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Thursday, 29 April 2010

Lovefilm: Faulty Rentals, Guaranteed.

The idea of and their online rental service is a great one. They send you DVD's, and when you're done with them, you send them back. This part works wonderfully. The part that doesn't work so well is when you put the DVD's in your player and attempt to watch them.
It can be quite exciting trying to guess when the rented DVD will freeze. Will it be whilst navigating the menu system, will it be in the opening minutes - or will it be just before the film reaches its climax? This is the genius of lovefilm; you never know when the disc will freeze.

Lovefilm offer a variety of discs. Most common is the 'Scratchtastic' disc. When Lovefilm order their stock, before sending discs to members - they invite four year old children to sit in their warehouse. They supply them with knives, scissors, and anything else that may be able to produce interesting scratched designs on the data side of the disc. The kids then get a few hours to make a ridiculous mess, scratching up the discs as much as possible. It is believed that 75% of all discs posted by the online rental service, LoveFilm, are in fact Scratchtastic.

Another popular disc type is the 'Liquid Disc'. Not only will Lovefilm send you a latest release; but the disc will also be discoloured due to a strange dried liquid on the underside. Potential liquids include tea, orange juice, and salad dressing. It is rumoured that Lovefilm invite top chefs from around the country into their DVD disc storehouse and allow them to experiment with adding various sauces to the surface of the discs. You may not be able to play them in your DVD player, but they will sure taste nice.

The 'Smashomatic' DVD was once a rare thing to find - but due to increased popularity, Lovefilm now commonly send out DVD's which have many cracks and are occasionally smashed up in various ways. Lovefilm promise that they check all discs before sending them out. But the question remains: how thoroughly do they check them? If a disc looks playable, do they immediately make a crack and urinate on it, or do they hope it will get damaged whilst passing through the postal system?

My current recommendation is: do not sign up for a rental account. Lovefilm is a wonderful idea, and they have an incredible selection of DVD's available. On the plus side, they do have a good customer service team who always offer to replace DVD's and may even discount you for the following month if you've had consistent problems. However, the quality of DVD's are constantly getting WORSE. Of course, members of the public are often terrible at looking after them; but the fact that someone called Joe in Manchester has to put his grubby finger prints all over a disc should not affect the service I receive on the other side of the country. It's time for LoveFilm to seriously look at ways to improve their discs and provide a more consistent quality of films to their ever-growing base of customers who have made them the UK's leading online DVD rental service.

I am CONSTANTLY having DVD's freeze and skip; I rarely get to finish a film received from Lovefilm. What is your experience with their service?

Care to share?


  1. This must be equal to Netflix in the US- great company- get 3dvds and it is about a two day turn around- rarely problem with the dvd quality and it has a pretty big Watch Instantly selection online- that is getting bigger and bigger- must not be in the UK yet.

  2. You seriously crack me up!

    "If a disc looks playable, do they immediately make a crack and urinate on it, or do they hope it will get damaged whilst passing through the postal system?"

    Laughed out loud at work. Had to cough, put my head down and look busy there for a moment.

  3. Oh dear, I was thinking about signing up for this. My friends assure me the discs are mostly fine, but the nature of the service means it's going to be Scratchtastic. There are about 347 films I want to watch but don't want to buy, and this seemed like a good idea...

  4. This is going to come back and bite me on the ass, but I haven't had much trouble with their disks, and I've been a member for over three years I think. Maybe one or two have been jumpy, but mostly fine. I have more issues with disks never reaching me and having to fill in Royal Mail forms. I still like the service, but maybe I've been lucky.

  5. I don't think you really notice, but they don't watch or use the discs. They go out to customers and then come to the warehouse to go straight back out again.
    The scratches and cracks are made by the other members or the dodgy postal machines.

    I remember reading about one guy that would get a game from lovefilm and after playing it he would get wire wool and scratch it up, so no one else could play it.

    It would be nice if lovefilm spent the time to check the discs, but that would be near impossible to do that.

    If anyone is to blame, its the immature members, and of course the post office.

  6. I've got to say, I have hardly ever had problems with discs from LoveFilm, and I've been using them for years. Maybe once or twice I've had a disc freeze or jump, but generally I have only good things to say about the service.

  7. I've had a subscription for about 14 months. The first 12, I had just two faulty discs, which I thought was pretty good really.

    However, in the past two months I've probably had about seven go wrong. Five of them the same film.

    I asked them if there was a problem with the batch or mastercopy, but after several standard replies I got a bit arsey and finally got a proper answer - which was basically to stop ordering Blu Rays.
    My Blu Ray player has worked fine for the past year with their films, it still works fine with my own ones, but it's my player that's the problem apparantely.

    I now have seven 'free credits'. So once I've got through these seven DVDs, I'll be off.

    So I've shopped around, and it turns out apart from Blockbuster (which is noticeably more expensive), most of the alternatives are actually 'powered by LoveFilm'.
    It's disappointing, but I'm going to fork out more and hope that Blockbuster provides a better service.

  8. I don't doubt that the disks are often turning up in a less than desirable condition, but have you tried using a different player..? I got much improved playback with a newer player. Something to do with better oversampling. Also, you might consider cleaning the lens of your player - no idea how you'd set about doing that though! :D

    But it shouldn't be too difficult these days for LoveFilm to implement a system where they can backtrack complaints to persistent offenders and then stop sending them DVDs. After all, it's in their own interests to keep their stock in tip top condition.

    My 2p.

  9. I didn't receive any disks for over two months. I asked for some money back having paid for a service not received they said 'Nope'- rubbish customer service. Nice article though.

  10. About 6 of my last 10 rentals have been faulty. It's so annoying!! This used to be such a great service but something's gone wrong in the last 6 months.

  11. I have been using Love Film for over 2 years now only very few DVD's go wrong out of the hundreds that I have had

  12. Agree. seemed to have developed serious problems in the last few months. Prior to that all discs were fine. Now I've just had my fourth film in a row start freezing around 15 minutes before the end. It's not my player because my own DVDs are playing fine. And the films I've been renting are not mainstream stuff, so I wouldn't expect that they've been previously used and abused by huge numbers of other customers. I would guess that the change might be trying to cut costs by reducing their stocks, combined with the fact that DVDs are very fragile compared to videos (never thought I'd be saying that 10 years ago!). I note that seem to be strongly pushing online viewing now. There was a similar decline in the quality of vinyl discs when record companies were trying to "encourage" customers over to buying CDs. Sheer coincidence I'm sure!

  13. Same here. 5 films in a row have been breaking up and freezing in the last 15mins of the film. Have cleaned my lens manually and cleaned up the disks but with no change. Our own dvds play without a glitch. Very frustrating despite a good 'faulty disk' service whereby another is dispatched same day.

  14. Just got a DVD that was a new release and not very popular, the disk arrived scratchtastically and froze in the opening minutes, poor Amazon now they are tarred with the same brush.

  15. If the discs are so bad why don't you just stream and stop fkn crying or just bin them off. why give them your hard earned if they'r so Shit ??

  16. Anonymous (Jan 25th, 2012) -- Thank you for your concern -- I am glad to inform you that I am not 'fkn crying', nor have I cried regarded the rentals at any point, in any way.

    Re; streaming, you will note that the post you are responding to is nearly two years old --- and, at the point of writing, Lovefilm did not have a streaming service.

    That said -- their current streaming service is far from perfect. But I'll save those thoughts for another post, wherein I will do my best, once again, to not cry.

  17. endless faulty blu rays too. i keep going with them because i like the whole idea and it's only about one in three or four films that freeze.
    i like the suggestion above of tracking it back to persistent offenders and tell them what the trouble is - and say if we have to check your returns we will charge you extra...

  18. I just received yet another (that's about 3 out of 5 so far, ridiculous) faulty 360 game from them. 4 perfectly circular scratches right round the disc.

    Going to cancel I think, as their streaming service sucks, 90% of it is crap.

  19. So right, quality is getting worse and worse. I don't think they are replacing any of their stock, just encouraging you to view online. I always give them a clean with Mr Sheen, but its not usually successful. Going to try Tesco's.

  20. 5 discs in 3 months dodgy, then 2 at once so I complained. The next two were broken, and then the next two after that... It's becoming difficult to get a working DVD from them - DVD player plays other commercial titles fine, I keep checking.

    No idea if it's the postman, other users and/or just lovefilm being lazy with the disc checking.

    Interestingly I've never had a replacement disc work when the original didn't. I don't know if that's coincidence (only had 2 replacements so far) or something weirder.

  21. So I've frequently been getting faulty discs from in these last months - something it wasn't happening in the last couple of years.
    A few days ago I got three in a row, out of four. I reported them as faulty all in one chunk, and they replied with an automated message saying I have reported a higher than usual number of faulty discs recently, that they were worried about the quality of my service, and that they had to put my account on hold till they got my discs back.
    Which means they could not send me any replacement disc till these arrived with them.
    Fair enough, I thought. But they also mentioned that if the faulty discs did not arrive with them within 7 days they might charge me for non-return. At the current blu ray non-return rate, that'd make it over £50 in penalty as if *I* had broken or lost them.
    It's a shame because this makes people prone to not report damaged discs and send them back as good, and since they don't check those, more and more unreadable discs get into circulation.