Wow – I love Netflix! (They paid me $15 to say that.)

It’s so rare when a company seems to do everything right.  I mean, it’s totally shocking – that a large, national corporation appears to operate in a logical, friendly, dare-I-say wise manner.  Yet every interaction I’ve had with Netflix has gone swimmingly.  Including today.

For 4th of July, we went down to my parents’ house.  Elizabeth’s mom was gracious enough to let us borrow a portable DVD player so that the kiddos would not get overly bored on the 6-hour car ride.   Among the movies we brought were one of Agatha’s favorites, The Wizard of Oz, and an movie borrowed from Netflix, Alice in Wonderland.  During the trip, I put the Wizard DVD into the Alice Netflix envelope, just as a way of keeping it safe temporarily.  When we returned home, Elizabeth took the Alice envelope, logically thinking it contained Alice, and mailed it back to Netflix.  Imagine her surprise when she opened the DVD player and found…Alice.  Doh!  We had mailed Netflix our own DVD.

Today, I called customer service.   For complete transparency, I was on hold for over 10 minutes, but I was at my desk, so I just put the phone on speaker and did some work.  After I explained the situation, here’s how the conversation went.

ME: “…and so we sent back our personal copy of Wizard of Oz by mistake.”

NETFLIX GUY: “Classic movie!”

ME: “Yeah.”

NG: “Did you get an email from us?”

ME: “No.”

NG: “Oooh – that’s a problem.  See, they take out every DVD from its sleeve, and if they had caught the mistake, you would have gotten an email.   But if it’s a movie we stock, then they would have assumed it was one of ours and just put it back into circulation.  I’m afraid you’re not getting in back.  I’m sorry.”

ME: “Sure, I understand.”

NG: “Well, seeing as how it wasn’t Netflix’ responsibility…”

ME: “Yeah?”

NG: “…I’m afraid that the best that we can do is…”

ME: “Yeah?” [expectng him to say some corporate version of “losers weepers”]

NG: “…offer you either a $15 refund on your credit card or give you a $15 credit on your next billing cycle.”

ME: “What?”

NG: “Actually, I take that back.  It would be a $14.99 credit.  So your next bill will only be $3.  You can use the $15 to buy a new copy of Wizard of Oz.  Try Amazon.  I bet you can get one for only seven or eight bucks on there.”

ME: “Really?”

NG: “Yeah, they’re really reliable.  They have everything.”

ME: “No, about the credit.”

NG: “Oh – sure.  It will show on your next bill.  Can I do anything else for you today, Mr. Hickerson?”

ME: “What do I do with Alice in Wonderland?”

NG: “Just wrap it up in a paper towel, put a Post-it note on it with your email address, and mail it back in one of your other envelopes.  We’ll take it from there.”

ME: “Thank you!”

Then, less than 15 minutes later, I got an email asking me if I was satisfied with my customer service experience.  I am mightily, mightily impressed.  (And, of course, I discovered that Netflix is a BBB member to boot.)

For another, less direct thing that Netflix is doing well, check out the coverage of the Netflix Prize.

America's Pasttime

There is a good review at the NY Times today about “Reel Baseball,” a DVD collection of early baseball films. It includes this remarkable plot summary for “His Last Game,” a movie from 1909:

[T]he story is unusually pointed: a Choctaw Indian, the star pitcher of his local (integrated!) baseball team, is plied with drink by a pair of gamblers who want him to throw the game; in an argument he kills one of them and is immediately sentenced to death by firing squad.

But as he is digging his own grave, the townspeople show up and press him into service for a game. He pitches, wins for the home team and then returns to the open grave, where he is summarily executed.


Jesus and Coca-Cola

I wish I spoke Italian. There’s a fascinating new film coming out of Italy – 7 Kilometers from Jerusalem. It’s about an Italian ad executive experiencing a mid-life crisis. He decides to go to Jerusalem to clear his mind. While on the literal road to Emmaus, he meets Jesus, and his life is transformed. I can’t wait for this film to come to the States.

The film has been the subject of some very minor controversy. When Jesus gets into the ad exec’s Jeep, he takes a refreshing drink from a can of Coca-Cola. The executive says something to the effect of “What an endorsement!” The Pope is perfectly fine with this – it’s Coke that has concerns. No word yet on how Jeep is reacting.

[HT: Richard Owen via Ruth Gledhill]