Monday, September 15, 2008

Netflix Flop

Let me say, first of all, that up until about six weeks ago, I was a happy Netflix customer.

They had nearly every movie I looked for, and I think it's great that renting a film no longer involves city traffic or stress about returning a movie on time. I just queue it up, wait 1-2 days for delivery. And, voila, it's in my mailbox.

[Assuming my mailman delivers mail that day — he regularly takes days off without having a temp fill in.]

I can keep the movie for as long as I want, with no late fees. With a flat monthly rate, though, the incentive is to watch as many movies as possible to get your money's worth.

But lately that's been nearly impossible.

Starting with the downed servers that cramped service for days just a few weeks ago — which I thought at the time they handled well (from a public relations perspective) — service just hasn't been the same.

Instead of a two day turn-around time between when I drop off a DVD and receive another one, the last few cycles it's been more like a 5-day turnaround. At one point I even reported two disks missing, having dropped them off early one Thursday and not hearing anything from Netflix by the following Monday (usually, you'll get an e-mail the next morning saying they were received).

But that's just the beginning.

Where in the World is Osama bin Laden? was sold out the one time I tried to see it in the theatre, so I saved it to my Netflix queue the very next day, hoping that meant I'd receive it the moment it came out on DVD.

When the film moved from the "saved" (in other words: not yet released) portion of my list to the "queue" portion, I immediately moved it to the #1 spot in my queue.

When the film released on DVD August 26, I thought for sure I'd have it August 27. But instead, its availability was listed as "very long wait," and it was another two weeks before this status was updated to "long wait."

I was immediately peeved, since by this point it'd been saved to my list for well over a month. Maybe even two. Shouldn't they have been able to meet their immediate demand by basing the number of DVDs ordered on the number of users who had the film in their queue prior to release?

But that, still, is not my biggest gripe.

You see, a co-worker/friend of mine was asking for my thoughts on Netflix, and I actually gave the service a glowing recommendation — with the aforementioned disclaimers referenced in our conversation.

He signed up and is currently in the third week of his free, 30-day trial.

Just for kicks, he added Where in the World is Osama bin Laden? to his queue this last Friday, when he still had some movies at home. The availability for him was immediately listed as "Now."

He suggested maybe I should remove it from my list and then add it again. You know... refresh my queue.

So I did.

"Long Wait," it said.

And this morning... well, early this morning he sent me this:*

(Click the image so you can read the type.)

Thing is, he doesn't even want to see the movie. So the good news is, he'll be loaning it to me when it comes in.

And while I'm happy about that, I'm nevertheless ticked at Netflix for so blatantly ignoring their loyal users in the quest to mislead (by prioritizing their demands) potential customers.

I understand this practice from a financial perspective but find it to be dishonest and unfair, all the same.

I think I'll just let my own screen capture, taken later this morning* — some two months after the film in question was saved to my list — speak for itself:

*Screen captures edited only to protect anonymity. No other changes made.


Stacy said...

your postal delivery takes days off with no sub. too? weird.
i keep my netflix movies for 6-8 weeks before i send them back, but i understand your frustration. think they care?

bookfraud said...

welcome to the wonderful world of customer service on the internet! where you're always wrong, they're always right, and they've got the computer screens to prove it!

i dumped netflix after baby was born (i mean, who the hell has time to see a movie), but would have probably dumped it anyways because 1) it always took too long; 2) the postman kept screwing up and delivering movies to the wrong address; and 3) wife and i would fight fight fight over the queue.

thirdworstpoetinthegalaxy said...

Stacy - My city has the worst postal system in the nation. Literally. It's been confirmed in multiple reports. Apparently it's been this way since the 60s. I keep meaning to blog about it, in fact. I will eventually. I've had so many problems here.

Bookfraud - I'd think having the kid would be all the more reason to get Netflix, since going TO the movies is pretty much out the window.

The previous guy to live above me also had Netflix; he got five movies at a time, and since I only get two at a time, my mail guy would just automatically put all of my movies in my neighbor's mailbox without checking the labels. For weeks, I'd get my movies a day later than Netflix said I should, since my neighbor would always get them first.

God bless the U.S.P.S.