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Teresa

OHMYGAWD! I thought it was only me! And the more I blogged about my problems with them, the more people thought I was crazy.

And lets not even go into "How I Got DVD 2 of 4 Three Days Before I Even Got DVD 1 of 4." (this happened several times)

Netflix never "received" my DVD's properly, either. Many, many times my DVDs were returned almost as soon as I finished them, only to show up in my returns queue five days later--and my distribution center was only 60 miles away.

Alas, I kicked Netflix to the curb months ago, have gone commando, and began renting from Hollywood Video again.

William

I was throttled badly by Netflix and I was a loyal customer since 2001. I was on a 5 out program and it was getting so bad I was getting sometimes a one week turn around time. The kicker is I live an hour from one of their dist. centers in CT. I wrote them telling them I felt like I was being discriminated against, I thought I must be on some sort of black list. They then picked back up but for me it was too late. I cancelled and signed up for Blockbuster and have been happy ever since. The thing with Blockbuster is they know I should be getting a 2 day turn around, they also have a dist. center in CT. So after three days, they will begin shipping me more dvds because they value me as a customer, unlike Netflix. I can even report a dvd return but not received after 3 days and they will take it off my queue and ship me my next one ASAP. That's what I call service. If Netflix wants to be the best of the online rental services it better start treating it's customers better, or more people will walk away like I did.

BoB

ALL my movies are now received back overnight since NF opened a new center in my city. But, about 50% of my movies ship from another center which delays me a day (shipping tomorrow) and then the 2-3 day travel time. I don't know if its because the center is only 3 weeks old and has a low inventory or if NF is just speading the existing movies across more centers.

Aaron

I didn't know you guys had vocab for this.
I'm really streaky with my returns. There are months where I will average three or four days to send my movies back and other times of the year when I will drop them off at the post office the next day. When I'm slow to get them back NF is super quick. But after three or four next day returns on my part they immediately slow to a crawl and it takes several late returns to get them back up to speed. I wonder what their formula for this is.
I'm on 'three out' in San Diego

slidenby

I just signed back up for Netflix after having canceled my membership a few months ago and trying out Blockbuster. I had been a subscriber to Netflix since its launch, but wanted to try out something new in case I could save a few pennies. I wasn't happy with Blockbuster (needless to say) and was glad to have my Netflix rental que back in order... until at least, my first few movies arrived.

Netflix has a center in my city, in fact I live only a few blocks from it. I was used to (before I canceled) receiving my movies overnight, sometimes two days - but now it takes 3 days to get my movie and 3 days back, at least. Movies I have returned several days after another are arriving before the more recently returned movies. IM PISSED. 80% of the movies in my que now read "awaiting shipment" for at lest 24 hours before they are even reportedly shipped out. It is very obvious to me that Netflix is delaying shipment and receiving confirmation in order to save money. I was happy to be back at Netflix, not anymore. I'll finish out this month and then go back to downloading all my movies off the Internet.

Nat

I don't know how these self-identified victims are able to tell the difference between Netflix's personal beef with them and the overall demand on the shipping center, but everybody whose service level dips at all sure seems willing to leap to the conclusion they're being throttled on purpose.

I'm a pretty darn high-volume renter, generally at 15+ per month on the 3-out plan, and while occasionally there are annoying delays, well over 80% of the time I get one-day turnaround. When Federal holidays fall on Mondays, I sometimes get zero-day turnaround -- they put the movie in the mail to be collected Tuesday morning, and I get it Tuesday afternoon. Good trick.

mnxmfan

I am being throttles as well, although at this point, I believe its due to voluem. I have been on the 5 out plan since November, and tend to return my movies within 1-2 days of watching them. I live near the Minneapolis center, and here has been my experience.

I watch 1-2 movies on Friday night, return them on Saturday, they arrive on Monday, and my next two movies ship on TUESDAY. I can only assume this is due to the volume of returns they get on Mondays and Tuesdays (more on that in a second) which is fine by me BECAUSE, should I really expect that Netflix hires more people to work on Mondays and Tuesdays, and then not work Wednesday through Friday? Probably not, so the higher volume renters get delayed a day to balance it all out. Is it great, NO, but it is reality, I still get cheap movies and a great selection.

Anyways, back to the facts..

Saturday and Sunday I watch the other 3 movies I have at home, and they get shipped back on Monday, arrive on Tuesday, and my next 3 movies ship on WEDNESDAY, sometimes one will ship on Thursday, but that is rare.

On Wednesday, I get two more movies (that shipped on Tuesday) unless the title I want is one they have fewer copies (older titles, and some not so popular titles) ehivh ship from alternate centers. I usually get at least one movie per Wednesday, watch it, return it Thursday, it arrives Friday, and I have another movie shipped to me to arrive on Saturday.

So thats 6 movies a week, average 4 weeks per month, turns out to be 24 movies a month. Not to shabby I'd say, and it brings my cost per movie down to about a buck and a quarter.

Is it perfect? Nope. Is it worth bitching about? Not in my opinion. Why? Because I dont have to drive to the moviestore and drive back daily, AND I still save about 2 bucks a movie compared to the local video store. Bottom line here is that for the selection, and service I get, I am fairly happy. If selection and features didnt matter to me, I could just go down to Blockbuster and get Moviepass and rent two movies a day. There's the most bang for your buck at less than 50 cents a movie. But then again, add in the cost of gas etc and your right back up at that buck and a quarter pricetag unless you live close to a BB.

tward


The website that shows your throttle rate is:

www.tallrock.net/RentalStats

(Throttle rate being defined basically as encountering "shipping tomorrow" and "shipping the day after tomorrow" situations).

Phil A.

Add another person to the list of people being throttled!!! In my case though, I cancelled and emailed them the reason for doing so. -Phil A.

Bart

"I can only assume this is due to the volume of returns they get on Mondays and Tuesdays which is fine by me BECAUSE, should I really expect that Netflix hires more people to work on Mondays and Tuesdays, and then not work Wednesday through Friday?"


If the so-called throttling is just a result of Netflix shipping centers consistantly being overloaded on Monday and Tuesday, I don't think as customers it's too much to expect Netflix to do what it takes to correct the problem. Look at any other business that goes through heavier peak times during the week. They staff appropriately to compensate for the additional demand. The big difference is that these businesses stand to gain financially by being able to handle more customers, while Netflix actually loses money with the higher thoroughput.


Netflix has a churn rate issue, and at its' core is customer satisfaction, throttling is the most common cause of this. They also have to keep the cost of getting new customers down, I think the last I heard it is something like five dollars for each customer.

Shifted from a previous post ( with a small amount of editting ):

Look, Netflix is in the business of making money from shipping people DVDs. Their dream customer is someone who subscribes, gets their three discs and is never heard from again, except paying subscriber fees ad infinitum. Maximum profit.

Their worst customer is Manuel, who continues to rent to the point of maximum throttling, and bitching in public about it the whole time. Minimum profit.

Netflix's biggest issue is keeping the minimum profit at or slightly above their cost - to do so they need to throttle. People with same day or next day turn-around have to be throttled for them to make money, this is what businesses do. This is what Netflix does.

So Netflix throttles, nothing wrong with that per say. They have every right to do that, and our bitching about our inability to make them lose money is senseless, we have no right to put them out of business. In a best case scenario, for the customer, you should be able to rent about 22 to 28 discs a month on the 3 at a time plan. Anybody get anywhere near that that?

So if throttling isn't wrong, what is Netflix doing wrong? Why do heavy renters leave Netflix? Two reasons, Netflix creates a set of expectations, unreasonable expectations, when signing up they claim they give you "unlimited rentals" ( from above, see renewal page: "$xx.xx Netflix x-at-a-time / Unlimited rentals - up to x movies out at a time for a flat monthly fee of $xx.xx plus any applicable tax" as a service option ). The second reason, is that they bloody lie about it (support and in official statements). These are the reason I quit, expectations and lies.

Netflix is creating unreasonable expectations, and lying about it. If that doesn't piss you off, then you ain't paying attention. They can throttle, that is their business - showing disrespect to the people that they profit off of is just unethical, and wrong.

Stop complaining about it, quit and find another service, it is the only way Netflix is going to get the message - when it effects their bottom line, or their brand, their identity.

Mike C.

How funny, I thought I was the only one, too. ;) This past month, almost everything is shipping to me the next day. In the months before that I was enjoying same day shipping.

I like Netflix (a lot) so this is frustrating.

Quoted from Netflix's Terms of Service:

"In determining priority for shipping and inventory allocation, we give priority to those members who receive the fewest DVDs through our service. As a result, those subscribers who receive the most movies may experience next-day shipping and receive movies lower in their queue more often than our other subscribers."

Netflix has legally added a section telling you if you are a high volume user, you will be discriminated against and they will service the low volume user(aka the ones they make more money from) first.

Blockbuster Online does not discriminate against high volume users, they treat everyone equally. I have had both, and I was throttled by Netflix after the first month, it only takes their software a little time to learn your rental habits, and if you rent too much to be profitable, you WILL start receiving slower service the longer you stay with them.

You still actually get a good value IMO, but only compared to renting from a store. For online, I will let Blockbuster service me. No throttling, lower price, plus 2 free coupons...sounds like a winner to me.

Michael

Thanks tward, I used that website (as everyone should, it's real informative!) and it confirmed what I said - the amount of "gaps" between receiving and shipping is up and increased this month for me, and makes up 67% of the total gaps of my membership (and June isn't even over!). Thanks again for the site!

Michael

Whoops...interpreted it wrong, but it's still the right conclusion - normally my DVD rentals are delayed between 0 and 15%, but this month they have been delayed 67% of the time...it's just nice to have statistics to back this up, haha.

nouseforaname

So inventory level fluctuations never play into it? It's always a conspiracy?

jeff

I view and return movies pretty much on a set schedule, so it was easy to notice a blatant slow-down that began a few weeks ago.

Netflix gets my returns on Monday morning, and they're logged as returned almost immediately.

Movies from my queue are also pulled into shipping slots almost immediately. But..

Monday: Shipping Soon
Tuesday: Shipping Today
Tuesday evening: Shipping Tommorow
Wednesday morning: Shipping Today
Wednesday evening: Shipping Today
Thursday Morning: Shipping Today
Thursday Evening: Shipped

They finally figured out how to eat up an entire week before my selections arrive.

Oh, btw, I live 10 miles from a distribution hub.

Jeff

I get nearly twice as many movies from Blockbuster for ten dollars less every month.

In the past I've noticed them doing it. Now I seem to cancel my account every few months due to lack of interest and the DVDs are prompt when I come back. If I was an active user I'd do two months on BB, two months on Netflix, rise, and repeat.

Michael Moulton

During the winter, I was watching 3 movies every weekend, and mailing them back Monday. The new ones would arrive either Thursday or Friday.

For the summer, I'm watching more TV DVDs on weekends and my Netflix rentals during the week, so I'm going through movies slower than during the winter. Turnaround time hasn's really changed-- I mailed one back Tuesday and its replacement should be here tomorrow.

AARRGGHH!!!

Count yourself lucky. They're delaying my shipments 4-5 days from the time I put them in the mail. This would be impossible for same-city mail, unless a postal worker is borrowing my movies. At least Blockbuster has picked up the slack - they now deliver 50% more movies than NFLX with no throttling. Netflix used to be faster than BBO. I'm annoyed at being subject to these secret rules and penalties. They should treat customers honestly. Current prices are not realistic. I'd be glad to pay $21-24 for the service I used to get (18-22/month). I wouldn't feel as bad if they set a limit of 12 a month on 3-out...

no shiri deku nes

"everybody whose service level dips at all sure seems willing to leap to the conclusion they're being throttled on purpose."

Because it's obvious and there's no way they can hide it. If it takes a day each way during my trial and first few months, then suddenly 2 or 3 or 4 days each way, and all my movies say "Shipping Tomorrow", how do YOU explain it? Netflix seems to think we're morons and won't notice such discrimination. It's about as subtle as having a drinking fountain labeled "whites only."

Nat

"Because it's obvious and there's no way they can hide it. If it takes a day each way during my trial and first few months, then suddenly 2 or 3 or 4 days each way, and all my movies say "Shipping Tomorrow", how do YOU explain it?"

Off the top of my head, with high demand on your shipping center, high demand for your movies in particular, staffing problems at any shipping center in your region, software problems, mail delivery problems, and/or a possibility that you're actually being throttled. There is no way for you to know the relative proportions, and anecdotal insistence is not evidence.

I rent as much as a lot of people who say they're being throttled, and I'm plainly not being throttled, so the situation is just not clear-cut.

It's extremely annoying that this debate always winds up being so one-sided. People experiencing bad service assume they're being victimized (going to the point of embarrassing themselves with civil-rights analogies), and people experiencing good service generally have better things to do than correct them. It's a vicious circle.

manuel

Netflix will never live down throttling customers. It was word of mouth that initially brought Netflix customers and it's word of mouth that's currently driving those same customers to other services like Blockbuster. What subscriber wants to be chastised as a "heavy user?" Why did Netflix spend a whopping $12.5 million dollars last April on advertising--out spending giants like Amazon by $10 million dollars? Blockbuster Online seems to do well without spending a fortune on advertising.

Regardless, this is my comparison of services...

Turnaround:
Netflix 2.5 days
Blockbuster 2.7 days
GreenCine 3.6 days

(all plans 3-at-a-time)

Although both Netflix and Blockbuster give me similar turnarounds, Netflix is slightly faster. If you're a customer interested in speed then Netflix is your choice. If you're interested in value then Blockbuster prevails. However, if your interested in reliable service then GreenCine is the winner. I found a happy medium by subscribing to all three. Netflix isn't the only game in town. Customers can pick and chose.

pagan god

"high demand for your movies in particular, staffing problems at any shipping center in your region, software problems, mail delivery problems, and/or a possibility that you're actually being throttled."

Failure to address staffing problems, demand for movies, and software problems is in itself throttling.

"There is no way for you to know the relative proportions, and anecdotal insistence is not evidence."

There are things that we know are true but can't prove. You get a feel for things by experience and observation. Many things are communicated without words. To say that "anecdotes are not evidence" is meaningless. First, we aren't giving anecdotal evidence. Second, trite slogans aren't evidence. Maybe I don't know what throttling is, but I know it when I see it. Sound familiar?

no shiri deku nes

"embarrassing themselves with civil-rights analogies."

Actually, it was a segregation analogy, moron. Not meant to discount the experience of blacks, but to point out a fact that Netflix SEGREGATES users based on their "race" (film geek or casual viewer). It's a despicable practice that disgraces them every day they continue it. If NFLX had ANY integrity whatsoever, they'd end throttling (and raise prices if necessary), or get rid of the unlimited talk and spell out clearly what the limits are. Instead, they subject us arbitrary secret rules and punishments.

Josh T.

Well this is quite frustrating. Between the TOS actually stating that they give preference on shipping to low volume customers, the tallrock.net stats page confirming that every month where I have high volume I have high delays and the fact that Blockbuster.com is actually cheaper and gives other incentives, I'm having a hard time feeling loyal to Netflix. I love their features, but Blockbuster talks in cash (and free in-store rentals)!

I just find it funny that people don't believe it's happening when Netflix states directly in their TOS that they will give shipping preference to lower volume customers. I'm sure it happens more in more overwhelmed shipping centers and for high demand movies so some people don't feel the effects as much as others. Also, I would think it's not so much delaying for the sake of delaying as just putting lower volume customers at the front of the shipping queue, since they are really Netflix's best customers.

Yep ^

Nat you seem to be under the impression that a lot of people are making stuff up or are just being whiny. I actually agree some are. As for the rest of them, there are actually valid complaints. How else can you explain Netflix legally adding that verbiage to their Terms of Service? They actually say that heavy users will get to wait if a light user wants the same DVD, all else being equal. Care to expalin that away some how? We all pay with the same green cash, and all follow the rules. We choose movies, they send, we send back, we are promised that we would be sent more as long as what we want is in stock.

No one is told up front about this heavy vs light user clause in their terms. That guy above who quotes the turn around times for his plans gets about the same rate of delivery times for both NF and BB. But if you add the price in to the equation, and throw 2 additional rentals from a local store for free, and BBO easily has this game in the bag. It's sad that people have to close their accounts and then come back just to work around this blatant discrimination Netflix imposes on DVD fans.

Manda

I do find it most peculiar that although I send Netflix and Blockbuster DVDs to the same zip code, Blockbuster receives them in 1 day while Netflix takes 2 days. That said, it takes longer for me to receive DVDs from Blockbuster, so it mostly evens out.

Ken

We need to find a disgrunteld Netflix employee to chine in.

sMoRTy71

I live in Louisville, KY and have the 3-at-a-time plan. My returns are generally pretty quick (we have a dist. center here); however, my movies *always* sit an extra day in my Queue with the shipping tomorrow message. Once they do ship, I get them the next day.

JW

All I can say is I dropped Netflix like a bad habit. I have been with them sicne 2002 and consistently watched many movies every month. The last 3 month's I averaged 10 a month(5 out at a time) which is complete BS. To make matters worse when they changed my shipping center to panama city instead of georgia things really got jacked around. I can say that netflix has a 2 day mail time but if they sit on the movies that really does not matter. I switched to blockbuster 5 out, am paying less, and actually averaging more movies that with netflix. Most of them take 2 or 3 days but they don't sit on the movies for a day or two like netflix. I took airwolf 7 days to travel 125 miles to my house, I think my grandmother could have walked it over faster.

Howard

I have noticed that when I send 3 movies in at a time (regardless of the day sent in) I do not immediately get all 3 replaced. It seems odd that if I drop 3 movies in the mailbox at the same time (and in the same city as their center) that two will show up as returned on one day and maybe a day or two later the other one will show up as returned. I am on the 3 at a time plan and typically watch and return the movies in a week so it is not exactly as though I am a high volume person.

As for BB, I signed up with them when they first opened up and found their turn around time horrid. My basic requirement is that I need to be able to mail the movies on Monday and have their replacement on Friday. My typical turnaround time was 1 week, and I had similar problems to what I am currently having with Netflix. Maybe they have opened up a center here in Ohio, but unless they have Netflix still pretty much fulfills my basic requirements, even if they have an inconsistent receipt/shipment policy.

I'm not sure when you tried out Blockbuster Howard, but they have made significant changes recently and have improved a lot over the past few months, and are still making changes. They now have 40,000 movies like NF, and have about 30 shipping centers, maybe more.

If you're interested, they even have a deal going where if you cancel Netflix, then send them your cancellation email, they will spot you two free months, and give you a free DVD to pick up at a local store to boot. It's a hell of a deal if you ask me. I'd give them a shot, they're actually paying YOU to let them give you service with that deal.

Rahul Sinha

I have to say, my girlfriend and I share a 6-at-a-time plan, and keep the dvds going (all dvds are back in the mail 24-48 hours after we get them) and thus I gather we're a prime target for throttling...

But we haven't been. Response from the gaithersburg md shipping center has been great. We may have been throttled a bit in December/January, I'm not sure, but haven't had problems since.

Realise that a large portion of the money NF makes (post operating expense) goes to the studios, for the rights to offer movies as they do. If $2/movie is their break-even point due to those royalties, I am perfectly ok w/ being throttled to that point (which in my case would be 18 movies per month, which I exceed by a factor of 1.5ish).

Really you all should read reviews of Blockbuster. They have no policy of throttling and instead control rental rate by having huge availability problems.

Be thankful for what you're getting, it's a great deal.

-RS

PS I neither own any NF stock nor am a NF employee

Adam

I don't think Netflix ever promised a 2-day layover between the time you guys get your next movies. So personally, I don't think anyone's "entitled" to anything. If you go into a store, do you get to go in the front of the line just because you buy coffee there every day? No. Do you get better cable channels because you have been a suscriber for 10 years? No. Paranoia doesn't entitle you to complain.

Joshua K

For the first time, they have received mine one day, and waited until the next to ship them. Since we don't know the details of their process, it's impossible for me to jump to the conclusion yet that I'm being throttled. I would like my movies. I'm on the 14.99/3 movies out plan. It started out pretty good, but now it's slowed to a crawl. I mail from a location VERY close to the distribution center, and I can understand that they have may have to wait on the post office. But confirming reciept, and waiting until the next day to mail is pure ludicrous for business. Consider if a brick and mortar location operated in the same manner. "Thanks for you movie and subscription fee, but you'll have to come back tomorrow to get your next movie."

manuel

"Be thankful for what you're getting, it's a great deal."

;-)

Steve A.

Talk about paranoia! Do you really think that their systems flag heavy users to slow down shipments? The returns are ENTIRELY automated. Worker A, when pulling a movie to ship, doesn't know if you've rented 2 movies in a month or 20. That would be SO inefficient.

Let us remember that Netflix was neck and neck with Amazon for BEST Customer Service.

I find it funny how everyone forgets how BB has screwed over customers with their customer unfriendly service and pricing over the last 10 years.

Scott

What I find funny are all these naysayers that they DO NOT THROTTLE.

NF put a statement within their policy saying they throttle.

I don't know why Nat and other are such fanbois (or girls) and claiming there is no such thing as throttling. There is hard evidence at these websites:

http://www.hometheaterblog.com/hometheater/2005/05/netflix_throttl.html

http://www.manuelsweb.com/netflixcalculator.htm

And to the statement that "talk about paranoia! Do you really think that their systems flag heavy users to slow down shipments? The returns are ENTIRELY automated. Worker A, when pulling a movie to ship, doesn't know if you've rented 2 movies in a month or 20. That would be SO inefficient."

I am sure it IS automated... have you heard of if, then, else statements?

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