What's Wrong With Netflix?
July 21, 2008 2:13 PM   Subscribe

What's the trouble with Netflix recently? I'm a long time user lately experiencing long delays, DVDs sent out of my queue order, frequently from distant shipping points .Netflix no longer offers customer service via email and calls have long delays and when a customer service rep. answers he/she has no reason or explanation to offer. It's very frustrating. Am I alone in this problem? Any suggestions about how to smooth things out? It's a shame. Netflix was once a joy, now a contant annoyance.
posted by NorthCoastCafe to Shopping (12 answers total)
Netflix has been accused in the past of "throttling" customers, meaning sending DVDs from remote locations, having long delays, making movies "unavailable" etc. In most cases this happened to users who watched a lot of movies, had very fast turnaround times, and maximized their rentals per month. Some solutions that have been offered: clear your queue entirely and only place the movie you want to watch in it. Yes, it's annoying but it will shoot you to the top of the priority lists pretty quickly.
posted by proj at 2:22 PM on July 21, 2008

Sounds like you may be subject to throttling. You can google it to find boards where people discuss various tactics to get around it, but basically if you're not profitable (getting too many discs in a month) they'll find ways to slow you down. I'd get stuff from way down my queue, longer and longer delays, etc., but I didn't know it was a deliberate play on their part until I ran across an article about it recently.
posted by katemonster at 2:23 PM on July 21, 2008

Three hints given to me by a Netflix rep:
1) "Short wait" movies ship in a few days.
2) "Long wait" movies ship in a week.
3) Whether short or long, waitlisted movies only ship if they're at the top of the queue. Any further down and they're ignored, essentially.
posted by Gordion Knott at 2:36 PM on July 21, 2008

Hate to say it, but since I switched from Netflix to Blockbuster.com, I've been a happy camper. Being able to return the movies to the store cuts the time I used to wait until the DVDs were considered "returned," and you can trade the movies they send in the mail for movies in the store with most of their plans. Their selection of indie and oddball is now just as good, and they're rapidly catching up in the Blue-Ray dept. Of course, it helps that there is a Blockbuster store about five blocks from my house, but overall I think lots of Netflix users would be happier if they switched. I am.
posted by Crotalus at 2:39 PM on July 21, 2008

Well, I hate to say it too, but since I switched FROM Blockbuster to Netflix I have been a happy camper.
Blockbusters are everywhere out West, but since I moved since back to Virginia, and to an extremely rural place, Netflix owns it and I have very quick turn a round's, 3 days max.
I have twice had my movies shipped from odd places, San Jose, CA and Boston, MA and both were listed as long waits.
Blockbuster had a lousy selection and I frequently went to a Mom & Pop video store to get the rare items.
posted by TeachTheDead at 2:56 PM on July 21, 2008

They are probably throttling you. Are you a very frequent/quick returning renter?

FWIW, I have not personally observed these issues. I do notice that when I start renting and returning quickly, it suddenly takes them an extra day to start acknowledging my returns, even though there is a local NetFlix shipping center right here in Phoenix, less than five miles from my house.
posted by BryanPayne at 3:11 PM on July 21, 2008

This has happened to me several times. When it gets bad, I quit and come back a few months later. Problem solved.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 4:11 PM on July 21, 2008 [1 favorite]

I was experiencing this, switched to blockbuster for a while, just came back to netflix about a month ago and found the problem completely gone even though they recognized me as a past customer (thus negating my free trial, netfliiiiiiix! fist at sky shaking, etc.) This may be because they opened up a Chicago shipping center and it's not coming from Carol Stream, IL anymore, but then again when I had the problem they had stopped shipping to me from Carol Stream and were instead trading off between San Jose, CA and somewhere in Virginia.

We'll see how long I stay happy with them.
posted by Teira at 4:12 PM on July 21, 2008

Looks like I owe PinkSuperhero a soda.
posted by Teira at 4:13 PM on July 21, 2008

Moderate user here (10-16 discs a month). I haven't noticed any problems recently, or ever for that matter. Member since '03 and much heavier user at times.
posted by cocoagirl at 4:32 PM on July 21, 2008

I tend to be a pretty heavy user, often mailing discs back the day after I get them, and I've never really noticed any problems. Stuff almost always comes from the Worcester, MA (Boston area) center (I think I can count on one hand the number of items we've received from distant centers) and is almost always gets to me the day after they ship.

BUT...almost all of the stuff I get is older/low demand. I almost never get new releases/high demand DVDs. I've heard speculation that it's really the hot new stuff that may appear to be throttled.
posted by DiscourseMarker at 6:58 PM on July 21, 2008

Light user here, no problems. Of course, they love light users like me, as discussed in the throttling links above.

Just one idea: I think Netflix is burdened/distracted in general right now by their big new streaming TV box offering(s). I know several people who have bought one (or 2 or 3) already and this probably means a groundswell of demand for customer service attention, management attention to growing pains, etc.
posted by intermod at 9:26 PM on July 21, 2008

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