Please read David Pogue’s story at the link below. If you think that he left out some important details about the way Netflix operates, please email him about your experiences with the company and ask him to do a follow-up story on Netflix. It does not matter if David Pogue wants to write positive things about Netflix, but he should at least make sure his readers are getting the full story.
David Pogue at NYT
New York Times Story
"In the Competition for DVD Rentals by Mail, Two Empires Strike Back"
Why does Netflix have an edition with twice as many DVDs? Does Netflix have some special expanded edition? Has Netflix intentionally arranged to have the standard three-DVD set spread out over six DVDs?
This is an important issue because, if Netflix intentionally doubles the number of DVDs for any given multi-DVD set, Netflix can make you use up twice as many of your allotted monthly rental slots to view that set.
Have you noticed Netflix inflating any other multi-DVD sets? If so, this may be Netflix’s newest tactic.
Without a Trace: The Complete First Season
Normal = 4 DVDs : Netflix = 7 DVDs
The West Wing - The Complete Third Season
Normal = 4 DVDs : Netflix = 7 DVDs
Dallas - The Complete First and Second Seasons
Normal = 5 DVDs : Netflix = 10 DVDs
Miami Vice - Season One
Normal = 3 DVDs : Netflix = 6 DVDs
Quantum Leap: The Complete Second Season
Normal = 3 DVDs : Netflix = 6 DVDs
Quantum Leap: The Complete Third Season
Normal = 3 DVDs : Netflix = 6 DVDs
Kojak - Season One
Normal = 3 DVDs : Netflix = 6 DVDs
The Hardy Boys/Nancy Drew Mysteries - Season One
Normal = 2 DVDs : Netflix = 4 DVDs
The Dukes of Hazzard - The Complete Second Season
Normal = 4 DVDs : Netflix = 8 DVDs
The Dukes of Hazzard - The Complete Third Season
Normal = 4 DVDs : Netflix = 8 DVDs
The following news tip came from a Netflix Undergounder. Thanks for the tip, Dan.
If you are concerned about online privacy, you might want to read "Netflix SEO Efforts Expose User Data in Google and Yahoo" at http://www.onlinemarketer.com/netflix.
Do you have anything embarrassing in your queue? If so, remove it now before Netflix makes it available to every Web user on the planet.
This Netflix problem is not just a privacy issue. It’s a security issue. Some of the supposedly “private” Netflix user information I have seen exposed on the Web, reveals the Netflix user’s full name along with DVD title listings that suggest the user has small children at home. In one case, using nothing but the DVD titles, I was able to deduce the gender and approximate age of the Netflix user’s small child.
Think about this. How would you like it if Netflix carelessly exposed your personal information and some pedophile was able to figure out a young girl or boy lives in your house? That’s scary. Parents have enough to worry about these days without Netflix giving the perverts of the world another way to intrude into their homes.
If you think Netflix may have violated your privacy, please contact Netflix, demand they thoroughly investigate how your data may have been compromised, and ask them to submit their report to you in writing (Netflix Contact Information). If Netflix does not give you a satifactory response, please contact the California Attorney General (http://caag.state.ca.us/) and your state's Attorney General.
Google has removed the cached pages containing private user data. Whatever privacy threat existed before appears to be corrected now. Hopefully, this problem was resolved before anyone was affected. Please direct any further questions about this isuue to Netflix.
Although you can post any communication with Netflix (emails, letters, phone call transcripts, etc.) in this forum, the most useful way to post information will be to include the text of your original contact with Netflix followed by Netflix’s response.
Imagine what an advantage people will have in dealing with Netflix if they can anticipate what excuses and explanations Netflix will offer for any given issue. This archive will probably expose contradictions and inconsistencies in the Netflix customer service machine.
There have been numerous stories about Netflix making multiple, unjustified withdrawals from debit accounts. If Netflix does overcharge you, the burden will be on you to prove Netflix made the error. You can probably get your money back, but it will require a lot of work on your part.
If you use a credit card and decide that you are not happy with something Netflix has done, you can always call your credit card company and dispute the charge.
March 1, 2005
If you are reading this, you have probably already been burned by Netflix. Your first few weeks as a Netflix customer were wonderful. You started catching up on all of those movies you had missed, watched a new DVD almost every night, and you were amazed by what a wonderful value you had found.
Sadly, things turned ugly after the first couple months of your membership. Suddenly, your returned DVDs took days to arrive, and your new DVDs took an extra day or two to ship. You began to grow queasy as you discovered that your unlimited rental plan had some substantial hidden limitations.
If this has happened to you, it is not a mistake or anomaly, and it is not the fault of USPS (contrary to Netflix claims). Netflix’s software has identified you as a heavy user (an unprofitable frequent renter), and Netflix has chosen to throttle your flow of DVDs. Essentially, Netflix has subjected you to a series of artificial, software-driven delays that reduce their costs by limiting your rentals during each billing cycle.
Now that you know what Netflix is doing to you, you are furious and want to get revenge by telling them that you are canceling your membership because you are not getting enough DVDs. The catch is that this measure is very ineffective and exactly what Netflix wants. If you are a heavy user, you are unprofitable, and Netflix will be thrilled to learn that they successfully throttled you right off of their membership rolls.
Canceling your membership is a very reasonable act of retaliation, but definitely do not give Netflix the satisfaction of knowing that they throttled you out. If you cancel, give Netflix some other vague explanation or none at all.
If you really want to get revenge on Netflix, you will need to be much more proactive, stoke the fires, and make some noise. They cheated you, and now it’s payback time. Below are several easy actions that you can take to have some influence and put some heat on Netflix.
REACH OUT AND TOUCH SOMEONE
Call Netflix’s Customer Service Department every time something is wrong with your account. Fielding service calls requires a lot of resources and raises the cost of their throttling measures. Netflix’s incentive to throttle heavy users will be reduced if they know they have a 10-minute call to deal with each time they cause a delay on your account.
Netflix Customer Service
Other Netflix Contact Information
100 Winchester Circle
Los Gatos, CA 95032
Contact 20/20’s John Stossel (www.abcnews.go.com/2020/ABCNEWSSpecial), share your Netflix experience, and encourage him to investigate the company’s business practices.
FILM AT 11
Contact your local television stations and newspapers. Let them know what Netflix is doing. Those local investigative reporters drool over frauds like this. If Netflix gets pulled into a public relations firestorm and is forced to spend revenue defending their public image, they might realize it would just be cheaper to keep their heavy users quiet by delivering a few more DVDs per month.
CONTACT THE FEDS
Netflix is committing fraud across state lines and the Federal Trade Commission (www.ftc.gov) needs to know about it. File a complaint online.
JUST THE FACTS, MA’AM
The FBI (www.fbi.gov) and National White Collar Crime Center (www.nw3c.org) have joined to form the Internet Crime Complaint Center (www.ic3.gov). File a complaint online.
Write USPS and tell them that Netflix is unfairly blaming your post office for delays and shipping problems. USPS needs to know that Netflix is using them as a scapegoat. If USPS knows how they are being portrayed, Netflix will get a chilly reception the next time they have to negotiate bulk mailing rates and terms. Contact USPS at the following address.
Vice President, Public Affairs and Communications
United States Postal Service
475 L’Enfant Plaza, SW
Washington, DC 20260-0001
Netflix uses the US mail to conduct business. This makes Netflix subject to mail fraud investigations. File a complaint with the US Postal Inspector.
BETTER THAN NOTHING
File a complaint with the Better Business Bureau. Netflix’s complaint file needs to reflect the true scope of customer dissatisfaction. Every complaint helps build the case against Netflix.
Go after Netflix on their home turf by informing the California Attorney General (http://caag.state.ca.us/) about what is going on his state. File a complaint here.
HOME SWEET HOME
Netflix is committing fraud on residents of your state, and it is the responsibility of your state’s Attorney General to stop things like this. You can find your Attorney General’s contact information on your state’s official government Web site.
Contact a local law firm, tell them your Netflix story, and see if they are interested in launching a class action suit against a multi-million dollar corporation. If a good class action lawsuit gets going, Netflix will probably be forced into a settlement that will result in partial refunds for their customers.
If you have expressed your dissatisfaction to Netflix and been denied an adequate refund, call your credit card company and dispute Netflix’s charges on the grounds that they did not deliver the product for which you paid. Placing the charges in dispute will instantly put the burden of proof on Netflix, and they will be forced to make their case to your credit card company. Depending on your credit card company’s policies, you could get some money back. At the very least, you will force Netflix to expend resources defending themselves, and you will raise the attention of the credit idustry. If Netflix gets too many disputed charges on their record, it will impact the merchant fees they pay to the credit card companies.
Ironically, if Netflix had supplied me with enough DVDs, I would not have had the time or motivation to take these actions or write this article. Now, I’ve done what I can on my own. Unfortunately, I am only one person, and my impact will be minimal. If, however, many more people take these actions, Netflix will be pressured into coming clean on how they do business and publicly admit the imposed limitations of their "unlimited" rental plan. If enough people take action, things will change.
The original article can be found in its entirety at http://netflixunderground.blogspot.com/.
Note: This comments section is primarily for Netflix insiders. If you have never been employed by Netflix, please respect the integrity of this section by not posting anything here unless you are directly responding to something posted by a Netflix insider.
Is Netflix throttling you? If so, what DVD would you be watching right now if Netflix were living up to the obligations of the unlimited rental plan you paid for?
Below, click on comments and enter the name of the DVD you wish you were watching right now and how long--based on past experience--Netflix is likely to make you wait for it.
Note: The point of The Netflix Underground Challenge is to illustrate that if Netflix would just do the right thing and send out more DVDs, their customers would be busy watching movies instead of pummeling Netflix's reputation in public forums. (Plus, it's a good chance to vent your frustrations.)
conclusively only with internal Netflix documents.
Late Afternoon Shipping
Netflix sometimes ships DVDs in the late afternoon. This makes it harder on the post office to get the DVDs to you the next day. This often adds a day to your turnaround time.
Netflix will not always check-in your DVDs on the day that they arrive. Netflix will sometimes increase your turnaround by simply holding your DVD for a day or two.
Netflix should send out your replacement DVD the same day they receive your returned DVD; however, they often push your ship date back a day. This allows them to automatically increase your turnaround time by a day on each DVD.
Alternate Distribution Center
Netflix will send your DVDs from alternate distribution centers that are outside of your local area. Depending on distance, this tactic can easily add an additional two or three days to your turnaround time. (See Comments for details.)
Netflix will hold your replacement DVD and ship it so late in the week that it is almost impossible for the DVD to arrive before Monday. This throttling measure not only adds days to your turnaround time, it can leave you irritated all weekend.
Netflix will sometimes throttle you by "losing" a DVD for an extended period of time. This missing DVD tactic will effectively reduce your three-out plan to a two-out plan. This virtual plan downgrade can go on indefinitely. When this happens, the burden is placed on you to discover the problem and report the issue to Netflix. Each time this happens to you, you will probably end up having to report the DVD as lost to restore your full flow of DVDs. Even though Netflix will almost always blame USPS for the missing DVD, there have been many reports of Netflix suddenly "finding" DVDs when customers start asking questions.
You can find some details at http://www.manuelsweb.com/netflixopinions.htm. (IE users, if you press Ctrl+F and search this page for refund, you will get several hits.)
This Netflix Underground reader took the initiative to record her phone call. She has included the fascinating transcript with her story.
Thank you, Nikki.
March 15, 2005
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 removed.
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.
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.
Well, there you have it, folks! Wow! I would just love to know what goes on in those Netflix customer service training classes.
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
For example, three-day turnaround = You mail Apocalypse Now to Netflix on Monday. Netflix acknowledges receipt of Apocalypse Now and mails out Bourne Supremacy on Tuesday. Bourne Supremacy arrives in your mailbox on Wednesday.
After a few weeks, when things start going sour with your plan, you will be glad that you have the data.
Your data will provide you with some hard facts about the level of service that you are getting and help you calculate your cost per rental.
100 Winchester Circle
Los Gatos, CA 95032
If you have additional Netflix contact information, please post it here for the other readers. Please report changed and disconnected numbers.
When you contact customer service, Netflix will try to pin the blame on the United States Postal Service. Netflix will claim that USPS, loses DVDs, damages DVDs, and takes days to deliver local mail. While some of these claims may be true on rare occasions, Netflix will have you believe that the post office is responsible for almost any problem that arises.
The reality is that USPS handles billions of pieces of mail each year, and they have complications with only a small percentage. Netflix’s claims about USPS are greatly exaggerated and completely unfair.
As a rule of thumb, if you live within 50 miles of your Netflix distribution center, at least 90% of your DVDs should arrive the day after shipping to or from your house.
If Netflix is making unfair allegations about your local post office, notify USPS so they can address the issue. (http://www.usps.com/)
24 Hour Video Store
Take 2 Video
I signed up and paid for Netflix's unlimited three-out rental plan. The first month, I received spectacular service and watched five or six DVDs per week. At the beginning of the second month, Netflix began creating artificial delays that drastically cut the number of movies that they would allow me to rent each month.
Is this site affiliated with Netflix?
No. I'm sure Netflix hates it.
What is the purpose of this site?
The purpose of this site is to arm the public with information about how Netflix operates. Once the general public is informed about Netflix's tactics, Netflix will be forced to come clean about the way they do business. Netflix's rental plans are filled with imposed limitations, and it is dishonest to advertise these plans as unlimited.
May I reprint information from this site?
Yes. Please include the following credit with the reprinted information.
Netflix Underground - http://netflixunderground.blogspot.com/
"Somebody has to do something, and it's just incredibly pathetic that it has to be us."
-- Jerry Garcia
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.)
The information on this site is free to the public. If you wish to copy and reprint any of the information found here, you may do so with no additional permission. If you do reprint any information on this site, all I ask is that you please include the following credit.
Netflix Underground - http://netflixunderground.blogspot.com