1. Computing

Netflix Diary: Part One

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September 17, 2004

Although I’ve been curious about the DVD rental service Netflix for years, I’ve always been dubious about it fitting my personal consumer usage patterns for DVDs. I live in a Los Angeles suburb where it’s easy to find most DVD titles quickly just by driving to a nearby store. Also, I have more choices available to me than the average person because I sometimes receive screeners.

But despite all the options available to me in finding DVDs, a combination of curiosity and the luxurious selection of titles on their Web site finally got the better of me, and I decided to give Netflix a try.

Netflix’s success is impressive, and I have no doubt they have changed the way many people rent movies. Even so, for me, trying something new brings with it a certain amount of anxiety.

Netflix’s Website claims “Nine out of 10 Netflix members say they are so satisfied with Netflix that they recommend the service to family and friends.” Of course, I expect that is basically advertising copy to present the service in the best possible light. But I have to admit this assertion made me uneasy because reading between the lines, I wondered about the one person in ten who wasn’t satisfied enough to make that recommendation.

Over the years, I’ve come across a variety of accounts of people’s experiences with Netflix. What I’ve read and heard has ranged from rave reviews to disappointed rants. Only time will reveal what my own experience will be, but I expect to learn something along the way. Most importantly, I hope this diary will give you some information you can use that will be helpful in making an informed decision in finding a method of renting DVDs that best fits your needs.

Here’s a breakdown of my first week with Netflix.

Monday, September 13, 2004: Signed up with Netflix around nine o’clock in the evening. Signup was easy, and I quickly picked out a list of a dozen DVDs. Netflix only allowed me to have out three DVDs at a time, and when I selected a title having more than one disc, each disc had to be requested separately.

Tuesday, September 14, 2004: Netflix sent me emails stating that the three DVDs at the top of my list—“The Last Waltz” and “Purple Rain” 20th Anniversary Edition—had been shipped. (“Purple Rain” is a two-disc set, so this single title counts as two DVDs.)

Wednesday, September 15, 2004: The three DVDs were received via U.S. mail in three separate envelopes. The DVDs arrived at my house much sooner than I expected. The only negative thing was that the DVDs came in paper-thin sleeves placed inside flimsy envelopes.

At this point, the three DVDs I ordered are sitting on top of my TV. I’m trying to find a good time to watch them, but this is turning out not to be so easy.

Still, things are going smoothly in my first week with Netflix. Of course, there’s more to come. Watch for new installments of this Netflix diary.

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