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A year with GreenCine

I’ve been using GreenCine’s DVD rental service for over a year. On the whole, my opinion of GreenCine has become pretty much similar to that of Netflix. Both are slow with delivery. Furthermore, both have huge catalogs, yet they almost never respond to customer suggestions for DVD additions.

Shipping was damn fast when GreenCine had their warehouse in the Bay Area. Then last summer they moved to Van Nuys, in the San Fernando Valley of Los Angeles. Over a period of two months, while they transitioned to their new location, delivery was painfully protracted —up to 3 weeks for some discs! Even without throttling, rental shipment now takes as long as Netflix.

As a partial solution, I’ve continued the habit of borrowing DVDs at my local libraries. I go through my Rental Queue, and if a disc exists at a library, I remove it from the queue. This works for mainstream films, TV series and moderately known documentaries.

What other DVD rental solutions are out there, which would better satisfy my video needs? I’d be keen to hear your suggestions.

Thinks I like about GreenCine

  • Customer service: Upon receiving my email with concerns about the long-drawn-out shipment times during the warehouse move, they offered an apology, and even credited my account (partial month’s worth). Nice!
  • I like how they have two lists for requests: the actual Rental Queue and a Request List. The Request List contains movies and series that are on order, but not yet available for rental. However, see the second item under Annoyances
  • Their Quick Return system. It doesn’t speed up the US Postal Service, but at least GreenCine can put the next disc into the mail, even before they receive a returned item.
  • They still have more independent films than Netflix, AFAICT.

GreenCine Annoyances

  • Prolonged delivery times, though due to distance rather than throttling.
  • My Request List remains filled with unfufilled items. Out of nearly seventy items in my Request List, only one has moved (as available) to my Rental Queue over the past year. (They do send an email notification when such a move occurs.) So the Request List seems like a good idea, but is mostly a disappointment since nothing ever seems to become available from it.
  • I have sent in dozens of suggestions for DVD purchases. GreenCine have neither acknowledged nor obtain any of them. Okay, three were acquired, two of which are stuck eternally in the Request List. In fact, I’ve had faster service requesting DVD purchases at my local libraries!
  • To my surprise, they still lack some animation, animé and documentary titles: A couple famous David Attenborough series (no Life of Birds, no Life of Mammals), the first season of Avatar: The Last Airbender aren’t available for rental yet, even though the second season is.
  • My previously enumerated annoyances still hold, with the exception that search response has improved.

Sigh. I think I’ll stick with GreenCine for the time being. I really don’t want to return to the unnecessarily throttled service at Netflix, especially since the ridiculous limitation has been upheld in court.

Update (5 May 2008): In response to this post, GreenCine’s catalog manager recently contacted me. Turns out that the email address for requesting DVD additions is actually catalog (at) greencine (dot) com, instead of dvdrequest (at) greencine (dot) com, as seen on their rental help page. (Hopefully that page will be updated soon.) According to the manager, requests are reviewed monthly, and become likely purchases if popular by customer demand. It’ll be interesting to see if my suggestions will be accepted (or rejected) more quickly…

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