Thursday, February 16, 2006

Open letter to Reed Hastings - President of Netflix

Dear Mr. Hastings,

I’ve been a Netflix member since February 2001, so this is my 5 year anniversary. I’ve been an extremely happy customer until recently. I know that part of the reason that Netflix has been so successful is the word of mouth free advertising from people like me and you’ve expanded your customer base by 1.6 million customers in 2005.

This expansion of the customer base has caused you to “throttle” customers like me who love to watch movies so much and are tired of paying too much at the movie theater and getting kicked from behind and that causes most of the new DVD releases on movies that came out in 2005 to be stuck on my list in long wait or very long wait.

This is from an MSNBC article:
Los Gatos, Calif.-based Netflix didn't publicly acknowledge it differentiates among customers until revising its "terms of use" in January 2005 — four months after a San Francisco subscriber filed a class-action lawsuit alleging that the company had deceptively promised one-day delivery of most DVDs.

"In determining priority for shipping and inventory allocation, we give priority to those members who receive the fewest DVDs through our service," Netflix's revised policy now reads. The statement specifically warns that heavy renters are more likely to encounter shipping delays and less likely to immediately be sent their top choices. Few customers have complained about this "fairness algorithm," according to Netflix CEO Reed Hastings.

"We have unbelievably high customer satisfaction ratings," Hastings said during a recent interview. "Most of our customers feel like Netflix is an incredible value."
I would like to put myself on the list of the few customers that feel that Netflix is an incredible value and are also complaining about the “fairness algorithm” directly to you. I don’t think it’s fair for me to see all the movies I’d like to be watching in my friends list of movies they just received whereas on my list it says very long wait which can be up to 4 months according to your website.

March of the Penguins was released on DVD on November 29, 2005 and I had it on my list from the beginning and at or near the top since then and it is finally supposed to arrive today. Netflix is one of the reasons I don’t go out the movies that often because the DVD is released within 6 months, but now I have to wait another 3 months because I like watching movies.

I understand that you make more money on people who watch less movies, but I think you need to be more fair to long time customers like me and beef up the inventory on new popular movies. At least I turn them over quickly and get them back into circulation.

Below is the current top of my queue:
Deal of the Century - Very Long Wait
The 40-Year-Old Virgin - Very Long Wait
Flightplan - Very Long Wait
The Constant Gardner - Long Wait
Two for the Money - Long Wait
Cinderella Man - Long Wait

What really burns me up is that Deal of the Century is an old movie that just got released this week and Netflix didn’t even have it on the list until I send 3 title requests and now I have to wait up to 4 months. There is another group of new popular movies releasing on DVD in the next few weeks – Domino, North Country, Ice Harvest and Where the Truth Lies, so I’m guessing I’ll have 4 more on the very long wait list.

I hope you take this letter seriously and hopefully improve the already excellent Netflix service.

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