Saturday, August 16, 2008

Netflix Destined To Be A Legend Of The Fall?

When the online movie rental firm known as Netflix first came online, it was such a radically different way to access thousands of movies from the comfort of your home, that millions of people eventually signed up for the service. From strictly mailing DVD's back and forth, Netflix outdid Blockbuster and Vongo by adding an 'instant' online viewing capability, that by itself boasted a pretty substantial library of movies to watch. So in essence, they combined what Blockbuster and Vongo offered separately, but offered them for the same price. Such a deal!

Not anymore. This week's latest failure of Netflix's delivery system was far worse than the corporation let on to the press and their subscribers. Their system was down not for three days, but this entire week. According to Netflix, they won't release the details of why their delivery system was down for three days, but I'll give you the rumor circulating in several online groups devoted to talking about all things Netflix. The rumor is a labor stoppage. It takes actual people to put the videos into envelopes, and according to the rumors, those people demanded a raise, Netflix said no, and so, 'Houston we have a problem' came about.

As a Netflix subscriber myself, (I hardly even bother with television any more), I can tell you first hand that their service has been going the way of Vongo for the past six months or so. The last service outage back in March was but a blip on the radar screen, and Netflix promised all a 5% discount on their next month's billing. No one is sure how many people actually received those discounts, but I can tell you that I wasn't one of them. Their promised discount of 15% to subscribers for this week's mess doesn't go nearly far enough to compensate for an entire week's loss of service, and this being the day of my next billing, there was no 15% discount any way. They charged full price.

The allure of Netflix was the convenience of being able to have movies and television shows shipped directly to your home, but while you waited for the mail, you could also find a good movie or television series to watch online from the Netflix web site. But once again, whether it's an attempt to shore up more profits, or just people with the worst taste in television and movies, the caliber of offerings by Netflix has been so horrendous, as in grade D movies, (B movies would be a welcome respite at this point), and television series from the '50's and '60's, that I personally find myself looking to Amazon's movie rental service and ordering pay per view movies. That view is held by many many people who are in the talk about Netflix movies groups.

When I first started with Netflix, it was due to a disillusionment with Vongo, who had the worst selection of movies to choose from. But their price was right at $10.00 a month, but they began to put all the good movies into their pay per view section. Movies that were ten years old became pay per view. Now that ticked me off enough to seek out another venue. I'd be damned if I was going to be paying a monthly fee for a service, and have to shell out more money to watch anything worthwhile. Almost the same setup that Napster has. Pay a fee, then have to buy any decent music.

So I tried out Netflix. And I thought it was the most brilliant idea anyone had ever had. There were first rate movies, blockbusters and all, and I didn't have to go running out to the video store like one has to do with Blockbuster. I would mail movies back on Monday, and by Wednesday, there would be more in the mailbox. I loved it so much that I moved up from their popular three at a time at home for $17.00 per month, to their 5 at a time for $32.00 a month.

I regret that now, and I also regret not cancelling my subscription a couple of days ago. Because since I've already paid for this month, Netflix doesn't give refunds, or even partial refunds. And I'm also pissed about their new 'Watch Movies On Your Television' crap. Instead of offering this as an extension of your existing service, it's an additional monthly fee. What hogwash! I'm not paying extra for that! That's called cable television. I can just go and buy an attachment from the computer store that runs from my system to my T.V. and not pay any monthly fee. Why would Netflix try to rip their customers off like this?

What I don't understand is why in the world Netflix believes they can allow their service to become so lousy. With start ups continuously thinking up new and better ideas, and with sites like Veoh and Channel Chooser, among many others, offering free television and independent shows, places like Netflix are sooner or later going to find their subscription rate fall to almost nothing.

Now, with the proliferation of video sites, with mainstream sites such as NBC, ABC, and CBS offering their shows online, and with the (*ahem*) advent of the free movie sites, (read bootleggers), Netflix had better start getting their act back together by providing decent material, and not put forth old Troma movies as 'New Releases', or they're going to find one day that their shiny bauble status has been reduced to a rusty old wagon. They've got this one month with me. If I don't see something positive happening, they can rest assured that I'll be one of many who are saying they're cancelling Netflix in favor of something else. Because today is Saturday, and I haven't seen a movie in my mailbox since last Thursday.

Hello Blockbuster? If you start streaming instant view movies, you'll probably gain a couple of million customers. Me included............................

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