Rant and Rave


Read other rants and raves

12 December 2003 - I guess this happens sometimes. I feel the need to both rave and rant at Netflix

First the rave: What an incredible service! I love it. Their web site is both interesting, informative, and functional. I don't think you can say that about my site. I have fun exploring it and looking for new movies. Their recommendation engine is interesting, but so far it hasn't pulled up anything unusual for me. Of course it's hard to be sure.

Once a movie is on my "to be rented" list I lose all track of how it got on the list. Did Vance suggest it? Alan? Marty? The Netflix recommendation engine? Since my rental list is long and it takes months after a request before I see the movie, I just can't remember who suggested it. I wish their web site would at least note that the movie came from their recommendation engine. Then I could rave about how good it is. Instead I have to say, "not sure". I'm not looking forward to the day my rental queue is finally empty. At that point I don't know what else I'd want to rent and it will be time to quit the service.

Anyway, on to the rants. First, isn't a big one. In fact it is a very small one, but it does tell a story about choosing your customer service reps well. Our story begins with an suggestion I sent in on their "talk to us" form.

My suggestion:

1. I wish you had a link to request you acquire specific movies.
2. Please get Desk Set (Spencer Tracy and Katharin Hepburn) when it comes out on DVD.

The replied within a few hours and that is just spectacular. However, here's what they said:

Hi Jim,

Thanks for your inquiry. When looking for movies that you can not locate using the Netflix search feature, please check to ensure the titles are available on DVD. More information regarding this process can be found by clicking the following link:[xxxx]

Once you have verified the title is available on DVD, you will be able to request the title through a link provided on the aforementioned page. If you have any further questions or concerns, please feel free to contact us.

Netflix Customer Service


Hmmm. Nice guy for sure. Customer driven for sure. Customer focused? Not yet. Here's my reply.



Here's an idea: Netflix have a web page where I can request any movie in the world and you take responsibility for figuring out if it's on DVD yet or not. In fact, I come to your site expecting to be able to find *every movie ever made* and that your site will let me know if it's not on DVD yet.

Seems like that's your area of expertise. My area of expertise is watching the movies, not researching their availability.

This would also help you to know how many to order when it is available. Also, if enough of your clients request a particular movie that is not yet on DVD, you might even ask the owners to put it on DVD but give Netflix an exclusive for the first six months. Wow, if some movie was only available on DVD to Netflix customers that would really be a reason to stick with your company instead of signing up with Warehouse rentals.

Just some food for thought.

Best Regards,

Now the interesting thing is that the next reply comes from someone else. Do emails just go to a random rep, or did the same guy get my reply and sense my sarcasm? Maybe he bumped it up to the next level? 

Hello Jim,

Thanks for your inquiry. We appreciate you taking the time to provide us with your feedback and comments. As always, we value your suggestions and will be more than happy to take them into consideration. Thank you for using Netflix!

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


Netflix Customer Service

However it happened, this reply puts the cap on the case and gets me off their back. Nice job on the close.

Lastly, here's my biggest issue with them. You can get a better deal if you try to cancel your service!  One friend of mine called to cancel her subscription. "Why?", they ask her. "I just don't watch enough movies anymore", she says. "How about if we give you a deal: only $15 a month but you only get two movies at a time." "OK she says."

Hmmm. Now another friend hears this story. He likes Netflix but two movies would be enough for him. He searches their web site and can't find this deal. He calls and they say "never heard of it." Then he calls them and says he wants to cancel. "Why?", they ask him. A-ha! He gets off the phone with the same deal she got.

A third friend has heard these stories now. He just calls to cancel, quickly gets the new deal and gets off the phone.

Crap. I hate the fact that companies treat leaving customers better than they treat current customers. This rant used to apply to cell phone companies. New customers got a new phone for $50, existing customers got the same phone for $200. I was willing to commit to another year but they wouldn't hear of it. OK, I walked across the street and signed up with their competitor and got my new phone for $50. At least now the cell phone companies have stopped that nonsense.

Who else does this? Credit card companies! Try calling up your credit card company to cancel one. When they ask why tell them the rate is too high and you've got a better deal from another company. They will lower your rate immediately. This is well documented on Paul's site. That is terrible. Just terrible.


Jim Schrempp is a sometimes freelance writer (only Vanity Press will publish his work) living in Saratoga, California. His writings have appeared on numerous pages on his own web site. The opinions expressed in this piece are those of the writer and do not necessarily represent those of anyone else (although Jim wishes more people shared his opinions)