Sunday, February 12, 2006

Netflix Throttling Problems

Jim over at Blueprint for Financial Prosperity has a post up about Netflix "Throttling" DVDs. This issue is something that has been bothering me for a while now and I had no idea that it was such a large problem. I actually thought that I was getting fewer movies per month because I had just moved to my new house in a smaller town than where I had previously lived. I thought that maybe we had a smaller Post Office here and it took an extra day to process the mail. It appears though that this is a problem affecting many other users of the service as well. I have been a loyal Netflix customer since April 2000 and have been grandfathered into the original 4 movies out per month plan, so I don't really want to leave them and lose that plan. This does concern me though, so I need to look into things a little more.

I used to be a heavy renter from Netflix a couple of years ago, but since then I haven't rented nearly as much. I am actually probably losing money on the deal since that time, but I like the convenience of always having a movie around to watch when I get the urge. The problem that I, and many others, are having now is that it appears that we are being punished for being heavy renters. It appears that Netflix is throttling heavy users (and apparently previous heavy users like myself) rentals and sending DVDs out slower for us. They also may not be as likely to send new releases to me since I was a previous heavy user. On one hand, I do understand their point from a business perspective, it obviously costs them more to send all those DVDs to the heavier users, but I don't think that it is right to advertise an unlimited rental plan that isn't really unlimited. Perhaps it wouldn't be as bad if they didn't try to sneak this change past their customers. Maybe what they need to do it limit the total monthly number of DVDs that I can rent, I would think that 24 would be a good limit on my account. That would allow me, with my 4 out at a time plan to watch 6 movies per week. I don't think that is unreasonable for either side. I have heard of people that do not get cable TV and instead just get a Netflix account and watch only movies. This would basically allow them to watch almost 1 movie per night for the entire month. While this is still not unlimited as they advertise, at least I know the limits and can plan around them.

When I first started using Netflix, they were fabulous. I would have about a 3 day turnaround time on my rentals. That means that if I returned a movie on Monday, I would get my next movie in my mailbox on Wednesday. Now the turnaround time is about 4-6 days. This means that I get less movies per month than I used to, which often times leaves me with no movies at home since I am waiting for new rentals to arrive from Netflix.

I am definitely not happy about the changes that Netflix has made, especially because it appears that I am being punished for the way that I used to watch movies, not how I watch them now. I am not yet sure what I am going to do about it since I don't see any better alternatives out there right now. I do think that Netflix needs to address this and be more up front about it though.

Here are some links with more in depth information about the problems:


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