NetFlix, you've lost another customer (or how I was "NetFlixed")

As an early adopter of NetFlix, I’ve written many times here about how good the service is was. Over the holidays however, that all went horribly, horribly wrong. My wife and I use NetFlix in spurts- some months we’re busy doing something else and don’t watch any, then when the TV season goes into hiatus, we catch up on movies.

I’ve done my part to help their ratings system- my wife and I have collectively rated nearly 400 movies over the years.

So what did NetFlix do to cause me to switch to Blockbuster’s Total Access?

It started with two out of five discs rented in the last month being cracked. We’re not talking a little crack, we’re talking a full 1mm from the edge. I reported both, and noticed it took a longer time than usual to get a replacement of one (the other I didn’t request a replacement). It’s embarassing when you have to explain to your in-laws why at a key point in the plot of a movie, you can’t watch the rest, nor get another disc during the remainder of their trip because NetFlix is too slow.

Prior to sending the movies back, I moved three movies to the top of my queue. All were available and I had always received movies listed at the top. What did I get in return? Movies from the bottom of my queue. We’re talking over a dozen movies down. There’s no possible way all of the movies above it were checked out, and I checked! Like the lint that congregates under your bed, these movies had collected at the bottom of our queue and we had forgotten about them.

David Pogue wrote about NetFlix’s great customer service last year. It’s true, I’ve had nothing but good experiences when reporting a lost disc (and returned later to be credited). Then Michael Arrington wrote about how NetFlix’s complicated algorithms punish frequent users of the service. I rented more movies during the holidays (vacation?) after literally multiple months of not renting any.

Somehow, like Arrington, I got “NetFlixed”:

Netflixed /netflicksed/ –adjective

1. punished due to regular usage of services paid-for

2. twisted; awry, as in the condition of discs when received

3. Slang. extracting highest possible profit out of customer by artificially adjusting service offerings to penalize usage.

It looks like the algorithm uses a 30-60 day usage window to enable throttling and doesn’t take into account months of pure profit they reaped from me when I wasn’t using the service. Perhaps I’m being punished for reporting two out of three shipped discs being cracked. How is that my fault?

I tried contacting NetFlix and have yet to get a response other than, “Sorry, we get a lot of mail”. No problem. Unsubscribed.

So I’ve dropped NetFlix as of today, and moved to Blockbuster’s Total Access where I also get a free movie on the spot when I return a DVD in-store instead of via mail (we have one by our gym). They also have a great selection of HD-DVDs and Blu-Ray titles. Now I just need a Media Center-enabled UI for Blockbuster’s service (as I have for NetFlix via the community) and my world is complete.

Congratuations NetFlix- by mis-managing customer expectations you’ve replaced my prior disdain for Blockbuster’s glassy-eyed checkout clerk and late fees with a new disdain for your business practices.

5 responses to “NetFlix, you've lost another customer (or how I was "NetFlixed")”

  1. I had the same issue last month. Superman Returns on HD-DVD was showing as available on the top of my queue but it got passed over for three other DVDs. Netflix was responsive to my complaint though, and sent the disk right away without waiting for another return.

    They haven’t been bad enough yet to get me to switch give how much I paid BB over the years, but I’m definitely thinking about it more.

  2. "Audio pronunciations are available only to Premium members. Please log in now:"

    If you’re going to go to the trouble of linking to something, please make sure it’s accessible to your viewing public.

  3. Weird,

    I had similar issues with Superman II The Richard Donner Cut. It was at the top of my list for about a two months, always labeled as available, but only got sent just recently.

    I don’t think it’s a throttling issue for me though, I kept getting DVD’s regularly just not that particular one.

    Anyway, please keep us updated on how BlockBuster’s service is.

  4. I am glad I never signed up Nextflix. I find I always run out of disk space. Probably I keep too many favorites movies/shows.

  5. Have you tried out Peerflix? It is a DVD trading service; no monthly fee and no penalizing heavy users. It’s not quite the same as using netflix but it works out well for me. But BlockBuster service does look pretty good – hopefully it will work out for you!