Thursday, March 28, 2013

Random Thoughts: Netflix Fail

I’ve been renting discs from Netflix for quite a while.  I’ve also been streaming since way back when they first started offering the service.  Back in the beginning, the streaming came free with the discs rentals but the selection was mostly major suckage.  Over all these years I’ve mostly been satisfied with the Netflix service, but over the past year or so, the disc rental department seems to be on a downward spiral. 

I guess Netflix has a reason for letting this side of the business go all to hell, but I’m not sure I understand why especially when it’s still profitable.  But in the last twelve months, I’ve returned more broken discs than I had in all the previous years combined.  And it’s really getting to be a pain in the ass. 

I guess I’m seriously considering unsubscribing, but if I give up the disc service, I’ll probably quit on the streaming as well.  After all, I still have Amazon Prime and do I really need both?  And Redbox Streaming is out there somewhere waiting in the wings as soon as they put it on one of my devices that I already own.

I’ve been on this Stallone kick for a couple of weeks and had the film Victory starring Sylvester Stallone, Michael Caine, and directed by John Huston,  in my DVD Queue.  Somehow along the way I had missed ever seeing the film so I was looking forward to it arriving.  Well it did arrive, on time, but cracked all to hell.  Exasperating and a pain in the ass for this to happen,  but something I’m learning to live with more and more every month when it comes to Netflix. 

They do give you a choice.  When you report it as being broken you can either have them send the same movie or just request for them to send the next one in your queue.  Just about every time except once I have requested the same movie.  If I didn’t want to see it, I wouldn’t have ordered it. And that’s what I did this time.  I requested Victory once again.

Keep in mind that when a disc is obviously unplayable as this one was, and you have to wait on a replacement, you’re kind of getting screwed.  Because instead of a two day turn around, it turns into a four day turn around and you have no movie rental during that time.  Even longer if it takes more than one day for the disc to get to you.  It’s not a great policy but one I understand.  Give someone an extra disc for their inconvenience and you end up with people reporting bad discs on a regular basis.

So finally the discs comes for the second time.  Immediately upon taking it out of the envelope, I notice there is writing scrawled across the front and it is anything but a good sign

And when I took the disc out as you can see from the graphic at the top of the article, it was toast.  I didn’t know whether to be exasperated at Netflix or one not too bright customer.  One thing Netflix makes very clear.  Don’t put a note in an envelope, and don’t write on it.  Nobody will read it.  That’s why you go on the web site and report a problem.  And it’s not that hard.  Two clicks and you’re done.  Practically everything at Netflix is done by machine, and if a human does sort the envelopes, they sure as hell don’t have time to read them from the few rare videos I’ve seen about the inner workings of Reed Hastings baby.

Obviously something was wrong with the disc before they even shipped it out.  It was had to at least have been badly scratched  up when some not too bright dingbat customer sent it back.  If only half the movie played, this person couldn’t realize that there was a serious problem?  Have people become that irrationally ignorant that they would actually think Netflix would send out half the movie?

So I get left holding the bag and now I had to decide whether I wanted to send it back and try for Victory again, or just get something else.  On top of that, when I report it, they’ll obviously pull the disc and surely must think I’m the dumb ass who wrote a message across the envelope.   I’m tempted not even to let them know, but then I would probably be putting the next person to get the disc in the same position that I was in.  And I’m sure they would anonymously be cursing me as being the stupid idiotic customer who scribbled on the front of an envelope.

I ended up reporting it.  But I decided to give up on Victory for now and will be watching Stephen King’s Thinner instead.  Or Christine.  Or the original Mighty Joe Young.  All fodder for future reviews. 

Back in December, I rented the movie Victor/Victoria.  It was broken and I sent it back.  I didn’t report it  but I probably should have.  The reason I didn’t was just a couple of weeks before that I had received the Alfred Hitchcock film Torn Curtain.  And it too was cracked all to hell.   I reported it and ordered it again.  Maybe I was becoming afraid that if I had too many broken discs, Netflix would pull my membership.  I do know they will cancel your ass if you suddenly report too many “lost discs.”  Was this the same thing?

Several years back I ordered the movie Fathom from Netflix.  It was a movie with Raquel Welch that I had seen as a teenager.  The first disc arrived broken so I asked for a replacement.  The next disc came from somewhere in Texas.  It arrived broken as well.  I decided to try again, but the next disc had to be shipped all the way from New York to my place of residence in California.  All in all, it took two weeks before I received a copy of Fathom that was playable.  

Now, Fathom is no longer available on Netflix but that’s not unusual.  I have my doubts these days if they are replacing any catalogue titles at all.  But you may console yourself with my review or order the movie from Amazon while it’s still available at all.  It’s been in and out of print.  So I just ordered a copy from Amazon while it was on my mind.  The fact that it is coming from an outside seller (but handled and shipped by Amazon so it’s okay) does not bode well for the future availability of Fathom.   And I’ll probably just break down and buy a copy of Victory from Amazon as well since it’s less than six dollars at the moment.

I had a grand total of seven broken discs from Netflix last year, and already have had two this year.  Once upon a time I was averaging one a year, and that one included discs that just wouldn’t play although there was no visible breakage.  There comes a time when you begin to wonder if it’s money worth spending since Hastings doesn’t even seem to even believe in that side of the business anymore.  That along with the fact that the catalog titles are starting to dwindle down as I see the word “saved” more and more every day.  I’m just not that enamored of the streaming selection that it would keep me around.  But we’ll see what happens.

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