The Dark Side of Netflix

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3/09/2005

Throttling

Throttling is when Netflix limits the DVDs you can rent during your billing cycle by restricting your flow of DVDs. Netflix limits your flow with delay tactics such as delayed check-in of your returned DVDs, delayed shipping of new DVDs, shipping wrong DVDs, etc. The practice of throttling sets Netflix’s profits for each customer and ultimately cheats you out of 8 to 16 DVDs per month.

Heavy users are guaranteed to experience severe throttling. Moderate users will experience some throttling. Light users and new users will probably not experience throttling.

Light User = 0-8 DVDs

Moderate User = 9-13 DVDs

Heavy User = 14 or more DVDs

Usage based on per month average of correct and playable DVDs received on a three-out plan.

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

I was ecstatic when Netflix opened a new DC a few miles from where I live. Previously, I'd averaged about 11 disks per month on the 3-out plan (with all the supposedly normal "postal delays," unplayable disks, etc. slowing things down).

Suddenly, I got 18 disks in a month! Of course, that was the LAST time I got 18 disks.

Since then, I've been consistently throttled. About 3/4 of the disks they've sent me since then have been shipped a day (or even two days) after they've gotten disks back from me. They especially make sure that when they get a disk back from me on a Thursday or Friday that the next disk doesn't ship until Monday.

Obviously, they've got an algorithm going that ensures that I will get a maxium of about 12 disks per month. Despite being on an "unlimited" plan, and despite being in the same city as their DC, I'm being strictly limited to a number that Netflix has decided is profitable for them.

These tactics are blatantly fraudulent and illegal "bait and switch." I can't wait for the class action lawsuit against them!

franconero said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
franconero said...

I'm in Long Beach, Ca. the former home of the one day Netflix turn around. Member since 1998 when the local movie rental joint had 10-20 dvds on the shelf and I've loved netlix and enlisted countless friends. This week I've come to the realization that the slow down I've been experiencing cannot be explained away as paranoia. Movies I've returned have begun taken an extra day or two to be marked "recieved" by Netflix. On the other end, every single movie is now marked as "shipping ..." -some day or two longer than has been standard. Until a month or so ago it was not unusual for me to see them recieve a movie the next day and then have them ship that same day. Tonight I find I'm being throttled and the whole idea really pisses me off. I'm not some guy who is trying to see exactly how many movies I can possibly squeeze out of them I simply get a film, watch it that night, and mail it the next afternoon. What I hate most about this thing is that they are lying to me. I know that they are waiting to mark a movie recieved and I know that they are sitting on shipments to string me out. I complained last week and they gave me some vanilla response about sometimes there being a need to get films from other distribution centers. This policy requires that they lie to their customers because they tell us that a member has unlimited rentals - I would be much happier with some kind of max rather than being lied to and stalled. What makes things worse is the idea that because I apparently live close to a distribution center I will be punished. Do I now need to hold onto movies I've watched so as to be elgible to recieve movies at the top of my queue? The whole thing really does piss me off.

Anonymous said...

how does one expect them to make money?

If you expect 30 dvds delivered postpaid to your house a month for $14.95 you need to get a life. How would you expect them to stay solvent if everyone did that?

I like to support businesses who provide a useful service.

30DVDs a month is a different kind of exploitation.

I've had no problem with 4-8 DVDs a month and can barely watch them fast enough.

Editor said...

Anonymous,

It is good that you used the word exploitation, because it’s the perfect word to describe what Netflix is doing to customers all over America by making them believe they will actually be able to use the "unlimited" rental plan for which they paid. For Netflix, exploitation has become a business practice.

You should not place the burden of Netflix’s profitability on the customers. It is Netflix’s responsibility to worry about how to be profitable. If Netflix can’t figure out a way to make money on unlimited rental plans, they shouldn’t advertise them.

By the way, just who is getting thirty DVDs per month for $14.95? What plan are you talking about? Is Netflix giving you an employee discount?

You stated that you watch only four to eight DVDs per month. If you are averaging six DVDs, you should be using one of the cheaper plans. Hopefully, you wouldn’t be throwing away your money by subscribing to a three-out plan with such a low usage level. What plan are you on?

Ergin said...

I live in Urbana, Illinois and I am very close to one of the DCs. It would usually take only a day for Netflix to receive the movies. I am on 4-at-a-time plan and now I average about 13 DVDs a month. I began to experience throttling. Netflix started checking my movies in a day or two late. I emailed customer service after a two-day delay and said that I would cancel my membership. After a few hours of my email, they "updated" my queue and checked in the movies I sent out!!!

I totally agree with the editor that the burden of profitability of the plans should be on the Netflix management team. If you advertise unlimited plans, then you CANNOT manipulate in any way the number of movies the customers rent and slow them down. That's surely illegal.

I will give Netflix one more chance. If they do this again, I will go to Blockbuster. I don't think anybody is so emotionally attached to Netflix that they will put up with this cheating.

Mattheus said...

I was wondering if this statement in Netflix's terms of services left them free of any legal action from "throttling"

"We reserve the right to terminate or restrict your use of our service, without notice, for any or no reason whatsoever."

Of course I don't like the throttling, I've heard of it before and after being a heavy user for 6 months this is the first time it's happened to me, but if they reserve the right to restrict amount of dvd's being sent can it really be fought in court?