long waits on Netflix

Discussion in 'TV & Media' started by Temis the Vorta, Mar 27, 2010.

  1. RobertScorpio

    RobertScorpio Pariah

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    I have had no problems with Netflix. when its a new release, I understand that there may be high demand. So if it something we REALLY need to see, we will use Blockbuster or XBOX360 or ON DEMAND with our cable..Hangover being a recent one..


    By the way, HOT TUB TIME MACHINE, which we saw at the movies yesterday, was a let down. its good, but NO WHERE in the league of HANGOVER/KNOCKED-UP

    On a scale from 1-10, I give Netlfix a solid 9

    Rob
     
  2. Temis the Vorta

    Temis the Vorta Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    I'm always the first in line. :D I put DVDs on my saved list as soon as the titles are in Netflix's system, months before the DVD release. Oftentimes I have to keep checking back because I know about the title before Netflix has added it. (I wish Netflix had a pre-saved section, where you can type in the names of titles and be notified when Netflix adds any title that seems to be a match for it. It's annoying having to save stuff on post-its near my computer.)

    I have 179 DVDs in my regular queue and 48 in the saved queue - pretty much the normal proportion - about 20% of my queue is pre-release DVDs at any given time. Only rarely do I add a DVD directly to the directly regular queue.

    Yet I still have trouble getting DVDs in a timely fashion, so I don't think being "first in line" makes any difference at all. Or would the situation be even worse otherwise? Why do I have to have a friggen title in my queue for the better part of a year before I can get it?

    And the streaming stuff does me no good. They only seem to stream the old stuff or new releases with lower demand like foreign films (where getting DVDs is no problem) and I have an aversion to watching anything longer than 10 minutes on my PC. I'll do it only in emergencies (missing an episode of a serialized show and needing to catch up immediately) via hulu or in a pinch, iTunes. But that's for shows I'm watching on TV, where I don't want to wait for DVD.

    Sure, I could do that - there are really only two movies I want to see now that are waitlisted. But it's the principle of the thing. Netflix should know that big Hollywood releases with good reviews are going to have heavy demand, and they should plan for it. A week or two wait, okay, but months is just unacceptable. Why should I spend extra money to get a movie when I've already "paid" for every movie released on DVD via my Netflix subscription?

    I'd rather just start a thread and bitch about it a lot. :D And maybe I should actually call their vaunted customer service...I'll give yall a report.
     
  3. Hermiod

    Hermiod Admiral Admiral

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    How exactly does the queueing system work ? You add discs to it and order them by priority, right ?

    So, say my plan lets me have three discs at home at any time. The top two in my list are available so they send them, but the third isn't. Do they send the fourth or just not send me anything until I manually move a disc that is in stock up the list in to third place or my original third choice comes in to stock ?
     
  4. Temis the Vorta

    Temis the Vorta Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    That's what my Netflix-hating friend says (and that's one of the reasons he hates Netflix). And if that's true, he's right to hate Netflix - they have broken system because it's penalizing people simply for having a lot of titles in their queue. The "solution" is just what he said - delete everything but those two movies.

    But I don't want to delete everything. It's STUPID! :rommie: STUPID STUPID STUPID!!!! Netflix should fix their broke-ass system rather than force paying customers to do STUPID things!!!
    If it aggravates customers badly enough that they stop being customers, then it's not efficient at all. It's a broke-ass system and they need to change it.

    Well that's another thing. Why can't I just email them? They are an online based company, after all. Yet I've scoured their site and can find no inkling of any customer service email. I should just be able to email them and say, "fix your broke-ass system and send me X and Y DVDs right frakking now or consider me a former customer," and that should get just the same results as calling, but with less effort on my part.
    That would be an interesting experiment, too - assuming it's under the same account and therefore no added expense.

    And it does Netflix no good, either. Companies usually try to limit the number of times customer service is contacted because of the expense of those employees. If the system is "Customer X calls, asks for DVD Y, DVD Y is sent," then that is idiotic on Netflix's part because it is adding unneccessary expense to what should be a streamlined, dirt-cheap system. To keep expenses down, they want to keep any real-live (pricey) human being out of the process. Isn't that one reason why they're online instead of a brick-and-mortar store, to eliminate the business expense of running a store with clerks checking out DVDs for you, which in turn is why they can rent me a DVD for $1.50 and not $5 like at Blockbuster?

    They could automate the process, for instance, having a "complaint" button next to a DVD that the customer can push instead of calling customer service - same result, much less cost for Netflix. Or they could optimize their system to eradicate the motive of customers to push that "complaint" button. Their customer service isn't great if they're motivating customers to complain. The best customer service is to make your customers forget you have a customer service department. That's best for the customers and for the company.
    I'm wondering about that, too. How long does it take to burn a DVD? They should have machines spittin' those suckers out at a rapid-fire rate, 24 hours a day. If they can't keep up, buy more machines. Maybe the hold-up is the expense of licensing the DVDs. Somebody must be expecting to be paid if you have 200,000 copies of a title rather than 2000 like you thought. But they're making much more money off 200,000 copies vs 2000 and the per-DVD licensing fee for 200,000 should be much cheaper than for 2000 - you should get a volume discount or something?!? Scaling-up is a good problem to have because you're driving your per-unit costs down.

    That sounds like the most plausible explanation so far - Netflix has been blindsided by an outside factor that while good for them long-term is causing chaos short-term. There is some lag time to purchasing new DVD-spitting-out machines and re-negotiating licensing contracts, which is disrupting what should be an efficient system. The problem should be mitigated after they've had a chance to scale up properly.

    I live in San Francisco, so that's not it, either.
    When they start givin' em away free, then I'll take the plunge. A major motivation for being a Netflix customer is that it's dirt-cheap. I already pay too much money overall for TV (cable bill being the chief offender :klingon:) so I'm really not up for adding one penny more.

    By the time it was out on DVD, it should not have been unexpected. It's exactly the type of movie that Netflix should flag as being likely to be disproportionately popular with their customer base. That's the kind of thing I find unacceptable (if that's really the problem). They really should have a good enough understanding of their customer base and their tastes that they only rarely would get blindsided.

    That's another possibility - I think I'm the type of person they lose money on. That infuriates me enough that I think I'll start turning DVDs around even faster so they lose even more money. :evil:

    They'll skip over what isn't available and send whatever is next in line. But if you sign up to have "two disks at home," then you have to send one back before they'll send another one. You can sign up to have one to eight DVDs at any time.
     
    Last edited: Mar 28, 2010
  5. Witterquick

    Witterquick Captain Captain

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    After hearing so much about this netflix, I finally signed up for it and took the better part of an hour to add stuff to my queue. I ended up really wanting to watch some movies and took 10 min to steal them from the net anyways. I guess that's it for my attempt at reforming myself.

    All it takes is a cable to link your pc to your tv. It's really not that hard like in the olden days. Their stream quality is poor though so maybe you shouldn't bother.

    So I guess I didn't steal then. :rommie: Off to watch Brazil.
     
  6. Temis the Vorta

    Temis the Vorta Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    Netflix gives you carte blanche to steal every movie ever made. ;) It's the least they can do for aggravating their customers.
     
  7. David cgc

    David cgc Vice Admiral Admiral

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    I seem to remember reading in an FAQ once that they tend to send high-demand titles to people who don't actually request high-demand titles so much. So if all you ever get are new releases, you'll get kicked to the back of the line, but if you have a lot of older stuff, you'll get bumped to the top of the list when you get the occassional high-demand disc, presumably to reward you for not hogging all the popular stuff.

    Maybe it would help to bump The Hurt Locker down to number three or four and let it rise up on it's own, so it doesn't look like you're trying taking all their new stuff. It's not like it'll cost you anything practically.
     
  8. Nerys Myk

    Nerys Myk The Real Me Premium Member

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    From what I can tell all putting it in your que is just "buying the ticket" it doesnt give you a prime spot in "the line to get in". I've add movies on the spur of the moment and gotten them on the day of release.

    I also have a long list of movies in the Saved DVD section of my Netflix que. Stuff that hasn't even hit the theaters yet. Once a release date is known it appears next to the title and it's transfered to the DVD list. My saved list is longer than my DVD list.
     
  9. Temis the Vorta

    Temis the Vorta Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    I'm rather obsessive about Netflix and check it daily. If I see something has bumped from my saved to regular queue, I bump it to the top of the list (especially if it's something I want to see quickly or I suspect is going to be wait-listed.)

    Should I check the frakking thing more frequently than daily!?! I already think I'm overdoing it.

    Nah, I think it's because I'm being punished for returning DVDs quickly. Netflix is losing money on me and are trying to drive me away as a result. Bastards, it won't work! I'll single handedly drive Netflix out of business with my rapid-fire rate of return!!! :rommie:

    But don't most customers of any DVD service rent mainly the big blockbuster releases? I think I'm pretty unusual in that I rent other things as well. Here's the top ten from my saved queue as a sample of my tastes: Farscape S1, Sherlock Holmes, The Road, Invictus, Curb Your Enthusiasm S7, Entourage S6, Prodigal Sons, A Prophet, A Single Man, Ajami. That's two "big" Hollywood movies and the rest are smaller Hollywood movies, TV shows, and foreign films. My regular queue has a lot of old movies as well (which are almost all out on DVD and wouldn't appear in the saved list.)

    And that policy makes no sense. Once they've accurately forecast the demand for any given title, they should be able to stock the correct number of DVDs. Forecasting people's DVD-renting tastes can't be that difficult. If people want a lot of high-demand movies, then stock more high-demand movies.
     
  10. David cgc

    David cgc Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Speaking only for myself, if I only (or even mostly) wanted popular, recent movies, I'd never have stopped using Blockbuster. Nowadays, I'd probably be getting DVDs from Redbox or one of the other kiosk chains. I have a Netflix precisely because they have more than the top movies of the last five years. Or, to put it another way.

    Given the fact that Netflix is popular at all, I'd say we two aren't as unusual for their customers as you'd think.
     
  11. Holdfast

    Holdfast Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    Temis - I think one aspect you might be missing on is that Netflix won't actually WANT to be able to send everyone every DVD they want immediately. They may SAY that they want this, but it really isn't somthing they should be trying to do, and I bet they don't.

    What they'll be trying to do is balance demand vs supply and find the sweet spot. The sweet spot NOT being matching demand completely, but finding the minimum level of supply to ensure an acceptable rate of growth of customer base. They'll want to find the minimum level of supply, because it will then cost them less to provide it, and so their profit will increase. They don't want to poison the well too much of course, but a little bit of toxicity in the water isn't a problem as long as the number of customers annoyed isn't enough to generate enough negative noise that it puts off new subscribers and the vast majority of their current customer base.

    This is what I meant by it being efficient to annoy you and others like you a little bit. Of course, they run the risk of losing you as a customer, but since they're already losing money on you, that hardly matters. The only problem would be if there are enough of you, generating enough negative commentary, that it affects the rate of acquisition of profitable customers. Given what I hear of Netflix's rate of growth, they've probably got the balance reasonably well-judged, and are operating fairly efficiently. This may change over time as their customer base matures, and they may need to adapt their model in one direction or another, but so far, they seem to be operating well enough.
     
  12. Temis the Vorta

    Temis the Vorta Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    Temis' Report on Netflix's Supposedly Awesome Customer Service:

    Pfffft. :rommie:

    I got through almost immediately, and the guy was certainly nice, but he did nothing to solve the problem. He did make vague noises about how they've had to "change their business model" because of the problem cropping up in the "past quarter," which makes me think that the Blockbuster flame-out is, indeed, behind the increased wait problem.

    I told him that both those movies had been waitlisted for two months and he offered no solution other than "wait." :rolleyes:

    But since this problem is not new - it's just worse than it's ever been - I also suspect my account is being targetted because I return DVDs "too quickly."

    So, time for Plan B. I just made a second account and placed only Inglorious Basterds and The Hurt Locker on that account, splitting my two DVD allottment between the two accounts. Lo and behold, Inglorious Basterds is now listed as "available." Let's see what DVD arrives next.
    Yep. I think the missing factor here is that Inglorious Basterds must be costing them more money in licensing fees than, say, some old movie from the '40s. The notion that all these DVDs are worth exactly the same is absurd, yet that is how they are pricing them.

    A better solution would be to just be upfront about this: have a points system so that Inglorious Basterds costs five points and Double Indemnity costs one, or whatever the correct proportion of value is. Why should they be shy about this? People will understand why a recent Hollywood release is worth much more than some old movie that's been on TV or some foreign flick nobody's heard of.

    In other words, they're making enough money off the suckers, so who cares about an onery bitch like me? :rommie:
    If by "matures," you mean "gets a clue," Netflix is safe. They will have enough clueless customers to earn them a hefty profit for the foreseeable future.

    Well, if Plan B works out, I plan to do my best to tell the rest of Netflix's non-sucker customer base about it. And like always, this news will reach only a small percentage of people, but they're the percentage who are awake and paying attention, so why shouldn't they reap the benefits?
     
    Last edited: Mar 28, 2010
  13. Hermiod

    Hermiod Admiral Admiral

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    I think you've hit the nail on the head here. You're returning discs too quickly, so it costs them more in postal charges than you're paying in subscription fees.

    I suspect they're throttling you full stop. I wonder what would happen if you, temporarily, removed all the recent releases from your queue and just put in old stuff.
     
  14. Temis the Vorta

    Temis the Vorta Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    Yup. But now my "new roommate" has joined Netflix on my account, all bright and cheerful and hopeful, and Netflix will fall all over themselves sending her those few movies she wants. And I'm sure she can add a couple other new releases very quickly that are also long waitlisted on my queue. But being a very different sort of person from me, she'll never have more than four movies in her queue at any time, and they'll always be the most popular types of movies, never some dumb old movie or foreign flick. Her tastes are soooo bourgeois, but what can I say, she pays her share of the rent, is very quiet and never hogs the bathroom.

    And if Netflix were to suddenly decide she's also returning movies too quickly, I can easily give her sorry ass the boot and find another roomie.

    That's exactly what I'm doing, inasmuch as my roommate just loooves all that crap anyway. Here's what the roomie has in her queue:

    1. Inglorious Basterds - available now
    2. The Hurt Locker - long wait
    3. The Cove - very long wait
    4. The Box - long wait

    So the question is, how quickly will I get #1 and will Netflix simply refuse to send me, err, my roommate #2-4 once that's returned? Or will they magically become available as well? Hmmm.
     
    Last edited: Mar 28, 2010
  15. RoJoHen

    RoJoHen Awesome Premium Member

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    Out of curiosity, I just added all of these my queue, and they are all available now.

    I think Netflix just doesn't like you.
     
  16. Rarely if ever do I have this problem.

    Are you a "high volume" user by any chance? Netflix is known to throttle (or tier) their users so that lower volume users get priority as far as wait goes, because they make money on people who go through less DVDs a month and lose money on those who go through a lot.

    EDIT: I should also add, a few days ago I added Hurt Locker to my queue, and it said Available Now. It got sent out yesterday (Saturday) with no wait whatsoever.
     
  17. Temis the Vorta

    Temis the Vorta Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    Yep. That's why my roommate will be doing all the heavy lifting from now on or at least until they realize they don't like her, either. But there's plenty more imaginary friends where she came from. :rommie:
    Yepper. So now my question is this:

    Let's say you have one person on an account who goes though 15 DVDs per month. You add another person to that account and together, you go through 15 DVDs per month. Is the first case a high-volume user and the second, not nearly so much since each person is only getting 7.5 DVDs per month?

    Even if Netflix treats both cases equally (and logically, they should), if the second person on that account only has a handful of titles in their queue, all of which are high demand, and Netflix has no choice but to send them something, will that override the throttling feature?
     
  18. Holdfast

    Holdfast Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    People would understand, but they won't like it. At least not as much as the simpler concept Netflix currently uses.

    The behind-the-scenes demand management algorithms - rationing, effectively - allow Netflix to promise the world while delivering it country by country. ;)

    I'm far too anglicised to put it so bluntly, but essentially this is probably accurate, from a business perspective.

    I think you're right, and they are indeed safe for now. If a competitor came along, operating along different lines (such as the points system you suggested), and took market share, then they'd have to respond. But from what I can tell, all the current competitors use the same model as Netflix.

    I suspect their algorithm for deciding these sort of questions must be pretty complex. The management of such a large logistical operation as Netflix would require some very finely-tuned JIT software. And even then, by their very nature, Just-In-Time operations are very sensititive to supply and demand shocks (viz. the Blockbuster effect mentioned upthread). Actually, to a JIT purist, the demand shock is actually a good thing, as it acts as a feedback, identifying inefficiencies, and allowing the protocol to be refined yet further.
     
  19. Hoser

    Hoser Hoser Super Moderator

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    IIRC, they had one of those 'sign this long legal thingy' a long while back, and I remember them giving themselves permission to throttle somewhere within it.
    That said, someone told me that certain movies were owned by a company that had an exclusive rental agreement with Blockbuster, and some movies come out slow. I have no idea how true that is....I've pretty much given up in the last half year in getting any recent releases. And yes, I know I'm being throttled, ever since I whipped through a season of 'The office' and 'Doctor Who' in a month....
     
  20. RoJoHen

    RoJoHen Awesome Premium Member

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    I did the same thing with both of those shows, but I watched them instantly on my PS3, so Netflix didn't care. :p