Netflix’s Wack Collection Management Policy and their Devolving Reference Services

August 7, 2007, 10:32 am

I really like Netflix, even though they throttle me from time to time. However, their collection development policy is very poor. There are tons of movies that are out which they do not provide, films like The Emperor, Conan the Barbarian, Twin Peaks season 1, Gleaming the Cube, and Wild in the Streets.

It would be one thing if they implied, this movie is out but we don’t have very many copies, therefore you might have to wait a while to receive it —but they don’t. Instead they list it “release date unknown” which is the same language they use for movies which have not been released on DVD yet.

I really want to watch Twin Peaks . I noticed last year that Season 1 was available, but Season 2 had not been released on DVD yet. Season 2 came out this past spring and Netflix automatically pulled Season 1 from circulation. I emailed them and received this response:

"I can understand your confusion regarding " Twin Peaks : Season 1" not being available in your queue any longer, and I will do my best to assist you with this. Unfortunately, on rare occasions titles may need to be removed from circulation. Either the titles were out of print and we could not replenish our stock to meet demand, or the DVDs continued to experience high breakage or defects. In unusual circumstances such as these, we do need to remove the titles from distribution.   Due to the subsequent long waits and inconveniences this situation presented to our customers, we decided that until a workable solution was reached, it was best to remove these problem titles from our inventory."

This was more than six months ago and Twin Peaks season 1 is still unavailable.
(Anyone out there have it?)

I guess this is the equivalent to a book being “lost” or “missing from shelf” – I hate when someone calls or comes in and I have to try and explain that to them, but at least our patrons can try other lending options. If we suppressed those records, people would probably look down upon us, oh your library doesn’t have this? So we mark it unavailable effectively stating, well we used to have it, but we don’t anymore, sorry.

Netflix also applies this strategy to series as well. Imagine reading War & Peace or Brothers K and several of the chapters were missing—that’s essentially what Netflix does:



Another issue that I have with Netflix is that they’ve abolished their email customer service: it’s all done via phone now. For an online business, you’d think they would provide online assistance, but the world really is flat and it’s probably cheaper to export questions abroad. I am sure that it will greatly reduce the influx of questions/comments because “problem customers” like me won’t bother to call and ask about Twin Peaks , season 1. Email emboldens people, and that’s the problem, it costs too much to deal with them. More discussion on phone-only service here .

Maybe we should consider desk-only reference help? If students prefer face to face— why bother with all these newfangled technologies? Come and ask us your questions the old fashioned way!

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