on Jun 21, 2006
A few days ago I mentioned that Netflix had shipped me a disc which had been incorrectly burned, and the label of the disc and the data it contained did not match. We sent it back, and requested another copy. As I feared, this second copy has the same problem.
So the disc label says it is Last Exile: Disc 4, but the data on the Disc is for Last Exile: Disc 3. Netflix has ways for you to let them know that they sent the wrong disc, and ways to let them know that the disc is scratched or broken, but there is no way to tell them about this particular problem. When the movie gets back to Netflix, there is no way to tell them that they should not put the disc back into circulation.
We did the best we could. My wife put sticky notes on the disc and sleeve describing the problem. Will this do any good? I doubt it. I’m sure these things are opened by some poor sod who sits there all day tearing open envelopes and making sure the disc and sleeve match. I’m sure they see lots of stupid stuff all day: people accidently mailing back one of their own movies, people sending back smashed and broken discs, people sending back bootleg copies because they had retained the legitimate copy themselves, and a dozen other things that may go wrong in the process. I’m sure all sorts of people ignore the instructions and try to communicate with Netflix via these envelopes. Maybe some dim blub will include a little hand-written note, “Please send me movie XXXX”, instead of using the web interface. I know how strange things can get when dealing with a large enough group of people.
So what will they make of our sticky notes? I’d hoped that someone might read it and check their inventory, making sure the other copies of Disc 4 were ok. At worst, they would ignore the note and put the disc back into circulation. If they are truly stupid they would send me the same disc back again.
So now they have sent me a replacement for Disc 4, and it’s messed up like the previous one. It’s clear that they have a bad run of these discs. I went to the website to see if I could contact customer service / support / anything and let them know about this problem. It turns out that this cannot be done. No email. No phone number. No way to send any sort of specific message. (You can send text via the “give us feedback form” but I’m sure that info isn’t going to go anywhere useful.) The only real interface is a “report a problem” multiple-choice form, which doesn’t provide any way for me to tell them what is really wrong. There is no way to convey that the disc is bad unless it is scratched. I’m sure if I keep reporting Disc 4 is scratched over and over, they will think I’m the one doing something wrong.
I’ve always praised Netflix, but now I see they have a rather nasty flaw: Their system is incapable of dealing with unexpected problems.
I took a permanant marker and put a tiny little dot on the most recent disc, and I’ll see if I get the same one back. This would be an amusing experiment if I wasn’t deprived of my Last Exile in the meantime.
Shamus Young is an old-school OpenGL programmer, author, and composer. He runs this site and if anything is broken you should probably blame him.