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My Horrible Relationship With Netflix

Matt Yglesias has a quick post on the Netflix movies he rented this weekend. I don't. Because I've had the same three sitting in my drawer for almost two years now. That's literally hundreds of dollars I've donated to Netflix to help subsidize the fees of people who actually use the service. Meanwhile, one of the movies is cracked and I can't find the envelopes for the other two. So I continue my philanthropic donations to the Netflix Fund for the Needy. And every month, I loathe myself just a little bit more.

By Ezra Klein  |  June 22, 2009; 6:07 PM ET
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I have the exact same problem. But take heart because no matter what, neither of us is as stupid as people who by this stuff: The slogan should be "Juice: Now with less juice!" And it's actually more expensive than straight juice at my grocery store.

Posted by: eRobin1 | June 22, 2009 6:26 PM | Report abuse

Umm...send all three back in the same envelope. That's what Netflix says to do.

Or, what the heck, keep subsidizing the rest of us.

Posted by: jlundell | June 22, 2009 6:36 PM | Report abuse

I am on the cheap plan (1 DVD at a time, but unlimited streaming). I watch 2-3 DVDs a week, plus another movie or two. So thank you for subsidizing me!

Speaking of movies, I just saw Moon and I highly recommend it. An incredibly well-done (and non-nerdy) scifi movie with great acting. How often does that happen?

Posted by: goinupnup | June 22, 2009 7:03 PM | Report abuse

Come on, Ezra, after an opening like that, you have to tell us what the three actually are!

My girlfiend and I had No Country For Old Men sitting by our TV for about six months -- we wanted to watch it in theory, but both of us were never in the mood for it at the same time. For six months.

Worst part was, we hadn't even asked for it -- I think it showed up instead of the Firefly disc we had requested. So not only did it eat up our money, it also totally destroyed our momentum for watching that series.

Posted by: Mike_Russo | June 22, 2009 7:12 PM | Report abuse


Step 1:
Get up, put all three movies in the one envelope, and walk to the mailbox.

Step 2:
Get on the internet, and cancel your account.

Step 3:
Wait for my email on how to set up an automatic payment to my email account for precisely the same amount.

You're life will be exactly the same. mine will be slightly better. its a pareto improvement! (well, if you ignore Netflix).

Posted by: nylund | June 22, 2009 7:16 PM | Report abuse

Get a Tivo and hook it up to broadband. Then you can stream lots of movies for free (or at least for the cost of your monthly subscription fee). We've had Netflix for a few months and are on our second physical disc, but have watched quite a few streamed movies and programs. They don't have streaming HD (yet), but the quality's still pretty decent.

Posted by: RickinWGMO | June 22, 2009 7:56 PM | Report abuse

Wow. Yes Ezra, please keep subsidizing the rest of us! We appreciate it.

Posted by: Chris_O | June 22, 2009 9:09 PM | Report abuse

Ezra, I'll make you a deal. If you quit Netflix, I'll quit smoking.

Posted by: wovenstrap | June 22, 2009 9:21 PM | Report abuse

You are one lazy guy. But thanks for subsidizing us....we use the heck out of NetFlix.

Posted by: scott1959 | June 22, 2009 11:03 PM | Report abuse

Have you considered streaming on to your tv? I watch a lot more stuff these days thanks to the box I bought (not advertising or anything). The library isn't quite as robust, but you can still find enough to make you happy.

Posted by: gilintx | June 22, 2009 11:50 PM | Report abuse

Start using "Watch Instantly" to watch on your computer or hook up a Tivo to your TV and use it that way.

Posted by: bwill1 | June 23, 2009 2:43 AM | Report abuse

More proof that actors in the free market are not perfectly rational utility maximizers. Unless you derive some utility from subsidizing the rest of us. Or being a Netflix customer? Perhaps you enjoy loathing yourself?

Posted by: Castorp1 | June 23, 2009 9:13 AM | Report abuse

There aren't enough good comedies in the world. People fill their queues with "challenging" material, not things that make them happy. Pretentious people are more likely to fall into the Netflix trap, as they fill their queue with things they wish they enjoyed or feel they should watch, rather than things that they actually do enjoy.

Posted by: staticvars | June 23, 2009 9:20 AM | Report abuse

You need to get an XBox 360 or a DVD player that lets you watch Netflix instantly! When you are online you pick movies depending on your mood, but who is to say you will feel that way once they arrive. Now you see a movie, download it and watch it right then. You can pick TV shows like Dr Who, Heroes and the Tudors if you don't have time to watch a whole movie. Once we started using the watch instantly feature we definitely get our moneys worth out of Netflix. If you have kids- it is nice not having to use one of the three movies as a kid feature.

Posted by: cminmd | June 23, 2009 9:43 AM | Report abuse

"People fill their queues with "challenging" material, not things that make them happy."

Actually that could be the answer to my question. Perhaps Ezra derives utility from having a queue full of independent and foreign films. Good call.

Posted by: Castorp1 | June 23, 2009 10:02 AM | Report abuse

Just to add, the way I have gotten my money's worth is by getting TV series (Deadwood, The Wire, The Sopranos) dvds in the mail. One can go through them pretty quickly and keep them coming.

Posted by: Castorp1 | June 23, 2009 10:06 AM | Report abuse

Here's what Netflix says to do if you lose the envelope:

"Lost or damaged both white sleeve and red prepaid return mailer?: return the disc in your own return envelope including a note with your Netflix account email address, and sufficient postage, to the address listed below. We will need your account email address to associate this returned disc with your Netflix account.

P.O. Box 49021
San Jose, California 95161-9959"

Posted by: paularock11 | June 23, 2009 10:16 AM | Report abuse

Or, if you don't have any envelopes and don't want to have to find an appropriate one of your own and figure out postage, why not just give the DVDs to Matt Yglesias and ask him to slip them in with his next three returns? Just a thought.

Posted by: KatherineWelsh | June 23, 2009 12:37 PM | Report abuse

XBox 360 + streaming Netflix = WIN!!1

My first dance with Netflix I did the same thing - movies sat on the coffee table for months. Since then I've missed enough movies and tv shows to keep me interested this time around.

Posted by: BigTunaTim | June 23, 2009 1:05 PM | Report abuse

What everyone else said, put the three disks in one envelope and send them back.

Oh, and before you cancel your Netflix account, go to the queue for the broken disk, and report it broken. If that was the one of the three that you actually wanted to watch, they will even offer to send you a replacement disk.

Indeed, instead of canceling your account, you might cut down to one disk per month unlimited, and only pick easy to watch relaxation movies.

Posted by: BruceMcF | June 23, 2009 1:11 PM | Report abuse

How ironic...This post on Netflix is a perfect metaphor for your misguided, convoluted arguments for universal health care. I'm a relatively healthy person that prefers smarter life-choices over constant non-emergency and preventative doctor visits. If Obamacare passes, I too, will loathe myself a little bit more each month while I shell out thousands in "philanthropic donations" to the Federal government to inefficiently subsidize those who will take advantage of the system far more than I will. Very well said.

Posted by: tyler1120 | June 23, 2009 5:10 PM | Report abuse

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