Movies, New Zealand, Reviews, TV (I miss Netflix!)

Chris and I aren’t big TV watchers*.  Don’t read anything judgmental into that – if you want to watch TV, go for it.  I just get bored easily and would rather not pay for a service that, for the most part, I won’t use.

We do like to watch movies and some TV series on DVD, though.  We loved our Netflix membership back in the States.  First of all, the free 1 month trial was fabulous, and having the option to watch movies instantly online was great.  We could access the site through Chris’ PS3, so that we were actually watching them online on our TV.  This was nice for me to have when I was working nights.  On my nights off, Chris would go to bed and I’d have a big selection of movies at my fingertips.  Or, I could watch a little bit of something to help me decompress after a crazy night.

They don’t have Netflix in New Zealand {nor do they have access to Hulu or most major network online TV episodes, though can sneak around the restrictions by signing up for a non-NZ IP address… I won’t go into that here}.  The closest that they do have is a service called… I hate this name… called Fatso.  Why the founders of the company chose this name, I have no clue.  Still, it’s the only mail-based movie rental option in the country at this time.  There’s SkyTV, which as far as I can tell is the only cable service in New Zealand, but it costs more than what we’re willing to pay, and the movies provided aren’t that great.

At first, we were doing fine with brick-and-mortar movie rental stores.  There was a corner rental shop nearby that had $1 week-long rentals on Tuesdays.  Yay!  Then they closed up shop and moved to the North Shore.  Boo!  There’s also the library, but at $5 per movie rental, it didn’t appeal to us that much {updated to add – movies from our library are now only $2 for a whole week – hooray!}.  There’s the theater, but tickets are $15 per person with assigned seating, and I like to watch most movies from the comfort of my own pajamas.  So, we revisited the movie service who’s name I hate.

First off, I had a bit of a shock when I looked at the prices.  I wonder how long it’ll take living in New Zealand before I get over that?  Anyway, here’s what their membership options cost as of August 2010…

{Keep in mind that at this time, Fatso doesn’t have an online access option and they only do a 2 week trial as opposed to Netflix’s 1 month trial, though I’ve recently discovered a voucher for a 1 month trial to Fatso}

Now, compare this with Netflix {which has unlimited online movies and TV shows}…

Prices as of August 2010

Excuse me for a minute while I go cry into my handkerchief.

We decided to give the Fatso trial a shot and signed up for it.

We signed up for it on Saturday, 14 August.  We received our first set of 3 movies on Monday, 16 August.  We watched a movie that night, put it in the mail on the 17th, and it was received 2 days later by Fatso on the 19th.  The next movie was shipped out that same day, and we got it on the 20th.  We finished watching the 2nd movie, and that was when I noticed something: they’d sent us 3 DVDs, but only 2 return envelopes.  Hmm.

I emailed the company and was told that I could mail the 3rd DVD back separately on my own, but that the return envelopes can hold more than 1 DVD and it was their policy to only send 2 envelopes with 3 or more movies.  This is annoying.  If you’re like us, it may take you awhile to watch more than 1 movie and in the meantime, you’d like to have your other selections sent out.  This way, you can return a DVD as soon as your done and while you’re waiting for the next to arrive, you can watch the remaining movie that you still have.

To their credit, the people at Fatso were nice enough to send us a couple of extra return envelopes to have on hand, but it still bugs me.

It also seems that, unlike Netflix, they don’t have a weekend return service.  With Netflix, if we mailed a DVD on Thursday, they would have it by Friday and we’d have our next selection on Saturday.  Pretty much no matter what, there was a 3 day turnaround time at all times with Netflix.  Here, if you mail a DVD on Thursday, they may get it on Friday, but you most likely won’t get your next one till Monday… if all goes well.  This means that it may be 3, 4, or even 5 days until you get your next selection.

Also, many of the movies that we wanted to watch weren’t readily available.  There were a few “Get It Now” selections that appealed to us, but they recommend keeping at least 15 DVDs in your queue.  We’re glad we did this because some of the selections that were shipped out were down at the very bottom of our list.  If we hadn’t had a long queue, there would’ve been nothing to send.

I suppose that since they’re the only service of their kind in the country, there isn’t much impetus for them to change.  There’s no competition, like with Netflix and Blockbuster and Red Box.  Who cares if one blogger is annoyed over their envelopes?  Who cares if people don’t like their prices – they’re the only game in town, so if you want it, you’ve got to pay for it.

For us, I don’t think we want it that badly.  I may change my mind at a later date if they consider lowering their prices {or adding in that extra envelope}, or if we end up going stir-crazy.  After all, this option is still more economical than SkyTV.  In the meantime, we’ll just keep things status quo and hope that another movie rental shop opens up nearby or hope that Netflix makes the move to New Zealand 🙂

*When I say that Chris and I aren’t big TV watchers, I’m comparing this to the statistic that most Americans watch over 4 hours of TV per day, and most New Zealanders watch nearly 3 hours of TV per day.  We watch far less than that.

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14 thoughts on “ (I miss Netflix!)

  1. We’ve been in NZ for six years now and have pretty well adjusted to the price differences and lack of availability of certain things. I just throw back my shoulders and thrust my arm in the air and say, “SIMPLICITY!” But after spending 6 months back in the States for study leave I REALLY MISSED Netflix. We are not big TV watchers, either. So I bit the bullet and subscribed to Fatso (the cheapest one). It went fine until the DVD’s started coming. Some were so badly scratched that we had to skip entire scenes!!! They were great at sending out THE SAME MOVIE fairly soon…but when you’re nestled on the couch with your popcorn on the one night you and Hubbie have free that doesn’t help. After receiving only disc one of a two-disc movie (twice) I’ve cancelled my subscription. Not so much as a good-bye from them.

  2. Thanks for the welcome. 😀

    I was away for a bit just because I was working on getting a job, which I just did today. Oh yea!

    As for the solution I had in mind, HotSpot Shield is in fact one of many solutions out there. I use a different one, mainly because of my technical needs (read: IT geek). I’ll spare you the name of it, only because I think it’s crassly titled: HideMy@$$. It costs an inexpensive amount of money, but at least there are no limitations to what you can connect to. Being in IT, this is more of a necessity than a luxury.

    Hope all else is well with you. Have a nice weekend.

  3. Hi Jenny! I know I’m posting to your site just a couple of days after you’ve posted that you’ll be taking a break. But I’ve moved from the States (New York City to be exact) to NZ as well, in Auckland for now, and found a way to use Hulu. Mind you, I’ve only been in-country now for a week. I’m not sure if you’re still interested in finding other ways of using this service (I work in IT support for a living), but I can certainly share with you how to do it. Let me know if you’re interested. Cheers! 😀

  4. I think that if we had cable, we wouldn’t do the video renting. And really, lately we’ve been so busy with other stuff that we don’t have a lot of time for TV. I just like having the option. I think that my #1 preference would be to just save our money and buy movies that we love – that way we can watch them whenever 🙂

  5. Oh, wow. Since becoming parents, we just watch whatever movies happen to be on Sky (cable). I am so behind in watching movies that sometimes I even rent DVDs from the library. We never go to the video shop any more. Sad.

  6. Ok so I just checked out Netflix’s website and i SO wish they were here! Such great options and prices.. even when you take into account the exchange right (i worked out that it would currently only cost $24NZD to get the unlimited 3-dvds-out-at-a-time option on Netflix).. *sigh*. I really hope they do come here as Sky’s movie prices are just ridiculous (which is why we don’t have it) as my friend said they only show 5 different movies a month and then re-run them until its the next month uggh.

  7. I’m a selective tv watcher – it takes me a while to get used to watching a show and I’d much rather watch it on dvd. Even then I get distracted around hour two. Long movies are no problem but tv shows don’t hold my interest for hours on end. I also tape a lot because my schedule doesn’t always make it possible to sit down at the same time each week. The envelope thing would drive me nuts! I’d feel rushed to get through the third dvd to send it back.

  8. Hey there – I linked to your blog from The Education of Eby (I’m an American expat in Australia). I feel your pain on the Netflix thing. I tweeted Netflix before I left the U.S. to say that I was sad that they were not in Australia, and they responded that they did have plans to go international, and “stay tuned.” So, there’s hope!
    Great blog, by the way. It’s really heartening to read about other expats’ trials and tribulations.

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