Monthly Archives: August 2010

Zip.ca online DVD rental service: Just one user’s opinion

*This review was posted by me a while ago and I have had people ask me if it is still relevant – if I still feel the same way about Zip.ca today? The answer to that is ‘yes, I do’, so if you feel like trying out the service after reading my review – go ahead! To get a better idea of whether zip.ca is right for you, you really need about a month to try it out; if you want to try it out for one month for free, just let me know by sending an email to admin@webwreckage.com and I will ‘hook you up’ by having ZIP.CA send you out an invite for a one month free trial to save you a bit of money! As well, if you do email me for an invite, I will also send you a short email with some info on how to collect enough of the zip rewards points that members get so that you can redeem them for stuff like free express movie rentals, an extra free rental slot for a month or even a free month of service.*

If you have recently become aware of the Canadian online DVD rental service known  as Zip.ca and have been considering maybe signing up for the service to give it ashot and see what it’s like, then you have probably been looking around for some reviews of it as well to get an idea of current customer satisfaction with the service.  There is apparently no shortage of reviews out there for Zip.ca and going with the caveat that most people are usually motivated to post opinions or reviews of a service online when they have a negative experience, many of the reviews are, not surprisingly, on the negative side. For every review that you might come across that says to the effect, ‘the service has been okay, I have had no problems with them’, you will find two or three that claim to have had some kind of disappointment or another with the service.

To be fair Zip.ca is in the service industry and like with any company in the service industry, you can expect vocal criticism whenever you start to underperform or fail to meet a customer’s expectations of service.  I won’t go into detail here save to say that most of the negative reviews I have read make mention of a disappointment with or a perceived unreliability of the service.

I cannot confirm or deny these individual experiences (obviously) but I have to say that it is a really weird situation for me when I come across this kind of  feedback only because I have been a customer of Zip for a few years now – I think I joined back in late 2007, and for the life of me I can’t really think of any really bad or disappointing experiences with the company or its service in that time.  For the record, I started out on the three movies out at any one time plan but after a while I downgraded to the two movies out at any one time plan because it suited my needs just as well. (also I learned how to earn enough free zip points every month or two to trade them in for an extra movie rental slot, effectively upgrading my two rental slot plan into a three rental slot plan at no extra charge)

I won’t try and say that I have never run into any frustration at all during my time as a member with Zip, just that any problem that I have had has been dealt with efficiently and  (most importantly) to my satisfaction.  True, I have received a damaged DVD in the mail from them on at least two separate occasions that I can recall, but both times I just followed their online reporting process without any hassle and was sent a replacement for the movie in question very soon afterwords with the replacement not being counted towards my limit of movies I could have out at any one time (kind of as away of them saying ‘sorry about the inconvenience’).  I have never lost a DVD while a member so  I cannot say how they would treat me with that issue but I like to think it would be in a similarly professional manner.  I hope it never comes up of course, lol.  I guess it comes down to a company having a very large customer base because they are the bigger of the companies offering the service up here in Canada and that with so many customers the odds are that a proportion of them will be very dissapointed with the service.

When someone complains about the speed of the delivery of the movies in the mail, I say factor where you live into the equation: if you live in or near one of their DVD processing centers (such as Toronto, Ottawa or Vancouver) then you will experience a faster turnaround time between returning movies and getting your next ones then if you live somewhere more remote – however your remote location might also make renting from a local video store something of an effort, too.  In fact, because I live in Vancouver most of the time I am getting my DVDs in the mail at least a day earlier than expected based on their estimated arrival times  – even the ones that are being sent to me from Eastern Canada.  I think it really helps speed up the delivery of your next movie if you log onto the Zip website and let them know on your ziplist page that you returned one of the movies that you had out because otherwise they wont send out anymore until they get one back.  This seems logical enough to me but whatever.

Another complaint has been about people getting the movies sent to them from their list that they had on there but did not really care as much about seeing – in other words they were getting movies that they were only half-hearted about watching because they had been put on the list a while ago or only as an afterthought while browsing the zip.ca catalog.  Honestly, a movie want list is going to be like anything else: you get what you put into it.  If you put junk titles in you will probably get junk titles out of it;  I think many people probably tend to forget that the movies are on the list in the order that you add them to it and that the order of these movies can be edited by the user/member,  so if you dont make the effort to regularly update the ranking of the movies in your list or even maybe prune it of movies that you no longer really want to be on it,  you are probably going to be sent the films that you put on there a while ago and which you might not be so high on anymore.  For myself, I am regularly adding to my ziplist, re-ordering the ranking of the movies based on how badly I want to see them, and making sure that I still actually want to watch the movies or television series that are on there.  Nothing sucks like getting a movie or show in the mail, opening it up and realizing that it is something that you dont really care about anymore and that it will probably just sit around your living room for awhile taking up a slot on your rental plan.  You can easily avoid this with a little effort.  Conversely,  making sure to highly rank a TV series that you want to watch and which you will probably burn through or watch quickly means that you will end up getting more rentals watched in a month, making the average cost per rental lower.

Sure enough online video rentals is not the way to go for everyone or at least not a sufficient enough replacement for the local video store for some households; those with kids in the home would probably still find themselves making the trip out to the  rental store to get the movies that the kids really want to see.  But for those people who dont care as much about  getting to the local video store to pinpoint the exact title that they will be watching that night as much as the basic idea of having a movie to watch that night, then an online movie rental service is likely a viable and economical alternative for them.

One other issue that some have had with Zip is the fact that they keep your account open and your credit card info on file in case you decide to reopen your account with them in the future, in fact they encourage you to suspend or pause your account as an alternative to canceling. Obviously this is an attempt to keep customers and maybe to have them reactivate their accounts in the future.  It does not surprise me that a company would try and ‘keep the door open’, so to speak since business never wants to lose a customer. Is it ethical?  Only you can decide that for yourself. Personally, if I ever canceled my account with Zip and it was in good standing at the time with no future expenses expected, I would have no problem contacting my credit card company and telling them to prevent zip from using my CC again in the future.

So if you are looking for feedback on Zip.ca and you ended up here, then I can tell you that so far so good for me.  Will I stay with them much longer? I  probably will because I am useless at remembering what I want when  I actually go to my local video store, plus their selection is no where near as good as what Zip has to offer.

One final thing I would like to say is that I think that the 14 day/two week free trial period that Zip.ca and apparently almost all other online DVD rental service companies offer is not the best way to judge if something like this is going to be right for you.  I think that a 30 day period would be much, much better, and luckily enough, as a current member of Zip I have a way of  letting anyone who is interested try out the service for free for a whole 30 days.  The reason for this is that  Zip has recently given its members like me a chance to send out invites to use their online dvd rental service for free for 30 days; this is just like getting a Zip.ca promo code that lets someone try the service free for 30 days since it is another way to help entice more new members. The idea here is that they want their members to pass the invite on to anyone that they think might be interested in trying the service for at least a month.

If you think that you would like to try the Zip.ca online DVD rental service free for 30 days then let me know by sending me an email at  admin@webwreckage.com and I will have Zip.ca send you out the invite to a 30 day free trial.  **Remember to include the email address that you want me to reply to otherwise I will just have the invite sent to the email address that you contacted me with.