I signed up for Netflix in Canada last year, tempted by my American chums’ promises of the thousands of movies that awaited me. Having finally sussed that my bandwidth problems were due to the entire neighbourhood stealing my internet connection (I exaggerate; it was maybe half), I decided it was time to treat myself.
It was initially a disappointment. The Netflix range in Canada was a fraction of what users had in the US. Nevertheless, I found enough to entertain me, and I decided that rather than pay every month for a limited service, I would do a month off, a month on, a month off.
When I moved back to England, Netflix UK was just preparing to launch. I was unsure whether my Canadian account was transferable, so I tried logging in, and when that failed, I assumed they were being treated as two different services. After all, it was a different country, a different catalogue of titles and, presumably, an entirely different experience. I signed up for my free trial and it was granted — or so I thought until I read my bank statement and saw I’d been charged.
After seeing the dismal selection of titles on Netflix UK — some categories had less than a page — I was all the more glum to see I was being made to pay. I phoned Netflix to complain and get a refund. To his credit, the guy I spoke to immediately offered to reverse the charge or carry it over to my next month’s bill. I informed him what I thought of the service and that I didn’t want another month; so I got the refund with no problem. However, he said, there would be big changes ahead, and Netflix UK’s selection of titles would be improving in the near future.
Three months later, I figured my bank balance could stand me parting with six quid to experiment with Netflix again to see if the range really had improved. I authorized payment, logged in and, alas, saw very little difference. I still managed to find a few shows and films to justify a single month’s payment. Unfortunately, my main problem now is that the videos aren’t loading consistently. They’ll stop at 20%, pause for a couple of minutes, then either continue streaming or just go blank. It’s the same on every browser, and it’s not a bandwidth problem affecting any other site (such as LoveFilm, which, for all its faults, is glorious in comparison).
The Netflix UK support system isn’t particularly helpful to me. I can report a problem with a specific title, but not with streaming and downloading generally. Even then, I can’t submit a personal comment; I can only choose from a handful of possibilities, none of which fits. I’ll have to phone. Poor show, Netflix. There is a troubleshooting database, but there’s no index. You have to search it, which means guessing Netflix’s key words.
All-round, the service strikes me as backwards and decidedly user-unfriendly. How do I loathe thee, Netflix? Let me count the ways:
If I overcome my streaming problems, I’ll continue to the end of this month, then cancel. After all, it was my gamble signing up to Netflix again, knowing the selection could be just as dire as it was when it launched. If I get no joy resolving the streaming issue, however, I think another refund is on its way.
Image: Netflix UK screenshot taken 14 May, 2012. Like classic dramas? Choose from seven titles, then arrange in sortable list or gallery view for added entertainment value.