Non-driving post

I have tried to keep this blog on topic since I started it eight months ago, so please forgive me for an off-topic post. I recently received a response to a complaint I made to Netflix that I would like to share with you. Netflix has deliberately slowed down my service, and they told me so. Now, I'm going to the attorney general's consumer protection division.

For those who don't know Netflix, it is a mail-order DVD rental company. Members pay a monthly fee to rent a certain number of movies at a time in a revolving fashion; send one in, get one back. I pay $17.99 plus tax for this service that is said all through the Netflix literature to be unlimited. Theoretically, I can rent a movie a day from them if I move them fast enough. But like an all-you-can-eat buffet, eventually the customer reaches a limit and it plateaus.

Understanding the cost benefit of Netflix (which doesn't charge postage -- it's built in to the monthly fee) over, say, Blockbuster's bricks-and-mortar operation, I want to make sure I am maximizing my cost. In relation to Blockbuster's rental fees, which are around $4 or $5, I would need to rent four or five movies from Netflix a month to make it worth my while. So, I'm quick about returning the movies. After all, the quicker they get the movie back, the quicker they can send it out again. Being quick about returning meant I would get about four or five movies a week, or about 12 to 18 a month, depending how quick I was at returning them.

Recently, though, Netflix has been slow to check my movies back in (I would mail two from the same mail box on the same day and they would arrive to the same location on different days). Then, when my movies were checked back in, it would sometimes take a day or two for them to send a new DVD, even though it was marked as "available now" online. So, I e-mailed customer service. The first response suggested I change my delivery address, as if that would solve the problem of them being slow to send out new movies. I sent back an e-mail saying they needed to check their operation instead because they weren't living up to their advertising claims of getting DVDs to the customer it about one business day. Their response: they give preference to their lighter users, and I should be happy about that because I am still getting a good value.

So, wait, I'm good about returning my movies quickly so you can satisfy your other customers quickly, and you are penalizing me? Further, you deliberately slow down my UNLIMITED service? Doesn't that mean you are essentially LIMITING my service? And I should feel good about that because you are still giving me a good value? Indeed it may be a good value, but it's true to the advertising. Netflix isn't getting my movies to me in about one business day. I received the typical "your DVD has been shipped" e-mail today saying that my movie would be delivered Saturday. That's three days from today. The movie it is replacing was received yesterday, therefore making it a FIVE-day turnaround.

Am I just going to sit here and rant? No. I'm going to file a complaint with the Consumer Protection Division in the attorney general's office, and I'm looking for others who have found their Netflix service to be slower than promised in their advertising. Comment here, or send an e-mail to the "Honk at Me" link in the upper right. The larger the number of complaints, the more likely the AG's office will take this seriously.


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