Amazon is mulling a £200 million bid for Lovefilm, the UK's answer to Netflix, the Sunday Times reports. Techcrunch UK's Mike Butcher is sceptical - he reckons The Sunday Times is often used as a stalking horse to help investors achieve a "liquidity event" - i.e. cash in some or all of their shares. Unlike Mike we cannot claim …
Lovefilm needs to sort out its download service. I'll be damned if I'm going to watch a film at 800kb/s when the alternative is to get a BluRay disc in the post.
Hopes it makes a difference
I was a loyal Lovefilm customer when it first started and was just a great little service. I bailed out in 2007 when it started to grow too quickly, buying up other DVD-by-post outfits and struggling hugely to send stuff out on time or in the right order.
I now live in the States and use Netflix which, while being the biggest player in town, still seems to get discs to me the next working day and in the order in which they are in my queue.
Perhaps Lovefilm being bought outright by Amazon might just improve the abysmal service, but somehow I doubt it.
Order is not prescriptive on LF. LF does send TV series or boxsets in the right order, but if the discs are not available, it goes to the next set in your list/order. And if that means it's the next season, it is annoying but not the end of the world.
Netflix has the scale to be able to pull that off... And as for this so-called 'abysmal' service you talk about, I haven't had shoddy service from LF and I've been a customer of theirs since 2003. Granted, they ship scratched discs occasionally, but if it's really unplayable, you send it back and mark it as such and they'll send you a replacement immediately.
And LF can't really do anything about the abysmal service by Royal Mail. Whereas Netflix has warehouses all over the place, LF has one or two... and that still doesn't help when Royal Mail does a crap job with first class mail. And they are the only ones who are really allowed to deliver to homes direct...
I'm guessing that's because neither of them have anything you could call "customer service".
You buy/rent the thing(s) you want and as far as they're concerned you can fuck off after that, they'd rather not talk to you.
Still I much prefer Amazon's method which is to just refund/replace based on the input from an online form than Lovefilms Indian call centre who I'd say are probably the rejects from all the other indian call centres.
Maybe not a good time to jump ..
With Netflix long rumoured to be about to start-up in the UK sometime this year and with the Apple TV 2.0 just launched including the UK with a strong Netflix tie-up in the USA then I would think Netflix will come along to the UK and become a dominant online Movie Rental resource so it might be very risky for Amazon to buy LoveFilm.
I gave up on LoveFilm many years ago after using them for at least a year .. I ran out of reasonable movies to watch and getting hold of new movies on my wish list took months. Online streaming of new movies in HD would certainly be better value for me and no little kids kicking the back of the seat in my home cinema and the popcorn is free.
When you run out of movies...
... You put your account into holiday mode for 3 months. :-)
I've done that several times in the last few years, especially when getting CSI was a PITA.
LOVEFilM versus Universal - will Amazon help matters?
What would interest me is where this would put LOVEFiLM and Universal Pictures UK who are currently in a disagreement over fees paid over rentals. It's got to the point that LOVEFiLM are not able to carry Universal's latest titles - they won't sell to LOVEFiLM at all. Blockbuster is unaffected (presumably they caved into Universal's demands).
With Amazon taking over - would Universal change it's stance? I noticed on my own blog several months ago that Universal were seemingly sniffing around to find out how people are reacting to the lack of titles on LOVEFiLM, possibly indicating a return to LF. But so far nothing has happened.
Curious to see how this plays out.
This is the angle...
...that I am interested in this story as well. For instance, this:
really should be available on LOVEFiLM by now...
Lovefilm - great idea ruined by idiot customer service.
I was given a sub to Lovefilm as a gift, and would have continued with it had it not been for the idiots in customer service. First of all they forgot to credit my sub at all, and then pounded my inbox with emails asking me why I hadn't ordered any films yet. Then, when films did finally start coming, they pounded my inbox with threatening emails telling me they would charge my account for another 10 films if I didn't send back the current film (which often hadn't actually arrived yet).
Call-centre mentality is bad enough when the idiots are just sitting there passively screwing up any enquiry a customer might make. These people had CRM Tourette's.
As Peter Ustinov once said, 'Don't just do something - sit there!'
LoveFilm owns CDWOW too, as well as running Tesco's, WHSmiths and Nectars film rental ops.
So if this did go ahead it would really only leave Play.com (and a number of so-so high street online equivs) as the only competitor to Amazon in the UK. Not sure if that's good for consumers.
I gave up on CD WOW a few years ago after they messed up on a few orders in a row. Once upon a time they were pretty good (prompt/cheap), though about the time they were being almost constantly fined for sourcing no-UK CDs etc then it all went a bit downhill. I use a combo of Play and Amazon to get stuff now.
Had a look at the LM offerings a year or so back when my girlfriend suggested it (though that would also involve dropping Sky and going Freeview) but the bang for buck didn't quite do it for me. So we stuck with Sky Movies, the odd DVD purchase and some other method of to-the-home film distribution that is popular on t'interwebs nowadays.
I never figured out why Amazon sold out to Lovefilm in the first place. They had the far superior service. Being transferred to Lovefilm was a real slap in the face. It took months to get new releases, DVD's often took 3-4 days in the post and series would arrive in entirely random orders (like Terminator 3, 1, 4, 2). I emailed them and they basically admitted they were overwhelmed by the take on of Amazon customers and their systems were never designed to cope. I've been happily using blockbuster ever since.
Had Amazon bought Lovefilm rather than the other way around I would probably still have been using them.
My subscription to LoveFilm *started* with Amazon a couple of years ago, who then moved the whole thing over to LoveFilm (which is still billed as Amazon on many of the pages I view). So it is very likely that many of LoveFilm's customers came through Amazon in the first place.
I haven't had to use customer service, so no complaints on that front.
Lovefilm offers an excellent service at present, but if Amazon get their grubby mits on it then I suspect my 2 day turnaround for disks to be extended to a week.
That would annoy me loads.
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