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Netflix movie rentals

DVD movies by mail

    I cancelled my Netflix account a few days ago (www.netflix.com). I had the "three movies out at a time" plan, whatever that's called... $19.33 automatically siphoned out of my checking account as a "point of sale debit purchase" every month for the past ten months. That works out to $193.30 that I've spent on renting movies in less than a year. Almost two hundred bucks. To a lot of people that's a perfectly reasonable amount, I'm sure. It was a perfectly reasonable amount to me for ten months. I watched a lot of movies for that money, but still, 190 bucks? That's the muffler for the motorhome with change left over.

    When you're looking at it as a 19 dollar deduction from your bank account every month, the overall impact seems minimal. By comparison, a full tank of gas costs $60.00 (for my Ford mini-van). A carton of premium cigarettes goes for $33.00 and my monthly water bill is $37.00. $19.33 bucks doesn't seem like much when you stack it up against the other recurring expenses I have every month. Now it's ten months later and I've dropped two hundred bucks on big screen Hollywood entertainment and the amount isn't so trivial anymore. Not to me it isn't.

    That was the main reason I cancelled my account, but other things also factored into the decision. Movies only arrived when they were supposed to arrive about half the time. If Netflix told me the movie would arrive on Tuesday, 50% of the time it would actually arrive on Wednesday. Netflix is big on notifying you of what they're doing and making sure you know when they're doing it. When they receive a movie you've returned - they let you know. When they ship a movie that you've selected - they let you know. They also tell you when it will arrive, but as I discovered early on, that's just a best guess. Not that big of a deal by itself but there was more...

    A few months ago Netflix lost a movie they had shipped to me. It never arrived. There was a wait for this particular movie. With the more popular titles and new releases that get requested a lot, one and two week waits are fairly routine. After a few days, Netflix sent me an email letting me know the movie was being shipped from one of their east coast distribution centers (Raleigh, North Carolina. I think). They usually shipped from Kansas City, Missouri - sixty miles away. After that I forgot about it. It took three weeks for me to realize that a movie had dropped out of the rotation. I reported it as soon as became aware of it. Netflix was very understanding. Stuff gets lost in the mail sometimes, they said. What can you do? It was their policy not to hold the customer responsible for a movie that went missing the first time (awful nice of them since the movie never made it to me in the first place). If it happened again, well, a review of my account might be in order and some action might need to be taken. As politely as they worded it, the insinuation was still visible between the lines. For all they knew, the movie had arrived at the exact minute they claimed it would and I had promptly destroyed it, then tried to deflect the blame by claiming it never got there. That's not what happened. I don't know what happened. Maybe Netflix never shipped the movie. Maybe the Post Office lost it in transit. I - don't - know. Somebody screwed up and it wasn't me, yet if it happened again I would basically be blamed for it. I didn't like that. I understand their position but I still didn't like it.

    Something else that annoyed me was the general condition of the little white paper sleeves Netflix shipped their discs in. They were usually filthy. I'm no Mr. Clean myself but these things were disgusting. They re-use the same sleeves over and over again until they literally fall apart, big crease tears in the paper, dirt smudges and other unknown stains... it really hits home how many people have handled that same DVD before it finally gets to you.

    In all I wasn't that dissatisfied with my Netflix membership. The two people I know that have Netflix accounts are both happy with the service and plan to continue it... no complaints at all. I guess I've just reached a point at which I have to take another look at the role of movies in my life, the importance I attach to watching them. Is it worth $231.96 to me to watch movies for a year? The answer seems to be "no".

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