Friday, February 10, 2006

I've Been Throttled? ...

Well, what a crock.

According to an AP story (linked above), Netflix, my beloved Netflix, is being a bit of an ass.

Apparently, if you're a Netflix customer who turns discs around quickly (that'd be me), you're subject to not-so-nifty Netflix algorithms that limit what movies you get when. It seems that Netflix would much rather get the latest releases to new customers and customers who rent the fewest DVDs to make and keep them happy, because the profit margins are bigger.

Here's language right out of Netflix's Terms of Use:

"In determining priority for shipping and inventory allocation, we give priority to those members who receive the fewest DVDs through our service. As a result, those subscribers who receive the most movies may experience that (i) the shipment of their next available DVD occurs at least one business day following return of their previously viewed movie, (ii) delivery takes longer, as the shipments may not be processed from their local distribution center and (iii) they receive movies lower in their queue more often than our other subscribers."

I've always joked that Netflix loses money on me. Turns out, I might be right. Those of use who take the word "unlimited" literally and send discs zipping back to Netflix within a day or two of receiving them cost more money in postage, especially with last month's rate increase.

(Some will say I can watch so many movies because I have no life. No, I say to you. I can watch so many movies because so much of what is on TV is crap, and watching movies is research when you're working on a screenplay, which I am. Got a vice you need rationalized? I can help.)

Ever since becoming a member, I have sung the praises of Netflix far and wide, but knowledge of this practice gives me pause. I often have "short wait" assigned to discs at the top of my queue. But now I learn that this has less to do with an actual shortage of discs and more to do with the fact that I turn around a greater number of discs in a month.

This does not make me happy. Still, I'll stick with Netflix. Blockbuster has pissed me off one too many times.


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