February 13, 2006


Netflix isn't playing nice:

Manuel Villanueva realizes he has been getting a pretty good deal since he signed up for Netflix Inc.'s online DVD rental service 2-1/2 years ago, but he still feels shortchanged.

That's because the $17.99 monthly fee that he pays to rent up to three DVDs at a time would amount to an even bigger bargain if the company didn't penalize him for returning his movies so quickly.

Netflix typically sends about 13 movies a month to Villanueva's home in Warren, Michigan -- down from the 18 to 22 DVDs he once received before the company's automated system identified him as a heavy renter and began delaying his shipments to protect its profits.

The same Netflix formula also shoves Villanueva to the back of the line for the most-wanted DVDs, so the service can send those popular flicks to new subscribers and infrequent renters.

The little-known practice, called "throttling" by critics, means Netflix customers who pay the same price for the same service are often treated differently, depending on their rental patterns.

"I wouldn't have a problem with it if they didn't advertise 'unlimited rentals,' " Villanueva said. "The fact is that they go out of their way to make sure you don't go over whatever secret limit they have set up for your account." Posted by binky at February 13, 2006 11:02 AM | TrackBack | Posted to Media


I'm surprised, and yet I'm not. That is, I'm not surprised that they would slow down how quickly they send out dvds to people who turn them over extremely quickly. But I am surprised that the popularity of the dvds matters.

Posted by: Armand at February 13, 2006 11:51 AM | PERMALINK

That might explain why I've been waiting a few months for The Dog Whisperer now. Seriously. We don't order a lot of first-run mainstream stuff, but we get a lot of documentaries and engineering-geek stuff for Rocketboy so I guess that pushes into the 'throttle' group.

Posted by: kcb at February 13, 2006 12:50 PM | PERMALINK
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