When we lived in NYC, I was hugely into Netflix. The selection and convenience were terrific, and for frequent movie watching, the flat monthly fee was a great value.
After moving to Canada, we joined Zip... and thus began the saga.
Zip (now owned by media giant Rogers) has a good (not great) selection, their ship-times are good, and the price is decent if you watch a lot of movies. But. Two big buts.
Their system doesn't work if you have less than 20 titles on your ZipList (the equivalent of the Netflix queue). This would not be a problem if they shipped titles in your order of preference. You could simply add junk titles that you didn't really want to see to the end of your list.
That's where the second but comes in. Zip does not ship titles in any order even resembling your preference. You're as likely to get a movie from the bottom of your list as you are from the top.
Now, as you all know and are undoubtedly sick of reading by now, I watch movies for half the year, and watch baseball during the other half. Movie Season begins in November or (grumble, grumble) October, and ends at the end of March. By January, I have a short list of movies that I really want to see before April, but my ZipList is running low, so service slows down.
I then have two choices. I either add a bunch of "filler" titles to my list, and hope they don't ship, or I get movies much less frequently - which sucks, plus what I do receive is still unlikely to be any of my top choices.
When we first joined, we really struggled with this, compounded by truly terrible customer service. At that time, Zip's idea of customer service was to tell me that my problem was not really happening, and if it is, it was my own fault, and I should lower my expectations. (I wrote about it here, here, and here.)
To keep my business, a customer service manager gave me some special service: she did something to my list so that movies would continue to ship, even though the number of titles on the list was dwindling.
The following year, I contacted her again... and she again obliged. This special service - which I know some of you will not approve of - kept me a reasonably happy Zip subscriber.
It worked for four years, but now she has left the company. Zip seems to have fixed their customer service problem - they're not arguing anymore, they're polite, and sympathetic - but no one is interested in helping me with this issue. I understand that I can't expect special service forever, but I don't understand why they can't figure out how to run their business better.
Now I really want to get rid of Zip, but I don't know how to replace it. Here are the options that I know of.
- Netflix. I know many Canadians are excited that Netflix is now available in Canada, through a streaming service. However, we don't have a gaming system, so it would mean watching movies on a computer, which both Allan and I find very unappealing. In addition, I've heard from many people that the quality is very bad - sputtering, buffering, skipping. We would hate that. Unless the quality improved and there was some easy way to watch on our TV, this is not an option.
- Downloading from iTunes. Even if we can somehow work around our Rogers download cap (which is an inconvenience for Allan), we're talking $13.00 per movie. That's all right sometimes, but during Movie Season, I see two or three movies each week. Through a Netflix or Zip type of service, I can do that for about $30 a month. Thirteen dollars a pop is not affordable. Plus, the selection will be minimal.
- Pay-per-view on cable. No downloading issues, but other than that, same as above.
- Movie rental stores. Do these even exist anymore? Inconvenient, crap selection. Return to the 1990s. No thanks.
- The library. Good when movies are available, but right now, for example, there are 12 copies of Moneyball and 115 people waiting for them ahead of me. Also, selection will be spotty.
- Other services like Zip? I found something called Canflix, formerly in Calgary, now out of business, and CineMail.ca, in Winnipeg. I haven't found any user reviews yet. Their website looks so rinky-dink, I'm already skeptical, but I'll continue to investigate.
Anything else? What can I do???