Thursday, November 10, 2005

Netflix

Several months ago I signed up for Netflix. I was tired of buying DVDs of movies I had little interest in owning and was also tired of going to the local Blockbuster to rent a movie. There were a lot of movies I wanted to see and thought that Netflix provided the solution. They had a special introduction offer and I decided to go for it.

I've been happy with my decision. I've seen many movies and TV shows that I had not seen before or would not have otherwise rented. Netflix offers a number of pricing plans and I chose the plan that allows me to rent two DVDs at a time for $17.99 a month.

As a customer of several months, I've discovered a couple of ways to speed up the return and delivery of DVDs. I was returning my movies using work mail and was experiencing odd delays in having Netflix receive the movies and then sending me new ones. I suspected that Netflix was "throttling" or otherwise delaying my send/receive cycle. I was not sure if the delay was with the mailroom at work or at Netflix. I experimented by sending the DVD back from home rather than from work. I did notice that Netflix was receiving the DVD sooner than before. I also discovered another trick. The Netflix return envelope contains a small slit in the back. When you place your DVD sleeve into the envelope, position the sleeve so the bar codes show through the slit. This makes the return process even faster as the bar codes are scanned at the Netflix distribution center and you get credit for returning your movie right away. Otherwise, the envelope has to be manually opened, the DVD removed and then scanned for you to get credit. The manual process adds time to the cycle.

I also found out that you can add movies currently in theaters to your Netflix queue. For example, today I added Derailed and Pride and Prejudice to my queue even though they are several months away from being available on DVD. Whenever they do become available on DVD, my queue will show the release date and I can move them to the top of my queue to receive them. As I see movie previews that seem interesting, I can add the movie to my queue. A number of times I'll see a preview...and then forget the name of the movie when it does come out on DVD.

Hacking Netflix and Netflix Fan are also great resources for Netflix users.