I was a ScreenSelect customer, but when they got gobbled up by LOVEFiLM, I decided to quit.
By several accounts, LOVEFiLM ruined a good thing. For those who don’t know, these are DVD rental-by-post companies. The service with ScreenSelect (and to a much lesser extent LOVEFiLM) was decent, you paid a flat fee, and watched as many DVDs as you could, returning watched items by (free) post, and getting silver discs through the mail, almost daily. Exciting!
When I first signed up for the service (under ScreenSelect), I could easily get through 6 – 10 DVDs in a week (especially if it was Voyager). It was all in all excellent value.
Things change, and several factors made the DVD rental game less appealing:
- it was a struggle deciding which films to order.
- LOVEFiLM started fucking with the envelope system sending two or three DVDs in one envelope (so basically you need to send all the films back together, and ended up being without films for a few days at a time). The original service was always one DVD, one envelope. Yes, sure you can order more envelopes from them, but it’s just another thing which makes the service that much worse than it was under ScreenSelect.
- Delivery times seemed to slow down, under ScreenSelect, I could guarantee I’d have a DVD turnaround in 24 hours. Under LOVEFiLM it seemed to be 48 hours, maybe more.
- The number of DVDs which got stuck / unplayable / broken seemed to be on the rise with our friends at LOVEFiLM
- There are more reasons, but does anyone really care?
Anyway, with all that said I decided that I was wasting money with the service, so I’ld better cut down or something.
I initially wanted to suspend my account, after all, I might want to get DVDs out again, maybe I’ll get an urge to see some vintage Alfred Hitchcock | A-Team | Knight Rider. Let’s see, WHAT!? It costs £1 a WEEK to suspend my account. The service only costs £15 a month. Hmmm, full service £15 per month, keeping my name in a database £4.33 per month. Assholes. This was the first indication that something might be amiss.
Okay, it’s your business model, charge what the fuck you like, I’m out, I’ll just cancel my account. This should be easy enough. Yeah right. (Now keep in mind that I have NEVER spoken to someone at either of these companies, I’ve watched over 500 DVDs, I’ve reported items lost, changed address, changed credit card details). But to cancel my account I have to phone a fucking number (they have a few questions to ask me). Oh boy.
Its not a scam in the strictest sense, there is a real and pretty decent service for people who want to watch DVD’s; and even though LOVEFiLM sucks, the things more or less works, and you can watch DVD’s by the envelope load.
The Eureka moment at LOVEFiLM:
“I have an idea …. Customer Disimprovements!”
What this company is doing, is tweaking its service in their favour and at the customers expense, slowly and discreetely abusing its customers. They know that the service is not abysmal, but have no intention of making it a good service, because that costs them money.
In fact it is clear that they decided to tune the service down as low as they can without customers leaving in droves. This is not accidental, they are in complete control of what they are doing. It’s no accident that DVDs take 48 h instead of 24 h. Only the most churlish customer would formally complain that a DVD arrived 1 day late (they can blame RoyalMail anyway), but a week late, one could and would complain.
The envelope trick, is another insipid tactic to slow down turnaround times.
The game that LOVEFiLM is playing, is the margin game, by making everything just slightly more difficult for the customer, they squeeze the margins in their favour. I bet it’s now and internal policy not to allow 24 hour turnaround times. And the final kick in the teeth, you want to cancel, call us. That way, we can just about squeeze another month’s subscription.
The truth is, margins will improve, but I doubt the bottom line will.
Hasta la vista suckers..