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Netflix Reduces Physical-Disc Processing, Keeps Prices the Same 354

Posted by timothy
from the rising-overhead dept.
Nom du Keyboard writes: After seeing a drop in my DVD service from Netflix I got a customer service representative tonight to confirm that Netflix has ceased processing DVD returns on Saturdays nationwide. And that they did this without notifying their customers, or reducing prices to compensate for the reduced service. Given that the DVD selection still far outstrips their streaming selection, this may be news to others like myself who don't find streaming an adequate replacement for plastic discs. My experience up until recently, unlike Netflix's promise of a 1-3 day turnaround at their end which gives them lots of wiggle room to degrade service even further, had been of mailing in a DVD on day one, having them receive it and mail out my next selection on day two, and receiving it on day three. Now with them only working 5 days and many U.S. Post Office holidays, they're still getting the same money for significantly less. The Netflix shipping FAQ confirms the change, and a spokesperson said, "Saturdays have been low volume ship days for us."
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Netflix Reduces Physical-Disc Processing, Keeps Prices the Same

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  • Time will tell (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Mr D from 63 (3395377) on Tuesday July 22, 2014 @11:32AM (#47508079)
    Time will tell, if customers really care.
    • call them (Score:5, Insightful)

      by goombah99 (560566) on Tuesday July 22, 2014 @11:42AM (#47508159)

      netflix listened to customer feedback when they tried to spin off their disc rentals to another company. so call them and give them feedback. they are easy to reach by phone. if you dont complain to them please dont whine on slashdot

      • Re:call them (Score:4, Insightful)

        by sribe (304414) on Tuesday July 22, 2014 @12:05PM (#47508349)

        netflix listened to customer feedback when they tried to spin off their disc rentals to another company. so call them and give them feedback. they are easy to reach by phone. if you dont complain to them please dont whine on slashdot

        The difference here is that very very few people will care. We're talking about mailing in a DVD on Friday, and getting the next on Tuesday instead of Monday.

        Most of us have jobs and lives during the week. Most DVD watching is concentrated to Fri/Sat/Sun.

        • by AuMatar (183847)

          I think you have that backward. M-Th is when you go to work then come home and want to just watch TV for the night. F/S/S is when you go out and do something because you don't have to be home early.

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by xyra132 (615021)
            Not if they have kids. I only watch films Friday or Saturday nights now, when you can't easily go out without baby sitters or other childcare nights in become important. Weekday evenings tend to be getting to bed early so not to be tired at work if the kids wake up at some silly time of the morning / middle of the night. I bet a very large proportion of Netflix customers have young families, I would imagine the 25 - 40 age bracket is their largest customer base.
        • The difference here is that very very few people will care. We're talking about mailing in a DVD on Friday, and getting the next on Tuesday instead of Monday.

          My solution to this is, don't make Saturday a day when you expect Netflix to be doing anything. My watching days (barring postal holidays) are Tuesday and Friday. I watch the new movie Friday evening, get it to the mailbox before Saturday morning pickup. That leaves Saturday in the hands of the US Postal Service; Netflix gets it on Monday and sends out a new one that I get Tuesday afternoon.

          Wednesday-Saturday also works -- they send it out Friday, you get it Saturday (with the added bonus of having Sunday

      • by Uberbah (647458)

        netflix listened to customer feedback when they tried to spin off their disc rentals to another company. so call them and give them feedback. they are easy to reach by phone. if you dont complain to them please dont whine on slashdot

        Whining about whining. It's not likely that Netflix is announcing this degradation in service with a great deal of fanfare or customer notification, so at least a portion of those customer service phone calls will not happen without said Netflix customer reading about this chan

      • Yeah, well they were right on that one. Streaming is the future, Discs are the past for the company. That's where their future lies, that's where their priorites will be going forward. Their challange is to wind down the disc based service as quietly as possible to minimize consumer outrage, which would cause them to choose a different streaming service.

        • Re:call them (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Belial6 (794905) on Tuesday July 22, 2014 @03:25PM (#47509835)
          Streaming is a dead end. Because of the way our copyright laws work, Netflix can rent you any disc they get their hands on. This means that the only way for the studios to gouge Netflix with DVDs is to raise the price of the disk across the board. It also means that the only way for a studio to deny Netflix the ability to rent a particular movie is to stop all sales of disc based copies of the movie. If it is an older movie, the studio would also have to somehow acquire every copy previously sold as well. In the end, there isn't much control that the studios have on disc based media.

          On the other hand, every stream is considered a new copy. That means that Netflix must negotiate with the studios for every stream they provide. This means that if Netflix starts making too much money, the studios can start striping away their profits. Another streaming service can strip away Netflix's ability to stream movies and TV shows by making an exclusive deal with the studio. Companies like Disney can play the 'Disney Vault' game. We already see this with Netflix's streaming library. The reason the selection is so much worse than the disc selection is because Netflix can't legally stream many movies and shows.

          The DVD rental business is Netflix's only wedge against the force that the studios can bring down to crush Netflix. Clearly Netflix doesn't understand this, as this isn't the first degradation in service that they have used to encourage the wind down of their DVD business. I noticed about two years ago, they stopped stocking a lot of movies. The long tail is a major way that they drove out the local rental stores. Buy servicing the entire nation, they were able to offer a selection that a local shop simply couldn't compete against. Now, even widely available movies just are not available from them. I sat with 'Conan the Barbarian' in my queue for 2 years, and Star Wars Episode 1 in my queue for 18 months. I gave up. I used to love their service, but if they don't want my money, who am I to try and force them to take it?
          • http://www.forbes.com/sites/sa... [forbes.com]

            Netflix is choosing to fight back over rights fees, with original content, not disks.

            There is often a disconnect between what makes sense to an informed individual, and what makes sense to people who bet with their money. Money is saying disks are dead, and rewarding streaming.

        • by lgw (121541)

          Netflix streaming is nearly-worthless - there's just no content.

          Hulu streaming is totally worthless garbage. Fuck commercials.

          Amazon has the wrong model. PPV isn't where it's at.

          There's no question Netflix is gradually ending their disc service (selection is falling rapidly), and that really sucks. The ~$1.50 price to watch a disc was right for me, and it's sad to see it die. There's so very much great stuff from the 20th century that seems doomed to vanish with the death of physical media (and the comp

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by bobbied (2522392)

      I'm a customer... I don't care.. I'm getting ready to stop the mail side of my subscription anyway.

    • by Jaysyn (203771) <<moc.liamg> <ta> <todhsals+nysyaj>> on Tuesday July 22, 2014 @11:48AM (#47508213) Homepage Journal

      I had forgotten NetFlix still mailed DVDs.

    • by CauseBy (3029989)

      Of course. For anyone who watches even a medium amount of TV shows, Netflix is probably a pretty good deal. For me, I watch a very small amount and the value stopped being "worth it" a couple years ago when their streaming selection dried up. Forget any major Hollywood movies, I couldn't even get my favorite genre of documentaries anymore. My family at that time switched back from streaming to DVDs, and then the DVD selection got a little thin too. Items I'd put on my Queue were removed without warning and

      • by Aryden (1872756)
        Use Hulu plus
      • by CastrTroy (595695)
        As long as the other VOD (Video On Demand) services continue to charge $1.99 an episode or $4.99 for movie rentals, Netflix will continue to be a good value for my money. As long as my family watches about 2 or 3 things as week, it ends up being cheaper than doing the same vs other services. I think that the problem is exactly as you state. charge me 25 cents an hour for watching stuff, and I would gladly pay. Instead, they make it way too expensive. Currently, Netflix is the only service available that
    • Re:Time will tell (Score:5, Insightful)

      by aaron4801 (3007881) on Tuesday July 22, 2014 @12:22PM (#47508481)
      I see so much bitching over Netflix' lack of selection/declining service/raising prices, that it makes me wonder who is forcing all these people to be a subscriber? Don't like it, don't pay for it. 99% of Netflix' problems are due to the licensing fees by the movie studios. Don't blame the messenger.
      • Re:Time will tell (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Belial6 (794905) on Tuesday July 22, 2014 @03:33PM (#47509895)
        People are bitching because they are seeing a company that offered a good service for a good price, drive themselves into the ground. Since there is no direct replacement, this impacts them in a negative way. It is similar to complaining that your neighbor has a broken down car without wheels parked on his lawn. You recognize that it is his property, and there isn't anything you can do about it, but that doesn't mean your complaints lack merit.

        You are right that licensing fees by the studios are a major cause of this problem, but those problems only apply to streaming. In the US, you can rent any disc you legally own. Netflix is creating their own problem by trying to move to a streaming only business plan. Somehow they havent seem to have figured out that those licensing problems are only going to get worse without the ability to fall back to DVD rentals.
  • Alternate view (Score:5, Insightful)

    by NewWorldDan (899800) <dan@gen-tracker.com> on Tuesday July 22, 2014 @11:35AM (#47508101) Homepage Journal

    Alternately, you could claim that they cut Saturday processing instead of raising prices. I'm hardly outraged about this.

    • Re:Alternate view (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Sarten-X (1102295) on Tuesday July 22, 2014 @12:02PM (#47508315) Homepage

      This is Slashdot. We'll take any excuse we can to get outraged.

    • I just saw over the wire that they announced a $1/month subscription increase. It was discussed during their earning conference call last night, so it looks like they're cutting service and raising prices.

      • Netflix raised prices back in May; existing customers are grandfathered in for a while (when prices went up in Ireland, customers were grandfathered for two years). More at http://www.buzzfeed.com/matthe... [buzzfeed.com]

        Given that this was done in Q2, and the earnings call was about Q2, I believe Reed was talking about that particular raise (which, again, happened two months ago), not a new raise. There's no new raise.

        (I work at Netflix, but I just play with computers).

    • by Warhawke (1312723)
      That makes absolutely no sense whatsoever. Do you work for Comcast, by chance? Do you know how many evil corporations would kill to have customers like you? "Sure, they may have killed a significant chunk of their service that they already provided at a certain price threshold, but at least their prices didn't go up!" It's not bad customer service, it's just "not raising the price!"
    • Correct. This is called stealth price inflation.

      This guy is so bothered by this, he came to slashdot and wrote up a story? Who cares. If you want to have the same experience, supplement with a redbox once every two months when you would actually be affected by this policy change. What is that, 50 cents per month more?

      If you love physical disc netflix so much, why wouldn't you be supportive of this move that clearly makes physical disc processing viable for another x months? People who whine like this do not

  • by 93 Escort Wagon (326346) on Tuesday July 22, 2014 @11:37AM (#47508113)

    Most of the Netflix subscribers I know (including myself) are paying that monthly fee mainly for the privilege of having that red mailer sit on the shelf next to the TV and gather dust.

    In any case, I doubt the typical Netflix subscriber will think this change impacts them in any significant way.

    • by jandrese (485)
      I have a 2 disk at a time plan with Netflix. I have my own queue and my wife has one. I run through about a disk a week, sometimes two. My wife has had the same disk for a couple of months now. It really depends what movie you have. If I get some light comedy I'll pop it in whenever and return it in a day or two. If I get some Kurosawa film I need to hunker down and pay attention so it can sit for several days before I watch it. It's a lot more commitment.

      There is no way I'm going to drop the DVD p
    • by freeze128 (544774)
      Well, then send that mailer in! I have had 3 discs at the top of my queue labelled as "Very long wait" for TWO YEARS because of people like you and people you know.
  • Red box

    • Actually, as the proper name they chose for their company it's only one word.

    • by jandrese (485)
      But the whole point of Netflix is to get good selection. Redbox has the Blockbuster problem: Halfway decent recent release selection, but absolutely abysmal older and obscure movie selection.
      • by suutar (1860506)

        worse than Blockbuster had it, for that matter. Blockbuster had more room to keep the old stuff around and sometimes knew their customers well enough to cater to their tastes for the obscure.

  • by MeanMF (631837)
    Related: http://popcrush.com/weird-al-y... [popcrush.com]
  • Summary doesn't make sense to me.

    Is the submitter saying that even though they stopped processing disks on Saturday they are still within their defined window of 1-3 days processing?

    If so, then what are you complaining about? They promised something and they are still delivering. Maybe they started with Saturday processing just to keep the service level and now the number of disks is not so overwhelming anymore that they are able to cut that day while still meeting their promise.

  • by Dega704 (1454673) on Tuesday July 22, 2014 @11:46AM (#47508193)
    Netflix is probably trying to save money by cutting costs. It kinds of sort of sucks but life goes on. Compared to some of the other antics large companies are up to, I have a hard time getting worked up about this.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by CauseBy (3029989)

      It's just a factor in the marginal utility of a popular service. For some people who paid $8, a 25% increase to $10 was too much. For some people who got 2 simultaneous streams, the 50% reduction to 1 stream was too much. For some people who enjoyed 6-days-a-week processing, the 18% decrease to 5-days-a-week is too much. For some people who enjoyed the huge former library, the substantial reduction in titles was too much.

      Add it up: Netflix now delivers less than half the value it used to. Surely some people

      • 2 simultaneous streams for $7.99 a month or 4 streams for $11.99 {I just checked my account I have 2 for $7.99}

  • So a business found a way to cut costs and thereby increase profits? For shame!

  • by sunking2 (521698)
    1st world problems.
  • "Now with them only working 5 days and many U.S. Post Office holidays, they're still getting the same money for significantly less."

    Depends on your definition of the term "significantly less". If peoples' lives were hanging in the balance based on the arrival time of your DVDs, then yes, service is significantly less. If your income relied on Netflix DVD arrival times, then yes, "significantly less". But if the only value coming from the DVDs arriving per the previous expected schedule is that you can get t

  • that people still prefer a physical disk!

    I pray every night that god will smite the physical disk huggers... so that Netflix can shift their business to all streaming and actually improve the availability of streaming titles. It hasn't happened yet, but I keep praying.

    OP is probably still pissed about the loss of his local Blockbuster Video too.

    • by praxis (19962)

      You should pray every night that god will smite the rights-holders, for they are the cause of people preferring physical discs. They hug their discs because they have a film that's worth watching on it that's not available for streaming because the rights-holders fear that if they allow streaming then it might be ripped and hosted up on the Pirate Bay and by not offering streaming they are remaining safe in their rights.

    • I pray every night that god will smite the physical disk huggers... so that Netflix can shift their business to all streaming and actually improve the availability of streaming titles. It hasn't happened yet, but I keep praying.

      You have the horse and cart backwards. Because of the first-sale doctrine, Netflix can offer a lot more movies on DVD than via Streaming. They would probably kill the DVD service if they could offer their full collection over Streaming. But the Movie Industry refuses to grant them

      • You presume that I refer to the consumer when I say "disk huggers" when in fact I mean anyone who thinks that disks are the perfect medium, including the rights holders. If they would let go of their belief that disk distribution is a good thing... then we can all move towards a world where streaming distribution is normal, easy and cheap.

    • by Rotag_FU (2039670)

      Hopefully, I won't be smited (smit?, smote?) any time soon. However, I guess I'm a physical disc hugger.

      I'd love to give up my physical discs in favor of streaming only (I have both today), but it simply is not a viable option now. Netflix needs to make the first move and dramatically improve their streaming portfolio rather than having me make the first move and voluntarily give up my disc sub in favor of well, nothing really since there isn't much of a viable alternative. I guess I could "rent" movies

  • Netflix was good, especially when it was reasonable to have both streaming and discs - but when the price went up dramatically to have both, it became less and less appealing. I finally ended disc service because my queue was loaded up with discs that showed "short wait", then "long wait", then "unavailable" without ever becoming available. Things were disappearing completely from the queue as well. Having only streaming became less and less worth it because when they did their purges in the past, I alway

  • Kind of surprised to not see anyone at all here blaming Comcast, Verizon, and the other extortion artists trying to get an extra buck out for Netflix' rising costs and ever decreasing service level. This is the very start of what we all predicted with the decline of Net Neutrality, no?

  • This is clearly a cost reduction move on Netflix's part, but that doesn't mean they can pass along the reduction. This reduction may better serve to counter increases in cost elsewhere in the chain, preventing them from having to raise the subscription fee. Manufacturers and service providers can't increases costs constantly, so they have to off-set occasional spikes with reductions. Sounds perfectly reasonable to me.

  • I agreed with the company split they tried to implement before.

    For all the people who never or barely use the mail side, there are also tens of thousands of rural low-bandwidth customers. Virtually everyone I visit around my in-laws (rural South Dakota, only internet access is via cellular or satellite, either way capped at 3-5GB/month) gets red envelopes.

  • by dirk (87083) <dirk@one.net> on Tuesday July 22, 2014 @12:17PM (#47508429) Homepage

    I don't have any issue with this. Netflix did the smart thing and under promised and over delivered. They said it would be between 1 and 3 days and strived to always be 1 day. Now, there will be a limited time when it will be more than 1 day (really, this only affects if they get a disc on Saturday as they would have went out on Monday and now will go out on Tuesday). This is still within the limits they promised. Sure, it's not ideal, but I just don't see any reason to get outraged over a change that will only affect 1 day out of 6 and still keeps them within their promised timelines.

    • by inicom (81356)

      When I canceled my disc service a about 18 months ago, it was nowhere close to that fast a turn-around anymore. For many years, if I watched a movie right away and sent it back the next day, most weeks I'd have two different movies. 7-9 movies a month. By the end, if they got the returned disc on a thursday, it would be tuesday or wednesday of the following week before I got a new one. It was down to 4-5 a month, at higher cost. And I'm not in a rural area, I'm in a major metropolis
      with a NetFlix distri

    • by fuzznutz (789413)

      I don't have any issue with this. Netflix did the smart thing and under promised and over delivered. They said it would be between 1 and 3 days and strived to always be 1 day. Now, there will be a limited time when it will be more than 1 day (really, this only affects if they get a disc on Saturday as they would have went out on Monday and now will go out on Tuesday). This is still within the limits they promised. Sure, it's not ideal, but I just don't see any reason to get outraged over a change that will only affect 1 day out of 6 and still keeps them within their promised timelines.

      I had a Netflix account back in the day when discs by mail was the ONLY option. Under promising and over delivering was NOT in their business model after your initial few months back then. If they declared you a heavy user (i.e. you asked for what they promised) your account was "throttled." I was lucky to have new envelopes in a week. They would intentionally sit on returned discs for 2 or 3 days before sending out the new ones. I dumped them and returned to Family Video. It was a shame to lose the s

  • ...and that GOAL is to MAKE MONEY!

    If you as a customer keeps purchasing their products, why should they bother to lower their prices? If they increase their prices - and you STILL keep buying, they WILL INCREASE THE PRICE until customers is starting to fall off the bandwagon.

    Here's a fine example from Sweden. Our government dropped the VAT tax on restaurant food/Service to 1/2. This essentially means that the food should be cheaper for the customers, bring more customers AND more importantly - get them
  • Instead of announcing they will stop processing on saturday to increase profits. they would have announce it as, "here at netflix we love our employees so starting now we will be giving all of them saturdays off. It's because netflix is an honest company that loves it's employees."

    We all know it's as far from the truth as possible, but it's all fluffy and feely that makes people smile..

  • I feel the same way you do, Nom du Keyboard. My biggest complaint about Netflix streaming is that they don't have what I want to see. Now I admit that my tastes are not typical, so I get that if I want to see some Japanese sword fighting film from the 1970s, I'm probably going to have to get a DVD. But when I actually want to see a Hollywood movie, I am always finding that I can't stream it from Netflix. If they stopped their disc service, I might as well stop being a customer at that point. Other than
    • by starless (60879)

      I would like to know what people watch who love the streaming from Netflix because there sure are plenty of them.

      Mainly TV and netflix-only productions. e.g. Downton Abbey, Sherlock, Breaking Bad, Battlestar Galactica, Orange is the New Black,
      House of Cards, Doctor Who

  • So, the Evil Corporation decides to not make its employees work Saturdays?

    And you're complaining about this?

    I gather that this means that it's only evil if a corporation makes YOU work Saturdays, but if they make the people who provide you services work Saturdays, that's just fine?

  • It's only been the last couple of years that NF has been doing processing on Saturday anyway, and they didn't increase pricing when they started doing it.

    I'll miss it a little, but really it's not a big deal.

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