Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Whither my queue?

I’ve been a Netflix customer for several years. Like many aging boomers (actually, I’m a Gen Jones, but that was the subject of another post), it’s so much easier to stay in, tune out, and watch a movie, rather than drive to the local indie movie house.

Like so many other things in my life, I’m questioning former patterns of activity, and truly embracing re-invention. Now, when I give my Re-invention 101 talk to people looking to move their lives forward, it is going to be filled with real-life, not a bunch of theoretical poppycock like so many others out there, sharing ideas and awareness, but lacking in action.

Netflix pissed me off. I should have known when the strange Sci-Fi flick arrived in my postal box that something was amiss.

While I’m known to plug a bunch of random movies into my queue on a whim, or a brief reference from God knows where, this movie wasn’t anything I’d ever want to rent. When I logged on to my Netflix account, I discovered that my queue had been wiped out. Fuck! Months of random additions and effort to track down other movies by directors of movies I had previously enjoyed. Working from other recommendations by writers, musicians, friends, and various other film buffs—gone!!!

I know what you’re thinking—it must have been some technological glitch. That’s just it—I’m sick of technology letting me down once again, just like it always does. Netflix overpromises, and continually under-delivers.

Well Netflix, you’ll have to find someone else to be your bitch, because you just lost this one. I’m sick of being pushed towards downloading movies and I wonder if you didn’t clear my queue on purpose, because I don’t download.

From now on, it’s Videoport, or the public library for my movie rentals. And places like Frontier, where Mary and I saw the amazing documentary, The Way We Get By, about three seasoned Mainers, who have been greeting troops coming and going through Bangor International Airport for the past six years. Directed by a Mainer, Aron Gaudet, it’s a film worth seeking out and seeing.

Beyond having my queue wiped out, I don’t how often I had to employ my own tricks to have a Netflix DVD play that stopped mid-scene in my player. They also tend to be lacking indie films that tend to lack national distribution, so many strong independent movies by cutting-edge directors are impossible to score.

Indie stores, like Videoport, tend to care about things like customer service. They cultivate relationships with their customers, like not charging late fees if you happen to get a movie back Monday afternoon, if you can’t hit the drop box first thing in the morning because Mary’s sales appointments take her someplace other than downtown Portland. They also make recommendations for films based upon other rentals, and more times than not, it’s a winner.

I’d be interested in the video rental horror stories of others, whether with Netflix, or corporate chains like Blockbuster.

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