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Review Of Netflix DVD Rental Service 260

Posted by Hemos
from the damn-rental-fees dept.
Bigbird504 writes "If you haven't already heard of Netflix, they basically rent DVDs online... but for a price of $20/month. While many believe it isn't worth it, many others do feel its a good bargain. Afterall, you can take out 3 DVDs at a time. Best of all, there are no late fees on returns. You keep the DVD as long as you like, and return it when you are done. Its a pretty interesting concept, and may be well worth the money. Check out this review on Netflix."
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Review Of Netflix DVD Rental Service

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  • Netflix worked well for me, i used it for a few months and will continuing doing so. Works even better if you have a mailbox at work, you dont even have to stop at one to drop it off =p
    • Re:NetFlix rocks (Score:2, Insightful)

      by looseBits (556537)
      I live in Dallas and my wife and I have been using netflix for several months. We really do like their service. I've got Cristopher Walken's Brainstorm on the way - try finding that at BlockBuster.

      Now, one interesting side effect of this rental system is that you try to turn around movies as fast as you can so you can maximize the number you can get per month and thus increase your values (getting 6 movies for $20 instead of 3).

      There are a couple of features NetFlix needs to add to their service:

      1) Multiple sign-in accounts per 1 rental account:
      NetFlix allows you to rate movies and then makes suggestions based on your ratings (much like TiVo). Now, if my wife signs in (as me, of course), her ratings will completely screw up its suggestions to me (I couldn't stand 'What's Eating Gilbert Grape').

      2) The ability to set a definite sequence in your rental queue: With NetFlix, you set up a list on 10 movies you would like to see. If the first on your list isn't available, they will send you the seconds one. I am not sure how the algorithm works but what if I wanted to see the Godfather trilogy, I don't want to get II then III then I.
      • Re:NetFlix rocks (Score:2, Informative)

        by Dreyfus (176426)
        NetFlix allows you to rate movies and then makes suggestions based on your ratings

        If you want an automated movie rating system, I suggest Movielens [umn.edu]. Most of the time it does a pretty good job for me (although no matter what I do I can't seem to convince it I'm not a die hard sci-fi/fantasy fan).

  • by Angry White Guy (521337) <CaptainBurly[AT]goodbadmovies.com> on Sunday February 10, 2002 @10:39AM (#2981987)
    Litigation is scheduled to follow the minute that we can cheaply and reliably copy DVD's.

    AWG
  • by slippy51 (170287) on Sunday February 10, 2002 @10:41AM (#2981992)
    for those of you in Canada check out a similar service offered here at dvdhype.com [dvdhype.com]. I've been using the service for over a year now and I am very satisified with the service.
  • Is this an ad? A review for NetFlix... on NetFlix?

    Anyway, this was once a GREAT service, but as I am sure many posts to follow will indicate, it slipped as the dot-com funds disappeared. It takes way too long for processing of returned DVDs and too long to receive new ones - if you can even get the titles you want.

    Here's to ya NetFlix, once a great service, still a great idea!
    • Is this an ad? A review for NetFlix... on NetFlix?

      Nope, it's just clumsily worded. Newsgeek does the review.

    • I agree when the service first started it was GREAT all the movies you WANTED on first shot, but as the userbase grew you would not get the 1st movie on your list it was more like 7 8 or 9 and forget about getting new releases...... ;)

      I live on the east coast so delivery sometimes took as much as 8 working days. Also usmail lost 2 dvd's that I returned, no charge for the lost dvd's but they keep totals as how many rented / lost / returned on your acount...
    • I'll have been a member of netflix for 2 years come this march. I still think its a great and worthwile service. They way I look at it is price comparison. For $21.55 (4 movies out at a time) I average about 8 or 9 movies a month (sometimes more) which is less than $3 a rental. At local WalletBuster rental store a new release dvd is $4+ for 2 nights not to mention their raping of you for late charges. And the netflix selection still out matches ANY video store i have ever seen.

      granted, there have been some changes recently that bother me, such as bonus disks being a seperate item from the movie disk... that bothers me, they used to ship them both in the same package but now you have to use two slots on your rental queue to get both the movie and the extras disk for those that come that way.

      In regards to shipping, i live on the east coast as well and see 3-4 day shipping times on average, and if it's been longer than 3 days I mark it as late and they ship the next one on my list. I liked it better when you checked off the disk THE DAY you shipped it, not just when it turns up missing. but all in all I still really enjoy the service, but I am not a hard core movie watcher, my fiance and I watch probably 2 movies a week and we still pop into the WalletBuster outlet nearest us for the occasional new release and sudden urge rental.

      all in all i give netflix 4 stars (I really like it)

  • But I doubt it will last, I mean who would want to rent 3 DVDs and then just watch those over and over again? You'd still have to make a trip to pick up something new.. Could really save on those excruciating Blockbuster [blockbuster.com] late charges though..
    • Well the idea is you can only have 3 DVDs at a time. When I was a member I would watch one, send it back right away, and the next one in my queue would ship out. So I always had a continous cycling of DVDs. It was nice for when I was building up my DVD collection because I saved a bundle on rental charges.
  • Somehow I don't think that DVD rentals will take off the way VHS rentals did. About half the time either I or a friend rents a DVD it is scratched to the point of being unusable. When burnable DVDs get cheap enough to be used frequently people we really start in on copying DVDs, so rental places won't have a place. If I want to watch a DVD I don't have, I'll borrow it from a friend.
    • They're already taking off. Do a google search on "dvd rental percentage [google.com]" and read some of the stories. While DVD rentals are still only a fraction of the movie-rental market, it's a fraction that's growing by leaps and bounds.

      Now, if the movie industry wasn't so lame, what they'd do is send the movies to the rental places over the net, and each individual store would burn their own discs. But I somehow don't see that happening.
    • For all the talk of copying DVDs I doubt it happens any more than the copying of VHS movies.

      I've rented DVDs multiple times and never had a bad result.

      If your friend doesn't have it then what happens? He rents it (aka DVD rental taking off) or he buys it (aka DVD sales taking off)
    • About half the time either I or a friend rents a DVD it is scratched to the point of being unusable.

      I have never seen this. The durability of DVDs is a major reason for wanting to rent them. VHS tapes, like cassette tapes, get worn out easily. Many, many times I've rented a nearly unusable VHS tape.

      When burnable DVDs get cheap enough to be used frequently people we really start in on copying DVDs, so rental places won't have a place

      Burnable DVDs, at least the present kind, don't store as much as movie DVDs (4.7 GB vs over 6 GB). Perhaps there is a technical reason for this, but I wouldn't discount the influence of the MPAA.
  • My personal review (Score:5, Interesting)

    by mattdm (1931) on Sunday February 10, 2002 @10:46AM (#2982009) Homepage
    We've been a netflix survivor for half a year or so, and I really like it. It's especially great for watching things like The Sopranos, where there are four one-hour episodes on each disc, and you don't necessarily want to watch them all in the same night -- you can keep it as long as you want.

    Unlike the reviewer, we're all the way in Boston, so turnaround time is much higher -- sometimes more than a week round-trip. This means that unlike the 45 movies he mentions, we can only fit seven or eight in a month, and that only if we watch right when they come, so I'm highly looking forward to the rumored east-coast distribution center. (This article was the first I'd heard of that.)

    Still, it works out to a pretty decent deal for us, and the convenience is unbeatable, especially in these sad and dark post-Kozmo [wired.com] days. We've got a queue of about 45 movies stacked up (and like the reviewer, pretty much always get the first thing on our list -- I don't know if they do this, but I can imagine crunching everyone's upcoming queues for optimal dispersal of inventory...). It's basically like TV-on-demand, with really high latency.
    • Weird! I totally meant to write "netflix subscriber", and in rereading the above just now, I notice I actually wrote "netflix survivor". And I even used "preview" and everything. Well. Take that as you will. :)
    • by VAXman (96870) on Sunday February 10, 2002 @12:43PM (#2982458)
      Unlike the reviewer, we're all the way in Boston, so turnaround time is much higher -- sometimes more than a week round-trip. This means that unlike the 45 movies he mentions, we can only fit seven or eight in a month, and that only if we watch right when they come

      Learn to pipeline to get around the high latency of US mail. I live in Texas and also have about a one week round-trip time. But, you have three rental slots so you can make three-stage pipeline. That way, if you time things right, you will get a movie every 2 days, which is 15 per month.

      I have noticed that the service has gotten much slower since September/October (presumably because of the anthrax scares?), and hasn't really recovered. Since then, I've had a number of very long waits (2+ weeks) for movies to ship.
    • by Ringthane (415537)
      When I first started with NetFlix, there was an East Coast hub -- my first few movies with them went to a return address in Newburgh, NY. All of a sudden, they all started going to California and the turn-around time went from 2 days to 7-10 days...

      I'm still with NetFlix (I'm still grand-fathered for 4 movies out at a time), but it's far less of a bargain than when I started...

      -Ringthane
    • by dozing (111230)
      I have also been using netflix for a little over half a year. Unfortunatley I finally canceled my membership last week.

      When i first started with them I recieved almost every movie I wanted without having to wait for very many of them. However, over the past couple months more and more of the movies on my list have moved into the short/long wait category. The convenience of netflix was great, but I can't justify the cost of the service if I can't recieve the movies I want to see in a timely manner. About a month before quiting I emailed customer service about this and recieved no response.

      It was really a great service. I told all my friends for the first several months. But if I can go to blockbuster or hollywood video and get a garaunteed rental on new releases, I guess its my best option.
    • by Snotnose (212196)
      I've been a Netflix customer since October, 1999 according to their web page. That would be the same month I got my DVD player. I love Netflix. Over the years I've seen the waiting lists for some movies get longer, and the turnaround grow a bit, but it still beats the local video store. They have 2 main advantages: You can hang on to 4 movies (with my plan) until you get around to watching them. I don't know about you, but my wife and I usually decide to watch a video about 7 PM on a friday night. Forget any decent selection at the video store. Second, their selection is awesome. Typically, if they don't carry something a bit of digging will show it's not on DVD yet.

      Even if you live in Afganistan, you should be able to get a 2 week turnaround. That's 8 movies a month for $20. Still a good deal. If the turnaround is too long just supplement Netflix with the local Blockbuster.

      Like the reviewer I live in San Diego. Turnaround is usually 4-6 days with the occasional flyer of an extra day or two. If you watch your queue you'll notice a lot of your flyers are caused by them trying to get your number 1 movie. What they're doing I don't know, and I can't remember the status line they show (trying to fulfill your wishes, or something). I can live with that. I didn't notice any slowdown after 9/11, nor during the holidays.

      I mainly use their queue as a "things I want to see" list. Every week I go to IMDB [imdb.com] to learn this week's DVD releases. Those I want to see get popped into my rental queue. When I mail a movie in I hop over to Netflix, check what's available, and re-order my queue so I always know what's coming next. I've currently got 39 items, from Sex and the City at number 1 (long wait, sigh), Requiem for a Dream and Family Man at 2 and 3 respectively (they're next), all the way to Josie and the Pussycats down at number 39. I don't expect to ever see Josie, but it's a desparation movie.

      Once in a while something happens (like sweeps week) that cause my wife and I to watch lots of movies. If we drain our Netflix movies we just run to Blockbuster, rent something, then I take it off my Netflix queue. No big deal. But between Tivo and Netflix we've usually got something to watch.

      When you get a movie you get a plastic envelope with a barcode on it, I assume this identifies the movies. Like a blockhead, I've occasionally forgotten to put the disk in the plastic envelope before putting it into the mailer. No problem, I just send them email saying "um, I messed up, expect this movie to arrive naked Real Soon Now". Hasn't been a problem yet, I think I've done this twice in 3 years. When I've had a problem playing a movies it's always been something like Matrix, that my old DVD player just doesn't want to deal with.

      What can they do to improve? Their new releases page sucks. It's got just about every movie that's come out in the last year, and the popular ones from years before. It's tough to find things that came out this month. Second, my wife and I will sometimes sit on a movie for weeks until we get around to watching it. If we knew someone else was waiting for it we'd be more motivated to watch and return it. As it is, oh well. Be nice if they could keep track of whether my wife or I ordered a movie. Solve a lot of "who ordered that turkey?" accusations. Also help a lot when looking for the next movie I want sent, I try to keep 1 for me, 1 for her, and 2 for both of us available. A 1 line comment in my queue would be great, something like "wife's friend recommended it" or "Angelina flashes her tits about 40 minutes in" would help a lot.

      Highly recommended.

    • I used Netflix for about a year, and was extremely pleased with the service until I had to cancel it. My only problems turned out to be with the US mail service (some discs vanished into thin air after I moved, but apparently so did 20% of the mail that should have been forwarded to my new address).

      Living in Florida, I didn't get as prompt delivery as I would have liked, and sometimes the service barely paid for itself because of the delays. They definitely need facilities on the East Coast.

      But the convenience, as you said, is unbeatable:

      #1 Great selection of movies, including (especially) the kind of stuff you don't find in your typical Blockbuster.
      If you're into foreign movies, independent films, old classics, anime or anything that's slightly out of the mainstream, you'll be extremely pleased.
      #2 Very good review/recommendation system.
      Think the Amazon system, for movies. Combined with the above, I got to watch great movies I didn't even know existed because they were linked in some rare movie I thought no one else knew existed.
      #3 Keep the movies for as long as you want, there's no hurry. I might not have gotten as many movies that month, but keeping "Pi" and "Usual Suspects" for a week to watch the director's commentary was worth it.
      #4 The queues system, when it works, is great. You don't have to remember to go pick up some movies for the weekend, and you don't have to browse through the selection everytime you rent something. You made your wish list.

      There are some problems, however:

      - The queue system does not always work, particularly if your tastes are not that mainstream (#1). Some movies, particularly foreign, are in high demand, and since anyone can keep them for as long as they want, they might stay on the top of your list for a long time. This is particularly true with Anime titles, since the demand is higher than most people seem to think.

      - If you're in the East Coast, it will definitely hurt to wait.
      You might actually like the ritual of going to a video store for instant satisfaction. Depends on how much of a chore do you normally find the whole "rent-a-video expedition" to be.

      - If you're in a tight budget, either time-wise or money-wise, you would really have to know you're going to watch those movies. 20 bucks a month is only a good deal if you think most of the time you'll spend a similar amount in movies anyway.

      This is the main reason I cancelled. I just didn't have as much time to watch movies anymore, and I didn't have the money to waste (student==poor==hungry).

      Anyway, I recommend the service to anyone who has the money and likes the kind of movies that are hard to find at your local video store (I have yet to see "Tampopo" somewhere else).
  • have to pay for this advertisment or is this in some way that i am missing news?
  • ...but (and correct me if I'm wrong):

    If you live on the east coast, you're going to have to put a lot of faith in the post (ha)

    They don't seem to rent out porns

  • Since Netflix movies are shipped from the west coast,
    its not very effective if you are on the
    east coast. sometimes the time between sending and recieving a DVD is 1 Week+ .

  • by Null_Packet (15946) <(ten.rehcsod) (ta) (tekcapllun)> on Sunday February 10, 2002 @10:51AM (#2982024)
    Netflix was a great service for me, and I was a customer for a little over a year. But as their popularity grew, it became harder and harder to get new releases, etc. Netflix always delivered what they said they would on-time, and the ones we sent back in got to them quickly almost every time.

    The real problem for us then was availability, and as new releases became harder and harder to get (they show up in your selection queue as out of stock or delayed or something) we found ourselves buying the new releases we liked and using netflix for older stuff we weren't sure was any good before we bought. When we had seen all the ones we wanted to via the service, we saw no point to keeping it. I guess you could say we used it up.

    Take this comment as you will, because most people don't watch as many as I do. To date, I have roughly 300 DVD's and watch anywhere from 3-9 per week, as I watch very little television.
  • by Frums (112820) on Sunday February 10, 2002 @10:51AM (#2982025) Homepage Journal

    I joined NetFlix this past year and had a rather bad experience. My primary reason for joining was to gain access to anime rentals, as the only place in Atlanta that rents anime (that I know of) only has vhs.

    But I digress, the big problem i ran into is their queue system. It sounds good, queue up the ones you want and they will send the highest one available as it becomes available. The problem is if your high demand ones are at all popular they will almost never get to you.

    The flaw in their system is that they WILL send you a lower priority one when it becomes available. if you have you X number checked out they won't send you anything until you check something back in, then they will send out your highest rated available one - again generally not the one you want most as they tend to be in demand from everyone.

    After a few months I realized I could buy the DVD's i wanted for the same price as i was spending either A) waiting with nothing extra in my queue for a specific couple movies, or B) watching lots of movies i don't especially want to but am vaguely interested in so stuck in my queue.

    So, yeah, is a great deal if you don't especially care about getting a specific movie, but just one or two of a selection, but if you want some specific movies (which with their vast lit of titles is what attacted me) it is not so hot - especially if you want ones that are typically in high demand, but are not carried sufficiantly in Blockbuster (ie, most anime).

    -Frums

    • by mblase (200735) on Sunday February 10, 2002 @11:27AM (#2982170)
      Agreed, I've been using NetFlix for one month (a Christmas gift; I have three months to go) and this is my biggest problem. Cowboy Bebop v.1 has been in high demand ever since I signed up, and it doesn't seem to be getting available anytime soon. "Long Wait" has been on my queue since I added it.

      I think NetFlix needs to add a feature where their database is automatically checked on a weekly/monthly basis, and all high-demand-low-availability discs have extra copies purchased. Combine this with a "purchase used" feature, like the major video chains already do to get rid of movies that are no longer in high demand, and they'd have a killer service.

      Economically, the service isn't much better than a pay-per-rental video store, once you factor in the travel time for your movies in the mail. But the convenience of not having to worry about returning them on time (something my family is awful about) is a big plus.
    • This was about the same experience I had. I really wonder how long the person who reviewed Netflix in the article, was subscribed for.

      I had some specific movies I wanted to see. In my case, these were also anime dvds. Frums is correct. I don't know anywhere to get anime on dvd in Atlanta either. As an off-topic note, if anyone does, enlighten us...

      Anyhow, I subscribed to Netflix for about 4 months. They said that it could take up to 3 months to get a particular title. One of the movies I wanted to see was in my queue for four months, and it had still never come back in.

      I wrote Netflix several emails about this. Essentially, if these dvds were so popular that they couldn't keep them in stock, why not buy more? Well, they said they were working on it. But they were too slow, so I cancelled. I would have stayed subscribed had I been able to get any of the movies I actually wanted to see. But I kept getting movies that I could rent for really cheap at blockbuster.

      My main purpose for Netflix was not the unlimited rental time. It was having access to a huge library of dvds. Although they claim a huge selection, the truth of the matter is that you don't have access to most of it, due to limited inventory. Being on the east coast, it would take 5 days, sometimes more, to get a movie. It would take the same amount of time to get a credit for returning a movie. So I didn't really save any money over going to Blockbuster. It turned out to be a waste of money for me.

      So, take that for what it is worth. If they do open an east coast distribution center, and the stock is good, it may be worth trying again. But I think I'll wait another year or two.

      -Nitar
    • On the anime dvds you are only telling half the story - as far as I can tell they have not purchased any new ones in the past year. try a search for anything released in 2001 and you will not find it. I've been with them since 12/99, but they bang for the buck is getting more slender all the time.
    • My primary reason for joining was to gain access to anime rentals, as the only place in Atlanta that rents anime (that I know of) only has vhs.

      Three places in Atlanta that have the best movie selection (in general):

      • Movies Worth Seeing
      • VideoDrome
      • Village Vidiot
      Use the Yellow Pages [yahoo.com] to find them, they're listed. Just Say No to blockhead rental joints.
  • Rent 3 DVDs, rip, rent 3 DVDs, rip ... repeat.


    Well, as long as there is no nasty copy protection, humm.

  • When will people offer rentals of DivX (or similar) online?
    Well, (hmm, I am answering my own question too :-) ) we must make a new format that can't be easily copied first... What about those DVDs that could be read only X times that were mentioned on Slashdot earlier this week? well, they can't be transferred digitally... so they suck.
    • When will people offer rentals of DivX (or similar) online?

      You must've missed the recent story [slashdot.org] on Movie88 [movie88.com]. They stream Real instead of DivX, but it didn't take much work to save the streams to disk (you don't even need Streambox VCR...FlashGet [flashget.com] and Muffin [doit.org] will do the job). Now if only Tinra would work for converting from Real to AVI...

    • Re:DivX Renting (Score:2, Informative)

      by jbezdek (202293)
      Actually you can rent DivX movies online. DivX.com links to several companies that are offering DivX rentals. Check out the DivX Showcase [divx.com] page.

      The rentals are offered using a system developed by DivXNetworks.

      :bez
  • by Anonymous Coward
    I subscribed for 5 months. Sometimes it would take three days to ship out the next selection after recieving the return. The queue page keeps up-to-date on the status of all so you know exactly the when and wheres of all your discs.

    The one thing I didn't like was double disc sets counted as two rentals and not just one. So for like Citizen Kane, you have to rent the film disc and the bonus disc separately.
  • by matthewcraig (68187) on Sunday February 10, 2002 @10:55AM (#2982040)
    I used it for two months. Here's what I found:

    - Their DVD selection was very impressive. Think Amazon.com.
    - NetFlix provides a rating system that they use to generate rental suggestions.
    - Customer service never responded to emails, but I did see changes possibly due to my suggestions.
    - NetFlix took seven business days to deliver to Atlanta. (i.e. Needs an East Coast distribution center.)
    - They charge state tax even without local presence.

    Conclusion: A great deal if you live near Los Gatos, California!
    • The review site linked in the main story comments that there is supposed to now be a Massachusetts distribution center, i.e. one on the east coast.
    • "NetFlix took seven business days to deliver to Atlanta. (i.e. Needs an East Coast distribution center.)"

      I live in Manchester, NH and usually get my movies from the email that says they shiped it to the time it gets to my door takes 3 days.
    • Something to be careful about is how you cancel. Doing it on the web site does not count, you have to call them for the cancellation to be effective. This requires reading some fine print on the site.
    • Having been a member for some time, I remember the email they sent out, lamenting that CA (which will tax anything they can) decided that the DVDs themselves, when shipped to another state, constituted a "presence" there, by virtue of their property (the dvds) being in that state. Of course, in my mind, that would still leave Netflix paying tax to the state in question, not CA, but expect CA to make up anything they can, and expect you to settle it in court if you don't like it.
  • I've been a happy, East Coast Netflix user for a while. There is a significant lag time, but the selection is so superior to the offerings in local video outlets that it is worth it. Also, their DVDs are usually in better condition.

    Finally, they are willing to take responsibility for the inevitable lost DVDs. When a DVD I returned to them was lost in the mail, I just reported it lost on their website and they immediately removed it from my list of currently rented movies. There was no charge to me and minimal inconvenience. Go Netflix!
  • From what the reviewer writes it does seem like the idea is a good one. Everyone hates late fees anyway, so right off the bat it seems like it's bound to succeed. One thing the reviewer mentions is the added hassle of dropping the movies off at a mailbox. I would think that, in many circumstances, mailboxes are closer than the rental stores the films would be returned to anyway; besides the films come right to your door. Not bad?

    Unfortunately the idea can't fly. In these weak iEconomic times it seems like another dot com idea claiming to make the most simple of things (renting a movie) simpler, would be discounted quickly if not ignored at all. People, in general, (and I'm stereotyping here,) enjoy the experience of renting a movie. When done as a group it can be an additional source of entertainment itself. Additionally the flat rate $20/month subscription fee, ultimately desired as the most profitable source of income, will quickly get tiresome... especially those months where you fail to rent a movie. As the final straw it should be noted that renting a movie often involves (at least in paraphased forms) the following request, "Do you want to get a movie tonight?"

    "Sorry, it takes two days for them to come in the mail..." Well, it just won't cut it.

    • Re:Mail-Renting (Score:4, Informative)

      by Arthen (444856) on Sunday February 10, 2002 @11:54AM (#2982265)
      Unfortunately the idea can't fly. In these weak iEconomic times it seems like another dot com idea claiming to make the most simple of things (renting a movie) simpler, would be discounted quickly if not ignored at all.

      But the idea is already flying. According to Netflix [netflix.com] they've been in business since 1998 and currently have 500,000 subscribers. That's over $10 million a month in subscription revenue, assuming subscriptions average out to the $20/3-movie level. In fact, since there's only one lower level (2 movies a month at $14) but three upgrades available, they most likely average higher than that.

      Of course, since Netflix is privately held, we don't know what their bottom line looks like. But they're also not exposed to anti-dot.com feeling in the stock markets.

      I'd say that they're well past the point of a new dot.com idea with no proven business plan, and pretty well established. Will they last long-term? Who'd want to predict that? Of course, they're potentially vulnerable to rate hikes by the USPS [usps.com], but they've got plenty of allies to help them lobby against extreme ones, and I'm sure their number-crunchers have run plenty of scenarios to plan for higher postage costs.

      Inquisition this, you science dinks! --The Tick

    • People, in general, (and I'm stereotyping here,) enjoy the experience of renting a movie.


      Yeah I must admit I really miss wrestling over the last copy of videos down at the local video store, and then waiting in line for 20 minutes to rent it for over $3. Seriously tho, so far I have had a good experience with Netflix (I have been using their service for the past few months). Certain videos do seem to be gone out of circulation for a long time (especially kids videos) but if I just couldn't wait to see it, heck I could go rent it/buy it locally. Come to think of it, half the time I go to Blockbuster what I want to rent (in the DVD section anyway) has already been rented too. I have to assume as their business picks up, they will start to buy more videos or else lose hordes of customers. And I agree with an earlier poster, they should sell their old and just sitting on the shelf videos...


      I have been alot more paranoid about returning them to a REAL post office box (i.e. one located in an actual post office, as opposed to leaving them in the outgoing mail basket at work) and so far no problems either direction. I figure I have been easily getting at least 6 videos/month, so the price is reasonable, and not having to pay late fees has certainly saved me money there (why is it I can never get the stinkin videos back to Blockbuster on time??)

  • My one worry (Score:2, Interesting)

    by jazzyfox (97118)
    I love Netflix for the selection, and I am one of those people that fills my queue to bursting (115 movies at the moment).

    The one thing that has had me worried during my two years dealing with netflix is the slow degradation in service levels. In the beginning, you could mail back a DVD, then tell their website you did so and you would get your new one. Not so anymore, though I can understand it for dealing with people who say "yeeeah, I sent it back" but never did. Second was when they bumped the basic service level down to 3 DVDs from 4. Finally, it seems that they are taking much longer to process my movies lately. A couple months ago I could expect that they send the top of my queue out a day after recieving my return. Now it seems there is a 2-3 day lag time between them, without having 'Wait' movies in my queue.

    I do love the service though, and bought a year of it for my parents this past Xmas. There's just this nagging feeling that they will do more to cripple it.
  • by Mattygfunk (517948)
    They also have a neat recommendation feature. You rate movies (1 to 5 stars) randomly, and based on those ratings, they will suggest movies you might like.. and most of the time, they are right on target

    Wouldn't it make more sense to rate them according to how good they were ;).

  • Other alternatives.. (Score:3, Informative)

    by shankark (324928) on Sunday February 10, 2002 @11:17AM (#2982123)
    Netflix [netflix.com] isn't the only one around. There's Rentmydvd.com [rentmydvd.com] which incidentally also has a branch in NY. There are some others that are small-scale like Cafedvd.com [cafedvd.com] that operate on a pay-per-DVD option. And back to Netflix and Rentmydvd.com, the thing I like about them is the flexibility they offer. You can, for instance, change your subscription for a particular month to a 2 DVDs a time if its finals time or you're really tight with your work. And you end up paying lesser.

    All said and done, what's really needed is a lot more of the classics being converted to DVDs. Usually, if the movie has a DVD version, Netflix has them. Its the ones that don't that are hard to get. It'd be great if these folks would pursue bringing out DVD editions of these movies.

    PS: There's also talk abt Netflix opening up shop elsewhere in the country.
  • by Brento (26177) <brento.brentozar@com> on Sunday February 10, 2002 @11:17AM (#2982124) Homepage
    I was a user for about a year, and I kept having problems with them losing movies. They would say they'd shipped the DVD, but it never arrived. After four of these, I got frustrated and cancelled.

    The day I cancelled, I got a charge on my credit card for the full retail price of all four DVD's! Their service agreement hadn't said anything about this, and the "lost-dvd" page didn't say anything about it either. I called and called them, e-mailed, tried everything I could, but they wouldn't listen. I even offered to buy them the DVD's at my local Blockbuster (at less than 1/4 of the price they charged my card) but no luck.

    Later, we found out that our mailman had been stealing things from everybody's mailboxes at our apartment complex. There still wasn't anything I could do about it, though.
    • I have had one movie disappear in about two years, and when i cancelled they did not charge me. I subscribe for about half the year -- when the reruns kick in, I watch DVDs. I was worried about that, and there is no clear statement of policy as to who they go after and who they don't.
    • Later, we found out that our mailman had been stealing things from everybody's mailboxes at our apartment complex. There still wasn't anything I could do about it, though.

      Actually, there's two things you can do about it. (1) The easiest would be to just chargeback the DVD's to Netflix, and put the onus on them to collect from the mailman, or (2) take the mailman to small claims court.
    • I didn't have this problem even though two DVDs never arrived during the three months I was subscribed.
  • RentMyDVD.com (Score:4, Informative)

    by RedX (71326) <(moc.tsewnepoediw) (ta) (xder)> on Sunday February 10, 2002 @11:23AM (#2982152)
    When I first purchased my DVD player a year or so ago, I excitedly took advantage of the free Netflix trial that was included with the player. However, turn-around times were slow since they ship from the West Coast, and it was very rare to actually get a new release within the first couple of weeks of its release.

    I then came across a similar company that, at that time, was fairly new to the DVD rental market, RentMyDVD.com [rentmydvd.com]. New releases seemed to be in stock much more often than with NetFlix, it was rare to have to wait longer than a week to see a new release. Better yet, they have a shipping center in San Francisco and one in New Jersey, meaning I could normally get a fresh batch of movies here in Ohio for each weekend. I stuck with RentMyDVD.com for 6 months or so and was fairly happy, eventually dropping them once I saw most of the movies that I wanted to see but didn't want to own.

    The problem that DVD rental services as a whole face are scratched discs, and this is a glaring problem with the Netflix-types of long distance rental companies. It's frustrating enough to settle in for a night of movie watching only to have some bad skipping an hour into the movie. But when you rent locally, you can run down to the local store right away or the next day and have the problem correct. With NetFlix and RentMyDVD, they'll credit you with a free rental, but you're still waiting at least 3-4 days to have the problem rectified. For the most part, these companies do check to ensure that they're sending out unscratched movies, but I've had at least 5 movies ruined by having some pretty bad skipping right in the middle of a movie. For the most part these days, I spend a few bucks more and just buy the bulk of the movies I want to see, and use Half.com or Ebay to get rid of whatever I don't want to keep.

    • Durability of DVD's (Score:3, Interesting)

      by kaszeta (322161)
      The problem that DVD rental services as a whole face are scratched discs

      While I agree it's an issue, I've been thoroughly stunned how much abuse a DVD can take and still function without any (visible or aubible) problems. For those that aren't Netflix members, the "packaging" of their DVDs is minimal. It's basically just a DVD in a sleeve, packed in an envelope. No padding. No stiffeners. And no "do not fold, spindle, multilate" style warnings on the mailer.

      I've been a Netflix member for a while, and I've seen a lot. First of all, because of where I live (Rural NH) I get all my mail via a small PO Box. Well, the PO box is small enough that you can't fit a DVD in it (diagonal of the box is about 1/4" or 1/2" less than a DVD), unless you seriously bend it. About half of my DVD's from Netflix get crammed into the box by a postal worker (the other half of the time they hold them behind the counter and I have to go into town in the middle of the day to fetch 'em). And the rest of my mail is crammed in the box as well. So most of my DVDs arrive in badly mutilated and torn mailers and have been sitting bent at a wicked angle for at least a day...

      That, and some of the discs that arrive have obviously had other abuse. Huge scratches. Even gouges. Actual coffee rings. Waterlogged. Partially cracked (usually in the hub ring or around the edge). Sticky residue (don't know what it was, but it was water soluble). No mailer, just the disc sleeve (apparently someone at the PO knows that I'm the one with the Netflix membership, since I got this one without a delay). Etc.

      And without a single exception, they've all worked. I'm still shocked.

      Netflix has it's issues (poor availability of popular titles, long time delays), but they've been working for me. Certainly way better and cheaper than the local Hollywood (the only place with DVDs for rent. They suck).

  • Review: Good (Score:2, Interesting)

    When thinking about netflix, I basically compare it to my other option: Blockbuster.

    • Price: I rented 24 movies in my 3 months as a member of Netflix. That comes out to a little under $3.00 per movie. At Blockbuster, DVD rental costs $3.99 each, and another $1.50 every three rentals (the cost of the NYC subway token to the Blockbuster rental place). Advantage: Netflix.
    • Convenience: Blockbuster makes me physically drop off the movies, and charges late fees if I don't return movies within 2 days. Netflix uses the US mail system, and does not care when I get a movie back to them. Furthermore, Blockbuster does not refund the cost of the subway token when I visit their location to rent a movie that they don't have that day, so I end up renting some crappy movie to offset my fixed cost per visit. Advantage: Netflix.
    • Selection: I can rent Joseph Campbell's The Power of Myth, Anime titles, Kurosawa films, the full first season of Twin Peaks. Non of these titles are available at Blockbuster right now. Advantage: Netflix.
    • Availibility: I have had better luck than most people with regard to availability at Netflix. The only movie I have had to wait for was Joseph Campbell's Power of Myth, which I couldn't rent at any blockbuster in New York City. Therefore, I give them both equal grades on availability.

    I've really liked netflix.

  • by NetJunkie (56134) <jason...nash@@@gmail...com> on Sunday February 10, 2002 @11:52AM (#2982259)
    If you don't plan to rent 5 DVDs per month check out www.dvdovernight.com. They charge by the rental ($4) instead of a monthly fee. They also rent porn.
  • East coast supporter (Score:3, Informative)

    by Pedrito (94783) on Sunday February 10, 2002 @11:53AM (#2982264) Homepage
    I and 4 of my family members are all members of Netflix. We all live on the East coast. I was the last to join of my family.

    Now, I can't say much about the Anime fan who didn't like the service, but I rent mainly mainstream movies and have enjoyed the service immensly. My biggest problem was that I was always returning movies late. I also watch a lot of movies.

    I've always gotten the 3 movies at the top of my list, so far. It's only been two months, but it's definitely saved me money. It only takes 2-3 days for my movies to get returned and another 2-3 days for the new ones to arrive.

    I'm even thinking about upgrading my account to one that allows me to have even more out at a time.

    The self-addressed, no stamp required, return envelopes are ingenius. It just can't be any easier.
  • I joined when their pricing structure was a little better. I get 6 movies out at any time for $28/mo plus tax.

    Most of what I want to see isn't the new block buster releases, which is why I was really disappointed with the selection at my local Blockbuster.

    I used to live in a town with a great video store, had basically everything, so Netflix kept that type of selection for me.

    I probably watch about 15 movies a month for a total of about $2 each compared to $4 for Blockbuster.

    It may not be for everyone, but for me it is just the thing. The only problem is not being "in the mood" to watch what you have in the house.
  • Cost isn't $20 (Score:4, Informative)

    by blakestah (91866) <blakestah@gmail.com> on Sunday February 10, 2002 @12:01PM (#2982301) Homepage
    Netflix tries real hard to get you in at $20/mo, but they offer an option at $12.50/month. You have to start at 3 movies/$20 though - and then manually downgrade.

    For this price you can always rent 2 movies.

    We live in SF, and probably watch 2 movies a week using netflix. Much more convenient than Blockbuster (which is only 1 mile away, but has wicked lines). The turnaround for movies is about 3 days from when we drop them in the mailbox. Netflix lists in our account when movies should arrive, and it is reasonably consistent.

    So far, no hitches. Been using it 3 mo. I think in principle we could watch 15+ movies a month for this price, although we usually watch 6-8. I suspect we'll hit the wall of available and desireable content soon though.
  • My impressions (Score:2, Interesting)

    by genka (148122)
    I've been using Netflix for about year and a half. I've been genetally satisfied, however I notice that service goes downhill , slowly but steady. The most irritating new "feature" for me is that now, when you rent a movie which comes on 2 dvd's, you have to rent them as a two separate items! Example [netflix.com]. What could be worse then receiving the last 1/3 of the movie and wait until the beggining willl come out of the "long wait" blackhole!
  • Just because some of you don't like it doesn't mean no one likes it. I've been searching for something like NetFlix for years. I can't believe it took me so long to find it.

    Why I like NetFlix...

    1. I hate Blockbuster. The stores in my area aren't well organized (and the staff doesn't seem to care). Everyone else decides to rent movies when you do resulting in huge lines. Blockbuster also decides on my behalf that they don't need to carry certain contraversial or particularly graphic (or god forbid anti-christian) movies. Fuck them.

    2. NetFlix has no late fees. I can keep the DVDs for as long as I want, but it's not a problem to return them at all. They come self-addressed postage paid. Just drop it in the mailbox to return it.

    3. You pick about 10 movies you're interested in seeing. They send the first 3 on your list, and each time they receive one back they'll send the next one. Besides requiring minimal user interaction, this allows them to better forecast what movies they're going to need in the next few weeks. Video stores don't have this luxury.

    4. Their recommendations system is great (think Amazon.com). I've seen a lot of movies that I've been meaning to see but completely forgot about.

    Yes, there are some disadvantages. You have to plan your movies out in advance. There is a delay between asking for a movie and getting it. For never having to deal with Blockbuster again, that sounds like a great deal to me.

  • I used Netflix to pursue two interests: DVDs of AC3 encoded classical music (which I can rip and play in my PCs), and filling in gaps in my collection of the soft-adult titles released by Playboy (again, ripped and burned to CD). Every once in awhile I grab something odd that my local video store doesn't have on DVD (most recently Brazil and Mishima).

    Glaring Omission: For whatever reason, Netflix has just about zero opera performances in its collection. I'm not sure why. Dozens have been released, and there's a lot of other obscure classical music in their collection.

    I've used the service for ten months. I live in the midwest, so transit time is usually pretty long, roughly six days per title, and sometimes longer, not the four customer service thinks it should be. Six day both ways == long turnaround between getting new titles, so I subscribe to the 8-movie at a time service (@ $40 a month). I usually manage to cycle through my rentals twice a month.

    Netflix offers custom recommendations. I don't find them helpful - the choices were overwhelmingly weighted toward mainstream hollywood movies despite all the other cool stuff in their catalog.

    Disappointing.

    My mailman does not comprehend that what Netflix is mailing are DVDs. He may not know what DVDs are. I don't know. At any rate, He's been known to shove four or five titles in my tiny mailbox... fold them (snap!) when he's delivering magazines on the same day. Netflix must hate me. I know I've reported seven broken DVDs and I need to report another for the movie that just arrived yesterday.

    For awhile the same title was "stuck" in my rent queue. Every time I sent it back, they would send it out again. Annoying, and it went on for a couple months despite mails to customer service.

    Here's my main beef: Netflix dropped it's "Mature" title section. At one point they had a fairly large number of titles - Cinemax-style soft-porn (I happen to like that sort of thing. So does my fiance), Playboy's Girls of whatever, that sort of thing. That stuff vanished from the site in December. You can't search for it, you can't review it, the category isn't even there any more. They did this without any announcement or indication on their web site, despite the fact that I regularly receive e-mail indicating that they're tracking my preferences and they know I rent those titles. I emailed customer service about the matter several times. No response. I continue to receive those titles I already had in my queue, though.

    Overall I have a number of minor gripes about the service. For most people I *am* sure it's worth more than a weekly trip to the video-rental place costs.

    Shameless plug: Visit Storage Forum [storageforum.net]!

    • For awhile the same title was "stuck" in my rent queue. Every time I sent it back, they would send it out again. Annoying, and it went on for a couple months despite mails to customer service.

      ..and..

      Here's my main beef: Netflix dropped it's "Mature" title section. .. I emailed customer service about the matter several times. No response.

      Y'know, we're all geeks together and all, but there are times when it's really better to pick up the phone and chew someone's ass than to send repeated emails to customer "service"..

  • by Sleepy (4551) on Sunday February 10, 2002 @12:54PM (#2982492) Homepage
    I just signed up with Netflix. I'm happy with the 3 movies for $20, HOWEVER I will probably downgrade to the "TWO FOR $13" option (check your prefs as this is not widely promoted onsite).

    All of my return envelopes have Worcester, MASS on them (40 miles from here). The label is a sticker over a CA address, so I figure based on this and the comments here, the distribution center is new. It takes 2-3 days to get the movies returned. It takes 2-3 days to get the next movie.

    Customer service has been VERY quick for me, although the only problems I've registered are mistakes in their database, etc. They need to automate that correcting-movie-details bit, like imdb.com has since it's a different group that actually fixes the db content.

    They also need to automate requests for new movies (not go through CS). We should just be able to "vote", and see how many others have also voted on same title.

    They seem to be trying, as people note they change according to requests. They just need to invest in their internal programming dept., so they can react faster to our requests (and do so with a lower head count in Customer Service).

    Also, by focusing their new customers on the "3 movie plan", they lose people. The webpage with the "alternate" subscription plans REALLY needs to be more visible. A coworker of mine cancelled, but told me he would have stayed on had he known about the 2-movie option.

    Anyways, if you DO sign up.. do so by going through an AFFILIATE, because those people get money or credits (at no cost to you). I signed up through a link on LINUXISO.ORG. I think they get $7 for referring me, which is great because I appreciate linuxiso.org's mirroring service.

  • I've been a member for a few years - I've had rally good experiecnes so far.

    Though Anime is not my only reason for joining, I have rented a number of anime titles (like Lain) and I haven't had to wait too long so far.

    One big advantage that I like is not so much jst the selection of Anime, but also foriegn movies in general - like interesting indian musicals or british films.

    Also, I'm amazed to hear all of the stories about problems with scratched discs as I've only had one scratched disk, and one broken one (came in two pieces!) out of a few hundred discs.

    As for new releases, I agree it can be a pain getting those - but on the other hand there's a large enough selection that you can usually find something you'd want watch until the movie you want to see is no longer a "hot new release". Once you wean yourself of the need for new releases you can get almost any movie you want, and while you're watching those movies the current batch of new releases are becoming old enough to rent easily.
  • I worked out the cost. There's almost exactly a 1 week latency (i.e. drop the movie in your mailbox to return, wait for the next in your queue to arrive). So its easy to figure. Each 'slot' you have available means you can watch 4 movies that month (assuming you watch it right away), maximum.

    So their '2 movies out for $14' means at best you'll hit 8 movies, at $1.75/movie.

    '3 movies for $20/month' means 12 movies max that month, or $1.66/movie.

    '8 movies for $40' means 32 viewings, at just over a buck a movie.

    Assuming you keep most movies 3 days, that means a latency of 1.5 weeks or 3 'views'/month, and the cost per movie ends up around the $2.50 range.

    So it's pretty easy to compare with your local rental place.

    Personally, I love Netflix, because

    a) I always procrastinate with returning stuff,
    b) I can't get out much,
    c) I can catch up on the classics or tv episodes.

    It's really good for seeing movies that you sorta wanted to see, but never got around to watching. In particular, I'm slowly catching up on Twilight Zone episodes, older classic movies, and marginal movies I thought were interesting. So for a dilettante, it's great.
  • I wrote my own review a while back of netflix, and there were some other comments when someone asked about it. See it here [kuro5hin.org].
  • I see a lot of negative reviews, so here is mine:


    1) They have an awesome selection. I have ~250 movies in my queue, and maybe 10 of them are not immediately available. I have yet to have a title that reached the top of my queue not be available.


    2) However, stuff like anime is very tough to come by. Netflix is best for "regular" titles.


    3) It can be kind of a pain that it takes 3-4 days each way. This definitely limits how many you can do in a month.


    4) However, if you don't have time to watch movies constantly, like me, its really nice to have 2 or 3 in my DVD player at all times.


    5) $20 a month isn't bad. My local stores cost $3.50 per rental, so you need to watch around 6 a month to break even.


    6) BUT, if you're like me you tend to wind up paying late fees....this makes netflix much more economical since there are no late fees.


    Overall, I like it. Its not the greatest thing since sliced bread, but if I didn't have them on hand I would probably be more likely to just watch the gameshow network instead of going out to the store, renting, coming back, etc....

  • I signed up for a two-week free trial (through an ad banner on Yahoo!) exactly two weeks ago. Over the course of those two weeks, I received a total of six DVDs. Extrapolating this rate to an entire month, I can expect about a dozen movies each month -- for only, as I found out this morning, $21.60 (that would be $19.95 plus state tax), or just $1.80 for each movie. That certainly beats the $4.10 I paid for one DVD at my local video store.

    To address the latency issue some have brought up, it is definitely dependent upon how close you are to one of Netflix's distribution centers. I live in Los Angeles and a Netflix distribution center is in Santa Ana (about 1 hour away). My latency has been two days from me to Netflix, one day turnaround on their end, and one or two days back to me, for a total of four to five days of round-trip latency. (To be honest, only the latest DVD arrived in one day from their end, so use the five day total for comparison.)

    Some people have noted that they only believe it is valuable if they watch the DVD the day it arrives and then send it back the following day. While this is the best method to follow, I have routinely kept the DVDs for an extra day (sometimes because that day was Sunday...), and yet I was still able to get a decent return/delivery rate from the service.

    Obviously YMMV. What I have discovered is that this service has me seriously considering dropping the level of cable TV to which I subscribe. I currently get the Everything Package, but I've found over the last two weeks that I hardly watch the movie channels any more (save for HBO -- their original series rock).

    If you are reading this and wondering if Netflix is right for you, by all means try out their free two-week trial. You're just about guaranteed to receive three DVDs during that time, so you can get a feel if Netflix is worth your money. Follow one of the links from Yahoo! [yahoo.com] or My Yahoo! [yahoo.com], or you can just enter the promotion code Friend at the Netflix web site [netflix.com]. Good luck!

  • I don't rent enough movies to make it worth $20/month.

    That equivalent to about 5 rentals, and that would be a lot (for me) to watch in the space of a month.

    I like other services that just charge you $4/rental. The $20 seems mainly to benefit Netflix with a steady income.
  • Two years ago my friends and I all got Netflix accounts and we were very pleased with the service. The selection is huge and there's nothing like opening your mailbox to find a brand new dvd waiting inside. The service is great for people who live inside dormatories or apartments because the dvd is sent without a lot of extra packaging and so can fit in practically every mailbox.

    The only real downside to the service (other than the difficulty in getting new releases) can come if you have dishonest people handling your mail. My roomate had his mail sent to Mailboxes Etc. and over the course of two months had 8 dvds that never arrived. He was very worried (because 8 dvds are a *lot* of $$!) Fortunately the customer service at Netflix was very helpful and he ended up never being charged for the lost dvds. In the end he filed a complaint with the US Post Office about the situation to protect himself, but at least he didn't have to pay.

    So just a word to the wise: Netflix is a great system, jus tbe sure you can trust the people who are handling your mail.
  • Program changes (Score:3, Interesting)

    by BarefootClown (267581) on Sunday February 10, 2002 @02:24PM (#2982842) Homepage

    When I started using Netflix (early adopter here...been a member for over two and a half years), the plan allowed 4 movies at a time, for twenty bucks a month. They have since changed that policy (six months ago, maybe? I don't remember), and now allow three on hand instead of four; however, I seem to have been "grandfathered" in allowing me to have four movies on hand, and still for twenty bucks, instead of the basic plan's current 3. From my "Membership Terms" page:

    Program size, pricing and renewal
    • Your current program allows you to have up to 4 movies out at a time.
    • You are currently being charged $19.95 per period.


    I mention this not to gloat to new users, but to point out that, unlike so many companies, who say "these terms subject to change without notice," Netflix seems to be of the opinion that I should continue to get what I signed up for, even when they decide to change their program. I wish more companies would do this--Go Netflix!

    Also, about two years ago, they did a survey on possibly expanding their service to include video games (probably PlayStation discs, although they might have also been considering cartridges, I don't know). As far as I can tell, that idea didn't go anywhere (I personally said I wouldn't use it, because I don't have any game consoles), but with their popularity growing (substantially, it seems), it might be possible to resurrect it, if enough people ask for it.

    (In case you couldn't tell, yes, I am very happy with them, and no, I don't work for them.)

  • since they're based in san jose the turn around between dropping a viewed movie in the mail and receiving another one from my queue is 2-3 days. the only video store near me is a blocksucker and both good video stores on the peninsula are out of the way from my commute.

    if i need a movie immediately i still go to a video store; all others come from netflix.

    anyone who says "but this will bring about the demise of the local video store" obviously hasn't noticed that the reason local stores still exist at all is porn.
  • And thus will not get a single dime of my money. Too bad, because it sounded so good.
  • Sometimes if you search for a director's name, only a handful of titles appear, when in fact there have potentially dozens by a director. Their database is screwy, and you need to use IMDB for better information. Also, it's difficult to find foreign films, since sometimes the titles of the movies are entered in either the foreign-language title or the english title, and never both.
  • Netflex can bite my crank.....

    I had considered joining them..... I do a lot of flying so having DVD's that i could watch on the plane and not worry about late fees was very appealing....

    BUT

    In the last couple of weeks they have been the #1 popup add thats showing up as I surf the web. I must get 2 dozen of them a day.

    It's an interesting business, but I refuse to patronize something that goes out of it's way to annoy me.

    Don't patronize companies that use spam or popups.... thats the only way they'll stop.
  • I signed up today for one reason alone, you know all those overpriced DVD's of the documentaries and biographies you see on TV? They have them [netflix.com], although you wouldn't know it from the main page on their site [netflix.com] due to poor infotecture [oreilly.com].
  • I had many problems with netflix about a year ago. Because I am on the east coast and they were mailing movies from CA, it was talking 4 or 5 days for stuff to get back to them, and 4 or 5 days to get me my new movie. In the 5 months that I was a member, several (3+) movies never showed up in my mailbox, and when I quit I was told that I could not rejoin until _I_ paid for the missing movies.
  • I've been an East Coast subscriber for over 18 months now, and have rented around 80 movies. Some months I watch only two, others I watch six or eight. Depending on where I've lived during that time, (Connecticut, Cambridge, and Boston) I've had fair to good turnaround time that's depended entirely on the post office servicing me. I find that if I send my movies back from the office in Cambridge, they get to Netflix in two days, and I have my next one three days after that. In Killingworth CT however, it would frequently take eight or nine days.

    I think Netflix is a fantastic thing, and just don't bother with rentals any other way anymore. If you have good mail service and reasonable expectations of a $20/month service, you'd do great to subscribe.
  • Especially B movies.

    A lot of wacked out foreign films (Brava, Argento, even Jackson's Bad Taste) are not available. No big deal, except I got excited when I heard "huge rental selection". Yes, better than Blockbuster, but not enough to get me to subscribe.
  • My old roomates used to subscribe to netflix. It was great. Several freinds use them and recomend them.

    I was all ready to subscribe to them myself, but then I started getting their annoying pop-up ads.

    I really want to use them, but pop-ups are unforgivable. Stop the pop-ups, and I'll sign up. They were getting dang good word of mouth before that, why they had to spend money to annoy me and make sure I don't use them is beyond me.

  • I'm a Netflix lover. We hardly ever go to the video store any more, although my wife picks up a couple of classics at the library each week (I think she doesn't like having me in control of all the movie selections!).

    I've found that the trick to getting movies quickly is to never rearrange the queue. I keep about 60 movies on the list. When an interesting new movie shows up in the theaters, I use the Netflix "Save" button to tell them I want to see it someday. When it comes out on DVD, it goes at the bottom of the queue.

    Since my queue is 60 deep and we watch 2-3 movies per week, it takes 20-30 weeks for a new release to work its way to the top. The result is that the "long wait" problem has pretty much disappeared because the faddish types are all crowding around for a movie that's just been released. But what do I care that it took me 6 months to see the flick? I already waited 3-6 months to have it come out on DVD; if I was eager I would have gone to the theater instead.

    As a general rule, we see movies within a year of their theatrical release. That's plenty fast for me -- and a lot quicker than the 70 years it took me to see Hitchcock's first talkie (which I got from Netflix, BTW).

    Meanwhile, we always have a few unwatched movies on the shelf. If we get the movie urge at 11 PM, we just plug one in. No half hour running to the store (if it's opened) and trying to pick. And any time I think "It'd sure be great to see X", I can slap it on the queue and someday it'll be at my front door.

  • For me one of the biggest problems with Netflix is simple: I'm not always in the mood for the same movies. As a film geek who's depleted almost every video store in town and someone who despises Blockbuster there isn't a lot that I haven't seen so obviously harder-to-find titles would be a bonus as there is only one place in town that rents DVDs with any ammount of stock and they often pale in various genres. However just because I want to see a film doesn't mean I want to see it now. I'll regularly spend over an hour or so in the video store passing over films I want to see just because I'm not in the mood. To date I haven't seen Virgin Suicides because every time I pass over it I feel like something else. With Netflix I have to hope that I get a movie I'll want to watch when I get it without a great deal of ability to choose what I get (at the store if they're out of something I get another film I want then, not the next one of my "to see" list). I originally considered them, but the high cost (aside from new releases if you're paying more than a buck and a half a disc you're getting raped or going to blockbuster), the fact that I usually watch at least 5 movies a week on DVD or VHS and don't care to wait a few days to get a movie (when my g/f and I decide to go and rent something, we want it that night to watch, not the next weekend to sit around until we decide to watch it), and my picky tastes on what I watch at the moment and the service doesn't seem like that good of an idea.
  • This is a great trend. I hope Netflix keeps growing. However, their distribution center bottleneck seems stupid. Here is my idea.

    Buy the rights to install several Netflix drop-boxes in every city. Guarantee that the disks will be considered "checked in" on the night they are dropped off. Then hire someone to feed the returned disks into a sorter which reads their barcodes, prints new envelopes with the address of the closest person for whom the movie is in the #1 queued position. (If there's no one like that, check who has it as their #2, etc.) Then, send it directly from the city where it was dropped off instead of funneling it through the headquarters each time. Furthermore, whoever does the local nightly sorting of the arrivals would also have a mailing address, so you could mail the disks to a place in your city rather than further. This means they'd have to hire a couple of extra part-time workers, but their service would improve by a lot, and importantly, they would have a local presence without having to pay rent for a high-visibility location with shelfspace.

    Also, there's nothing really preventing them from eventually having parallel "conventional" rental outlets in addition to their mail buisiness. They could compliment each other. For example, I'm sure that if we saw all the disks that spend each night in the California headquarters, that, in and of itself, would probably be the best-stocked video store in town. Using that principle, their other reigeonal centers could eventually morph into dual-operations stores. They would look like video rental places but in reality work like exclusive libraries with a kick-ass ILL program that delivers to your door on request. I imagine all this could be done for a membership fee rather than a per-use fee.

    This is one way in which we might defeat the evil Blockbuster. It's not obvious the cure is better than the disease, but here's one reason why it might be: Blockbuster in my town is more of a traditional monopolist in that it uses pretty dirty tactics to starve out locally-owned video stores. Basically, they open a branch almost literally next door. That branch loses money for years, because the great majority of people prefer the local store. However, Blockbuster HQ have deep pockets and patience. Eventually, they pull away just enough customers from the locally-owned store that it has to close. Then the city belongs to Blockbuster, and suddenly their stores become profitable as they absorb all the former customers of the local store. Anyway, this clearly falls into the category "legal but evil," and because it's evil I refuse to give a dime to the Blockbuster dicks. However, services like Netflix could not possibly establish such monopolies, because if they became huge and started to screw us the way Blockbuster does now, we would just switch to a better/cheaper mail-in DVD rental club. The only change in our renting habits would be that we return our disks to a different address--we'd hardly notice. In other words, this sort of store can't dominate a reigeon like Blockbuster can, and it can't wipe out direct competition like Blockbuster can. So I say: fight on, Netflix. When you open a local branch here in NY, you're likely to have me as a customer. Meanwhile, I will continue to check out my DVDs from the public library, where the selection is great, loan periods are a week, and the cost to me is nothing. There are very few DVDs that are not in our public library system. I will probably get those from Netflix.

  • Netflix (Score:2, Informative)

    by Tinkerin (317238)
    I subscribed for almost two years and really liked the service. Then 2 DVD's never arrived in the mail and after notifying Netflix of that, the trouble started. First they where very nice about it and simply listed the DVDs as lost but then my monthly rate increased $5 /month. After learning that some friends that live 20 miles away (they referred me to Netflix) never got the rate increase I realized that Netflix passes along the risk with using US mail to the "problem area" consumers by raising rates. Six months later another DVD never arrived and Netflix put me on "hold" status until I sent in the "lost" DVD's implying that I received them but intentionally never returned them. After their refusing to initiate an inquiry with the US Postal Service, I had to cancel service or continue to pay the monthly fee but never receiving any more DVD's

    Up to that point, I was really satisified with Netflix, after that I realized that they were only willing to do business if the consumer was willing to assume all the risks involved. Typical corporate attitude.
  • by HalB (127906)
    Way back in the day before amazon bought the DVD
    purchase service from them, they had an awesome plan. You could rent a single DVD like you would from blockbuster (not a subscription), for a fairly high rate, like $7, including postage. That was so-so, but what was good about it was, if you liked the movie, you could pay the difference to the retail price and they'd let you keep it! I used this quite a bit to buy movies I thought I'd want to own but wasn't sure because I hadn't seen the movie, or didn't know how the DVD content was. That's gone now though, I wish someone would pick that business model back up, though!

Repel them. Repel them. Induce them to relinquish the spheroid. - Indiana University fans' chant for their perennially bad football team

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