last updated: 2/4/2005 

Netflix Gets Some Criticism From Its Subscribers

Feb. 3 (ABC7) The nation's largest online movie rental service is getting criticism from some of its subscribers, 7 On Your Side's Michael Finney talks about the complaints against Netflix. 

Even with increased competition from companies like Blockbuster and Walmart, Netflix is still the 900-pound gorilla in the online DVD rental industry. But some customers say bigger isn't always better when it comes to service. 

Mark Hardwick has been a loyal customer of Netflix for years. 

Mark Hardwick: "I thought it was a great idea. You don't have to go to the video store and you get unlimited videos for a flat price." 

Under Netflix's standard plan, subscribers can have all the DVD's they want for a fixed monthly price of $17.99 plus tax. Users receive up to three DVD's at one time and the total number they receive each month depends on how quickly they can view and return those DVD's. 

Mark would typically request and receive 33 movies a month. That's until recently when he discovered that Netflix's rental service has its limits. 

Mark Hardwick: "All of a sudden I noticed I was getting half of the amount of DVD's I used to get and so they basically have cut my service. It's not unlimited even though they say it is." 

Mark is not the only one who is unhappy with Netflix. 

Bob has also seen a significant slowdown in the number of movies he receives from his request list. He saw his monthly average of 22 movies shrink down to only 16. 

Bob: "That slowdown is costing me 6 to 8 DVD's a month or 75 or more a year and that's my main frustration." 

They complained to the company. Last week, Mark received a response, saying... 

"We give priority to those members who receive the fewest DVDs through our service... By prioritizing in this way, we help assure a balanced experience for all our members." 

Mark Hardwick: "Sort of making you feel guilty that you're getting more DVDs than someone else. I mean it was really insulting. The e-mail they sent me was really insulting." 

The company responded to these complaints in an e-mail to 7 On Your Side, stating... 

"Our goal is to provide a high level of customer service and operate a financially sound business. Depending on inventory and number of shipments to be processed, heavy users of our service might experience a slight delay in receiving movies." 

Mark said that was not why he joined Netflix four years ago. 

Mark Hardwick: "I just can't tolerate them cutting back their service and charging me the same amount of money. I think it's unfair." 

With the possibility of joining the fray of online DVD rental service, consumers have plenty of choices out there. Michael Finney's advice? Shop around, check them all out to see which one works the hardest for your business. 

Copyright 2005 ABC Inc., KGO-TV Inc.

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