks of joining I was getting titles from the bottom of my list and personally I'd rather play new games when they're out and friends on my list are playing them, as opposed to weeks/months down the line. Online may be better value from a financial perspective, but certainly not when it comes to choice. Also, if you actually look at new game releases online, you'll notice that titles such as Borderlands 2, Resident Evil 6 and others are all being subjected to two month delays before being available to rent online. So renting online is actually a bit crap.
  • dorky
    Blockbusters....more like Cockbusters..
  • Justin A.
    Maybe Seymour works for BB. Sounds likely. He needs to read back what he wrote, then go away and have a word with himself, but only coming back if some common sense returns with him. You must all know that BB are currently only good for buying anyway, what with so many games at knockdown prices. Maybe Lovefilm and Boomerang are better rental options?
  • Clubfoot K.
    It's not been the same since Bob Holness left. He'd have sorted it out and stuff.
  • Marky M.
    I didn't realise Blockbuster was even still going.
  • P O.
    Oh, what a difference.
  • Shifty n.
    Bait and switch bastards
  • oliverreed
    Does Danny realise that his time wandering to and from the store and posting his experience here should be worth more than a quid? With these mad skillz surely investigative journalism beckons or even a job with plod. Not unless Danny used to ride a motorbike until his dole scrounging history got blown and now he finds himself truly unemployed to investigate this shit?l
  • Dick
    No doubt the ASA will do a year long investigation and give Blockbuster some extra advertising in twelve months time.
  • Tweedskin
    Just go and buy the fucking game you cheapskate. £30 from Sainsbury's, and I can trade it in for £28 cash at CEX. That means it costs me £2 for about two weeks, rather than £5 for 5 nights.
  • Twatskin
    Oh Tweedskin, you angry, sad little man. Perhaps, unlike yourself, they have a social life and aren't going to finish a game of this size within a fortnight. Perhaps they were trying it before buying it. Maybe they have no intention of selling it on and are holding out for the price to come down, so they can buy it cheaper and then play the DLC in the future.
  • Foreskin
    @Twatskin, Perhaps you're correct, and that's why they're paying a premium.
  • LancerVancer
    Yes, yes they are.
  • zeddy
    A "p" please Bob.
  • John
    its not a con, this is as simple as the price was £5 for new games... it changed to £6 a couple of weeks ago and the advert is now out of date. I'm sure if you took the advert into the store they would still honor the original price, I would in my branch
  • Justin C.
    Come here you bitch, dont be thinkin you can charge me £1 more you slut
  • Shitbuster
    They are doing it with the Fifa13 trade. They have it advertised on every store window. £35 credit trade in. They have it on flyers in store. When you get to the till they offer £25. I even showed the stupid bitch in one store the sign, the flyer and a handwritten board. She said it must be a mistake. What a load of old bollcoks............
  • Dudley
    @John If the price changed 2 weeks ago then that means the advert was barely valid even when it was first available to the public. Dress it up if you like but that's a marketing dept playing very fast and loose with the law. If it doesn't say "Until 1st Oct" or something I think it's very reasonable for the customer to expect the price to be valid until the magazine is no longer the current issue.
  • x
    maybe if stupid customers stopped stealing all the rental games they wouldn't need to put the prices up

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