Netflux sux redux?
November 20, 2008 5:50 PM   Subscribe

Has anyone else had problems with Netflix recently? Can anyone recommend an alternative?

Over time there have been a number of Netflix DVDs that they say were returned by me, but that I never received. One of my "returns" even had a 4-star rating from me, when I never got it! Someone at my local dispatch center is obviously fiddling their turnaround stats by not sending out DVDs on a regular basis (DVDs regularly take over a week to turn around and I am not a high-volume renter). Deliveries to my home address are easy and there are no other problems, so it is not the fault of USPS. There is no way to contact anyone who would care at Netflix any more. I regularly wait a week after returning a DVD before I get the next one (I'm on the 3-DVDs-at-once scheme). But I reached the crunch point this week when disks 2 & 3 from a 5-disk set were "returned," meaning that I will have to wait for disks 4 & 5, then return them before I get disks 2 & 3. That's a 3-week wait to see the next episode in a series (at least).
I saw a previous post where people were recommending Blockbuster, but I am not interested in Blockbuster as I tend to be a "long tail" renter. I prefer to rent British TV programs, European movies, and those classic or rare US movies that are not Blockbuster country. So does anyone have an alternative to suggest?
posted by Susurration to Technology (26 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I haven't had those problems with Netflix - that would be really maddening.

But I know people who LOVE GreenCine. I think it's about $10 for one at a time, and $15 for two at a time. It might depend on where you are in the US - maybe ask about shipment times.
posted by barnone at 5:56 PM on November 20, 2008

From the GreenCine website:

GreenCine ships from Southern California. If you're on the West Coast, delivery time is normally 1-3 days. If you're on the East Coast, figure about 2-4 days. Note: GreenCine only ships within the United States and to APO addresses.

And as mentioned above, you can now speed things up by letting us know you've sent your movies back using Quick Returns: go into your rental queue and clicking the "quick return" link. We'll automatically send you the next available titles in your queue within two days, even if your shipments have not yet arrived to our shipping facility. We must receive the movies you've marked as returned before the next set of movies becomes available for "quick return" processing.
posted by barnone at 5:58 PM on November 20, 2008

I used to use Greencine, but really, Netflix is far superior.
posted by plexi at 5:59 PM on November 20, 2008

I haven't had those problems either. In previous Netflix threads on AskMe, people have recommending leaving Netflix for a few months then coming back.

You also might consider contacting They regularly post people's Netflix problems and ask for suggestions on how to fix them.
posted by girlmightlive at 6:13 PM on November 20, 2008

I have recently (September, I think) contacted Netflix customer service to report a problem with a DVD that I purchased. They were exceedingly nice, and fixed the problem immediately.

Have you tried "shopping" CSRs by calling at different times? Sometimes just getting a sympathetic person can fix the problem.

Otherwise, have you thought about regressing to a brick and mortar independent store? Sounds like it would be your speed and it's fairly instantaneous.
posted by charmcityblues at 6:14 PM on November 20, 2008

I buy DVDs secondhand and, after I watch them, I sell them secondhand for about the same. I get to hold them as lock as I like, I have an even wider pool to choose from than Netflix offers (I like really esoteric unknown stuff), I don't get charged for months when I'm busy or out of town, I get to enjoy the full packaging, and my net expense is never as high as $20/month. If I feel poor, I can sell more aggressively, and if I want to languish with a bunch of unviewed titles, I can do that.

I buy on and some amazon marketplace vendors, sometimes on ebay, and sometimes new on amazon when the price is right. I also buy a lot directly from indie filmmakers. I don't buy popular titles until the first wave of purchasers starts flooding the secondhand market, bringing the price down. I always price 50 cents less than the competition to ensure that my DVD moves. I keep DVD mailers handy so packing's not a hassle.

Oh, and if I really like a film, I get to keep it. My choice.
posted by jimmyjimjim at 6:23 PM on November 20, 2008 [3 favorites]

typo: I get to hold them as LONG as I like.
posted by jimmyjimjim at 6:24 PM on November 20, 2008

I returned a movie a few months ago and it never made it back to Netflix. I used the report a missing movie form on the website and within minutes had an email from Netflix that my account had been credited and the movie marked as lost in transit. I was sort of shocked at the speediness of the reply. That is the only time in 3 odd years I've ever needed to contact Netflix for something. So no - haven't had any problems at all.
posted by COD at 7:01 PM on November 20, 2008

I'm not sure where your Blockbuster snobbiness is coming from. Have you searched for your obscure British shows or rare classic movies on their site? Their mail order rentals have way more selection than their physical stores. I find the Netflix site easier and more fun to use, but I think rental selection is comparable.

However in the past couple months, I have let my subscriptions lapse. Like jimmy, I usually buy used DVDs or go to the library (or a Blockbuster). My library has a surprisingly good selection of foreign films and documentaries.
posted by bluefly at 7:03 PM on November 20, 2008

Maybe I tried Netflix to soon. Horrible service. Total rip off. At one point, a friend of mine and I were sending various freebee disks we had laying around back with our Netflix just to cost them postage.

I spend a documented six months with one film, when I had the three package. When I tried to quit, they refused to stop billing me for ... I don't recall but it was six months or better. I had to enlist the bank to stop the charges. Went through the whole using friends who had worked for them to get actual addresses and send real certified mail to known humans thing with zero luck.

They were desperate to get me back after the class action lawsuit - and as far as I could tell the only way to get "relief" was to rejoin and I wasn't going to.

Just watch movies in the theater or online, these days.
posted by Lesser Shrew at 7:58 PM on November 20, 2008

No problems with NetFlix. Great service.
posted by JimN2TAW at 8:05 PM on November 20, 2008

Perhaps asking the obvious, but do you have any roomies who might be snagging your discs from the mail and watching them? I've had enough bad roommates that I wouldn't put it past certain people to not only watch a rental and send it back without any consideration, but also to go on the computer and rate the movie because it's hilarious. These bad roommates also liked smoking a lot of pot, but weirder things have happened.

Otherwise, I don't know. If you were in L.A. I would blame the USPS, as they're pretty bad, but I've never lived in Philly, so I couldn't tell you. Call Netflix and escalate your call until someone will fix the problem. I've had Netflix for around 2 years straight now, on both coasts, and it's always been as fast and efficient as the mail allowed. Lost discs were reported online with no questions asked, and when it turned out to be my fault, I sent the found discs in and got only a "thank you" from Netflix, no punishment or delay.
posted by explosion at 8:18 PM on November 20, 2008 [1 favorite]

I've noticed that my disks magically arrive back at Netflix in one day, no more no less, when I mail them from an actual post office. Putting them in a street mailbox gets them returned in an average of three days.

My first thought with your mysteriously returned and rated DVDs was the same as explosion's -- any chance someone in your home is helping themselves to your account?

Aside from getting throttled when I am going through phases where I watch a DVD nightly, I haven't had any problems with their service. When I occasionally don't receive a disc or they don't receive a disc, I report it promptly and they move forward in my queue.
posted by desuetude at 8:34 PM on November 20, 2008

Nope, we haven't really had any problems at all with Netflix, after a couple years. The occasional throttling, maybe, but that's it. Any problems like scratched disks, lost on our end, lost in transit, have always been dealt with by them very quickly with no hassle at all. Our turn around is usually two days-mail on a Monday, new movie on a Wednesday.

And, may I add, the fact we can now watch anything from the Watch It Now library instantly on our XBox is so insanely awesome I can't quite believe it :).

Mr. Purenitrous has a Blockbuster membership too (due to some marital tension over the ordering of the queue) and I don't like it as well. I haven't explored their selection, but the turn around is slower.
posted by purenitrous at 8:46 PM on November 20, 2008

Netflix throttled my movies--sent films out slower and slower so I would be capped at a certain number of movies per month. It's not as if I was renting a ton--maybe six per month--but their turnaround times were abysmal. I switched to Blockbuster because they allowed unlimited in-person rentals in exchange for your disks, but I've heard they limit those now.

Honestly, I'm not sure what's going on with these services these days, because I switched to renting movies from the library. Totally free, and, since I've actually always liked the process of selecting a movie in person, it's really preferable even if they don't have the same variety. I can't tell you the number of times I thought I'd want to watch something from Netflix, but ended up immediately sending it back because I was no longer in the mood.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 9:15 PM on November 20, 2008

Just wanted to thank everyone for their help here -- so many people came up with really helpful suggestions that it is impossible to pick a best answer!
I learned a lot and I'm glad that this seems to be just me, rather than a general decline in service (it means there is some hope). I think I'll follow up on charmcityblues' suggestion to shop the CSRs until I get a helpful one. Perhaps stop my subscription for a while, if the turnaround doesn't get any better.
No-one else has access to these DVDs, so it is either incompetence by Netflix or they are deliberately gaming their turnaround time for me (because it is usually so bad). I don't watch enough DVDs for them to be throttling me, so I guess it is incompetence.
Thanks, barnone for the greencine info -- I may well try them. If anyone has any other suggestions, please do post them!
posted by Susurration at 9:23 PM on November 20, 2008

No-one else has access to these DVDs, so it is either incompetence by Netflix or they are deliberately gaming their turnaround time for me (because it is usually so bad). I don't watch enough DVDs for them to be throttling me, so I guess it is incompetence.

I'll reiterate that you don't have to be watching a ton of DVDs to be throttled. From what I observed from my own throttling experience, they seem to try to cap their users at around $4 a rental, which would mean they'd be slowing you down at one DVD a week on a twenty dollar plan. I'd really check Blockbuster's current terms and selection--they had everything I found/wanted on Netflix, either in-store or online. And if they offer instore rentals (either through coupons or trade-ins), you'll be getting better bang for your dollar through Blockbuster.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 9:30 PM on November 20, 2008

nthing contacting CSR. I've had unbelievably great experiences with them, even when the problem wasn't 100% their fault. not only did they fix the problem, but they also offered me a discount on the next month.
posted by mittenedsex at 12:01 AM on November 21, 2008

I don't understand why you're being "throttled" by Netflix. I avoided Netflix initially when I was living on the west coast (I kept seeing co-workers getting stuck with badly scratched DVDs). I tried GreenCine and enjoyed their service until I moved to the east coast. On a good week it would take three to four days for my DVDs to arrive in the mail (on a bad week it took almost a full week). I finally tried Netflix and eventually cancelled GreenCine, since they couldn't compete with Netflix's quick turnaround times with their multiple distribution centers nationwide. I also tried Blockbuster Online a couple times and finally cancelled due to poor customer service and price hikes. I really like Netflix since I have a local distribution center in my city. I receive my DVDs the next day and mail them back as soon as I watch them (via the street mail box). I get at least 5 to 6 DVDs a week from my three DVD unlimited subscription plan (that's 76 to 91 cents per DVD!). Netflix customer service has been good for exchanges (damaged/scratched DVDs, lost in the mail DVDs). They had a shipping problem in August which was handled quite well (I even got a 15% discount). BTW I enjoy foreign and independent films as well as the BBC TV shows.
posted by plokent at 12:22 AM on November 21, 2008

I wonder if your netflix mailers are getting placed in the wrong mailbox by the post office. Some other netflix subscriber opens them without looking, and ships them back when they realize it's not the movie they wanted. If they realize it's not theirs before opening, they put it back in the mailbox and it get's delivered to you a few days later. That would explain the missing movies, and the horrible shipping time and not be netflix's fault, but might be something you could discuss with your mail carrier if you're on speaking terms with them, or with your local postmaster if you don't know your carrier.

I've been with Netflix since 2003 and never had this problem, though I have been known to have my movies show up at my next door neighbor's house, and I sometimes get his movies, but we just hand deliver when that happens.

I've had the Roku Netflix player for a few months now, and I love it. It has slowed down my normal 2-3 day turn around time on DVDs, because I just have so many more viewing options from Watch Instantly. before Roku, I'd watch a DVD a day on the 3 at a time plan and never got throttled. I think throttling only really happens if you rent heavily from the New Releases pile. If you're mainly renting from the back catalog, I doubt you'd get throttled.
posted by jrishel at 4:40 AM on November 21, 2008

As much as I believe in MetaFilter, I think this is really one you should be telling the editors/readers of Consumerist about. You'll see some examples of some well-written letters to top execs that result in "magically fast" resolutions to bothersome, long-term problems.
posted by AlbatrossJones at 7:04 AM on November 21, 2008

My experience with Netflix has been uniformly positive so far.

Usually discs take one day each way in the mail, so if I put a disc in the mail on Monday I generally receive the next disc on Wednesday. About once a month they tell me a disc isn't available at my local distribution center, so I have to wait a couple of extra days to receive it from a different warehouse. (I guess that's probably the "throttling" kicking in.)

The one time I didn't receive a disc which was supposedly shipped to me, I just reported it on line and they went ahead and shipped out a replacement immediately.
posted by tdismukes at 9:07 AM on November 21, 2008

This sounds like a mail issue a lot more than it does a Netflix issue. Just wanted to point that out.

(Haven't had issues, myself, once in a great while a disc gets lost and then they replaced it ASAP.)
posted by jenfullmoon at 9:35 AM on November 21, 2008

From what I observed from my own throttling experience, they seem to try to cap their users at around $4 a rental, which would mean they'd be slowing you down at one DVD a week on a twenty dollar plan.

This doesn't jibe with my experience at all. I've slowed down in movie-watching a lot in the past couple of years, and still average about 8 movies a month. I don't start seeing throttling until I'm watching more than two movies a week.
posted by desuetude at 9:35 AM on November 21, 2008

This doesn't jibe with my experience at all. I've slowed down in movie-watching a lot in the past couple of years, and still average about 8 movies a month. I don't start seeing throttling until I'm watching more than two movies a week.

From everything I gathered via the 'net at the time, throttling is highly dependent on your plan and geographic area, among other factors. This was North Central New Jersey in 2006--I had friends in Brooklyn, 40 minutes away, who experienced no noticeable throttling. With Netflix, I was ending up with no movies more often than not--the fact that Blockbuster's system, at the time, allowed you to bypass the mail, returning and renting (for free) in store meant that, as the commercials said, I never had to be without a movie.

The fact that you can watch movies online through Netflix now would have alleviated much of the annoyance I experienced at all of this.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 10:00 AM on November 21, 2008

A follow-up. I have to say that I'm impressed with Netflix (not easy, considering previous experiences). I marked online the two disks that had been magically "returned" as not received and today I received them again (I have a total of 5 disks at home just now, on my 3 disk plan). Someone followed up bigtime at Netflix, so I am rethinking my "close Netflix account" plan ...
posted by Susurration at 12:39 PM on November 22, 2008

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