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1063

Bad Ideas Good Ideas
Topic by: FGaipa
Posted: August 21, 2007 - 12:55 PM PDT
Last Reply: September 6, 2007 - 1:09 AM PDT

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author topic: Bad Ideas Good Ideas
FGaipa
post #1  on August 21, 2007 - 12:55 PM PDT  
Last week, at long last, I received a disk each, all in new envelopes, on four consecutive days beginning with the 13th. Looked like the acid test. Mailed them back from Oakland on the 14th, 15th, and two on the 16th. Sunday's a red herring. Mail travels, just isn't delivered, on Sunday. All four, by the two-day USPS service standard, should have reached GC Monday the 20th, six days for the earliest mailed. Not one did. On the 21st only the two mailed the 16th made it. Give days. The two earliest remain in transit.

When I was like ten and at a loss what to write for this or that school assignment, I'd ask my father for ideas. His talents lie elsewhere. His suggestions never worked. But rejecting them always got me going with my own.

So, hoping to elicit better ones, here are some BAD IDEAS:

Multiple distribution centers. Reopen SF and more. PROBLEM: GC can't afford it.

Issue disks in response to three-day-late pleas. PROBLEM: Honor system. PROBLEM: Way over half are taking more than three days.

UPS style drop boxes. Couriers collect and then UPS or USPS overnight large parcels of disks to Van Nuys. PROBLEMS: Logistics. Expense. The Bay Area's way too big.

Open select store fronts, with e-disk drop boxes on site. PROBLEMS: GC probably can't afford it. Walk-in patronage uncertain. Wouldn't dropped off e-disks still have to be mailed?

Make the return envelopes machinable. PROBLEMS: Done deal. Huge lead time. Dubious result.

Ditch the USPS. PROBLEM: How?!

Massive shift to Watch Now. PROBLEMS: Copyrights and bootleggers. Customer connection speeds and storage ability.

Now your turn: GOOD IDEAS?

fg
FGaipa
post #2  on August 21, 2007 - 1:18 PM PDT  
Forgot this one. Not sure whether it's a bad or good idea. Someone's note about TigerCinema on another thread here alerted me to it:

Somehow encode each outbound disk or envelope with a code to be emailed back the same day a disk is mailed back. Somehow make the code inaccessible until the return envelope is sealed. That pointless looking white pull-off strip on the new return envelopes helped inspire me to this. Replenish the user's queue upon receipt of the encoded email, before receipt of the actual disk. PROBLEMS: Not sure of the tech. Might come down again to an honor system.
woozy
post #3  on August 21, 2007 - 1:50 PM PDT  
Utter kookie brainstorm:

Some sort of weird round-robin. Disk goes out with the next four or five people renting it and you must ship it to the next on the list. You sign up for x-disks in a month to come whenever. Lots of details would have to be worked out.

Hmm, this could be of appeal the 80% of american households that watch fewer than one video a week that Netflix wants so hard to woo: Select 16 movies you'd like to see each month the service will put you on four round robin lists for about a dollar a movie.

For those who want more Hmm, this could be the order 16, expect 12, at least 8 plan. somewhat equivalent to the 3 out plan. You are on 16 round robin lists at of which you expect 12 to come in a reasonable mannerly time. Works out to roughly the same nuber of films out at a time as the 3 out plan but is much more capricious as to which films when. Simply keep a resevoir of films rather than a queue. (Kinda how GC is anyway).
mgeis
post #4  on August 21, 2007 - 2:07 PM PDT  
Here's a very simple good idea.

Reduce subscription prices so users can get more DVD's out for the same cost. Example, make the new price for 4-out the same as what users are currently paying for 3-out.

Why it's good: No honor system necessary, works with existing distribution center, no infrastructure changes necessary, alleviates shipping problems, mitigates reduction in DVD viewing caused by change in distribution center.

Why it's bad for GC: The new Van Nuys center probably saves GC some money. Another area in which they're saving money is in postage. The increased turnaround time means members are watching fewer DVDs, which means GC is paying less in postage. I know that for me, GC has had to pay a lot less in postage over the last 6 weeks, probably $8-10. Multiply that by 12, then again by however many subscribers GC has, and you've got a huge incentive to do absolutely nothing.

I don't envy GC in this situation -- they're going up against a virtual monopoly, and they're in a bind. Cut into revenue to maintain customers in order to remain competitive with Netflix, or lose revenue when the customers go over to Netflix for better service/pricing.

However, the move to the VN distribution center is ostensibly driven by expansion and GC's growth, so with new customers, the revenue loss from a more competitive pricing model would somewhat balanced by their larger customer base.

(on a side note, it also seems that GC is saving some money by waiting several days past day 7 to release a "lost" movie from the checked-out list. While I mailed GC 7 days after I put the DVD into the mail, they waited until day 10 to respond, and it looks like the next DVD will go out into my queue later on day 10 or maybe 11, which means that it will hit the mail on day 11 or 12. Slow response to support emails equals cost savings for GC)
NLee
post #5  on August 21, 2007 - 2:38 PM PDT  
BAD Idea:
Netflix business model - "Unlimited number of DVDs for a flat monthly fee"

Problems: Just like in any all-you-can-eat buffet, you want more so you never have time to really enjoy the food/movie. Some fat pig infront of you (people living in California) always seem to consume more food/movie for the same price. Customers demands faster shipping because that means more movies per month. Vendor secretly hopes for slower shipping to reduce postage and operating cost.

GOOD Idea:
Pay-per-view model - Charge $5 membership fee per month. Get one movie for 'free'. Pay $2 postage for each additional disc.

Forget 3-out or 4-out. Rent as many DVDs as you want at any one time. Mailing time too long? Rent some more. You are paying for it. No time to watch movies this week? Rent less. You are not being forced to get your money's wroth every month.
woozy
post #6  on August 21, 2007 - 4:29 PM PDT  
> On August 21, 2007 - 2:38 PM PDT NLee wrote:
> ---------------------------------
> GOOD Idea:
> Pay-per-view model - Charge $5 membership fee per month. Get one movie for 'free'. Pay $2 postage for each additional disc.
>
Kinda expensive don't you think? Well, maybe not.


> Forget 3-out or 4-out. Rent as many DVDs as you want at any one time. Mailing time too long? Rent some more. You are paying for it. No time to watch movies this week? Rent less. You are not being forced to get your money's wroth every month.
>
Yeah, but you need some kind of return policy. We can't have people renting and never returning saying they haven't gotten around to watching. But if you have a time frame it's got to include mailing time. Then if there's a late fee it has to be reasonable to include mailing time. The question is whats a reasonable amount of time to have a disk out? I think a major problem is that if a disk arrives early in a week its reasonable to not want to watch it till the weekend and that makes anything less than three weeks for the rental period "high pressure" on the viewer but ridiculously lenient and cheap for the renter.

Oh, but the renter chooses when it gets sent, doesn't he?

Okay, 2 1/2 weeks from ship to return basic period.

Okay, how about this:

$4/month = 1 "free" movie.
$1.75 per extra movie.
Movie to be returned in 12 business days (holidays, sat, and suns don't count) of shipping else $3.50 per week. (With extreme lenience and options to report lost disks.)

Oh, heck. Okay $5/month and $2 per movie...



hardcle
post #7  on August 21, 2007 - 5:48 PM PDT  
I've often thought that it would be a good idea to be able to click a button that would let GC know that you returned a movie today. If, after a week, it still hadn't arrived, you'd automatically be sent the next movie in your queue.

The week's delay would eliminate abuse. It would reduce the workload on GC support staff, and we would get our movies faster by eliminating the delay between our email to GC and the release of a queue slot.
FGaipa
post #8  on August 23, 2007 - 1:15 AM PDT  
> On August 21, 2007 - 1:18 PM PDT FGaipa wrote:
> ---------------------------------
> Forgot this one. Not sure whether it's a bad or good idea. Someone's note about TigerCinema on another thread here alerted me to it:
> Somehow encode each outbound disk or envelope ...

All right. I've figured it out. This is a workable idea. so I hope Underdog, et al, are reading.

As I suggested in my second post above, issue a new disk on the day a subscriber mails each return, not on the day of receipt. But I didn't have a verification method. Now I do.

Here it is: Commission new envelopes with a verification code printed, pause because I can't recall whether too many caps will trigger a flaming delete here, u-n-d-e-r t-h-e s-e-a-l-a-n-t. When you pull off the strip to seal and mail, you reveal a code that you copy and email to GC. Upon receipt of the email, GC credits your queue and ships.

Sure it's not absolutely cheat proof. But it's light years beyond the honor system, most people are honest, and some will just plain not care or bother.

One not insubstantial side benefit will be documentable travel times for tens of thousands incidents exceeding USPS standards. Once the new mode is in place, if GC feels hassled having to absorb USPS delays that until now its customers have faced then it can use the newly available stats to scare the hell out of USPS managers.

I'm convinced this or some trifling variation is the only way GC can stop the exodus of Bay Area customers to NF. And, no less importantly, it will give even East Coast subscribers turnarounds roughly equivalent to than NF's. Last August, I'm not sure whether on a three or four-out, I watched 31 GCs. So far this month on the four-out I've received 10. GC cannot afford to ignore this chance to at least match NF.

If there are holes in my suggestion, what are they?

What do you say? Underdog? Other GCs? Owner guy?

fg





woozy
post #9  on August 23, 2007 - 12:20 PM PDT  
> On August 23, 2007 - 1:15 AM PDT FGaipa wrote:
>
> If there are holes in my suggestion, what are they?
>
It's a good Idea. I just don't think it's practical. Printing unique code under the sealant is probably expensive. You'd have to print them at the *creation* of envelopes because printing the code and attaching sealant during the process of the ordering would vastly slow down and raise the cost of processing. The code would have to be accessable from the envelope for the processor to see during the processor. Perhaps if during the envolope ordering process each envelope is printed with an alpha-numeric code below the sealant and a scan code representing the code on the envelope surface, then processing the order would involve the simple extra step of scanning the envolope. This however requires an envelope printing company willing to print such envelopes which may be a problem.
FGaipa
post #10  on August 23, 2007 - 4:12 PM PDT  
> On August 23, 2007 - 12:20 PM PDT woozy wrote:
> ---------------------------------
> > If there are holes in my suggestion, what are they?
> >
> It's a good Idea. I just don't think it's practical.

Clearly the envelopes were designed and special-ordered to GC's specifications. They're physically unique. Some lead time will be required to change them. That's all. Yesterday I hadn't seen an envelope for four days. Now I have one in hand and, really, it's not even a redesign. Just the interpolation of a single manufacturing step: one extra pass through the printer for the now unprinted side of the sheet with the Van Nuys address. (The codes will need to be in a cross-thatch to prevent reading them from the opposite side.)

The expense of the slight redesign GC will quickly earn back by retaining present and former members and adding new ones. I'm as certain as anyone with no marketing experience could be that this idea is a money maker.

But how we persuade GC to save itself? Are they listening?

fg
Belgand
post #11  on August 24, 2007 - 3:28 AM PDT  
> On August 21, 2007 - 2:38 PM PDT NLee wrote:
> ---------------------------------

> GOOD Idea:
> Pay-per-view model - Charge $5 membership fee per month. Get one movie for 'free'. Pay $2 postage for each additional disc.
>
> Forget 3-out or 4-out. Rent as many DVDs as you want at any one time. Mailing time too long? Rent some more. You are paying for it. No time to watch movies this week? Rent less. You are not being forced to get your money's wroth every month.
>
> ---------------------------------

Uhh... my old video store had this exact idea. Well, not exactly I guess. They didn't charge a membership fee, but they did rent everything (well, almost, new releases were $3) for $2. They had amazing business, tons and tons of selection, and they would order anything that they didn't have in stock if you just asked about it. All this and you got ever title out for five days with a handy bright yellow cover that was slipped on at the time of rental indicating the day it was due. Oh, and you didn't have to wait for the mail either. Plus they were open until midnight every night of the week. Hell, since it was a small local place the owner would often write off those late fees where I was only a couple of hours late in returning a video (return time was, ingeniously, 7 PM).

If a video store like that actually existed in San Francisco I wouldn't have to use GreenCine. Unfortunately, I haven't been able to find a single decent video store anywhere in the city. The ones that have good selection (e.g. Le Video) have amazingly bad prices and barely let you have the video overnight. The other side is small local shops that have next to nothing in terms of selection or terrible chains that also have no selection, but are also, well, evil.

So, I guess the ultimate Good Idea from this is: Open a good video store in San Francisco that combines reasonable prices with extensive selection.
weezy
post #12  on August 24, 2007 - 5:10 PM PDT  
Hey all - thanks for the great suggestions here. We really are hearing you out, as these suggestions have been brought up numerous times at staff meetings and escalated to site managers.

We've addressed some of you specifically in emails and in other places on the boards, but a huge public thank you to those who are looking out for the good of the service and our original vision. We've already started working on making some of these suggestions a reality, and are very excited to roll these improvements out once completed! More as it comes...
shiftless
post #13  on August 31, 2007 - 1:25 PM PDT  
I have a suggestion. Please make all your database lists (the genre sections of the catalog) organizable by release (original release) date. As it is now, I will never browse through the genre sections because they are organized alphabetically with no option ot reorganize them in a way that i'm interested in. I'm mostly interested in movies from the last 5 years or so and I think a lot of people are similar. Similarly you should be able to reorganize the listings by highest rated, most listed, etc etc. Reorganizing database lists like this is pretty standard on most web sites.
underdog
post #14  on August 31, 2007 - 4:09 PM PDT  
> On August 31, 2007 - 1:25 PM PDT shiftless wrote:
> ---------------------------------
> I have a suggestion. Please make all your database lists (the genre sections of the catalog) organizable by release (original release) date. As it is now, I will never browse through the genre sections because they are organized alphabetically with no option ot reorganize them in a way that i'm interested in. I'm mostly interested in movies from the last 5 years or so and I think a lot of people are similar. Similarly you should be able to reorganize the listings by highest rated, most listed, etc etc. Reorganizing database lists like this is pretty standard on most web sites.
> ---------------------------------

Great idea (sorting by release date) - when we can get to tweaking the site in the (hopefully) near future, this is on the list. There is a secret way to sort of do this now, by the way - if you go to the advanced search page (the link under the search box), then do a search with the title field empty, but select desired top level genre and era, you can get a list of all titles in that genre in that decade, at least. Not ideal, admittedly, but closer.

Also, you can currently rearrange a genre from highest (member) rating to lowest, by clicking on the "average rating" link at the top. For instance, highest rated classic comedies.

Great suggestions, thanks!
Battie
post #15  on September 3, 2007 - 5:28 PM PDT  
Completely unrelated to shipping or complaining! Woo! (I didn't see the need to create a new thread.)

I was wondering if maybe, one day, there could be an ability to lock just PART of one's queue. Say I demand that 1-2 discs at the top of my queue be shipped before anything else, but after those two, I don't care about the order. I can lock my queue, but that second and/or third disc will be stuck right along with the first one or two.

Basically, if there's a red/orange/yellow disc that I really want but know I'll likely never have a shot at (because when it IS available, I won't have a slot open), it'd be nice to have a option to keep one disc slot open while the other two circulate through my queue.
Battie
post #16  on September 3, 2007 - 5:36 PM PDT  
No, wait...I'm confusing myself. I think that's already possible (think, but not sure).

Maybe what I mean is that sometimes I don't care what order I recieve discs, but I want the first ten or so to be given priority over the ones after. Now, I could just remove the bottom half of my queue to a list (which I've been doing), but it's a slightly hassle. If I could isolate the first ten or so discs I want to receive (and am willing to wait on - a partial lock, in other words - something really useful if you just want to lock a series, but not the entire queue), it'd make things a lot easier. :)

Do I make sense now? :P
woozy
post #17  on September 4, 2007 - 4:00 PM PDT  
N-per month. 1) month *includes* mail and process time. 2) disks spread over month. (i.e. roughly a disk every 30/N days)

1-6) $4 per disk (.25 credit a day for early returns up to $2*n credit per month)
7+) $2 per disk.

Ex: If I were on the 15- per month plan for $30 a month I'd be mailed a disk every other day. I'd have a month (from the moment it was shipped) to get the disk back. At $30 a month this is equivalent to the 4-out plan but I don't have to bitch about how slow the postal service is (unless it's more than a week and a half each way).

Battie
post #18  on September 5, 2007 - 12:51 AM PDT  
> On September 4, 2007 - 4:00 PM PDT woozy wrote:
> ---------------------------------
> N-per month. 1) month *includes* mail and process time. 2) disks spread over month. (i.e. roughly a disk every 30/N days)
>
> 1-6) $4 per disk (.25 credit a day for early returns up to $2*n credit per month)
> 7+) $2 per disk.
>
> Ex: If I were on the 15- per month plan for $30 a month I'd be mailed a disk every other day. I'd have a month (from the moment it was shipped) to get the disk back. At $30 a month this is equivalent to the 4-out plan but I don't have to bitch about how slow the postal service is (unless it's more than a week and a half each way).
> ---------------------------------

While the credit thing would encourage early returns, it'd put people like me (in other words, non-Californians) at a disadvantage. Would it be worth frustrating customers in the other 49 (or 47)?
woozy
post #19  on September 5, 2007 - 10:24 AM PDT  
> On September 5, 2007 - 12:51 AM PDT Battie wrote:
> ---------------------------------
>
> While the credit thing would encourage early returns, it'd put people like me (in other words, non-Californians) at a disadvantage. Would it be worth frustrating customers in the other 49 (or 47)?
> ---------------------------------


Folks near a dist center will always have an advantage over those further away. With the current n-out the advantage is that a person nearby can rent more movies whic is ... well, not fair. With my proposed n-per month, the advantage is people close by have longer period of time to hold onto the movies. This shouldn't be a big problem because even if someone lived so far away from a center that a movie takes a week to come and a week to be returned that's still two weeks to watch it which ought to be plenty of time.

However the DVD company doesn't actually want people keeping disks for as long as they can. Folks watching a few DVDs a week will have a natural tendency to watch DVDs in a timely manner and not to rewatch them over and over again, and thus will have a natural tendency to return the DVDs in a timely manner.

However folks who only watch a few movies a month have no such incentive. The credit serves instead. It's not a high pressure incentive because it only reduces the cost of the disk from $4 to $2 and it's only .25 per day.

Now as to your question as to out of stater being frustrated: Suppose you live so far away from a center that movies take a week to come and a week to return (worst case) and it is Feb. the shortest month (worst case). A movie is mailed to you on Feb 1. You recieve it on Feb 8. It must be returned on March 1. You want to get the get the full $2 credit so you want to return it eight days early. That means it get back by Feb. 21. Feb 21 is a Sun (worst case), so it must get back by Feb. 20. That means you must return it on Feb. 13. This gives you five days to watch the film. That's not not really a problem, is it?

Okay. So lucky-ducky member in the same town as a center gets movies overnight gets twenty-one days to watch the movie and still get the full $2 credit. It's not fair but its not as unfair as lucky-ducky getting three times as many movies as you for the same price.

What we *don't* want is for people thinking that "n-per month" means *keeping* the films for a month. Mail time and several movies to get through will do it for the 6+ (maybe it should be 4+) and credit and mail time will do it for the small renter.
Battie
post #20  on September 5, 2007 - 12:56 PM PDT  
> On September 5, 2007 - 10:24 AM PDT woozy wrote:
> ---------------------------------
> Folks near a dist center will always have an advantage over those further away. With the current n-out the advantage is that a person nearby can rent more movies whic is ... well, not fair. With my proposed n-per month, the advantage is people close by have longer period of time to hold onto the movies. This shouldn't be a big problem because even if someone lived so far away from a center that a movie takes a week to come and a week to be returned that's still two weeks to watch it which ought to be plenty of time.
>
> However the DVD company doesn't actually want people keeping disks for as long as they can. Folks watching a few DVDs a week will have a natural tendency to watch DVDs in a timely manner and not to rewatch them over and over again, and thus will have a natural tendency to return the DVDs in a timely manner.
>
> However folks who only watch a few movies a month have no such incentive. The credit serves instead. It's not a high pressure incentive because it only reduces the cost of the disk from $4 to $2 and it's only .25 per day.
>
> Now as to your question as to out of stater being frustrated: Suppose you live so far away from a center that movies take a week to come and a week to return (worst case) and it is Feb. the shortest month (worst case). A movie is mailed to you on Feb 1. You recieve it on Feb 8. It must be returned on March 1. You want to get the get the full $2 credit so you want to return it eight days early. That means it get back by Feb. 21. Feb 21 is a Sun (worst case), so it must get back by Feb. 20. That means you must return it on Feb. 13. This gives you five days to watch the film. That's not not really a problem, is it?
>
> Okay. So lucky-ducky member in the same town as a center gets movies overnight gets twenty-one days to watch the movie and still get the full $2 credit. It's not fair but its not as unfair as lucky-ducky getting three times as many movies as you for the same price.
>
> What we *don't* want is for people thinking that "n-per month" means *keeping* the films for a month. Mail time and several movies to get through will do it for the 6+ (maybe it should be 4+) and credit and mail time will do it for the small renter.
> ---------------------------------

Giving credit after someone has kept (including transit time) a movie for 19 days is rather silly. :P Defeats the purpose of a credit system, especially for those near the distro center. Plus, by giving a credit system to those already seeing the most movies of all the customers, you make it that much more 'unfair' to those of us in other states. (Not to mention it puts a higher cost on GC for Californians than for say...Texans.)

I don't think a credit system is worth the hassle. Or maybe it's sour grapes. :)

(Off-topic: my new motherboard finally arrives Friday. Let's hope my processor works.)
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