Netflix DVD offering confuses some customers : NPR

Red Netflix envelopes sit in a mailbox at a U.S. Post Office sorting center in San Francisco, California on March 30, 2010. The company ends its DVD mailing service with a commercial.

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Red Netflix envelopes sit in a mailbox at a U.S. Post Office sorting center in San Francisco, California on March 30, 2010. The company ends its DVD mailing service with a commercial.

Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Longtime Netflix DVD customer Mo Long was excited to receive the company’s latest email in his inbox. Netflix’s 25-year-old delivery service includes a link inviting customers to receive 10 extra discs on September 29 — when the service goes dark.

Netflix is ​​ending the era of sending DVDs in red envelopes by shipping these extra discs to subscribers.

“Let’s have some fun for our finale!” says an email shared with NPR. “You never know if any extra envelopes are headed your way until they arrive in your mailbox!”

Fans of the streamer’s hard-copy service are welcoming the ad ahead of the delivery service shutting down at the end of September.

“Netflix is ​​doing everything they can to get people to watch as many movies as they have in their queue before they’re canceled,” said Long, a self-described movie buff in North Carolina, who told NPR he has 500 movies in his queue. Now.

“It’s ridiculous,” Long said. “I don’t think I’ll get over it.”

Long, as usual, said he plans to return the DVDs to sender.

“You can’t have DVDs,” he said. “You must send them back.”

But with the company canceling its DVD service, other subscribers aren’t interpreting Netflix’s offer the same way.

A Frequently asked questions section Netflix’s website says the company will accept returns until October 27. But Netflix’s promotional email doesn’t explicitly tell customers what to do with those discs. This causes confusion among customers and debate among online community members Reddit.

Leslie Lowdermilk, a North Carolina-based Netflix DVD subscriber, told NPR, “I feel like at the end of the day they’re sending these DVDs out and you’re like, ‘Because, what are they going to do with them?’

That’s a big ask for a company that has shipped more than 5 billion DVDs to customers since its launch in 1998. Most of them end up in landfills.

A Netflix spokeswoman told NPR that the company does indeed expect to return those discs, and plans to release more details about winding down its DVD business in a month.

Lindsay Spiller is an attorney with a San Francisco entertainment and business law firm The law plays Netflix said it couldn’t give out DVDs even if it wanted to.

“Filmmakers and property rights owners license Netflix, and then they can sublicense it to their subscribers,” Spiller said. “But they can’t give it to anyone. They don’t have it.”

Mary Gerby, a Massachusetts-based Netflix DVD customer, said she welcomes more movies from Netflix. But he wants the company to be clear with its communications.

“They should have really made it clear if it’s a rental, what the return period is, and if people are holding on to these things,” Kerby said. “I hope they can find a way to get them into the hands of the audience permanently, or into libraries or places where they don’t go to waste.”

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