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I live near Winston-Salem, NC and there is a distribution center in Greensboro (about 20 minute drive).

I send a move and it registers in their system that evening. They usually send out the movie the next day and I have it the next.

...so about 2-3 day turnaround. I've got the 2-out plan so i try to keep the movies in an alternating fashion.


I'm kind of seeing the same effects as Ben. It has ALWAYS been a two-day process to flip movies with Netflix (one there and one back) and I've lived in two different major metro areas since signing on.

But recently (in the last month or two) it suddenly takes three days for Netflix to acknowledge receiving my discs, but the turnaround from them is still one day. I have no idea why my sending to them would take three days, but the return trip would take just one.

I'm a HUGE Netflix supporter and, like Ben, tried to justify it in a number of ways. Still seems a little odd though.


I live in Southern California, about 20 miles from Netflix's largest (I believe) distribution center in Santa Ana. Movies shipped from that DC take one day to get to me and one day to get back, typically. I find those times to be less reliable around holiday weekends and near Christmas, but other that a few isolated incidents no complaints.

I think comments like the ones above could be due to the local Post Office (and I agree with previous posters on other threads that a lot goes on there that is sort of swept under the rug), but it could also be due to staffing problems at the local DC. It's hard to know who to point the finger at when both Netflix and the USPS are so secretive.


Welcome to the world on Netflix Throttling!!


I live in an Atlanta suburb, less than 5 miles from the Duluth distribution center. And I've had extremely long turnaround times, sometimes as many as 6-8 days for a movie to get from my local post office to Netflix. Usually it's 3-4 days. (I always get my movies a day or two after they're listed as leaving Netflix, so that puts total turnaround time at 4-6 days, sometimes as high as 10 days.)

I tend to blame the post office for this, more than Netflix. I've tried dropping my movies off at various post offices (including driving out to Duluth to leave my movie there) but it didn't seem to help. The fault may be with the USPS, but it's a major frustration for me, and it's made me reconsider my Netflix membership. I'm a low volume user (3-4 movies per month) but it's just as frustrating for a one-movie-a-week user to be without a movie as a ten movie a week user.

I've been thinking about dropping down to the one-at-a-time plan (since Netflix no longer offers the 2-at-a-time-4-per-month plan) but now I'm thinking of just dropping Netflix altogether, since I can't be guaranteed of returning a movie on Monday and having a new one by the following weekend.


How much are you using the service? That could be part of what's going on. I live in the Bay area, and for the most part, I get 2-day turnaround. And then every once in awhile things change when I suddenly start to watch more movies. (For example I'm in between classes or it's summer and my regular shows are on hiatus.) If I go over whatever limit they have in place:
1) It suddenly takes 2 days for them to acknowledge receiving a movie.
2) They will ship out my movie the next day instead of the same day.
3)They will ship from farther away.
4)More movies will be on some kind of "wait" status in my queue.

I KNOW #4 is related to usage. A few months ago I didn't use the service for almost the whole month. At the time I had A LOT of movies on long or very long wait. After my usage went down, suddenly those movies became available to me. At the same time, I checked with friends who had the very same movies on long wait.

Also, awhile back I wanted to see the new Battlestar Galatica series, but the first disc was on very long wait. I asked a friend of mine who has an account but doesn't use it much to get it for me. It showed as available in his queue and he had it in 2 days.

Hunter McDaniel

Welcome to the world of paranoia about Netflix "throttling".

I live in Colorado and have consistent 1 day turnaround in both directions to the local distribution center. I get about one disc in seven shipped from somewhere else. My usage level is 12-14 per month on the 3-out plan.

kwheless noted the slow service he is getting near Atlanta, which matches the experience of my sister in Marietta. Unless you believe NF is lying about when they receive and send discs, the difference is almost certainly due to USPS performance. In any case, why would they lie to her rather than me when I rent more discs than she does?

Edward R Murrow

Sure fire way to get back to the honeymoon period of BBO and Netflix: cancel your accounts for two weeks and watch March Madness College Basketball! When the tournament is over, re-open your accounts and no more throttling - for awhile.


One possible reason for the difference in delivery versus return time (one day to deliver, two days to return) is presort. NetFlix presorts what they send out, and USPS is much more efficient at handling presorted mail. Your returns have no such advantage.

I'm not saying that *is* what's causing it, just that it might be (or that it might exacerbate the problem). IMO it's much more likely that a staffing shortage is the cause. Just saying


I've been experiencing a slower turn around for the last two months or so, and it can't be attributed to high usage, because I'm on the one out plan. Generally, it's two days before Netflix checks my returns back in, then I have the next one in one day.

In NW Indiana, until recently, almost all of my DVDs came from the South Bend distribution center. Now, they're split about half and half between South Bend and Chicago. It doesn't seem to matter which center I'm sending them back to, nor where I mail the discs from - it's a pleasant surprise when they have the disc the next day, or when a disc sent back on Friday is checked in on Monday.


Yeah it's called Throttling and it's the reason I cancelled my netflix account two years ago and will never renew it. At least now they're up front about it and it's in their user terms of service agreement.


Welcome to the world of denial about Netflix throttling. Talk about a broken record. You can recognize Hunter from his first sentence alone. He's always accusing people of being paranoid or whining or playing victim.

And yes, if you cancel for a few months, you will get better service. But it only takes a few weeks of heavy usage to degrade service.


"How much are you using the service?"

Well said. Ben (and anyone else who talks about turnaround) should preface his question with how many movies he rents in a month. I think if you are watching less then 8-10 movies a month, it is capacity problems at the dc. If you are watching more than that, it is throttling.


For me, it's more often than not been a four-day process...

I mailed back "The Return" and "Ghost Dog: Way Of The Samurai" Tuesday, Netflix received them today, and they state I'll get my next two, Polanski's "The Tenant" and Elia Kazan's "Baby Doll" on Saturday.

The delivery schedule was always as I outlined above until a few months ago - I'd mail a movie back, they'd get it the next day and then it'd take two days for it to get to me. More recently, the pattern has reverted to the initial delivery schedule.

I'm in Savannah, Georgia, by the way, and first had movies sent from Duluth, GA when I signed up in early 2003, then it changed (I think the Duluth DC was closed); now movies come from various locations, including Orlando and Miami although more recently they've been coming from Jacksonville. I know it's probably throttling but I have a habit of letting movies sit here for a good long while before watching them. Even if it is throttling, I'm not that mad as I always have something to watch on TiVo (I'm always catching up with my favorite TV series) to hold me over until the next movie arrives from Netflix.


Examples of throttling:

1. Delayed acknowledgement of return. Proof: tracking labels show discrepancies with NFLX emails; multiple titles in the same envelope arrive different days; slow down once you're past the trial and honeymoon period.

2. Telling a heavy user the movie has "long" or "very long wait", while a light user from the same city is told it's available. Enough people have corroborated this, it's silly to deny it. It's a form of discrimination. They hold things for light users, rather than put them on a first-come, first-served basis.

3. Long distance shipping. It's likely given the TOS that they prioritize shipping in the same way as titles. Heavy users have more of their titles shipping from long distance and thus more lost or broken discs.

4. Saying the discs are "shipping tomorrow." This is obviously an intentional delay. They could easily coordinate shipping, unless you are in Hawaii and the only place with a copy is in New York. (Time zone differences might rule out same-day coordination for East-West shipping, but the reverse is not true.) It's bad enough waiting more for shipping, but to add an extra day is insulting.

5. Sending more broken, unplayable, or wrong discs. We have anecodtal evidence of this. A light user and heavy user SHOULD, in theory, get the same ratio of disc problems. But the honeymoon principle seems to apply here too. They might deliberately send heavy users the discs that others have complained about, and send light users almost-new discs.

Now, watch the throttle deniers like Hunter, Aron, NF is Great, Bulldozza, and Hueristix argue that all this is impossible with their infamous straw man debate tactics.


I am also a throttle denier, some people are just paranoid. I mean, #5 for example, sending people broken discs. You must be kiddin, or are you serious?
And #2, why should they serve on a first-come, first serve basis for movies in high-demand?


My main problem believing in throttling is there are low-use customers that experience the same issues, and there are some very high use customers (20+ disk a month) that experience few issues. If throttling were a planned policy, it would be more consistent.

I don't have any more evidence than anyone else, but it very much seems to vary by distribution center to me. It strikes me that it's an emergent property of NetFlix' prioritization and remote shipping policies.

Put another way, if you live near a center with high average demand, you'll experience more delays and remote shipping, regardless of if you're a high-use or low-use customer (though it'll be a lot worse for the high-use customers). If you live near a center with low average demand, you're golden no matter how many disks you rent.

I think what NetFlix should do is decouple the sizing/staffing of the center from number of customers assigned to that center, and couple it more to average demand, though achieving that kind of dynamism would be very difficult.

Hunter McDaniel

Ok, type-cast, here goes.

1)No one denies #2, unless you are saying that they actually hold onto discs they could ship out just in case a light user might want it next week - is that your contention?
2)I have no reason to deny #3 either, unless you are saying that they ship you a disc from Hawaii when they had plenty in stock locally.
3) I also believe they ship "tomorrow" for heavy users on days when more discs come in than they have staff to handle.

I not only fail to deny these things, but I applaud NF for them. The vast majority of NF users, if asked, would say this is a completely fair use of priorities and would also say they don't want to pay more money to subsidize the heavy users even more than they already are.

Where I fail to be convinced are your assertions of deliberate slowdowns, where no priorities are involved.

1) For remote shipments, ALL users see "shipping tomorrow". It's been that way for several years. Before that they used to coordinate much of the time, but they had a lot fewer distribution centers then. Maybe you consider it "intentional" that they didn't design their operations solely to please you.

2) NF loses money when discs get lost or broken. It makes no sense that they would raise the risk of lost/broken discs just to punish you.

3) Delayed acknowledgment? Putting a tracking label on your return virtually guarantees that it will take a slower path back to NF and have to processed separately from the main workflow when it gets there.

4) You say you've had multiple discs in the same mailer checked in on different days - how often has that happened TO YOU? And if they're so nefarious as to deliberately delay check-in, why wouldn't they do that for both titles?


I live in Hawaii. When all discs were sent out of San Jose, I usually got them in 2 days. Now when a disc ships out of California, it takes 4-5 days. Recently 6 days for a disc out of Santa Ana.


I live in Knoxville, TN, which is about 225 miles away from Duluth, GA, my "nearest" DC--despite the fact that there is a DC in Chattanooga, which is 100 miles away (you have to go through Chattanooga to get to Duluth).

I can take a disc to the post office on Monday morning. It gets scanned in to Duluth on Thursday. I get the next disc on Saturday--given ideal conditions. If I luck out and get a Chattanooga mailer (I've received 15 mailers--3 with the Chattanooga address), I can shave a day off the time it takes to get to the DC by a day. If I put a label over the Duluth address with the Chattanooga address, it has a %50 shot of working to my advantage. I recently tried using a label for the barcode as well...that disc is lost.

For the record, I tried mailing two discs back in one envelope last Saturday. The discs were in fact received on two different days.

I've been a member of Netflix for a week shy of two months. I really hope the service is better in North Carolina...


I live in Paducah, KY and my return time to Bowling Green (3 hours drive) or Louiseville (4.5 hour drive) is 4 - 5 days. My delivery time is usually better at 1 - 2. I have complained. Between this and Watch Now not being available on Macs I am about done with Netflix.


I've been a member of Netflix since 2002. I usually watch 4-8 movies a week. I'm disabled and find it difficult to go to the movies, so I love the convenience of getting DVDs delivered to my home. I recently have had some problems with shipping and what seems like delay tactics in sending me DVDs (I'm on the 3-at-a-time/unlimited plan). I noticed (on a Friday when all 3 DVDs were checked in) 1 DVD marked as shipping on Monday when today was Friday and the other 2 DVDs set for shipping Today. When I complained I was given a form answer and didn't like that very much, so I complained again. One of Netflix's responses was that the one DVD set for shipping the next day, instead of today, was probably coming from another DC. Well, in fact when I got the DVD it came from my local DC. I complained again, and suggested "maybe we could be given a choice...that the NEXT movie(s) is/are shipped no matter where they're from (or maybe 1 or 2 days away), or an option to decide that Netflix always ships the NEXT available movie from my local DC even if 10 movies are skipped over." This could possibly be in the account settings and not on an individual DVD basis, and the computer could figure it all out, not a Netflix team member and definitely not by the user on an individual basis (that would slow things down). I know when I tried BB, they would quite often skip over 6 or 8 movies (with an "available now" setting) and send me one that was available from my local DC so I didn't have to wait. I know this because I had asked them why and they said they send from my local DC first even if they have to skip 10 movies in my queue.

The following is the email I was sent from a CR at Netflix. The next day one of my movies was set to be shipped from OR (I'm in Michigan). I really like one line in particular from the following email (emphasis by me): "This can occur when your top choices are not available to you from your closest distribution center or the number of shipments to be processed by the distribution center on that day has been exceeded." So does this mean they are understaffed or only shipping so many a day from each DC? I'm confused...

"I am sorry you feel we are not hearing and understanding your concerns and that our previous response was not personalized enough. My hope is that I can better explain how we process and ship 1.5 million DVDs every day in order to meet the needs of our 7 million customers we service on a daily basis.

Overall, our company goal has always been to ship you the DVDs listed highest in your queue from the distribution center closest to you so that you get movies quickly, and hence, our operational practices and automated system is set up to meet this need. Unfortunately, we cannot alter the system to meet specific shipping requests of individual customers because we process so many discs everyday.

Because our disc inventory at every distribution center is constantly fluctuating and changing on a minute-by-minute basis, we may not know if a title is available to ship from the closest location until the shipping process is already underway. Our system automatically pulls the next available title from your queue and begins the automated process of locating the closest available copy, packaging it and shipping it to you. At no time is our system set up to give priority to titles within individual queues of customers that only want titles shipped to them that are only located within the closest distribution center to their address. If we were to do this, which we cannot, it would delay the shipment process by several days (even longer than it would take to mail from a distribution center located in another state), and thus we would not be meeting our goal to get you the movies you want as quickly as possible.

With this understood, your Netflix experience may include: (i) the shipment of your next available DVD occurring at least one business day following return of your previously viewed movie, (ii) delivery taking longer, as the shipments may not be processed from your local distribution center and (iii) the movies you receive coming from lower in your queue. For example, your next available DVD may not ship until at least one business day following our receipt of your returned movie. This can occur when your top choices are not available to you from your closest distribution center or the number of shipments to be processed by the distribution center on that day has been exceeded. When one or both of these conditions exist, your DVD will likely ship on the next business day and may come from an alternate distribution center.

We believe that our operational practices, including how we prioritize shipping and inventory allocation among our subscribers, provide a great value to all our subscribers."


Turnaround in the city of Austin remains crappy. It normally takes 2-3 days for DVDs to go about 10 miles and get checked in at the distro center. Not sure why this is. When I lived in New Orleans almost everything took a single day, even though the discs were going to Baton Rouge.


I live in San Antonio and the closest distribution center is in Austin (70-100 miles away). It takes about 4 days turnaround. 2-3 to get there, and 1-2 days to return. It is important to point out that I do not rent large quantities so I would not expect "throttling" to be in effect (how could I be a high level user with horrible turnaround times like that). If I want movies for the following weekend, I have to make sure I get all my movies in the mail on the Monday before.



"how could I be a high level user with horrible turnaround times like that"

EXACTLY!! That's exactly what I was thinking when I wrote my earlier comment on this post.

So, who are these 90% who receive 1-day turnaround?


I'm in Pennsylvania and we were having pretty good luck/service with netflix out of the Southeastern center when we were signed up for the three-out plan.

About four months ago, we upgraded to four-at-a-time. Suddenly, almost every time the fourth disc that came out of the queue was coming from a different center, usually either Minneapolis or the west coast, and taking two or three extra days to get here.

About a week ago, we started getting DirectTV and downgraded to the one-out-at-a-time plan. After the dust finally settled with the discs from the old plan going back and all, the first disc we're getting under this new plan is coming from St. Louis and was two days in the "shipping today" queue.

Not sure if this is gonna hold true for the next disc, but its looking a tad discouraging for continuing even at this low level.


I live in central NJ and have been getting my dvds in 1 day for two or three years now. During that time, I've been on different plans (6 out, 7 out, 8 out) with no difference in service. I usually rotate once a week + 2. So if I'm on the 8 out plan, I'll watch 10 per week.


I live in the Dallas-Fort Worth area about 35 miles from a NetFlix distribution center. I have only been with NetFlix with about six months, but my turnaround has always been one day both ways. If I send a disc on Monday, it is always received on Tuesday, a new one is sent immediately, and I receive it on Wednesday. Occasionally, it takes longer to get a disc if it is shipped from a more distant center. Every so often, NetFlix will receive a disc the same day I send it. This happens usually if I go inside the post office near where I work early in the morning. They must process stuff out that place quickly.

Anyway, I feel spoiled reading all the above problems that people are having. I am not an especially heavy user, but sometimes do watch movies the same day I receive them and send them back the next day.

I also have a Blockbuster account at the moment. I think they have a big distribution center in Dallas but the shipping from there is about 50/50 as to whether it comes in one day or two days.


"So, who are these 90% who receive 1-day turnaround?"

I don't think anyone gets 1-day turnaround (i.e. receive replacement one day after mailing return).

As for users that get one day shipping (both directions, i.e. 2-day turnaround) - I'm one, but I'm not a heavy user (12-15 a month on 5-out).


Hey, wannahear a funny thing? We also live in Oregon, not to far from you. We are near Alsea
on hiway 34 out of Corvallis, about 45 min from Salem too. If we mail from the local Post office, It usually was two days , going on three now but if we dropped off the mail in Newport, it was another day.Although the mail travels from Tidewater and Alsea to Salem and
Newport also goes to Salem? We also are having trouble getting new releases. We were getting them first thing but now our Queue is marked "Long Time". Funny thing is My daughters get them immediately. They live next door so to speak.


"I don't think anyone gets 1-day turnaround (i.e. receive replacement one day after mailing return)."

This is the statement from Netflix's website that was referring to earlier:

"More than 90% of Netflix subscribers live within one-day delivery postal zones."

I wish Netflix was a little more up front about whether you're "in" or "out."

Hunter McDaniel

Clearly the NF statement refers to one-way ship time, outbound. And I'm one of the 90(?) percent for whom this is true.

They're not saying you can get one-day round-trip.



I know it doesn't mean one-day roundtrip...sorry for using the phrase one-day turnaround. I'm talking about people who can get their discs from Netflix in a day AND who are able to send their discs back and have them received in a day. Sorry for not being clear enough.

I don't get one-day, one-way ship time either to or from the distribution center as my earlier comment indicated, which Netflix says is true for over 90% of its subscribers.


Not to belabor the point, but I think Hunter is right. NetFlix' statement about one day delivery is for disks getting to customers, not returns.

A lot of people who get one day delivery (thanks to presort) may not get one day return, unless they're dropping the returns at the main post office for their closest distribution center.

I think NetFlix is probably being honest about the 90% claim, simply because most people (not just NetFlix customers, but most people) live in or near major metropolitan centers. As for letting you know if you're one of the 90%, I think that's what the free two week trial is for.


When I lived in Sacramento, CA there was a distribution center about 30 minutes from where we lived, so as you can imagine shipping was ridiculously fast. Now that I live in a small town, Staunton, VA, where the nearest distribution center is about 2 hours away, shipping seems to take an extra day sometimes, but not every time.


I live in rural N.C. about 100 miles from the nearest distribution. One way time either way rarely exceeds one day. Overall, very pleased with service.


We've been NF members for several years and live in the Houston area, close to a distribution center. Service used to be 1 day turn around for the most part. But the last few months it's become very slow. It takes NF 2-3 or even 4 days to "receive" a return and 2-4 days for us to receive a movie once it has "shipped." Sometimes I think it is the USPS, but why would their level of service suddenly change when they were fairly reliable in the past? This summer I started watching movies during my treadmill workouts so my turnaround was frequent...low and behold, service slows down considerably. Very frustrating, exsp. since we are on the 6 at a time plan.

Edward R Murrow

"As for letting you know if you're one of the 90%, I think that's what the free two week trial is for"

Excellent point. Netflix busts hard to make sure that free trial customers are in the 90%. Once customers start paying, then the throttle kicks in.

I suppose an analogy would be a dope dealer who gives product away in order to hook users and make them pay once they're addicted.


I have the same problem Ben. I live in Castle Rock, CO, just outside Denver. For me, the problem seems to be that the mail carrier comes to my house late (after 3pm) and so I suspect doesn't get back to the post office until after the truck destined for Denver. Consequently, it takes 2 days for my mailer to get to the distribution center. If I mail from a mail box in Castle Rock then it arrives the next day. I've taken to mailing my Netflix from work rather than home now.

Hunter McDaniel

Whatever, Edward.

So you think NF puts some special code on the discs going out to heavy users (something like the dreaded SSSS on your boarding pass) and then the post office knows to send those discs out slower?

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