Wal-mart's DVD Rental Service - a customer review FYI

Discussion in 'DVD Video' started by r7di697, Oct 31, 2003.

  1. r7di697

    r7di697 Guest

    I've been a member of Wal-mart's DVD Rental Service since 6/15/03. As a
    former NetFlix subscriber (3 years, one of the charter subscribers - I quit
    when titles started disappearing in the mail in bunches, which ultimately
    could be traced to thieves in their Flushing distribution facility, but this
    wasn't known at the time I quit - they were hassling me about the lost
    DVD's), I prefer Wal-Mart by a wide margin over NetFlix.

    1) My turnaround (and I've tracked this on a spreadsheet since day 1) on
    shipments from Wal-Mart to me is usually 2-3 business days. With NetFlix it
    was more like 7-10 days.
    2) On the average I keep about 250 titles in my Wal-Mart Queue, and 99% are
    usually listed as "available now". With NetFlix, it was usually 50%
    unavailable at any time.
    3) They confirmation of my returns usually occurs in the same time frame as
    the incoming shipments, 2-3 days. With NetFlix, it often took more than a
    week and sometimes as long as two weeks to get an acknowledgement of a
    return.
    4) I usually receive return acknowledgements in the morning email, and
    notification of replacement shipments going out the same afternoon. With
    NetFlix, it wasn't unusual for a week or more to expire before a replacement
    shipment would be sent out.
    5) Among the 66 titles I've received to date on the 4-out plan, in only one
    instance was the title sent out not the one listed at the top of my queue.
    For example, this morning I received acknowledgement of 3 returns, and this
    afternoon, I got notification of 3 shipments, those being Sopranos Season 4
    disc 1, disc 3, and disc 3, which were listed at the top of my queue as
    1,2,3 respectively. My experience with NetFlix was that newly released
    popular titles such as The Sopranos would be listed on top of my queue, but
    they would invariably be flagged as 'long wait' and it could take weeks or
    even months for them to ship. In the meantime, they might ship a
    replacement title as low as #12 or even #20, skipping all the titles at the
    top of the queue.
    6) In all the time I've been a member of Wal-Mart, there has only been one
    instance when titles did not show up in my mailbox right after they were
    shipped to me, and that was an administrative error -- the Outer Limits
    Season 2 discs 1 and 3 were listed as shipped, when in fact, they were
    pulled from the shipping line because of factory defects. I thought they
    were lost, but was subsequently notified by Wal-Mart of the error. I simply
    re-queued them and the second order arrived promptly, as usual.
    7) Wal-Mart's customer service responds to email inquiries with relevant
    answers to my questions, unlike NetFlix's responses, which ordinarily were
    no more than automated form letters generated on the basis of key words in
    my original email, which was very aggravating. I've also had occasion to
    speak to Wal-Mart's customer service by phone, and found their reps to be
    courteous and eager to help. NetFlix's customer service reps were never
    helpful, in fact they were usually pretty dumb and unable to answer
    questions.

    So I'm quite satisfied with Wal-Mart's service, which overall is completely
    different and much better than the experience I had with NetFlix, and just
    wanted to pass it along.
     
    r7di697, Oct 31, 2003
    #1
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  2. r7di697

    Alex Guest

    My problem with Walmart. I just terminated the 30 day free trial yesterday
    is 1. They have any where near the selection Netflix does. 2. They don't
    stock anything rated NC17, so you get the edited R version of movies
    released as NC 17 or unrated. The reason I wanted to try Walmart was the
    lower price. I guess you get what you pay for.
     
    Alex, Oct 31, 2003
    #2
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  3. r7di697

    r7di697 Guest

    I guess that's all true, but I guess I'm not interested in renting those
    titles anyway, so I don't feel like I'm missing anything. After my
    experience with NetFlix, I'm more concerned with the administrative end,
    turnaround, etc. and so far it's stellar with Wal-Mart. With NetFlix it was
    frankly horrible. I do remember while I was a subscriber to NetFlix that
    they abruptly eliminated the mature category without notice one day, wiping
    out dozens of R titles, such as the Playboy videos, and some B movies.
     
    r7di697, Oct 31, 2003
    #3
  4. r7di697

    Alex Guest

    There were not many titles that I wanted that Netflix did not have,
    particuarly
    music titles, which I wanted to watch but not necessarily buy. Walmart's
    selection
    was horrible. I live in California and delivery from Netflix was great.
     
    Alex, Oct 31, 2003
    #4
  5. r7di697

    Skid Guest

    My experience with Netflix has been better than yours, so I'm sticking.

    I also had a problem with lost discs once upon a time. It was brief and
    easily fixed. In my case a new carrier was misdelivering mail. Netflix kept
    my account alive until the Postal Service put a competent carrier on the
    route.

    Delivery times when I started several years ago was almost a week from the
    West Coast to the East Coast. The opening of regional shipping centers cut
    that to 2-3 days.

    The selection at Netflix is unquestionably larger. I've never had a problem
    keeping my rental queue full of available titles, and if I time my returns
    right I rarely have trouble grabbing a new DVD on its release date.

    I'm glad you found happiness with Wal-Mart and I appreciate your sharing
    your experience. I don't mean to debate you, just provide a counterpoint
    from a satisfied Netflix customer.
     
    Skid, Oct 31, 2003
    #5
  6. r7di697

    r7di697 Guest

    I just wanted to put the word out on Wal-Mart's rental service as an
    alternative DVD source for people who might not be happy with their current
    provider. I'd like Wal-Mart to continue offering rentals.
     
    r7di697, Oct 31, 2003
    #6
  7. r7di697

    Pug Fugley Guest

    I am also a member of Netflix and I am currently in a free trial with
    WalMart. However, I will not be sticking with Walmart simply becuase of the
    selection. Of my entire Netflix queue, 80% of them are NOT available at
    Walmart. Plus there is no speed difference, I return Walmart and Netflix
    discs at the same time, and the next movies both show up on the same day.
    There is nothing at all WRONG with WalMart, they just don't have the
    selection, otherwise I would stay with Walmart.
     
    Pug Fugley, Oct 31, 2003
    #7
  8. r7di697

    Jeeters Guest

    I used to be a Netflix customer from back not long after they started
    (either '97 or '98; I forget - back when you paid per rental and didn't
    subscribe) until this past Jan '03. I also quit them because of too many
    lost titles over about a six month period. For the record, I'm in the
    Pittsburgh area and all my returns were going to their Gathersburg, MD
    facility. My returns did *not* go to the Flushing center although I did
    hear about what happened there.
    I've been using Walmart since January right after I quit Netflix.

    If Walmart tells me they've shipped something on a Wednesday, I'll usually
    get it on Friday or perhaps Saturday. It was about the same with Netflix.
    The problem with Netflix was just getting them to actually ship the dang
    things. Once the USPS (supposedly) got it, it came relatively fast.

    I usually hover around 75 titles in my queue. When I first started using
    Walmart, their title availability was horrid. At any one time, perhaps only
    10% to 25% of my titles were available 'now' and the rest were unavailable.
    Reminded me of the early days of Netflix who used to also have availability
    problems. Just over the past couple months, I've noticed that the titles in
    my queue are now mostly available - it's now the reverse situation: like
    only 10-25% of my titles are *unavailable* instead of available. The
    unavailable ones are mostly new releases of popular titles: walmart hasn't
    solved that problem yet at all. When I quit Netflix, I think maybe just 5
    titles out of my queue of a 150+ were unavailable.

    Pretty much the same here, at least now. In the beginning, Walmart turn
    around times were about the same as Netflix for me. (But at least Walmart
    got my returns.) I was never impressed with Netflix's turnaround times - in
    fact, I thought it took just as long and sometimes *longer* when I started
    using Netflix's Maryland distribution center instead of the original San
    Jose headquarters.

    In general, with Netflix, if I dropped titles in the mail on Monday morning,
    then they *usually* gave me confirmation that they received them by Thursday
    or Friday. It wasn't unusual to not get notification until the following
    Monday or Tues, though. Then, if I was lucky, they'd send replacement the
    same day but often it was the next day.

    Walmart's turnaround times have gotten pretty good *very* recently. I'm
    assuming it's because my titles are being returned to Johnstown, NY instead
    of Georgia like they used to when I first joined. Over the past three
    weeks, I've dropped titles in the mail on Monday morning. Wendesday morning
    I get notification that they've received them already. I give my Kudos to
    both Walmart and the Post Office.

    Basically, I usually drop titles in the mail on Monday morning after weekend
    viewings. Walmart usually notifies me Wednesday morning that they've
    received them. Wednesday afternoon they tell me they've shipped
    replacements. I usually get the replacements on Friday or sometimes
    Saturday. (I was expecting three disks tonight. I got two so I'm assuming
    the other one will come tomorrow.)

    Total round-trip turnaround time for Netflix: 10 days average. Walmart: 5
    days average.

    Same here for me with Walmart... morning receipts followed by afternoon
    shipments. With Netflix, it was usually next day shipments. I never had to
    wait a week like you say, though, thank gawd.

    Not sure what's being said here. One thing that was wrong to do with
    Netflix was to allow Unavailable titles to be at the top of your queue.
    When this happened, then instead of Netflix just immediatley skipping down
    the queue and sending off the first available title, they would wait 24
    hours or so to 'give a chance' for the top-queued Unavailable title to
    become available.

    I've not had any lost titles with Walmart, yet. I think twice I've mailed
    back titles and they seemed to not get them promptly. So I'd report them as
    'lost in the mail'. Both times, though, the titles did magically show up a
    few days later.

    I've never had contact with Walmarts service people so can't comment. Don't
    even get me started about Netflix and their automaton email responses.
    Grrh. Arrgh.


    Here's a couple criticisms I have of Walmart...

    - The website (and inner disk envelopes) list the release date of the DVD
    and not of the movie itself. For example: I just put the original "The
    Italian Job" from 1969 in my queue tonight. Walmart's website lists a
    release date of 2003. I couldn't care less about the DVD release date. I
    want to see the date the movie was originally made. The only way to tell
    the original movie from this years remake is by knowing Michael Caine is in
    one and Mark Wahlberg is in the other. And more often, when I'm watching a
    title I think to myself, "when was this filmed again?". I look at the
    envelope: "2002"? Doh! I thought Robert Shaw was dead! :-/

    - I've had a *lot* of problems with scratched discs from Walmart. I've
    often had to skip a chapter because of some scratch causing problems. I've
    yet to see "Once Upon a Time" in America... I rented the two disk title from
    Walmart. The first disc was so scratched that I was only able to watch
    about half of it before it just got so bad that it wouldn't play anymore.
    Then, I got replacement disks from Walmart and those were also scratched up
    so bad they were unplayable. Sheesh! One disk had a big gouge in it like
    somebody jabbed at it with a screw driver or something. What do people do to
    these things? And does Walmart not at least *look* at the disk before
    shipping it to the next person? With Netflix, I very, very rarely had
    scratched disks - they were usually pristine. And I *never* got dirty
    finger printed disks (perhaps Netflix cleans them)? Walmart's often has
    dust specks and/or fingerprints.

    - Speaking of replacement disks: If you report a disk as unplayable,
    Walmart does not ship you a replacement until they get the original back.
    Once they get the title that you report a problem with back, *then* they'll
    ship you a replacement. And by replacement, I don't mean the same title...
    they just ship something else from your queue. They won't let you add a
    title if it's already in your queue or you listed as in your possesion So,
    to get my replacement Once Upon a Time disks, I have to wait for Walmart to
    get my bad disks back and ship me some other movie, *then* I can added Once
    Upon a Time back into my queue. I specifically remember Netflix would ship
    out a replacement as soon as you reported a problem. It would albeit just
    be the next title on your queue, though. (Although I *think* I remember
    adding problem titles to my queue right away so I could get immediate
    replacement of the same movie and the website did not complain about me
    already having the same title in my possession - I could be wrong, though.)
     
    Jeeters, Nov 1, 2003
    #8
  9. r7di697

    r7di697 Guest

    The thing is I've been out of NetFlix for at least 2 years now so I know a
    lot could have changed since I was there. I was only reporting on my
    experience then, I have no idea what NetFlix is like now. Like you I was
    one of the original members.

    At the time, NetFlix's turnaround was very poor, sometimes on a 4 out plan I
    was lucky to get 5-6 discs in a month's time. Walmart has been speedy for
    me from day 1, which was the middle of this past June. Someone started a
    thread on this board at the time which demonstrated that experienced NetFlix
    subscribers, especially those who were flagged by NetFlix as fast
    turnarounds (get them, watch them, mail them back right away) would actually
    get sandbagged by NetFlix by having titles which were listed as "available"
    to newer members as "long wait" for them. Don't know if they are still
    doing that.

    I just checked my Wal-Mart queue -- out of 233 titles, 3 are flagged as
    "very long wait". All the rest are classified as "Available Now". I have a
    lot of old TV series titles in my queue, such as Twilight Zone, Star Trek,
    etc. so maybe that makes a difference. I'm not into many of the new titles.
    That would affect availability, I'm sure. It looks like the only relatively
    new title in my queue is "The Core" from last summer. I do have "Terminator
    3" and "Lara Croft Cradle of Life" in the "DVDs Awaiting Release" section,
    so I'll see how those are flagged when they finally get queued. Still, I
    fully expected the Sopranos Season 4 DVDs to be on wait status once they
    were released, but amazingly, they are all available now.

    I think after the scandal they had here in the NYC area about a year ago,
    with one of the supervisors in the Flushing Post Office being convicted and
    imprisoned for felony theft of hundreds of NetFlix titles, they are
    proactive about theft in the system, and as a result, I haven't lost any
    Wal-mart titles so far.

    I haven't had any defective discs from Wal-Mart yet, though there was that
    set of Outer Limits discs which were pulled from the shipping queue because
    of some problem, so I guess they are inspecting the discs before they send
    them out now, which is good. With NetFlix I often got defective discs, in
    fact one (this is funny) arrived in pieces, with the envelope taped
    together. Near as I can figure, it must have fallen under a truck wheel on
    the way over. LOL

    Remember when NetFlix would let you "check in" a disc you had mailed back
    and they'd send out a replacement before receiving it? Those were the days!
     
    r7di697, Nov 1, 2003
    #9
  10. r7di697

    Stan Brown Guest

    Does Wal-mart do the Netflix thing that I read about, shipping out
    only one disc at a time from a boxed set?
     
    Stan Brown, Nov 1, 2003
    #10
  11. r7di697

    r7di697 Guest

    Yes, for example, each disc in the 4-disc Sopranos set goes out as 1 rental,
    separately. However, I did receive a few 2-disc movies in one envelope, I
    forget which ones they were. Was Godfather II a 2-disc set? It might have
    been that.
     
    r7di697, Nov 1, 2003
    #11
  12. r7di697

    LarryB Guest

    My neighbor put me on to a better source for DVD's: the public library.

    She says they have the latest and greatest. If there is a new release that
    hits Blockbuster, they usually have it a week later. AND, it's FREE!.
     
    LarryB, Nov 1, 2003
    #12
  13. r7di697

    Jeeters Guest

    Boxed sets, yes. i.e., they're not going to mail you the entire sixth
    season of the X-Files as a single rental.

    Multi-disked movies, no. i.e., movies that contain two discs, you'll get
    both discs.
     
    Jeeters, Nov 1, 2003
    #13
  14. r7di697

    Stan Brown Guest

    You're fortunate.

    The closest library that carries DVDs is the Tompkins County Public
    Library, 40 minutes away in Ithaca. Early this year they announced
    they would be buying no more DVDs till further notice.
     
    Stan Brown, Nov 1, 2003
    #14
  15. r7di697

    Stan Brown Guest

    So if you want a 4-disc Sopranos set you have to put disc 1 in your
    queue, wait till it becomes available and you get it, then put disc
    2 in your queue, etc? (Otherwise you could get disc 4 before disc 2,
    I suppose.) Bleah! It could take many months to view the set that
    way.

    It would be more customer oriented to let you put the box in your
    queue, but not let you have anything else until you've returned the
    box.

    [musingly] I'm trying to nerve myself up to subscribe to Netflix
    because there's a passel of discs I'd like to see that the local
    video stores don't carry. But I'm not sure I'm willing to put up
    with the annoyances.
     
    Stan Brown, Nov 1, 2003
    #15
  16. r7di697

    r7di697 Guest

    With NetFlix I had the problem you described, where you'd receive the discs
    out of order, but I haven't had that problem with Wal-Mart because so far
    everything is in stock and I receive them in the exact order they are placed
    in the queue. For example, as I mentioned earlier in the thread, I had
    Sopranos Season 4 discs 1-3 mailed to me on one day this week, after they
    got 3 rentals back from me, and this morning, after they got back the fourth
    rental I had out (I'm on the 4-out plan) they sent out the Sopranos Season 4
    disc 4 to me. So they were sent out in the exact order I asked for them and
    they were placed in the queue. This morning's mail brought discs 1-3, and I
    should have disc 4 by the time I'm finished watching the first 3, on Tues or
    Wed. Working very well.

     
    r7di697, Nov 1, 2003
    #16
  17. r7di697

    Alex Guest

    Yes, my last rental prior to terminating the contract was for Treasure of
    the Sierra Madre.
    They sent the movie disc. but said there was a long wait for the second
    disc. of extras. I plan
    on buying that movie anyway, but I wanted to watch it right away and like to
    buy my DVDs
    discounted and this title just came out a short time ago.
     
    Alex, Nov 1, 2003
    #17
  18. r7di697

    Animeg3282 Guest

    In Memphis we pay, and there are usually more VHS than DVD..
     
    Animeg3282, Nov 1, 2003
    #18
  19. r7di697

    Scot Gardner Guest

    <<[musingly] I'm trying to nerve myself up to subscribe to Netflix
    because there's a passel of discs I'd like to see that the local video
    stores don't carry. But I'm not sure I'm willing to put up with the
    annoyances.>>

    What could be more annoying than:

    Finding certain rental DVD titles consistently unavailable at your
    local video store?

    Dealing with a DVD store whose rental collection is top-heavy with
    action junk and lowbrow comedies and skimpy on everything else,
    including Criterion titles?

    Finding that it takes months for most older movies, newly-released
    on DVD, to finally become available as rentals at your local video
    store, if they become available at all?

    Discovering that your local video store won't upgrade from an old,
    non-anamorphic rental version of a popular title to the new, special
    edition anamorphic version, because "We already have that title."?

    Being told that a DVD rental title is available only in "fullscreen"
    (when a widescreen version is also available), because "The majority
    of our customers prefer fullscreen."?

    Having your local Blockbuster mix together all of the DVD and
    VHS rentals?

    Paying late fees! Paying late fees! Paying late fees!

    I am so pleased with my Netflix subscription that I have only rented 2
    movies from local stores in all of 2003. Blockbuster sends me a free,
    old-title rental coupon each month and I haven't bothered to use any of
    them. It just isn't worth the trouble of searching through all of the
    DVDs and VHS titles mixed together. Then, once I find the DVD cover box,
    I have to search around for the rental box, which is usually impossible
    to find. If I return the "free" DVD rental one hour late, they charge me
    a $4 late fee. To hell with all that bullshit!

    If you decide to subscribe to Netflix, here is the coupon code for a
    free 2-week trial. Just enter this code in the coupon box:

    Friend55

    This code is good through 12/31/03.

    www.netflix.com
     
    Scot Gardner, Nov 2, 2003
    #19
  20. r7di697

    Stan Brown Guest

    I've been renting videos more years than I remember, and I have
    never paid a late fee.

    What's the big complaint about late fees? You return the video on
    time, that's all.
     
    Stan Brown, Nov 3, 2003
    #20
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