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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.
  • 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.

  • 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

  • by Dins (2538550) on Tuesday July 22, 2014 @11:43AM (#47508163)
    Problem is you can't get all of their stuff streamed. Some of their titles are DVD only. Stupid, I know.
  • 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.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday July 22, 2014 @11:46AM (#47508197)
    Of course the reason you can't get some of the stuff on streaming is the idiotic licensing practices of the copyright holders. They say "no streaming" so Netflix has to do those ancient plastic discs.
  • by CauseBy (3029989) on Tuesday July 22, 2014 @11:58AM (#47508293)

    It's weird that you haven't dropped it yet, if you've already come to that conclusion. It sounds like you are like me -- a person who doesn't watch enough TV to justify even the relatively low cost of Netflix. You may also find that, like me, you don't miss it when it's gone.

    For anyone who loves TV and watches a bunch of it, Netflix is probably still a pretty good value, with or without Saturday processing.

  • 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.

  • by praxis (19962) on Tuesday July 22, 2014 @12:03PM (#47508323)

    I get one, or at most two, movies from Netflix every month. It's really not a good deal for me. One of these days I'm going to drop it entirely. I don't have any problem with the service (with or without Saturday turnaround), I just don't watch enough movies to justify it.

    It's $8 a month for those two movies. That's $4 a movie. How much did blockbuster charge? How much more time was it to go to blockbuster and back home? It seems we keep wanting more and more for our dollar. Most of the time we get it, but then later when we fall a little short of more and more we're annoyed. Goes to show that you give someone a much better value and they adapt and take it for granted, then reduce their value by a little bit and it's the sky falling. (That last comment was more about the OP, not you specifically--it was your invocation of 2 movies a month being a bad deal that got me to comment in the first place.)

  • by sjbe (173966) on Tuesday July 22, 2014 @12:04PM (#47508329)

    I wouldn't live in a place with inadequate bandwidth for a simple video stream.

    I think that is the very definition of a First World Problem.

  • 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 CauseBy (3029989) on Tuesday July 22, 2014 @12:08PM (#47508371)

    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 are squeezed out at the margins when the value of a service drops by half -- I was. Also, surely, a great number of people still find it to be very much worth the money. It's up to Netflix to find the top of the demand curve and they're tinkering around looking for it. I don't blame them even though I'm one of the people who have been squeezed out.

  • 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.

  • 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.
  • by Triklyn (2455072) on Tuesday July 22, 2014 @12:39PM (#47508651)

    this entire story is the very definition of a first world problem.

    "the service that i pay for that sends movies to me through the mail for less than the cost of a movie per month... is slightly slower. My outrage is palpable at this slight."

  • Re:call them (Score:3, Insightful)

    by xyra132 (615021) on Tuesday July 22, 2014 @02:33PM (#47509505)
    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.
  • 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?
  • by Razed By TV (730353) on Tuesday July 22, 2014 @03:29PM (#47509873)
    Sure, it's only $8. But by that logic, everybody should just have Netflix whether they use it or not. GP likely has other things competing for his attention, probably including cable tv, at which point its a reasonable question of how much is too much.
    There is a point at which media competing for your attention reaches saturation. After that, you can keep buying into services, but the time you spend on any one goes down and the overall value is diluted (unless you have some specific need from each service).
  • 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.
  • by JesseMcDonald (536341) on Tuesday July 22, 2014 @03:57PM (#47510073) Homepage

    I also wouldn't use a service that does not provide a library at least on par with The Pirate Bay.

    That's a pretty ridiculous bar to set.

    I think it's a very reasonable bar to set. TPB proves that there is no technical reason why we can't provide everyone with near-instant, free access to basically every last bit of media on Earth. It's up to the pro-copyright faction to justify withholding that access to suit their own material interests.

  • Re:What? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Belial6 (794905) on Tuesday July 22, 2014 @04:42PM (#47510399)
    As I have taught my children from the time that they first learned what money is.... If you have to give someone money to get their offer, it isn't free.

    What is in Netflix's FAQ about their delivery times is only relevant when faced with a court of law. From a consumer's perspective, what you get for your money is what matters. When I go into a restaurant, they don't promise to bring my food hot, or in a timely manner. No where do they make that promise. If they have been doing a great job of bringing me my food hot and in a timely fashion for a decade, I will be a happy customer. If they make a decision to cut staff so that my food comes out cold and I have to sit for an hour waiting for it, then I will complain about the business. I will stop being a customer, and I will recommend others avoid the business as well. It doesn't matter whether what they promised.

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