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Complaining via INTERNET

4

So I have become a fan of complaining, or rather contacting businesses in hope of better service, online. Today’s case study is Netflix.com, the most well known online DVD rental company. I’ve been with them for seven months now and have enjoyed the service. I’ve seen a lot more movies that I’ve always wanted to watch than I would have with renting locally. My main complaint with the service is the ridiculously long shipping time.

I have friends and family on the service too and they tell me how fast they get their movies after they return them; usually two or three days from returning a DVD. I, on the other hand, usually see a 5-10 business day period of turnaround on movie shipment. Netflix sends an email when the new DVD ships, estimating when it will arrive in my mailbox. The projected date has only been hit one time in that seven month period, and has gone as far as three business days past the projected date. That is no good.

Tonight I asked my friend in Salt Lake City, Utah from where his movies are shipped. He told me they are shipped from Salt Lake, so now I know there is a shipping center there. My movies get shipped from San Jose, CA. Shipping from Salt Lake would easily cut the time in half. I now have an obvious solution to my problem, I have only to convince Netflix to make the switch for everybody in my area. It would result in much more happy customers.

So I emailed them. Following is the conversation. I will update this as it continues, which I don’t think will last too long.

My first email:

Subject: Issues with shipping length.
Hello there,

Here are the short and long of my problem:

Short: I’d like my movies to be shipped from Salt Lake City, Utah instead of San Jose, California so I get quicker turnaround. I am now waiting up to 2 weeks to get a new DVD.

Long: I live in St. George, Utah and enjoy your service. I got a friend, who lives in Salt Lake City, Utah, to sign up and he enjoys it as well. I asked him from where his movies ship, and he told me they come from Salt Lake City. He gets his DVDs two days after returning a DVD, that’s great!

Now, I have waited anywhere from five to ten business days to get a new DVD after putting a viewed one in the mail. I find it frustrating to get the email that tells me I’ll be getting a new DVD on Friday, only to wait til the following Tuesday or Wednesday to actually receive the DVD.

Please take this into consideration. I imagine everybody in St. George has this same problem. Salt Lake City is much closer to St. George than San Jose and it would improve the service here by leaps and bounds.

Thank you for your time,
Billy Park
[e-mail address]

Now for a glorius canned response, joy joy. They may have taken the time to put that first sentence in front of the canned response:

Hi Billy,

Thanks for your message.

Unfortunately, choosing the distribution center where your DVDs ship from is not an option.

Movies are sent by first class mail and usually arrive within about one business day following shipment. More than 90% of our subscribers live within one-day postal delivery zones from one of our distribution centers. We will send you an e-mail letting you know when we have shipped your DVD and when you can expect it to arrive. We do not ship on weekends or postal holidays.

Please allow extra delivery days for orders shipping to or from the following locations:

Alaska 2-3 extra days
Puerto Rico 2-3 extra days
Other U.S. territories 2-3 extra days
Military base addresses 3-4 extra days (APO/FPO)

At present our goal is to ship you the DVDs listed highest in your queue. Also, we currently try to ship you DVDs from the distribution center closest to you so that you get movies quickly. In certain instances, your top choice may not be available to you from your closest distribution center, which can sometimes cause a small delay.

Please be assured that Netflix delivery delays are very uncommon. If you’re experiencing repeated delays with returning DVDs, we would suggest mailing them from a different location such as the post office.

You may report any difficulties with shipments using the Report Shipping Problem page.

Here is how we process and ship our DVDs:

We receive rental returns Monday through Friday, except holidays. We process nearly 100% of returns the same day we receive them. When we check-in a return, an email is automatically and promptly sent to you to let you know that we have received your DVD. At present our goal is to ship you the DVDs listed highest in your Queue. Also, we currently try to ship you DVDs from the distribution center closest to you so that you get movies quickly.

Often, on the same day that we receive a DVD from you, we will ship the next available DVD from your Queue. In certain instances, your next available DVD will not ship until at least one business day following our receipt of your returned movie. This can occur, for example, when your top choices are not available to you from your closest distribution center or the number of shipments to be processed by the distribution center on that day has been exceeded. When this happens, your DVD will likely ship on the next business day and may come from an alternate distribution center.

In determining priority for shipping and inventory allocation, we give priority to those members who receive the fewest DVDs through our service. As a result, those members who receive the most movies may experience that (i) the shipment of their next available DVDs occurs at least one business day following return of their previously viewed movie, (ii) delivery takes longer, as the shipments may not be processed from their local distribution center and (iii) they receive movies lower in their Queue more often than our other members. By prioritizing in this way, we help assure a balanced experience for all our members. Those that rent a lot of movies get a great value and those with lighter viewing habits are able to count on our service to meet their limited needs.

When we ship you another DVD we automatically and promptly send you an email letting you know that it’s on the way and telling you the estimated arrival date.

You may review the Netflix terms of use by clicking on the following link:

http://www.netflix.com/TermsOfUse?hnjr=8

If you have any further questions or concerns, please feel free to contact us.

Thanks,
Nicole,
Netflix Customer Service .

Seeing that my e-mail was taken very lightly, I decided to throw a fit and see if that triggers a little more attention. Note: Here is the link to Google Maps mentioned below. The formatting on this quote didn’t work well with the long link:

Thanks for the canned response, it really warms the soul to know this issue bothers you enough to whip that bad boy out. It’s too bad I don’t have any affect on where my movies are shipped from. I essentially take the “Unfortunatlely, choosing the distribution center where your DVDs ship from is not an option” reply as a kick in the face and a “Unfortunately, we don’t appreciate customer feedback and we will continue to run our business however the hell we want, so just keep quiet, pop your bag of popcorn and watch your blasted movies you peon. Just keep your credit card active so we can cash in on it.”

Well, I guess I’ll just bend over and take it for now. I’ll hope to see a change in shipping speeds soon. I know you don’t care about one customer on the 2-a-month plan, so I will skip the part of the angry customer threatening to switch services.

Whoever picks what location movies ships from ought to have a sudden opening in their position, for they made the wrong choice in this case. Look at a map! Go to [Google Maps link here] and notice the direct, shorter route from Salt Lake City to Saint George as opposed to the very non-direct route to the further away San Jose. Nice picking there buddy.

Thanks for putting me in my place,
Billy Park
[e-mail address]

Now they offered me a free additional rental outside of my plan. This is at least an offering of something to make me, the customer, happy. I understand that. This does help cool me down, although it does nothing to help solve my problem. When trouble arises and you don’t want to deal with the problem, give them free stuff!

Dear Billy,

Thank you for contacting Netflix.com customer support!

We appreciate you taking the time to provide us with your feedback and comments. I sincerely apologize for the difficulties you’ve experienced. Please be assured that we are continually striving to improve our service.

As a courtesy I have issued a bonus disc voucher for you to use at your convenience. This voucher will allow for you to have 1 disc shipped, outside of your plan allotment, in the hope of accommodating you for the trouble you have experienced. Please keep in mind this is a temporary release of an additional title. Titles in transit do count towards the total number of titles checked out.

To redeem this voucher, log into your account and access your Rental Queue. Then click the button that states “Use The Bonus Rental”. At that time, your next available title will be processed for shipment. In order to fully take advantage of the bonus rental, please be sure to activate the button when you have all of your titles in your possession.

You may access your Rental Queue through the following link:

http://www.netflix.com/Queue?

If you have any further questions or concerns, please feel free to contact us.

Thanks,
Jennifer,
Netflix Customer Service .

Comments (4)

I’m glad to see Netflix cares so deeply.

I learned some time about UPS and how my shipments went to SLC before going to St. George. It’s one thing that UPS does it since they have no control over where items come from, but it’s ridiculous to see that Netflix, who HAS power to change their own process, is so lame. Funny thing is about UPS, a LOT of the stuff I ordered came from Southern California and the deliveries drive straight through St. George on their way to SLC. Frankly, I think these logistics are ridiculous. Oh yeah, and FedEx Ground goes to Cedar City first and then dispatches from there. Cedar? WTF?

[…] Those of you who are long-time Billystyle readers (a huge crowd, and a very long time) may remember my rant about poor Netflix service. That was March of 2006, almost a year ago. Well, I’m happy to report that things have finally improved. Lately I’ve been returning movies Monday morning and seeing my new movies as soon as Thursday or Friday of the same week. That is about half the time it was taking before. My return envelopes are now mostly addressed to Las Vegas or Salt Lake City, as opposed to California and one time even Pennsylvania. […]

Billy…I have been surfing your blog at work since I am really bored…but you’re writing is so entertaining! This is the best I have read so far.

Well that’s good to hear. On this particular one, life got better. The shipping got much quicker in St. George, and now that I live right next to Orlando, I think that sometimes the next movie shows up in my living room the very instant I drop the old one in the mailbox. Pretty sweet deal.

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