Monday, February 13, 2006

“From The Oval Office” A mix tape by Chip Kinney

I’ve started season 4 of ‘Buffy The Vampire Slayer’ and I must say the show started off sluggish. Now that I’ve grazed through disc 2, I’m finding out that the season isn’t as bad as I expected. Deidre didn’t exactly give the season high marks, but I’m digging it.

And there’s been a lot of negative press lately about Netflix, the DVD rental service that I enjoy so much and the source for my ‘Buffy’ fix. There’s been a class action lawsuit brought up against the service because they say “unlimited” rentals.

That is not the case because they’ve set limits against my Netflix friends and me. They refer to us as “heavy users” and limit how our rentals are sent to us.

I like to watch the DVD and return it on the same day that I receive it. Quick turnaround is important to me. I want more bang for my buck and I have the time to do it.

When it comes time for them to send the next DVD on my list, they hold it for a business day. It’s called “throttling” and they do it because I have reached their own imposed limit.

I have called about it to complain and find answers. They want to make a profit as much as anyone else and I understand that. But don’t say “unlimited” rentals when there are in fact limits.

AOL started up a forum for their subscribers to post their comments. Here is the one from my friend Christine… Printed with her permission of course…

This was originally posted on a message board devoted to the NetFlix "scandal." It was in response to posts in which people compared "heavy users" of NetFlix as "greedy pigs" at buffet lines, eating much more than their "fair share."


All these comparisons to "greedy pigs" at all-you-can-eat buffets just don't work. Restaurant owners *aren't* singling certain patrons out by saying, "We've determined that you usually eat more than your $8.99 worth. So from now on we're going to limit the number of trips you can make to the buffet, make you take the long way around the back of the restaurant to get in line, and give all our new customers and "light eaters" first crack at the most popular buffet items. We'll let you know when you can have some....have a seat, it will be awhile."

Sound ridiculous? Of course it does! Restaurant patrons wouldn't stand for that kind of discriminatory treatment, and any restaurant that tried it would be ruined by the bad press. But NetFlix users facing the same treatment are told to shut up, "get a life" and stop watching so many movies?

Owners of all-you-can-eat restaurants know that for every guy who eats $15 worth of food at their $8.99 buffet, they'll have another 3 or 4 who only eat $5 worth....and 20 who eat no more and no less than their money's worth. It all evens out, and it's figured into their profit margin.

NetFlix management is no different. They know that for every "heavy user" they lose money on, there are another half-dozen that underutilize their memberships and create an even greater profit margin for the company. Are they going to refund the difference to those light users? Of course they won't, any more than the buffet owner is going to tell the "light eater" at the end of a meal, "We see you didn't eat your full $8.99 worth, so here's a refund of $3."

Bottom line, NetFlix got greedy. In keeping with the buffet analogy, they wanted to have their cake and eat it, too - draw customers in with the lure of "unlimited" only to secretly and deceptively create limits for certain customers. And no matter what business you're in, that's bad business.

Thank you Christine, I think that you summed it up beautifully.


  1. Anonymous11:22 AM

    The Big Bad in Season 4 is kind of lame, but the season itself is pretty good. Plus, it has one of the series' best episodes ever. It stands out and I'm confident you will figure out the one, but I like a particular episode in Season Five better.

    It's a shame about Netflix because, at the moment, the company is making money off of me. My viewing average has dropped below normal and I'm not getting my money's worth. I know two other people whose viewing habits are worse than mine. So the company is making money off of the three of us while it might be losing money off of you. It's still a winning proposition for Netflix.

  2. Anonymous11:24 AM

    But I'm keeping my membership. It still beats any rental store I've encountered. Well, Visart Video in Chapel Hill was pretty good, but other than that, Netflix has the others beat.

  3. As of today... Netflix doesn't seem to be "throttling" me as much.

    I wonder why?

  4. Anonymous8:56 PM

    Ditto - they received 2 discs back yesterday and immediately sent me out 2 high-demand discs in return. And 2 more received today were replaced with 1 high demand and 1 low demand - also shipped today.

  5. Anonymous12:49 AM

    THUMP THUMP Is this thing on?

  6. Anonymous1:51 PM

    c'mon Eugene...update, son!

  7. Anonymous5:30 PM

    Dude... where the hell are you?