The most common way that people I don’t know reach this blog is via a Google query for "Netflix sucks". For a while I was the top search result for this query; now I’ve fallen to number two. Not that I particularly care, but it has made me aware of simmering vein of Netflix resentment.
It turns out that my Netflix gripes (which, if you read the posting, you’ll see have been largely resolved, and by the way Wal-Mart giving up its competitive business to partner with Netflix suggests that the threat has abated, at least for now) are pretty different from most others’. The top two complaints of most of the "NS" crowd are 1) poor quality disks (which I personally chalk up to the surfeit of sub-$75 DVD players) and 2) Netflix’s apparently widely-known if surreptitious policy of deliberately delaying processing of disks from its heaviest users, so as to limit the number of disks rented by these users. Apparently Netflix has even acknowledged that they optimize the processing of disks returned by their lowest volume users; I don’t know why but I’d guess that they probably figure that these are the least loyal users and thus most important to bend over backwards to keep happy.
I’d never experienced this phenomenon, but last week something suspicious happened. We’ve been renting a larger number of movies lately — broadcast TV is in reruns, the Seattle rainy season is still here, and we’ve rented some kids’ movies, which get watched faster — and last Monday I returned two disks. Normally when I return a disk on Monday, it gets received on Tuesday and I get a new disk back on Wednesday. But this time they only acknowledged receiving one disk on Tuesday and didn’t acknowledge receiving the other until Wednesday; furthermore, I didn’t receive the replacement for the Wednesday disk until Friday. The disks I returned on Monday were mailed at the same time, though in separate envelopes; from now on when I return two disks at the same time I’ll be sure to put them in a single envelope and see if that makes a difference.
Coincidence or conspiracy? You be the judge.