Mistakes were made

New York City meets Munich

Renting venting

January 27th, 2002 · No Comments · Uncategorized

The nearby Blockbuster store shut down a few weeks ago because the building it’s in is being renovated. It will be months before it opens again, though they were always out of the DVDs we wanted to rent. There’s a place a few blocks north, which even delivers and picks up if you pre-pay, that we’ve been using. It’s not as convenient, because you only get new releases for one night, but it’s something.

The biggest problem I have with renting movies is the pressure. There are lots of movies I want to see, but I might want not to see it right now. But the moment you pick up the movie at the store, the clock is ticking. There are times where I stay up late just to watch a movie, so I can return it the next day. And I don’t want to think about all the times I was late, and had to pay extra. Let’s face it, that’s how Blockbuster and all those stores rake in the cash.

I live in New York because I’m in to convenience. This is coded way of saying “I’m lazy.” Going to the video rental place is never convenient. The place that delivers is a bit better, but then you have to tip the guy, you can’t browse around (their web site is painfully bad), and you still have to watch the movie right away and call for the pickup (and another tip.)

When we saw NetFlix, a place that lets you rent DVDs online, we took a peek. What we read sounded too good to be true.

* We select a bunch of movies, put them in our request queue.

* We get three of them mailed to us at a time.

* There’s no time limit for how long we can hang on to them.

* When we’re done watching one, slip it into the postage paid mailer they give us, drop it in the mailbox.

* When they receive a return, they’ll send another movie out to us.

* Cost to us: $20 a month.

We scrutinized the terms of the membership (cancel whenever we want, no charge for lost DVDs) and thought it would be worth trying out. I figure if we watch four DVDs a month with them, we’re getting our money’s worth. And if we watch more, it’s an even better value.

So we gave it a shot, especially since we get the first two weeks free. The web site is well done, and makes it easy to browse. We picked ten or so movies out pretty quickly. Shortly afterwards, we got confirmation that three movies had shipped. We can prioritize the queue, but they ship based on availability, so we can’t control exactly when we get what. No worse than Blockbuster to me, really. We got the DVDs a few days later in little mailing envelopes, that turn into the return envelopes in a very clever way.

It’s great. Thanks to NetFlix we always have movies to watch, and no pressure. I really hope these guys have a sound business model, and don’t go the way of, because it’s a handy service.

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