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Netflix Throttling Heavy Renters 550

dankinit writes "Netflix has begun using a 'fairness algorithm' that slows shipments of movies to heavy users to protect profits, according to an MSNBC article. Netflix revised its terms of use in January 2005 to read, 'In determining priority for shipping and inventory allocation, we give priority to those members who receive the fewest DVDs through our service'. Since revising this policy last year, more and more users are realizing 'heavy renters are more likely to encounter shipping delays and less likely to immediately be sent their top choices' according to the article."
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Netflix Throttling Heavy Renters

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  • ironic (Score:5, Insightful)

    by User 956 ( 568564 ) on Saturday February 11, 2006 @07:48AM (#14693677) Homepage
    That's ironic.. because just today, they sent me this email:

    Since you're former member of Netflix, we thought you'd like to know that Netflix now offers a greater selection of plans that start at just $9.99 a month. Come back and enjoy the improvements we've made, including our new Friends and Profiles features. With over 55,000 movies and delivery in about 1 business day, Netflix is better than ever.

    I guess "screwing over people who watch a lot of movies" is one of their "improvements" that they've made.
    • It's my fault (Score:5, Informative)

      by fishdan ( 569872 ) * on Saturday February 11, 2006 @08:26AM (#14693753) Homepage Journal
      I don't know that I'd call it "Screwing Over" but to be fair, but it is deceptive advertizing. I'm not a huge fan of class action lawsuits, but I do trust them to take care of things like this. Everyone should make sure that they get their piece of the settlement, and feel free to organize and sue again until their practices are actually outlined.

      I wonder though if my habits screwed everyone...my general netflix usage is DVDShrinking [mrbass.org] the disc as soon as I get it (my mail gets delivered about 2:00pm) and then walking it down to the Post Office for the 5:00pm outgoing mail collection. I've wondered if this sets off any flags, and I guess it does. I think maybe I'll throw a 24 hour delay into there.

      My Bad.

      • by vp_development ( 789333 ) on Saturday February 11, 2006 @08:29AM (#14693760)
        ...My Bad... If you're sharing on p2p, there's no need to apologize to me.
      • Re:It's my fault (Score:2, Insightful)

        While we're on the subject of "ulimited" being deceptive, let's also sue ISPs for offering "unlimited" internet access. I wanted to have 800 hours of interent access in January, but because of my ISP's "throttling", I was unable to exceed 744 hours of internet access, a far cry from the "unlimited" they advertised.

        And how about downloading? My dial-up was throttled down to 28,8 which meant I couldn't download an unlimited amount of content, my so called unlimited account was throttled to force me to have a
      • Re:It's my fault (Score:5, Insightful)

        by paeanblack ( 191171 ) on Saturday February 11, 2006 @10:05AM (#14694022)
        Copying Netflix movies is like bringing a doggie bag to an all-you-can-eat buffet.

        Suing them for throttling is like complaining when the waitress won't clear your plates every two minutes.

        In advertising, "unlimited" is still used within the context of reasonable behavior. If copying a Netflix movie were "reasonable", you would not need to ship the discs back, since they could make a new copy themselves for less than the cost of the return postage and let you keep the old one instead of bothering with DVDShrink.
        • Re:It's my fault (Score:5, Insightful)

          by iphayd ( 170761 ) on Saturday February 11, 2006 @12:53PM (#14694693) Homepage Journal
          "Suing them for throttling is like complaining when the waitress won't clear your plates every two minutes."

          No, its more like complaining that you can't get a new plate until 5 minutes after you've finished with the food on the previous plate.

          The advertisement states "Unlimited," which should translate into "Everything we can do to make sure that you have three movies checked out to you at any one time." Having secret or public delays is not right, because that is the antithesis of "Unlimited." In otherwords, NetFlix is lying when they say "Unlimited."

          The whole idea behind "three movies" was that it takes roughly three days for the old movie to get to Netflix and the new movie to get to you. You should be able to get 28-31 movies/month if you watch a movie a day. However, if you are watching that many movies, I suggest you do something else.

          As for those jackasses that are ripping the movies. Why? 1) what you are doing is illegal, not just on DMCA standpoint, but also because you don't even own the media. You are renting the movie. Renting voids any right for time-shifting, media shifting, backup, or any of the other excuses you think you have. 2) If you want the movie that bad, either buy it or put it back in the Queue for when you want to watch it again. There are very few movies I have an interest in buying anymore. I just add them to my queue. If they are good enough to watch again, I return them and add them back into the end of my Queue. When they come up again, I decide if that is what I want to watch. If not, I move it back again.
          • Some people have a fetish for cataloging data it seems. I know people who rip movies even though they have no intention of ever watching them again, it's just a point of penis envy competition to point out they have that many binders of ripped DVDs
          • There is a perception that there is no legitimate reason for violating the DMCA, and that people who are doing this are selfish. Think what you want, but I have an anonymous friend who spends uncompensated hours a week ACTIVELY opposing copyright law by breaking it. He's not doing it for shits and giggles. He's doing it because he thinks copyright is morally wrong. I'm gonna throw some Thoreau at you [indiana.edu]:

            Unjust laws exist: shall we be content to obey them, or shall we endeavor to amend them, and obey the

        • Re:It's my fault (Score:5, Insightful)

          by msobkow ( 48369 ) on Saturday February 11, 2006 @01:10PM (#14694797) Homepage Journal

          Not to defend outright piracy, but I know many people (sometimes myself as well) who rent and return movies within 24 hours. It only takes a couple hours to watch a movie, and it beats the heck out of TV tripe most of the time. Some of them will watch a couple movies a night.

          So for them, this "heavy usage pattern" is perfectly normal and not a sign of piracy. Having their shipments "throttled" means they aren't getting the full use of the service they signed up for. It's up to the service provider to adjust capacity and/or pricing tiers to deal with the load, not choke off paid subscriptions that actually use the service as advertised.

    • by MisterSquid ( 231834 ) on Saturday February 11, 2006 @09:17AM (#14693884)

      I guess "screwing over people who watch a lot of movies" is one of their "improvements" that they've made.

      I'd like to gently disagree with the article and with the parent poster because this is something, I believe, that Netflix has been doing since day one. I'm guessing, though, that now they either have a auditable trail (e.g. software) or for other reasons they are formalizing throttling frequent renters.

      In 2002 I began a Netflix subscription which back in those days came in one all-you-can-watch for about $20.00 (iirc). I watch movies sometimes three at a go because it is a professional interest of mine and, well, I love film. So, for my first couple of months, I was watching maybe 12 films a month.

      My third month or so, I stopped getting DVDs. I checked my queue and discovered they'd not received the DVDs I returned. After 2 weeks, I reported the DVDs missing even though, by gum, I knew I had sent them back. My queue resumed and when I returned the 5 DVDs within one week of viewing them the USPS mysteriously failed to deliver those, too. While considering reporting these lost DVDs to the US Postmaster, I came across an article in WIRED explaining how Netflix loses money on frequent renters [wired.com]: "Some subscribers rent twenty or more. (Which is a problem: Netflix loses money on postage for households that rent more than five a month.)" (emphasis added).

      That told me all I needed to know and I cancelled my Netflix subscription. Occam's razor is here inadequate since it would suggest that the DVDs were in fact getting lost in the mail. But I had been using the USPS for objects large and small for 20 years by that point and not a single piece of mail had ever been lost either coming to or going from me. And I'm supposed to believe that somehow, of all the mail I send, that only my DVDs to Netflix get lost?

      Netflix is a company like any other in that it wants to make a profit. However, in 2002 they engaged (I believe) in unethical business practices to protect their bottom line rather than, for example, simply billing renters for postage overages. Netflix will never get any of my money ever again and when Internet distribution finally kills them, I probably won't care enough to tell this story again.

    • Re:ironic (Score:3, Interesting)

      I guess "screwing over people who watch a lot of movies" is one of their "improvements" that they've made.

      Actually, this is nothing new [slashdot.org], despite the summary for this story leading with Netflix has begun using a 'fairness algorithm'. The article I link to dates back to April 2003 and such 'punishments' were apparent back then.

      I am signed up with ScreenSelect [screenselect.co.uk], a British version of Netflix, and it can be quite obvious that they throttle heavy users. For instance, I'm on the most expensive three-disk plan for
    • Surely prioritising people who don't rent as many movies is an improvement - I'd certainly see it as such.
    • Isn't there an obvious answer?

      1) Start a Netflix subscription. When throttling starts, cancel.

      2) Start a Blockbuster subscription. When throttling starts, cancel.

      3) Go back to step one, this time using another person's name in your household, with a different credit card. This will be indistinguishable from a new renter/owner of your house or apartment.

      The above demonstrates one of the problems with a company being tricky with customers: Customers can be tricky too, and there are a lot more of them.

      Before, Saddam got Iraq oil profits & paid part to kill Iraqis. Now a few Americans share Iraq oil profits, & U.S. taxpayers pay to kill Iraqis. Improvement?
  • Their profits or their customers?
    • Their profits or their customers?

      Who cares? It's their business. You surely don't think that they casually make decisions like this. Some guy that goes through a dozen movies a week (really, just stop for a second and actually think about that, ok?) is not their typical customer, and is probably just ripping movies as fast as he can blow the dust out of his DVD burner rack.

      But it doesn't matter, because if there's really a large market for people who must have more than one DVD a day for $10 a month,
  • As long as a contract is well understood by both parties and voluntarilty entered into, it's fine.

    NF have discovered they can't operate an entirely flat-rate service and have modified their behaviour accordingly.

    One could argue that customers originally signed up to a contract which has been unilaterially modified; but I would expect the T&C to allow them in that circumstance to terminate their contract without prejudice.

    NF can offer a certain service for a certain cost. Either you like it or you don't
    • by globaljustin ( 574257 ) on Saturday February 11, 2006 @08:09AM (#14693717) Journal
      I really hate that this is happening, but it makes total sense. First, netfix has its customers by the balls. NF is guarateed that automatically billed monthly fee. They are counting on people being ignorant to new, abusive policies like this one that penalizes people for using the service they pay for.

      Before I get any further, let me address your defense of NF:

      It would only be ethically wrong if they could change their contract and you could *not* leave

      first of all, shame on you for defending such abusive business practices. second, this is only ethical if NF sent out a notice saything something to the effect of:

      we are changing our policy regarding rentals. we have designed a computer program to identify people who rent excessively (more than x number of rentals a month) and those excessive renters will have their movies shipped later, and be put lower in the que for new releases

      Anything less than the above admission from NF in PLAIN LANGUAGE is abuse of their understanding with their clients, and no ammount of counterpoint/cabal.bs can change that fact.

      another thing, from TFA:

      After collecting consumer opinions about the Web's 40 largest retailers last year, Ann Arbor, Mich., research firm ForeSeeResults rated Netflix as "the cream of the crop in customer satisfaction."

      so this is what passes as collecting customer feedback??? this 'foreseeresults' company is probably full of shit...just like most of the people in their profession...an evil, self-sustaining virus of a profession that only circulates bullshit and misperception.
      • by paeanblack ( 191171 ) on Saturday February 11, 2006 @08:57AM (#14693845)
        I really hate that this is happening, but it makes total sense. First, netfix has its customers by the balls. NF is guarateed that automatically billed monthly fee. They are counting on people being ignorant to new, abusive policies like this one that penalizes people for using the service they pay for.

        Give me a break...am I supposed to believe that the Netflix customer that gets 12 movies per week is some wide-eyed babe struggling to understand this brave new world of technology?


        The only reason the abusers have been copying movies faster than they can watch them is they knew the deal was too good to last. Otherwise, what would be the hurry?

        The people getting throttled aren't "ignorant to new, abusive polices"; they have been scrutinizing the Netflix TOS and dreading this day's arrival. They know they got a good ride. Now the ride is over. Deal with it.
        • by farker haiku ( 883529 ) on Saturday February 11, 2006 @09:46AM (#14693964) Journal

          Give me a break...am I supposed to believe that the Netflix customer that gets 12 movies per week is some wide-eyed babe struggling to understand this brave new world of technology?


          The people getting throttled aren't "ignorant to new, abusive polices"; they have been scrutinizing the Netflix TOS and dreading this day's arrival. They know they got a good ride. Now the ride is over. Deal with it.

          Actually, my wife wife and I just had a baby (well, she did all the hard work). My wife was just asking me last night how to add a header to a word document. Not two breaths later she was saying she had gained a reputation at work for being the tech savvy person in the office. When I was done laughing, I told her how to do the header thing.

          While you may wonder what this has to do with netflix, my wife watches dvds from netflix all the friggin time. She only works 12 hours a week. The baby sleeps a lot. We don't even have a DVD burner.

          Recently, my wife has been complaining that the netflix rentals have been taking longer and longer to arrive. It seems that every three day holiday weekend for the last few months we've had to go to Blockbuster to rent a movie - simply because there wasn't a netflix movie in the house. I'm emailing the link to my wife, and I guarantee we'll be considering alternate vendors.
      • I honestly do not see this at all. I have never heard that netfilx refuses to stop subscriptions or has agents who get fired if they let a subscriber go. I have had to deal with companies like these. Give comments in the netflix threads, I do not think that netflix is one of these companies, therefore it can hardly be said that netflix has anyone by the balls by autobilling. One just needs to cancel it.

        Additionally, netflix is a cut rate bussiness. The model is based on providing cheap products, whic

    • So, mensa master, your stunningly brilliant conclusion is that a company engaging in bait and switch tactics (which, is what this is, if you offer unlimited, you simply cannot "throttle") on an grand scale is completely fine, as long as the customer can terminate their contract without repercussions.
      I know this post is a bit acerbic, but your argument is complete and utter apologist horseshit.

      Are people making too big a deal out of this? Probably, but if a company advertises something - they should actually
    • by kfg ( 145172 ) on Saturday February 11, 2006 @08:35AM (#14693787)
      As long as a contract is well understood by both parties and voluntarilty entered into, it's fine.

      I don't suppose you RTFA and discovered that they denied it for months after they'd been doing it and only changed the terms of service after a lawsuit was actually filed, which they offered $2.5 million to settle?

    • by wfberg ( 24378 ) on Saturday February 11, 2006 @08:45AM (#14693816)
      As long as a contract is well understood by both parties and voluntarilty entered into, it's fine.

      For existing customers, it's a simple bait-and-switch tactic. Offer one thing, deliver the other.

      For new customers (or those who are actually informed of the choice and consciously agree with it) the new contract is basically, well, not understood. A contract is a promise to do something in return for something else. The something else is clear; you have to pay netflix money. And in return? Well, they won't say you will get anything. Not guaranteed.

      Of course, people were already getting delays, so what's changed isn't what you're getting. But it's the fact netflix doesn't say they want to even make the effort anymore. They promise... nothing.

      That's not a contract. That's a lottery.

      Seeing as they're called "netflix" and not "loan-a-dvd lottery co." I'd say they're trying to pull a fast one.
  • Bait (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward

    It's like the British ADSL industry... you sell something you know to be unsustainable, then add fair usage policies.
    • Re:Bait (Score:5, Insightful)

      by loraksus ( 171574 ) on Saturday February 11, 2006 @09:04AM (#14693861) Homepage
      A very good comparison.

      My experience is with the Canadian internet access industry - and mirrors (and, I believe, will predict) the netflix situation quite well.

      Shaw (who provides cable internet) once advertised "unlimited" service.
      Once people started signing up, they realized that they weren't willing to actually offer unlimited service.
      Then they put a statement about "excessive usage" in the AUP - it wasn't defined, of course, but people still got nasty letters and the mouthbreathers who man their "excessive use" line even threatened to charge people for "excessive usage". These "excessive usage" fines were, of course, pulled completely out of their ass. No documentation could be found regarding when the limit was reached, what the overage charges were, etc, etc, but people were still threatened with, and possibly even were charged those fines. An almost magical fee, but one that would appear on your bill and would have to be paid, or your service would be disconnected and your account sent to collections.
      After several nasty letters from lawyers and possibly some lawsuits, Shaw finally decided to write down the bandwidth limit in their advertising, at almost the exact same time their competitors did the same. Sounds like a couple people had a meeting.

      What you can clearly see is that not only was Shaw involved in false advertising, but it continued to engage in such criminal activity far after their illegal activities were exposed. Moreover, their actions clearly were to the detriment of the person buying the services. Furthermore, collusion - whether intentional or just the other company matching policies - between Shaw and its competitors has led to an continuously decreasing level of service for the end user and shaw has suffered virtually no consequences.

      In the end, netflix will face virtually no consequences (and before anyone says anything about the settlement, please, don't waste your breath. Bumping your users to the next tier for a month - and not bumping them back down at the end - is undeniably a win win situation for netflix).
      Furthermore, the shady - if not outright fraudulent - actions of netflix in stating the return date of dvds*, has gone, and will go unpunished. In the end, blockbuster (ok it has) and the completion will eventually adopt a similar tos - putting in writing what it is doing - and the situation will only get worse as time goes on. Furthermore, "advanced throttling" - such as sending the dvds on time, but from a service center across the country - will become commonplace, since once something is in writing, it will be used.

      And finally - and perhaps most importantly - "unlimited" will still be used in their advertising until a regulatory agency or a number of lawsuits convince them to change it - both Blockbuster and Netflix currently do on their websites - even though their ToS states that they throttle. And have no doubt, once one company changes it, the other will change their advertising within a month.

      *If you're being throttled, if you send back 3 dvds - even 3 dvds in the same envelope - netflix will receive 2 a couple minutes apart and then "receive" the last one several hours later. Try it out ;)
  • by syneca ( 112262 ) on Saturday February 11, 2006 @07:58AM (#14693694)
    Netflix did this to me. When I contacted customer service to ask why movies were suddenly taking so long to arrive, they sent me unrelated generic responses and then blamed it on the postal system. I finally sent them this email:

    "Thank you for the response. It does not address my question. The problem is not with the transit time; it is with the processing time at Netflix. When I ship the DVDs back, they get there in one day. Then there is a period of 5 to 6 business days before the next DVD is shipped to me. Once it is actually shipped, it arrives in one day. I recently had to rent a movie from Blockbuster because Netflix took so long to process my DVDs. Netflix has wide selection, but I am becoming frustrated with the generic customer service responses and the lack of service in general. Please send me a real reply."

    and they replied with this one:

    "Thanks for your inquiry.

    What titles are you referring to specifically? Rentals process within one business day from the time we receive a return.

    We process nearly 100% of returns the same day we receive them. When we check-in a return, an e-mail is automatically and promptly sent to you to let you know that we have received your DVD.

    Our goal is to ship you the DVDs listed highest in your Queue. We try to ship you DVDs from the distribution center closest to you so that you get movies quickly. Often, on the same day that we receive a DVD from you, we will ship the next available DVD from your Queue. In certain instances, your next available DVD will not ship until the next business day following our receipt of your returned movie. This can occur, for example, 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 this happens, your DVD will ship on the next business day and may come from an alternate distribution center.

    If you have any further questions or concerns, please feel free to contact us.

    Netflix Customer Service"
    • Yeah, so they sent you another generic response. I've had the same experience, as I'm sure many other /.ers have as well.

      Did you get any actual, undeniable interation with their customer service?

      I think what Netflix needs is some real competition. I've considered switching to Blockbuster, but I've been informed by a movie critic friend of mine that they suck too.

      Any other viable alternatives yet?
  • not the only ones... (Score:5, Informative)

    by loraksus ( 171574 ) on Saturday February 11, 2006 @08:04AM (#14693705) Homepage
    Blockbuster also does this - basically, if you send 3 dvds back - even in the same envelope, blockbuster will "receive" 2 at x time and then "receive" the other one later.

    We aren't stupid, so we can see that this is clearly bulllshit on their part.

    As a result, you'll only get 2 dvds shipped out that day, and a third will ship a day later. That said, blockbuster is really forgiving about missing dvds (damn post office lost 15 or so in a couple months)

    BTW if you want a free month with blockbuster and have had their service for a while (3 months in my case), go to the cancellation page and they will give you a free month or two.
    Not sure what netflix does for customer retention, but I'm sure it is something. The legal settlement with netflix is a joke, btw (google for details)

    Also, for those with "long delays" for certain movies under netflix - try killing your queue and re-adding the delayed movie. Theory is that they have to send you something and you should get bumped. Of course, this does kill your queue...
    • ...and have had their service for a while (3 months in my case)
      I would hardly characterize 3 months as a while...I would consider you a new customer.
    • damn post office lost 15 or so in a couple months)

      I have a post above talking about my experience with DVDs lost in the USPS system. Not to rehash, the short version is: the USPS almost never loses mail and if it is "losing" mail on a regular basis you can GUARANTEE that the USPS Postal inspector would be very curious to hear your story.

      Your postal inspector might be a very unsexy bureaucrat but let me tell you, he or she DOES NOT fuck around. Write a letter to your Postal Inspector explaining that yo

      • Maybe, but bb's process was literally checking a box and hitting submit, they never cut off my service or anything. I'd have to say at least 1/2 did show up eventually. I think it is less theft and more "the envelopes suck and fall apart and the loose bits get collected and picked up every x weeks". Netflix had really good envelopes in the begining, but they seemed to get cheaper over time. BB's were usually really weak.
  • by Huntr ( 951770 ) on Saturday February 11, 2006 @08:05AM (#14693709)

    Hastings said the company has no specified limit on rentals, but "`unlimited' doesn't mean you should expect to get 10,000 a month."

    Well, der, no one wants 10k movies a month.

    But, if Netflix had a point they didn't really want people going over, why not just advertise X movies per month, instead of unlimited? According to the articles, most people don't rent more than 11 per month. Set the limit higher than that, but at a point where they can make the profit they are aiming for with throttling.

    They don't end up looking like buttholes if they are just honest about it up front.
    • They don't end up looking like buttholes if they are just honest about it up front.

      you're 100% right. What is wrong, however, is that our way of doing business rewards businesses who are as hidden and dishonest about their business practices as possible. Really, it comes down to pleasing shareholders vs. customers...

      good businesspeople understand that pleasing shareholders and customers is, at it's core, the same thing...anyone who makes a distinction is selling out
  • Netflix contact info (Score:5, Informative)

    by loraksus ( 171574 ) on Saturday February 11, 2006 @08:20AM (#14693740) Homepage
    Give 'em a ring.

    M-F 6AM-7PM, Sa-Su 6AM-2:30PM
    • Just gave them a ring. Thanks. I asked for $5 refund (quarter of the $20 monthly fee) since I didn't have any movies for one week. If everyone did this, I think they might abandon this policy pretty soon. They don't even have to delay shipping to you... They can just ship from Hawaii to NY and vice versa to make sure it goes slower. I, personally, will call and complain about every movie that is late now. Looks like they just got slashdoted.
  • few days (Score:2, Funny)

    by wwmedia ( 950346 )
    hmm why wait few days, when ur nearest Usenet outlet delivers in few hours? beat that netflix
    • Official DVD rental has a larger selection especially when it comes to older titles. Usenet has the faster delivery but you have to take what's available at the time, this tends to be the higher demand new releases, which are harder to get on the legitimate rental platform. They both cost about the same @ $12-20 per month depending on the subscription plan.

      Many (techi) people choose to subscribe to both instead of getting a premium rate cable / satellite service.

      Now if only there was a totally legitimate wa
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Analysis of Netflix's DVD Allocation System [slashdot.org] - "Netflix uses the number of movies you have previously rented to determine your priority in getting movies. The more movies you rented during your last billing cycle, the less chance you have of receiving a movie versus an individual who has rented fewer movies. This is why new users have great success getting their movies and older or heavy users have a difficult time getting some movies."
  • by Wansu ( 846 ) on Saturday February 11, 2006 @08:32AM (#14693776)

    Perhaps they just have too many customers.
  • by Crashmarik ( 635988 ) on Saturday February 11, 2006 @08:33AM (#14693780)
    Netflix still advertises as an unlimited service. They make no attempt to inform the subscriber that they are throttling them. This is at the very least a deceptive practice.

    Now when you couple the throttling practice with the terms of the lawsuit settlement, the subscriber gets a bump in service level for one month theres a real problem. What prevents them from just further adjusting their shipping algorithym so there is no actual bump ??

    Say what you want the problem is netflix not informing their customers about what they are actually buying.
  • Once in a while break the DVDs and tell them it was "Postal Service" fault if Netflix lies to you that your DVD is delayed because of "Postal Service."

    That oughta fuckup that fairness algorithm.

    If it's the cost, just increase the subscription fee. If it's the piracy, just limit the DVD rental amount per month. But don't fucking lie to your customers like everyone is a cheap ass thief who's out to get everyone in Hollywood.
  • Workaround (Score:2, Interesting)

    by cloudkj ( 685320 )
    Easy workaround this problem. Create multiple accounts, and apply a simple round-robin algorithm to distribute the renting.
  • by Kris_J ( 10111 ) * on Saturday February 11, 2006 @08:47AM (#14693825) Homepage Journal
    Whenever you have an ongoing monthly subscription to something the provider has no incentive to do anything fast, or at all. Microsoft has demonstrated this, as has Blizzard, now its Netflix's turn. When I trialed a similar system in Australia I worked out that postal delays and scratched discs were like free money to the company. (Meanwhile, the selection was seriously crap.) These days I buy ex-rental DVDs from a friend at work who also owns an old-school video rental place.
  • I was thinking of signing up with Netflix, but this business decision changed by mind. I give my business to companies who appreciate their loyal customers. Obviously Netflix isn't one of them.
  • by 99luftballon ( 838486 ) on Saturday February 11, 2006 @09:00AM (#14693854)
    I'm not a Netflix user but I know those that are. The heaviest users tend to be evangelists for the company and have an important role in growing the company via word of mouth, the most effective form of advertising.

    If this gets widespread coverage I can see them having some serious problems, that would only be slightly mitigated by people who aren't heavy users joining for the preferential service they would get.

    While the company isn't doing anything worse than credit card companies that cut the time required for payment for those that pay in time in an attempt to get them to miss the due date. If you don't like those kind of practices don't use the company.
  • I think this is very old news. I saw something (here even; I'm pretty sure anyway) where a guy queued the same movies on two different accounts with different rental activity and saw different waiting times listed. The light renter account had shorter or no wait times for availability on new releases. The article mentions this. At the time the person was only checking for new release wait times and I don't think the phenomenon applied to older movies that were less in demand. I could be wrong it was a l

  • Wonder what the difference in pollution is, between sending a disc in meatspace, on a truck, vs. multicasting out a few electrons worth of a movie is?

    That is, supposing the telecom (originally typo'd this as "telecon"... freudian slip?) industry hadn't defrauded us competely, by charging us for first-class broadband while continuing to deliver third-world, 1970s technology...
  • Maybe it's just me, but I've had nothing but good things to say about Netflix since I signed up back in May of 2004. For $18 per month (3 at a time plan), I've always got something to watch sitting on my desk. Granted, I don't go through all three movies per day, but I do get three or four movies per week for the price of one rental ($4.50). The speed has always been great; I can send back a movie on Monday, have them receive it on Tuesday and send out the next one on my list, and have that new disc on m
  • I've had this discussion over and over again with people. It's those "infrequent renters" that make the type of service "heavy renters" like. Netflix, based on revenue in an area, probably processes X DVD's a day. If you are an infrequent renter you jump to the head of the line making sure that you get the movie you want. Heavy renters OTOH might face small delays. This problem is conounded when a regional center is going through a capacity issue and the heavy users will be the first to notice the prob
  • Weird Netflix Story (Score:3, Interesting)

    by TallMatthew ( 919136 ) on Saturday February 11, 2006 @09:50AM (#14693971)
    I rented a movie from them a few years ago and mistakenly returned a Rolling Stones CD in the envelope. The DVD player went unused for months. When I went to do something with it, I found their DVD and wondered what the deal was. They had processed the return as if nothing happened. One of those mysteries of life ... this is what I figured.

    About a year later, I got an envelope from them in the mail. It had the Stones CD in it. My guess is the DVD I rented wasn't that popular, and had just then been sent to someone, who subsequently discovered my Stones CD and sent it back to Netflix. I thought it showed something they actually bothered to return it.

  • ... makes the rules.

    Reed needs to understand that a survey that says "they're a bargain" can coexist with the one that says "they're evil bad".

    They can justify this all they want, but it's the equivalent of the folks at a Blockbuster store seeing you come in for the 3rd time that week, scooping armfuls of new DVDs off the shelf and yelling "Hide! Everybody hide!" and ducking under the counter. How professional. "Cheese Shop" sketch anyone?

    Plus the agreement you enter into contains such nice phrases as "W
    • Uhm you aren't right at all about the blockbuster thing. Netflix pays shipping costs for the whole thing. So if you are renting enough movies to cause them to lose money in shipping, they sure as hell have a right to be upset. So they are quite justified, and this isn't even remotely similar to your run and hide scenario.

      The other part about cancelling your service...well...you are dealing with a private business, not the government. The government doesn't say they have to do business with you for any
  • So what? They throttle the highest volume users. ISPs do that all the time and noone is bitching, but you are still paying a flat monthly rate. However, how many people here are honestly turning around that many movies that quickly? I can see 1 maybe 2 per day being watched assuming you have a job that actually pays for your NF subscription and all. If they are shipping out most of their movies to the guys who rip and return, that would also mean that the honest customers are less likely to recieve THEI
  • by decomp ( 87659 ) on Saturday February 11, 2006 @11:52AM (#14694384)
    My wife and I have been using Netflix since Nov. 2004, and we have experienced a marked decline in service over that time. Having just learned about the "throttling", we sent them the following letter:
    I have just been alerted to your new changes in the "Terms of Service" regarding heavy users. Personally, I am appalled by the intent and also the wording of this recent change.

    Perhaps you have serious abusers of your system, but my husband and I are teachers who work 12 hour days. Watching movies is one of our only luxuries. We have seen our level of service go down significantly since we signed on with Netflix. Now we understand why.

    After reading some enlightening articles about Netflix and its practices, we will be seriously considering whether or not to keep our relationship with you.

    Most importantly, we will no longer be suggesting your service to family and friends, which we have done many times in the past. Instead, we will be sending copies of the articles concerning your business practices to family and friends who already have the service so that they might be aware of what's going on.

    For what it's worth: We would have been happy to pay a reasonable surcharge in months when we rented more DVDs. What your company has chosen to do instead is offensive and insulting.
    Here are some eye-opening parts of their terms of use:
    We make no guaranty as to the shipping and delivery of DVDs and may, in our sole and absolute discretion, change our business practice regarding allocation, delivery and shipping, without notice. We may from time to time revise these Terms of Use but we will not necessarily provide you notice of the revisions. It is up to you to review the Terms of Use frequently to determine if there have been changes.
    They send us emails about everything else...but they can't bother letting us know when the terms of use have changed? Something smells bad here...

System restarting, wait...