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Both Hacking Netflix and Netflix Fan have posted this link to a San Diego TV station's report which lays bare the secrets that lurk behind the locked doors of the 37 Netflix distribution centers.The goings-on in this multi-million-dollar enterprise is ... [Read More]

Comments

manuel

[Comment deleted. Posted by banned user.]

Rusty Ramrod

OK, first off what is an “encoded disc”? Are the discs that NF sends out serialized or something?

Secondly, I love the PR guy and his “90% of the members *generally* receive their DVD’s within one day”. I wish normal Joe’s could excuse themselves like that. Imagine going for a job interview…..
“Yes Mr. Interviewer I want this job. I *generally* will show up on time”

What simply amazes me is the assumption they can keep their “trade secrets” secret. Every process at Netflix is known by some humans. Those poor friggin people stuffing envelopes, how do they keep from blowing their brains out every night? What a miserable job. My guess is they are driven very hard. Notice I didn’t see anyone smiling. Seems like occasionally they would snap and quit or get fired. The more disgruntled ones could easily hook BB up with whatever process they were involved in.

Same with the software people. Programmers in general are known for getting shafted by their employers and again, not a big deal to pass info along to a competitor were the dejected employee to be vindictive.

In the end, after watching something like that, I thank the lord I attended college. I am seriously not sure I could tolerate doing a job like that day after day.

Y.T.

That one woman they showed several times never cracked a hint of a smile... I understand why, but you'd think NF would've asked the employees to at least fake it while the cameras were rolling.

If they indeed turn over 175k of discs with 85 employees, that's over 2,000 discs a day per person. Yikes!

shoobe01

2000 disks per day is not that amazing to me. I worked in a subscription card processing center a couple of college summers. If you don't do 10,000 a day you are fired soon. Some (not me!) did like 14,000 a day. And this was with getting up and getting your own mail bins. Note the Netflix center had people delivering items.

I assume the 85 is the total staff. Probably no more than 60 of them are opening and stuffing. The rest run other parts of the mail ops, make the machines go, etc.

Wonder what the secret lines are? Automated packaging? I wouldn't be too suprised, actually, if that was the deal. Like, they had just a few manual lines to show off, just to throw the competition (and for bad-mailer kickouts, like the USPS has to have).


As far as secrets, most people who work in jobs like this don't care. They aren't watching, so couldn't really tell you how anything there works. You'd have to get a supervisor or manager and they are covered under contractual obligations not to work for competition for a while, usually.

sykoboy

Excellent comments everyone.
"Checked for defects"... I don't think so! This has been proven by myself and others who have reported a disc as unplayable, then marked the disc with a Sharpie, returned the disc, and then have received the same disc (indicated by the Sharpie marking) when requesting the same disc a week later. Now I just snap the unplayable discs in half which aren't playable, prior to returning them. You can thank me all later.
As a side, isn't that the same slave-driver manager that they've shown in other "behind the scenes" Netflix news features? Those poor migrant workers. I can only imagine how quickly they develop arthritis or some repeated stress work-related injury. Any money says that ThrottleFix has it set up so that their insurance carrier isn't responsible to cover such injuries. I don't doubt ThrottleFix will just fire the "unproductive" worker and a new slave is already beating down the door, ready to accept the sub-par pay, benefits, and treatment. Please, any Netflix shill willing to prove me wrong?

NetflixShill

"Now I just snap the unplayable discs in half which aren't playable, prior to returning them. You can thank me all later."

I'll thank you to stop doing that. Not every DVD player is the same. Often I can play a disc in my computer or at least rip it, when it won't play in a stand-alone machine. Mark the sleeve, not the DVD. They're more likely to see that. Then they can clean the DVD and perhaps get some more use out of it. Thanks

ruk

Also, even if an employee told a competitor, the competitor would be liable for knowingly using trade secrets. That's the law. However, in order for a "trade secret" to maintain its protected status under the law, the company must actually take steps to keep the info from being known.

"Now I just snap the unplayable discs in half which aren't playable, prior to returning them. You can thank me all later."

I'll thank you to stop doing that. Not every DVD player is the same.

---

I have received discs that looked perfect, no large scratches or gashes, yet it would not play on any of my 12 DVD players. Obviously this is a defective disc. Like the guy above I always placed a tiny sharpie mark on it (usually in the person on the labels eye or in the loop of a letter). So far I have never received that same disc back.

"I have received discs that looked perfect, no large scratches or gashes, yet it would not play on any of my 12 DVD players. Obviously this is a defective disc."

Try ripping with AnyDVD and DVD Decrypter, preferably using a late model BenQ or NEC burner. What one won't read, the other most often will - unless the disc is cracked or scraped down to the surface. Even then, you can often get through if you let the drive work on it for a while. I'd rather rip the disc and be able to watch it than wait days for a replacement and tie up my queue.

"Like the guy above I always placed a tiny sharpie mark on it (usually in the person on the labels eye or in the loop of a letter)."

I think it's better to write on the sleeve. They are more likely to see it. They aren't going to look closely at the label to see a mark. I've found it a waste of time to tell NF about problems. Usually, they won't send a replacement for 1-2 days, then that disc won't clear my Q when I sent it back.

Charles

As fast as I imagine the employees to handle discs, it seems that it would be hard to catch defects, unless we report them. I often don't notice cracks or scratches until after I try to play a disc. Sometimes a crack isn't visible unless I hold a disc up to the light or bend it a little. The handlers probably aren't given enough time to do this with every single disc.

sneakydee

I worked for Netflix as a software development contractor 4 years ago - this was when they only had 1 shipping center, and the shipping center was in the same building as we were.

It was an interesting experience - in the 5 months that I worked there, they went through several different mailers in an attempt to juggle cost of mailing with acceptable losses due to breakage.

Linda

I have been a member of the Netflix DVD service for a couple of years. It was my understanding that when DVD's were returned they were checked and cleaned before being sent out to another member. In the past few months, about every 3rd or 4th DVD that I received has been damaged. Completely cracked, which I understand can be from the mail system. But I don't understand how I could repeatedly receive DVD's with scratches that make the DVD unplayable. I have a bottle of alcohol and puffs next to my DVD player to clean it, if that is what is necessary to make it playable. It is frustrating, when having a series to watch when one of the series must be re-ordered before going on with the balance of the series. I have gone onto Netflx website, to tell them of my concerns, but they have no contact way for customers. I am not complaining about their service, I do receive the new DVD's quickly, & do save money by using their service. They have a great selection, a great business to deal with, but maybe they are getting too big & forgetting to check the DVD's better before mailing.

Mark P.

Come on people. Netflix is the best thing out there for video rentals. No video rental store/site polishes and tests dvds. Video renting will never be perfect but at least with netflix, they probably have the title your looking for, and it won't be edited. Whats worse, driving to Blockbuster and back only to find the dvd won't play or putting a bum netflix dvd back in your mailbox.

Tony Danza

I don't see what all of you are bitching about. If you're so unhappy with the service and this "throttling", go rent DVDs at Blockbuster or a local movie store. Everyone knows that if you're renting DVDs and returning them within a day, you're copying them (or just are fanatical about watching movies). DVD burners are for backup purposes only and it's illegal to burn a DVD unless you own it.
Stop paying for a service that you think is cheating you. fight back. discontinue your NF subscription!

Brad

On seeing the video my wife and I were very surprised to learn that more was not automated and both felt bad for the people working at a job like and that we as consumer are part of it. These individuals are getting hurt in mind, body, and soul. People are not machines. I would hope that Netflix at least treats their workers well and compensates and benefits them fairly, though that would be a rare exception and wishful thinking in a culture of stakeholder value and corporate greed.

gir

I used to work as a fiche clerk (pulling microfiche cards of insurance documents from motorized filing cabinets). I won't claim it was fun, but it wasn't bad work.

After a few weeks it becomes second nature - you can do it almost without thinking and spend the whole day gabbing with your co-workers while you work. Yes, you have to meet quotas that sound outrageous to layman, and the pay isn't great, but the work is relaxing in a way. It's certainly not difficult. You know exactly what your job is.

Ashleigh

do not feel sorry for those people. they have jobs and a means to suppor themselves and their family. if there were no netflix workers you all would not have anything to complain about to pass the time nor your precious dvds.

Ferris

Yeah what is all of this middle-upper class pity towards the working class? Oh, those poor factory workers... Netflix probably treats them so poorly and they all look so miserable!

First of all, if the employees had been shown smiling on the commercial, people would be commenting on "oh i bet they're faking!" You don't just sit and smile the entire time you are at any job unless it is part of a description.

Netflix may motivate employees by using an incentive based pay scale. The more you can send out, the more you get paid. I put together sunday papers in a large warehouse and even though i might not have been smiling the entire time the work helped pay the bills and was rewarding to a certain degre. At least much more rewarding than being a "yes man," working in a little office or cubicle and having a false sense of importance (that is some, not all office jobs. Some are great and require a lot of hard work, skill, and dedication, while others....).

Also, in regards to the cracking the DVDs if they won't play in your DVD player - don't you think Netflix will notice how many DVDs you send back cracked in half?

What frustrated me is that if you get all the way to the end of a movie and it starts skipping, there is no way to report it as damaged and not get a replacement.

But, when it comes down to it Netflix is a great service. Last year I stopped subscribing because it seemed every DVD i was requesting was skipping, or unplayable. This year I re-started (with a new DVD player) and I haven't had a single incident with a disc. Go figure.

"Netflix may motivate employees by using an incentive based pay scale."

It should be the reverse. They reward the employees that ship out the fewest discs - unless they're for light users and trial members. The heavy users and long-term members get sent as little as possible by Netflix. So they would want to reward employees for being slow and incompetent - dropping the discs on the floor and breaking them, sending hte wrong one, failing to check the returned discs in properly...

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