Seattle, Washington The Joy of Sticking it to Them

I’ve been a Netflix subscriber for over a year. Pretty much since I got back from Africa. I signed up so I could rent lots of teen movies for cheap, as I was pursuing a pipe dream of creating cell phone trivia games to make money without having to show up anywhere or ever work very hard.

After generating 200 questions and viewing Andrew McCarthy’s entire body of work in about a month, I accepted the harsh realities of life and took a job writing cutscenes for a PlayStation2 game about pirates.

I kept my Netflix subscription. I found it handy, if for no other reason than the queue feature that gave me a list of all the movies I’ve been meaning to get around to. I was the ideal customer, never in any particular hurry to watch anything. I’d often let whatever trite, Oscar-baiting pile of clichés I felt obligated to watch sit on top of my DVD player for weeks and weeks.

That changed a month ago when I was suddenly, inexplicably consumed by the notion that I could stick it to them. “Them” being the Netflix people.

The Postmaster General was recently quoted saying the discs from Netflix and other DVD-mail services account for 3% of total USPS revenue. Using first class, pre-sorted mail at whatever bulk discount they’re getting, it costs Netflix around $0.70 a disc for round-trip postage. That means that if I can rent 26 discs in a month, I’m actually costing them more in postage than the $18 a month I’m paying them. All other costs aside, they’re losing money on me.

I’m at 19 discs now with 6 days to go before the month is out.

Now, I have no particular grudge against Netflix. I was not a participant in the class action suit. I’m happy with the turnaround time. And their selection is second only to the greatest video store in the universe: Scarecrow Video, which just happens to be 10 minutes away (while I’m not particularly inclined to rent Nazi porn, I’m really glad my local video store has a section for it…ya know, just in case).

I guess the thing with Netflix is that it’s just so exciting to have the opportunity to cost a big company money, since I spend so much of my time helping them make it.

I like to imagine a boardroom full of the organization’s top executives, and every day the mailman walks in with a huge sack full of all the returned discs. He pours it out across their oversized mahogany table. The fat, cigar-chomping executives sift through the envelopes and find my name, yet again. “Curses!” one of them yells, “How can one man watch this much Arrested Development in a week? Has he no sense of restraint? Does he not see how we suffer from his prompt viewing and expeditious re-mailing?”

I savor that image. And I will continue sticking it to them until I find something else to occupy my time…or until my rental queue dips below 100.

6 Responses to Seattle, Washington The Joy of Sticking it to Them

  1. Cara F.

    haha way to stick it to them!

    BTW, who wouldn’t want to watch endless amounts of Arrested Development, its just too funny.

    Love Cara

  2. samd

    Wow, awesom job man… i ive in australia so havent seen the ellen interview thing, but i stumbled across your sight from one of those bored people websites- you know the ones with all the videos and games and pictures…. well, anyways. just wanted to say that you should come to Australia and do some dancing… maybe even head off to some of those crazy places like Easter Isl. with its giant stone heads…..

    well, gotta run man, keep up the great work.
    God Bless
    -Sam

  3. MLOK

    Wait a minute. This is stupid. First off Netflix is actually an underdog, try to make a go at it and battling against the Blockbusters and WalMarts of the world. Second, after traveling around the world, this is what you focus you energy on? You are really showing your colors Matt.

  4. Summer

    Hey Matt,
    If you are going to stick it to someone, you should really consider “cost per click” fraud – did you know that you can cost a certain law firm $26 each time you click their site after using a search engine? Now that takes way less work than mailing and watching DVD’s. No, I am not really suggesting this – I am pretty sure it is illegal! Nice to see you again – have a great afternoon!

  5. Desy

    Netflix? You’re kidding right? You’ve been to Killimanjaro. Enough said. I’ve been reading your site for a while now (thanks to fazed of course), been actually moved by your journal entries and today I think “hey, haven’t visited Where the hell is Matt, maybe I should be enlightened today.” Instead of adventure, I get advice on how to cheap out a movie-by-mail service. Great. Now get off the damn couch and see Norway’s fjords, damnit!!! Sorry about that. I actually do admire you for being the few of us who actually has done what we all wish we could do- to just go. Good work against Netfux, btw.

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