Naughty with Netflix

I feel like I'm cheating on my local video store when I order movies online.


Cary Tennis
June 23, 2004 11:48PM (UTC)

Dear Cary,

Do you help with consumer dilemmas? For the past four years I have had a fantastic relationship with Captain Video, my local store that is almost perfect. They have a more than decent foreign film selection, a fair amount of obscure horror films and they even have such cult obscurities as "Flesh Gordon" and "Meet the Feebles." This relationship has been nothing but highs for me, a lover of obscure cinema.

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But then along came the sexy, slinky Netflix. This siren of the Internet offers me everything. She is a film lover's ultimate fantasy offering up bountiful assets that make my mouth water.

I just couldn't resist her and am now stuck sneaking around behind the backs of my much beloved, reliable clerks at Captain Video. I live so close to the video store that every time I walk down to the mailbox with my scarlet red badge of dishonor -- a Netflix envelope -- I live in fear of getting caught. I still sometimes use my local store, but I wouldn't be surprised if they notice I have cut down my visits. Are they suspecting something? Will they pick up on my paranoia?

Will this double life catch up with me? What do I do? Should I make a clean break from my past and embrace Netflix fully and openly? Or should I eschew the perfection of Netflix and stick with my old standby?

Oh, and by the way, my real-life relationship is quite nice. I have been happily entwined with the same girl for the last 14 years. Such a secure relationship, though, has left me ignorant on how to cope with the double life I am leading with my video stores.

Cheatin' Heart

Dear Cheatin' Heart,

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Here's an idea. Why not tell the truth? You can clear your conscience and also give your local business some valuable feedback.

I don't think we do enough to let our neighborhood businesses know what is really going on. I think if we did, more neighborhood businesses might better adapt to the challenges of technological innovation.

I once worked for a large American business. They talked a lot about "customer feedback." To me, "feedback" was what happened during a sound check for Iron Maiden. But what they meant was that a business has to somehow find out what its customers want and give it to them. If the company isn't giving its customers what they want and it doesn't know that, it's going to go out of business. I take it you would not like this Captain Video store to go out of business. Here's your chance to help prevent that.

So walk in there with a couple of red Netflix envelopes in your hand and ask to speak with the owner. Tell the owner how much you like the store. Tell the owner you used to come there more often but lately you've been using Netflix, and you're aware of the possible effect Netflix might have on the store.

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Give the owner a chance to make a case for why you should continue to patronize the store. Perhaps the store offers some services you aren't aware of. Perhaps it has a list you can get on. Perhaps it would be willing to call you when a title comes in, or even deliver it to you.

Or perhaps it isn't interested in your business after all. Perhaps it makes no difference to them. Perhaps the owner will throw you out of the store. If that happens, you can stop shopping there, and you don't have to feel guilty about it. On the other hand, the owner might thank you for providing some valuable feedback, and comp you some videos.

Either way, if you walk in there carrying a red Netflix envelope and ask to speak with the owner, it'll be a day to remember. And what is our love for cinema, after all, if not a love for something that so closely approaches the glory and mystery of memory?

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Cary Tennis

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