Netflix DVDs Are MIA

Sign at headquarters of NETFLIX, Los Gatos, California, 10-19-05 AP (file)

Netflix, and its customers, are currently suffering through the worst system failure in the DVD shipper's history. The company shipped no disks on Tuesday, only "a few" yesterday, and so far none today. Affected customers are receiving e-mails telling them their disks are delayed.

Netflix will not reveal the source of the problem that is affecting all 55 of its shipping facilities, other than to say, "It's technological." The customer-facing Web site remains online and users can access and update their lists of requested movies, and watch previews.

The Netflix streaming service also remains online. Calling the customer service number plays a recording that alerts users to the shipping outage and then reminds users that, "You can watch movies or TV episodes instantly on your PC or your TV, with the Netflix player by Roku."

"We are more frustrated than anybody else," Steve Swasey, Netflix VP Corporate Communications said. As it did after the last (and only) major shipping outage in Netflix, in March of this year, Netflix will issue a credit to affected customers, although the company has yet to determine exactly what that credit will be.

Although there is no guarantee of timeliness to Netflix customers, they have become accustomed to very rapid shipping of their disks, and Swasey said it was vital for Netflix to get in front of the issue. But he said that, "There's been very little negativity around this. Maybe two dozen people have vociferously complained, out of 8.4 million members. There's no hue and cry from the populace, because we do continue to provide excellent service. " Swasey continues his message on the issue of Netflix's service: "More than 80% of customers join because they got a personal recommendation, " he said. "It is what we live for. We take this stuff very seriously."

And when will the service be back up? Swasey ponts to the Netflix Community Blog for updates, but said, "We don't know if we are going to ship today or not."

By Rafe Needleman
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