The Dark Side of Netflix

Netflix Underground is not affiliated with Netflix, Inc.



What experiences have you had with video-rental-by-mail programs? Post your comments here, and (for the sake of the other readers) please include as much detail as possible.

Note: If you subscribe to a video-rental-by-mail plan, please specify the following.

> Video Rental Company (Netflix, Blockbuster Online, etc.)
> Plan (three-out, five-out, etc.)
> Monthly Volume (average number of DVDs you receive monthly)
> Time (the length of time you’ve been on your rental plan)

This information is a critical factor in the level of service you are receiving. If you recently signed up for a service or are a light user, you are probably getting excellent service right now. Your problems will not start for at least a month after you begin your service, and you probably will not experience problems if you are a light user.

Experience is important here. Please do not leave comments about any company until you have been with the company for at least two months and have put that company to substantial test. (Sorry, but new or light users just haven't seen enough yet to offer honest and helpful critiques.)


WideAwakeInAmerica said...

Member since 2002. 3-Out Plan.

I Heart Netflix!!

Editor said...

To: WideAwakeInAmerica

It's good that you're so happy with Netflix. Please tell me how many movies you're getting each month (on average). What's your turnaround time? Please provide more information for the readers.

Editor said...


3/4/2005 01:55:36 AM

Blob wrote:

>Netflix and TiVo are the best.

>I got rid of premium cable and went with basic ($50 -> $9), got 3-out Netflix plan ($17.99). Coupled with TiVo ($12.95) to record stuff on basic cable, I have content that I wanna see when I wanna see.

>Total cost $39.94. Net savings: $10 per month.

>I might upgrade my Netflix plan to 4-out for another $4 bucks and still be saving money. Couldn't stand the crap that Comcast pumped into my tv.


Dear Blob,

Thank you for sharing your views on TiVo and Comcast. Since this site is primarily a forum for discussing Netflix, please share some more specific details about Netflix. How long have you been with Netflix? How many DVDs are you getting per month on average? Please give us a solid idea of how you use your account. (Please be as specific as possible.)


Nikki said...

I stumbled onto your blog today. I am having trouble with netflix. I have had service for 2 months. Everything was great even awesome until my free trial expired. At the end of the free trial I received a mislabeled DVD. I sent it back and repoted it mislabled the day after I sent it back. Netflix claims they never got it. I don't beleive them. That has been the only DVD they never got back and it seems a convenient excuse to limit my account. I am a heavy user and have rented 17 movies in the last 5 weeks with 2 on the way presently. For the last 2 weeks I have been printing our my queue and shipped movie lists. Each day my third position on the shipped list will say " We expect to ship your next available movie by (following day)" The following day it will change to the day after that and so on... infinity. I called netflix today to inquire about the problem. I recorded the call and and informed the agent that the call was being recorded and she said "okay".

Here is a transcription of the call with my identifing info

Me: This is a recording with Netfilx the phone number I dialed is 1-800-279-5688.

On hold for about a minute and a half. recoding of "Thanks for your patience...blah..blah.."

Agent: Thank you for calling Netflix this is Robin how can I help you

Me: Hi Robin, This is "me" I have an account with netflix and I'm calling because I have a problem. I also want to let you know before this call continues that this phone conversation is being recorded. Okay?

Robin: Okay. Can you give me your email address.

Me: Gives address.

Robin: what is the last 4 digit of the account used to make payment on you account with us?

Me: Give info

Robin: Give me one moment. -Pause- Okay I'm just reading your email that you sent today. Now what I want to talk to you about is I completely know why your account is showing that.

Me: Mmm-humm

Robin: You reported a DVD as mislabeled. Names DVD.

Me: Uhuh, yes

Robin: So, when that happens we wait for the movie to be sent back into to us to release that spot in your queue.

Me: It was shipped back.

Robin: No, I understand that. Just let me explain for one second. When you report a movie damages, mislabled that kind of thing we wait for the movie to be shipped back before we release that spot to be available to ship another movie out. So from what I am reading the movie was mislabled.

Me: Yeah and I actually sent it back before I reported it mislabled.

Robin: Okay, ummm, because it's showing that we never received it back. Now thats not your problem, however what is happening there is a quick very easy fix to it. Were showing that we did not get the movie back and I am going to mark it lost so it will free up that slot and we know not to expect it back.

Me: But when it happened I was in the free trial. After I reported mislabled I still was getting 3 movies out at a time. This problem of one slot being held open did not start happening until the trial expired and I started paying for the account.

Robin: No, No, No it has nothing to do with whether you were a paying or free trial member it has to do with the movie being unreturned. It just so happend that it a considence that it got mislabled and you sent it back and it was lost or we haven't marked it in. Whatever reason it is a very very quick fix.

Me: Is this the same problem that all of my friend and neighbors are having because I know that a lot of them are only getting 2 movies at a time instead of three. Is the same thing happening to them too?

Robin: not necessarrially, they need to call so someone can take a look at their account and see what the problem is. This so happens to be the problem with your account. I've gone ahead and cleared it up for you so the next movie will actually ship for you tomorrow.

Me: Okay, I mean it said that for the last 2 weeks that the next available movie would ship the next day.

Robin: I definetly undertand that, but our systems, they don't show the same things. When you have a movie marked mislabled and you send it back, we automatically send another out when we get the report. In that case you'll have 4 movies out. If we don't get that movie back then it is still one that is taken out of the sent list. But it shows that it was marked mislabled on your screen. If we don't have that movie back for whatever reason the we arent going to send you another one out.

Me: Okay, now I have another question, I was reading your terms of service and it says that high frequency users have slower service to allow for less frequent users to get movies more quickly.

Robin: you're not one of those.

Me: Okay what would be considered a high frequency user?

Robin: we have customers that are on 8 out at a time accounts. So they get movies out less frequently just because they pay for more movies at a time. They are renting so much and they are getting an awesome price per disc. They get movies on average at a cost of 20 cents per movie so we limit the turn around time on their accounts. Your account cost about $1.50 per movie on average so you're fine. We will still continue to ship movies out to you the day after we receive them back, at the latest. So it falls more with people who rent more movies.

Me: But aren't they paying more to have more?

Robin: Yes, but they still get great service just a bit slower.

Me: Okay, I see. Okay I appreciate you answering my questions and I'll look forward to seeing that movie shipped tomorrow.

Robin: You're welcome, have a great afternoon.

Me: Thank you.

So as you can see. Interesting. Only time will tell if what she says it actually the truth. I really don't think so because of all the stories I am hearing and see all the stuff posted arounf the internet with people have the exact problem. I am going to give them one more month. I will continue to print out my shipped list and queue everyday and record all calls I make to report problems with them. If at the end of that time I am still having the same problems I will submit all my documentation to the FTC, CA Attorney general, my local new customers watch groups, and my husbands customer is the lead new anchor for the #1 NBC affiliate in our metro area. She might be interested in it as well and I have her home phone number.

So far my thought is that Netflix is a neat idea but they company is dishonest in marketing the "Unlimited" movies when obviously it's not.

Editor said...

Dear Nikki,

Wow! Your story is stunning. Your transcript is absolutely fascinating.

I’m sorry to tell you this, but you have just come to the startling realization that Netflix is not the great bargain they said it would be. Don’t feel bad about yourself. You’re not a sucker. You just got deceived into doing business with a shady company. Many others have fallen into this trap. I know about this all too well, because the same sorts of things happened to me. We’re all victims of this.

While your story is a little different from the others I’ve heard so far, the end result fits perfectly with the Netflix throttling model: create artificial delays, delay shipping, blame USPS, and make the customer feel greedy for expecting better service.

I’m happy to inform you that you are doing everything right at this point. Things are most likely not going to get better, and you will probably wind up taking action against Netflix. Therefore, you are very wise to be keeping such thorough records. Continue to keep track of everything. You will need it later.

When you finally get fed up with Netflix, you will find some helpful links in my article, “How to Get Revenge on Netflix.” You have also come up with several excellent ideas for taking action against Netflix. I encourage you to pursue those avenues as well. Hopefully, by the time you’re done with Netflix, they’ll be wishing they had treated you better.

Thank you for taking the time to include this information. It’s going to help a lot of people who are going through the same thing.

Best of Luck,

Zachary said...

Disclaimer: I am a NFLX subscriber and investor.

Warren, if you hate NFLX that much, why not just cancel the service and subscribe to a competitor?

You seem to not like a service that NFLX provides. If you don't like it, dont patrionize them. I hate Delta, Cingular, Blockbuster, and Priceline for much worse reasons than unsatisfactory service, but you don't see me starting a website to screw them over.

Editor said...

Dear Zachary,

Thank you for your comments, and thank you for admitting up front that you are a Netflix investor. Your honesty is greatly respected.

You asked, “…why not just cancel the service and subscribe to a competitor?”

In answer to your question, I am no longer a Netflix subscriber. Once I realized that most of the Netflix horror stories on the Web are true, I realized I would have to cancel. However, the main reason I canceled was because I did not like being repeatedly deceived by Netflix. If they would have just been honest with me, I probably would have just lived with my throttled account and not gotten outraged enough to start Netflix Underground.

You see, Netflix Underground is not about me and my complaints. It’s about informing consumers so that they can learn from the mistakes of myself and other recovering Netflix subscribers. I just felt bad that a lot of unsuspecting movie lovers were being tricked into thinking that they were going to get the “unlimited” rental plan for which they paid. Due to Netflix’s array of slick delay tactics, many trusting people will not realize that Netflix is taking advantage of them until they have been ripped off for months. By the time the average person figures out how Netflix operates, it’s too late. They’ve already thrown away a lot of money and dealt with hours of frustration.

Netflix Underground is here for educating the consumers, and this information resource is not going away until Netflix comes clean about their business practices and the hidden caps of their “unlimited” rental plans. I hope Netflix will see the light before it’s too late.

I hope this answers your question. If you have any more questions, please let me know. Again, thank you for your honesty about being a Netflix investor.

On the investment topic, I have a question for you. How pleased are you with your investment in NFLX? I’m curious to know how the typical Netflix shareholder feels about this swelling customer revolt and the overall performance of the stock.

Thank you. I look forward to your response.

P.S. Since you are a Netflix shareholder, please consider posting your future thoughts in the “Netflix Insider” section. The Netflix Underground readers would love to hear from you, and I’m sure that you could get some interesting discussions going.

Anonymous said...

i joined netflix twice. i left the first time because the service started to slow way down. then about a year later i re-joined. left again because in the beginning everything was peachy keen, i was a heavy user, then their service started to suck big time again,and to boot, they had just opened a distribution about 15 minutes from my house! then they started to say they didn't receive my dvds which would then delay everything.

Anonymous said...

Intelliflix is worse!
My status right now is;
(I have 3 out plan and prepaid for a year,$99.)

They say 5 DVDs have not been returned (I mailed them all)

They have not "found" 3 DVDs they said they would "look" for 2 months ago!

I have recieved a total of 36 DVDs in about 14 weeks and I turn them over in 1 day usually.

They haven't shipped a DVD in a full week and I have had only one DVD listed as out the whole time.

This isn't just fraud it's STEALING, plain and simple. Somebody deserves jail time for this type of crime. I just sent them an e-mail detailing all the agencies I am going to report them to.

nimmis said...

Intelliflix suck big time. They have nothing to ship. Customer service is non-existent. They refuse to return the membership fees(I prepaid one year)

Anonymous said...

Right now I am using Blockbuster online. For some reason, they keep sending me DVDs from the Sacramento distribution center. There is a san jose distribution center just 20 minutes away from me.
Does anyone have the address of the San Jose distribution center on their return envelope. Could you please post the address?

I want to affix a the San Jose label to my envelopes. Thanks.

My turnaround with BB is no different than with Netflix (w/throttling). I get my DVDs in two days.

Editor said...

Dear Anonymous,

Visit this link for a suggested solution.

Rosie said...

Netflix just sent me an envelope with a NY address on it and I live in Maryland I returned it over six days ago and they still haven't received it. Also I mailed multiple DVD's on the same day and they say they got them on different days.

Mike said...

I always have loved netflix until they charged me for all 3 movies after putting my subscription on hold.

I sent the DVD's back and received them back recently I just sent them backout again but it was too late, They charged me for the DVD's and im waiting for them to respond back about offering me a refund. They have good service, but alot of hidden fee's and tricks. Just beware and read all their Terms of Service's

Anonymous said...

This may be a first, though I doubt it. I have been a Netflix user for nearly two years. There have been times when I have obviously suffered from "throttling" even though I am not a very heavy user on the 3-at-a-time plan. The breaking point occurred just last week when I received a cracked disc (the seventh I had received in six months). I reported the damaged disc promptly and was sent a replacement (same title) in 2 days. That disc was also cracked. So, I put Netflix to a test and again asked for a replacement. If you can believe it, the third disc was also cracked. So much for the rotten quality control at Netflix, OR was this a silent message to me that I was no longer wanted as a Netflix client?

The next day I cleared my queue and sent the two discs I had, including the third cracked one, back to Netflix by certified mail. A day and a half later I cancelled by account, five days before my billing date. I am just hoping that Netflix tries something sleazy (read illegitimate). I am ready for them with all the documentation.

By the way, Netflix no longer allows direct contact with Customer Service by email.

Cheryl said...

This is exactly what is happening to me. I shold have just put the cracked dvd back into the envelope and returned it like a happy camper adn I would have received my next movie on the list. Instead, I dutifully reported the dvd as damaged and was emailed immediately that I would get a replacement movie shipped out immediately. That was almost two weeks ago. In the meantime, I went to Blockbuster's website and I checked on every movie I had on my Netflix list and they have them and more! So, after I finish this blog, I am deleting all my movies on my Netflix l ist, calling them explaining how I cannot do business with such a deceptive company and signing up with Blockbuster - it can't get worse can it? I thought if you notified customer service they would appreciate it, instead you are punished for it!!

Anonymous said...

Member for about a year (2/time), a friend let me borrow one of her movie slots for probably 2-3 years before that.

The returns & deliveries keep getting slower. My latest two are taking 4 days to get here, with a center about 1.5 hrs from my house.

I don't think I'm a heavy user, we have lives and sometimes take a few days to watch our movies.

I just filed a complaint w/ the CA BBB... Better than nothing I guess. I've always hated BlockSucker though, hate to switch.

Anonymous said...

I'm surprised by your comments and, for some, your expectation. Implying that Netflix breaking discs on purpose? Is it possible that that you have an angry post office worker?

But if you're unhappy with your service then send them the best message you can and cancel the subscription and got to a competitor. Then you can compare what the industry standard of service and costs are. You might be right that only Netflix doesn't meet your expectations, or you might find that no business can successfully operate with your expectations?

While I'm confident your complaints are legitimate, I've had EXCELLENT service for my subscription -- ours is a one at a time. Obviously my subscription is not as much of a resource challenge as some of yours (of course I'm paying very little), but if things are actually that horrible at Netflix, wouldn't I also be experiencing your issues?

I've used them for about 3 years and consistently get movies within 3 days of re-submittal and I've always had my first choice sent. Never had a problem with them. I will continue to highly recommend them.

If you're unhappy try a different service and let the group know how your new contractor is doing.

Crystal said...

I have been with Netflix for three years. During the first two years, I had the 2-out unlimited plan. My DVDs were consistently received on the day after I sent them and shipped out on exactly the same day Netflix received them. Discs only went missing about once or twice a year.

Starting around the beginning of this year, I switched to the 3-out unlimited plan, which should have allowed me to receive 24 discs per month. However, the shipments became unreliable about three months ago. Early in the morning Netflix would show that a disc was received, but they would not mail anything until the day after. That struck me as odd, but I figured they were having problems at their warehouse or something. I was for a time willing to wait for things to get better. But around the same time, my discs were suddenly starting to get "lost" in the mail on the way back to the warehouse. Over the last three months, at 5 discs I sent have supposedly failed to arrive. After the 4th disc, Netflix sent me an e-mail telling me that since so many discs have been lost, my account was going to be reviewed or monitored or something like that. Basically they were indicating that they'd charge me if any other discs went missing.

I first thought that the most likely culprit was a neighbor or some kid who was going through the neighborhood and stealing from the mailbox. When I was at school all day, I had been putting the discs in the box early in the morning. The mailman doesn't visit us until 2 pm. I began to either drop them in the big box next to the post office or hand them to a clerk inside the post office. A 5th disc went missing last week under odd circumstances. I had taken three discs with me to the post office and handed them to the clerk to be shipped. The other two (one on my mother's account and one on mine) arrived at the warehouse. I've spent a few hours today trying to find out if other people have had problems with Netflix and found this blog. I don't know if I believe everything I've read here; after all, someone's testimony can't be proven. But I do know that I smell a rat in my experience with Netflix.

I am very upset about what's been happening, but I'm also upset that I have no choice but to end my subscription. I can't afford to pay for DVDs---that's why I have Netflix. I haven't yet been charged for the most recent discs, but their e-mail response to the last missing disc seemed a little passive aggressive. It included a list of movies I've reported missing over the last three months, as if to imply that if I've got them at home I should return them. One thing that I hate more than being deceived by a company is being treated like a criminal.

Without Netflix, I'll lose access to a number of television shows and movies that I can't afford or find anywhere else. For instance, lately I've been renting mostly MST3K episodes, since even the used copies cost an arm and a leg to buy on Amazon and Blockbuster's mail service is not much better than Netflix, if the reports I've read online are to be believed. I know I can rent DVDs from the library for free, but that's not the place to go when you have something specific in mind---the collection's too limited.

I hope that Blockbuster and Netflix will find competitors in the future. That's the root of the problem, I think. If you don't like the way they do business, you can't exactly go anywhere else, can you? Nobody else has the selection.