Movie rentals

As you may recollect from a previous entry, I have ditched Sky Movies in favour of a postal DVD rental service. All these services are based on the same concept, you enter a long list of films that you would like to watch and provide either a preference or ranking of the priority order in which you would like to receive them.

I first tried Tesco DVD, which is a service provided by Video Island. These are the people behind other DVD rental brands such as Screen Select, MSN DVD, easyCinema and ITV Movieclub. If you join any of these, it’s all coming from the same place, so expect a similar service level from each.

My initial impression of the Tesco service was that they offered good value for money, most of my returns were processed within a day and the turnaround was quick and efficient. But after a few weeks I noticed that I rarely if ever received titles that I had prioritised at the top of my wish list. I monitored this situation and eventually cancelled my subscription as the obviously popular titles were never being sent to me.

Next I tried LOVEFiLM for a three week free trial, they claim to be “Europe’s No.1 DVD rental service“. I diligently inputted my wish list (a ‘Rental Queue’ in their terminology) and awaited the deliveries. The first few titles I received were from the bottom third of my queue, so again a disappointing start. To make matters worse, when I enquired why it had taken so long to allocate my next title, I received this response:

“We have been unable to send you your full allocation of discs, due to the limited selection of titles in your queue. You have 17 available titles in your queue.”

So of all the titles in my queue (actually they lied – it was 19), they could not find a single one to send me. That’s tantamount to an admission that you are unlikely to receive anything from your top 20.

They went on to say: “We also recommend that you have at least 20 to 50 titles in your queue at all times, in order to receive a regular service.”

How many people can list 50 films that they would like to watch – and be satisfied with only receiving older or obscure titles from the tail end of the list?

This is the fundamental flaw in the DVD rental model and where Sky Movies have the advantage. The majority of customers are fighting for the same limited supply of new releases and blockbusters. This is evident when you walk to your local rental store, we all know you have to get there early for the best films. Sky don’t have this problem as they broadcast to everyone at the same time.

I have cancelled my membership and for the moment I am going back to my local rental store. At least there I have an influence over the choice instead of relying on a computer lottery.

The final word from LOVEFiLM was: “Did you know? In the last Week you have paid an average of £3.03 per disc.” Hmm, great. So I would have payed nearly the same as at my local store, but for films that I didn’t really want to watch. What a fantastic service! 🙄

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