Netflix and the “Very long wait” problem


If you use Netflix, you’ve probably experienced the “Very long wait” problem. It shows up like this: you add a new movie or TV show to your queue, sometimes the very first day it appears in the Netflix system. Then, once the DVD release date is reached, the status changes to say “Very long wait”. No detail, no explanation. Just a totally nebulous message that you’re going to be waiting for a while.

I can think of several ways to improve this:

– Show a worst-case estimate of when you’ll get the DVD
– Provide a help link that shows the average wait time for DVDs of this type
– Show how many people are waiting in line ahead of you
– Experiment with upgrade options that might let you pay $1 to get the DVD sooner

Clearly, there are lots of options here. I just wish Netflix would take some steps to transform the useless and annoying message into a true status indicator — the kind that helps set proper expectations and empowers customers to make smart decisions about the service.