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On-line DVD Rental Sites

Postby Ollie » February 15th, 2008, 9:20 am

AnnH's offering of the interesting ClassicFlix site for my much-wanted New Releases list:

brings up a separate topic. In the past three years, I've done evaluations of DVD-online-rental operations. Netflix routinely gets Top Vote for processing speed, Blockbuster has been a decent 2nd place, and everyone else has fallen far behind those two in both Title Offerings, Actual Availability and "Processing Cycle" - which it the time between getting DVD Set #1 and returning it, then getting Set #2 delivered.

I'm wondering if you'd share your experiences with such companies.

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Strongly recommend AGAINST IntelliFlix

Postby Ollie » February 15th, 2008, 9:30 am

Of the 9 different companies I've evaluated, only one is most strongly recommended AGAINST - and that's IntelliFlix.

I and about 10,000 other former "customers" (like blackmail victims are "customers" to the blackmailers, I suppose) discovered that IntelliFlix isn't a "warehousing" operation like Blockbuster, NetFlix and the others are.

IntelliFlix is an association of ma-n-pa video stores. It sells itself to them by saying, "Hey, we're a website that you can list your available dust-collecting DVDs on, and we'll pay you when you ship those DVDs to our customers."

If you've ever been to a video-store, you know what the "dust collector DVDs" are - stuck deep in shelves, usually older films (but not necessarily true "classics". These items often rent for $1 per time-period - a week, 4-days, whatever. And usually, they don't rent AT ALL. They just sit on the shelf, year after year.

So IntelliFlix's marketing was interesting to these ma-n-pa shops - "Oh boy, we can expand our customer base and maybe they'll pay us for items that haven't been rented in years!" Sounds great.

But in practice, the ma-n-pa shop owners discovered (1) they spend a lot of time filling out Available Title Lists; and (2) THEY have to pay for postage (two 41-cent stamps, soon to be 42) so suddenly, their $1 item is now only bringing back AT MOST 18- or 16-cents!) plus the stocking time. Plus some of those items are never returned. And some are returned broken or damaged.

Their "dust collectors" then are lost from even that! And instead of 4-day Outs or 1-week Outs, some distant mail-order customers will keep titles for weeks and months.

So what's the incentive for a ma-n-pa shop to continue past their first few bad experiences?


And that's what 99% of IntelliFlix customers discover, too - the supplying shops may claim to have titles available, but they have no requirement to deliver on IntelliFlix's marketing promises. And IntelliFlix can't force ma-n-pa shops to ship what actually IS available. Or do process ANY order within any time frame.

IntelliFlix is an interesting idea but, in practice, there are too many negative incentives working against the Supplying Shops and the Paying Customers for it to work.

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Throttling a customer's "unlimited" usage

Postby Ollie » February 15th, 2008, 9:38 am

NetFlix lost a class-action suit several years ago because they 'throttled' their 'unlimited usage' customers by creating a processing delay that did indeed limit the 'unlimited' usage.

Blockbuster's biggest negativity is this throttling as well. They can mail something overnight, but it's not "received" for 2-3 days, so Your Next Item may not be shipped for 3-4 or even 5 days, but it OFTEN arrives "overnight".

Blockbuster has attempted to counter this by offering "in-store returns" and supposedly a store's check-in system flows immediately back to the warehousing operation. It's on-line, after all. It SHOULD do this. But that's not always the case, and sometimes our returned item - we see it scanned! - still doesn't "post as a return" to start the next-processing cycle. We couldn't figure out who Blockbuster was trying to blame for these "errors" - the postal system? No - because they ship from Store to Warehouse by independent courier. The phone system that carries their data-line subscriptions? Maybe that's who Blockbuster would blame!

NetFlix may enjoy an inside track to all processing because the US Postal System carries scanned-items from Receipt Station 1 (your local post office) back to the NetFlix warehouse of origin. NetFlix supposedly pays the US Postal System enough money to compensation for thousands of postal employees (I've read and been told various numbers - 1800, 2800, 3900 - Senator McCarthy lives, apparently).

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Postby movieman1957 » February 15th, 2008, 10:39 am

I've only ever used Netflix. I've been quite happy with them. Sometimes I'm amazed at how fast the turna round is. I usually don't have them in my hand more than three or four days before I send them back. They usually get back to Netflix the next day. (They do have a center near Washington DC which helps me.)

"Time flies like an arrow, fruit flies like a banana."

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