Putting Quickflix To The Test

Getting DVDs delivered by mail to watch when it suits you sounds potentially appealing, but will they really come that often and will you ever see the movies you actually want? I decided to sign up for Quickflix and find out.

The notion of renting DVDs by mail has never quite taken off in Australia to the same extent as the US, where Netflix has become a major player in the entertainment scene. (It also looks like we'll be lagging behind a little on getting movies streamed directly to our TVs and other devices, which is Netflix's main expansion plan these days, but that's another story.)

That said, the option obviously does appeal to some people. Quickflix claims to have sent out 10 million DVDs since it was founded, though its subscriber base is a rather more modest 64,000 people or so. Its chief local competition is Big Pond Movies; the main reason I ended up testing Quickflix is that there was a special offer on which allowed new customers to sign up for just $7 for two months, which appealed to my inner sense of frugality. You don't pay any extra postage fees, so realistically there's no way Quickflix would have made any money on me during that period.

One disadvantage of taking the bargain approach was that it slowed down the registration process and the delivery of my first discs. I signed up on a Sunday, couldn't complete the registration process until Monday, and didn't get my first pair of DVDs until the following Friday. That gave me the immediate feeling that delivery speeds might be an ongoing issue, and for the most part that did prove correct.

Speed can be an issue

In order to see how many movies you could consume, I adopted a policy of returning discs the day after I received them. If I was a full-scale movie addict, then watching two flicks a night wouldn't be a problem, and I'd be eager to get more as quickly as possible.

Despite taking this approach, the absolute best result Quickflix managed to produce was receiving four discs in a week (with the first batch arriving on the Monday and the second on a Friday). Two movies a week was much more typical. While emails were sent indicating two titles had been dispatched at once, it also wasn't uncommon for them to arrive a day apart.

Obviously, Quickflix is somewhat at the mercy of Australia Post here. But if I couldn't get deliveries to the Sydney CBD any faster than this, then remote and rural users would have to wait even longer. (Admittedly, if there's no local video store, then a slow postal delivery is better than no delivery at all.)

The Quickflix site includes a system which lets you indicate that you've returned movies as soon as you pop them in the post, but for trial customers the next round still don't get sent until your returned movies are received. Apparently full-price customers actually get some advantage from this approach, and can have movies dispatched as soon as they indicate they've returned their previous rentals. While I can understand not enabling that option for brand new customers whose honesty hasn't yet been established, it means trial customers are seeing the system at its slowest.

Choice can be an issue

Quickflix constantly sends you reminders telling you to expand and update your queue (the list of movies which you'd like to see, ranked in your order of enthusiasm for them). I can understand why; the more movies you have in there, the better your chances of getting sent something you want to watch. And while I couldn't find absolutely everything I wanted, there were more than enough options to keep my queue bubbling — or so it seemed.

I found the queue management a bit fiddly and not always helpful. Movies which are in high demand are listed as having a long wait, but I found the status for titles could vary several times a week. More to the point, after the first week my top-ranked choices never actually got sent to me (and I wasn't seeking high-demand titles as far as I could tell). What got sent to me seemed pretty much like a lottery most of the time. I'd have preferred a little more predictability.

Would I pay for it?

The cheapest regular pricing for Quickflix is $9.99, which entitles you to one discs at a time and a maximum of four a month. At the opposite end of the spectrum, $36.99 entitles you to three DVDs or Blu-rays at a time, with no monthly limit. (You can see the full list of pricing plans here.)

If I'd stuck with my plan after the trial period, I'd have been paying $20 a month for a maximum of 8 DVDs a month. Given the delivery speeds I experienced, I'd have had trouble getting many more than that. As such, I can't see the unlimited plans as particularly good value, as the ability to get discs constantly is severely constrained

Overall even $20 felt like a bit too much for me, given the speed of the service and how often I actually want to watch movies. Once I'd made that decision, I decided to cancel (ahead of when the two months actually would have been up). I'll give Quickflix points for not burying the cancellation option or going crazy trying to convince me to stay signed up — the process was very straightforward.

In the long-term and with an NBN in place, I imagine mail-based movie rental services will disappear in favour of download options. We're some way away from that, but given the postal lags, I still can't see Quickflix as an appealing option right now. But as usual I'm just one person, and I don't rent movies very often anyway. If you want to share your own experience, we're all ears in the comments.

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Comments

    i gave up on quickflix around 5 years ago...it was OK when it was first available (back when we were all still standing around video stores wondering what to rent), but the more people who use the service the more difficult it is to get what you really want...plus all the discs were in awful condition, series discs were sent out of order, quickflix didn't give a shit, etc etc

    do video stores still exist? are the called dvd stores now? lol

    I tried QF a few years ago, and again recently with my gf who watches copious amounts of movies, a few years ago when i tried it i tended to get the higher priority movies i asked for but it was still slow. In the recent 2month free trial, we probably got 5 movies that were in the top 20 of our list despite the status not saying anything about a wait.

    The discs were not in too bad a condition, but i experienced the same delays and annoyance at the inability to to mark dvds as returned, its not much of a trial if you have restrictions.

    As for the cost, $20 a month for 8 dvds is pretty expensive if most of what you get is available as weeklies at video ezy, where i often get an offer for 7 weeklies for $7.95 (or 3 new release for $7.95), since 90% of what we rent are weeklies we can get 21movies for $24.

    I understand the postage is probably a fair amount of the cost of the plans, but its just not cost effective for the bargain hunter (who has a video ezy a few mins down the road).

    The sooner we can get a decent affordable streaming service down here the better (and even better if its quota free or we all have terrabyte plans). Netflix streaming is awesome (except when they only have the what you want on disc).

    I'm a Quickflix subscriber and I'm fairly happy with it, but I realise it may not be for everyone.

    What I like about Quickflix is that I can get a lot of movies that aren't in local video stores. I'm on a plan that gives me two DVDs a month and I put harder-to-find movies into my queue. If I want a more current movie then I just head down to the video store and pick it up.

    Aside: Angus was a little unfair in the wrap-up when he said: "If I’d stuck with my plan after the trial period, I’d have been paying $20 a month for a maximum of 8 DVDs a month. Given the delivery speeds I experienced, I’d have had trouble getting many more than that." Although he mentioned it earlier in the article, he seems to have forgotten that subscribers can notify Quickflix that they've put their DVDs into the post and get videos sent out much faster.

      Perhaps if they gave Angus a free trial of their paid service he could review that and compare with the trial service.

      If QF give a trial service that is slower than their regular service you can only judge it based on the service you were given. There is no telling how much faster it is when you can tick the i've returned it box.

      If i could have done that in my trial earlier this year i may have bee able to justify it, but im not going to pay their full price just to see how fast they resend (sometimes i had a 2 to 3 day wait after getting the dispatch notice with dvds coming from interstate).

    I've used both big pond and QF, to be honset, they're about the same, QF is little easier to use and, at the time I was it, had a slightly smaller range of titles.

    Don't plan by it. If you're thinking of having a few mates over to watch some movies, look up your own library, or if can still find one, goto a rental store in personal. You're more likely to get what you want.

    Series never come in order, never. This is really annoying if your trying to check out new series or trying to catch up.

    While it might not happen with every delivery, a bad disc can really ruin things for you. I'd say I'm getting about 25% bad disks with only 1 not been replaceable.

    With the avaliability of the BT channel, the only reason to use this kind of service is for the quality of the video.

    I was a QF subscriber until i realised how much easier it would be to just watch on demand video on foxtel or from newsgroups.

    unfortunately i received way too many scratched discs or had to wait too long for what i wanted for it to be worth it...

    they had a good service though, just not for me with all the other options available to me.

      series not coming in order is a problem that has been recently rectified...

    this is great! i've been wondering about quickflix and whether or not to try it. everyone's comments assures me that i was right not to sign up.

    I too tried the Quickflix trial. My biggest complaint was range - Quite a few things (particularly Australian movies and TV Shows) that I just assumed they'd have weren't in their catalogue at all.
    Two examples: A Little Bit of Soul (A stupid but awesome movie where Geoffrey Rush is the devil worshipping Federal Treasurer) and The Hollowmen (the ABC series) were both unavailable.

    Same story as everyone, except I never personally signed up, my parents did, and they signed up with telstras dvd deliver service.
    The dvds were scratched and skipped all the time. One solution (though frowned upon) was to rip the dvd using handbrake and then put it on a flashdrive to play it.
    But seriously, BT is so much: 1. Faster, 2. Better quality, 3. Cheaper (obviously).

    I was a QF member for about 2 years then quit for 18 months and have recently signed up again for a $14.95 per month/one disc at a time plan.

    I agree with some of your comments though I think you're being unfair about the delivery speed - non-trial customers do receive better treatment than what you've described, especially if you have a large queue and (which increases the chance of them being able to send you something that is already within your own city each time).

    I use it to watch TV series mostly - things that are never going to be available in the one local DVD rental place we have left. I don't get hung up on watching the latest series as soon as it is released so for me this works well and for our household it's basically a replacement for FTA TV which we hardly bother with anymore - if there is a series we like the look of we add it to our QF queue and then we can watch the episodes in order rather than at the whim of the networks. We don't really care if it takes a few months for a series to make it from the TV to our mailbox (and I have to say that once they send you disc one of a TV show they're pretty good about following up with subsequent discs quickly - you don't get disc 1 then 10 other discs then disc 2).

    QF is MUCH better value for money than big pond in my experience

    I agree that when (if?) the NBN is available I'll be jumping on that delivery option but until then I'm reasonably happy with QF.

    long time subscriber on the 36$ plan and i could not be happier... i'm a full blown movie addict, and turn around on average 15 discs per month.. highest clocking in at 25... my only real complaint is things like the recent 5 day weekend, where i didn't see a new disc for over a week...

    I'm a bigpond movies subscriber. I've got over 1000 discs in my queue and I don't care about what order they come in, I'm just happy to have something that I can watch when there is nothing on the TV. Living in Rural Aus where my nearest DVD store was over 70ks away, it was a freaking life saver, not only could I get most of what I wanted to see (not at all possible in the "local" video store) it saved me a 70km drive. Now I only live 15ks from the local, but the range hasn't improved any, so I've kept the subscription and it keeps me entertained when there is nothing on TV.

    Also, I mark my discs as returned (indicating to bigpond to send me another) the minute I get them, so by the time I do pop them in the post a day or so later, the 3 day postal service is almost an immediate turn around.

    I would absolutely love a subscription service like Netflix streaming. Pity such a service doesn't exist at this point.

    I signed up after getting a free trial voucher from a friend. As we previously used to consume roughly one DVD/week from the rental store, at first it was the convenience factor that kept us coming back. Being an Anime fan, the first thing I did when the account changed over to the paid service was to queue up sequentially a number of series. It didn't take long before they started arriving out of sequence, and I was most disappointed by the response from Customer Service. Eventually I was told that I should "fill my queue with other DVD's and then after finishing one disc in the series, add the next and bump it up to the top, then wait."

    Apparently since then, you can queue series as "sets" that will ensure the order they are dispatched is correct, however having said that, I have unintentionally queued movies that had additional "special feature" discs, and have been sent said disc first instead of the actual movie one.

    Still doing the $7 for 2 months trial. I liked the novelty at first, but $20 a month for drip feeding of 2 discs at a time, not knowing what will arrive next. So a thumbs down for me. I can go down to my Blockbuster and hire 3 new release for $10 and I know what I've paid for. Quickflix seems to have some of the more unusual stuff like big range of BBC stuff, but if I really want it that badly it's sometimes going cheap at JB-Hifi or on BT.

    I love quickflix. I have only had one scratched disc, and it was not unwatchable. I have been using it for six months without fault.

    People who are saying "but you can get X amount of movies from X store for $X" are forgetting about late fees.

    I was happy until one day one of my movies got lost in the post when returning it. $30 a disc you have to pay.
    Trying to quit took 3 weeks, numerous phone calls and nobody answered.

    I am sorry. I don't understand why we don't have a premium on demand high quality download system in this country. Renting DVDs etc and waiting in the mail? Come on. If the movie/tv industry is at all interested in combatting Internet piracy where is the valid legal option?

    I think back to the music industry and the early napster days how long it took them to decided that making a legal channel that works and getting some money is better than none at all.

    I do not condone piracy, I believe that people should be paid for their work/art however being stuck in the mud and not providing a legal alternative is simply senseless if not just sticking your head in the sand and refusing to acknowledge the future.

    And don't say it can't happen until the nbn rolls out as using appropriate compression and ISP mirroring there should be no issues getting 720p in significantly less time than it takes to watch. Much better than the "craptch up tv" offerings presently that can't be ported to several devices.

    I use a game rental service (www.getgaming.com.au) and its great. Awesome turn around time and I spend $30 for 2 games a month instead of $150! Plus its unlimited.

    BTW not affiliated with them at all, just really like the service and think it is something people should look into.

    I was gifted the 2 month trial of QF at Christmas and in that time received around 25 DVDs and was quite happy with that.

    After the trial period I opted for the 1 DVD at a time unlimited plan @$14.95/mth expecting a maximum of 8 DVDs per month. The rate seemed to drop dramatically and averaged 5 for the next few months because more DVDs were sent from other capital cities and took up to 4 days to arrive rather than one if sent locally.

    I've now reduced to the 4 max/mth plan to see how this goes.

    Note that if you read the fine print the option to tick the 'Returned' box does not say they will immediately send your next DVD. It only guarantees to send it with 48 hours - this would only have any beneficial effect if the postage time on your returned DVD was unexpectedly long. It's basically a useless feature provided by QF.

    Next move? I'll wait and see if they can consistently deliver 4 DVDs a month!

    Note for NRMA members - ring up and ask for the 10% discount on your plan.

    Contrary to your report, I was annoyed by their cancellation process. You can't cancel online, you have to phone them during business hours. No reason for this other than it gives them a chance to offer you a discount to stay another month and ask you for the reason you are cancelling.
    It also meant for me that I missed to opportunity to cancel before the end of the month and was stuck with them for an extra month. Service providers like this should realise that they are more likely to generate positive word of mouth from ex-customers if the exit process is as functional as the rest of their service.

    Hi Angus (and other posters)

    Just a note to say thanks for taking the time to trial the Quickflix service recently and provide a comprehensive view on your experience.

    These kinds of comments and other forums are always a great source of feedback, as well as ideas for things that we can improve about the Quickflix service - and we take everything on board.

    To that end I just thought it would be worth letting you know that your (and others) comments about being able to pre-notify discs as being returned - we absolutely agree with.

    We have just deployed a product/service development whereby all members (incl. trialists) are now able to pre-notify us that the disc has been returned, and we will dispatch you a new one the next day (not waiting for the disc to come back to us / 48 hours as someone noted above).

    So yes, while we recognise that this will possibly lead to some gaming of this function, we also trust our members and trialists and want to showcase what we (and 70,000 other members) believe to be a great service at its best.

    Angus - thanks again for your constructive feedback - we appreciate it, and we listen.

    Hopefully you (and others) will stay tuned for new product and service initiatives in the months ahead - we've got a few to roll out that we think will make us the best value entertainment membership in Australia - exciting times ahead.

    Best regards

    Ben Hammond
    General Manager - Membership
    Quickflix Limited

    PS - if you, or anyone else wants to get in touch direct to provide further feedback, feel free - my email is [email protected]

    My quickflix one month trial is due to end in 3 days. According to their website, the only way to terminate the trial so as not to be charged a joining fee and being forced into an ongoing membership plan is to ring them on 1300138644. I have tried 20 times now today with no reply, only a recorded message and no response at all to selecting any of their seven options. This makes it impossible for me to cancel as they refuse to accept email cancellations. I have now lost total faith in this company and would definitely not recommend them.

    Hi Margaret - we haven't had any problems with the phones today and we offer a callback facility for any wait time over 2 minutes. My email is above - [email protected] - so feel free to email me your details and I'll make sure we get it sorted out over the weekend. Thanks! Ben Hammond - General Manager Membership. Quickflix.

    I've been with quickflix for a few years now. It's pretty much all we need. Watch movies on the weekends, drop them in the post box on mondays and by the next weekend we have another 3 ready to go. Movies are mainly for the kids and it's great for me because I don't have to have to put 3 yelling screaming kids in the car to go choose a movie from our local rental store. heard they are releasing a streaming service soon, anyone know when this will be released?

    Is there anyway to get them to send more than one disc from a boxset at a time? I'm on the two at a time plan with a 4 disc TV series as #1 in my queue and a movie at #2. I had hoped I would receive the first 2 discs of the series so I could watch the episodes non-stop, instead of one disc of the series and the movie.

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