If you rent movies, you are used to going to your local movie rental store for all your rentals. Not that there's anything wrong with that. The Mom and Pop stores have pretty much given way to the rental behemoths, with large selections waiting for you.A few months ago I did something I'm almost ashamed to admit: I clicked on a banner ad. As horrific as it sounds, it transformed the way I rent movies forever! It was a Netflix ad with a trial offer to take a test run of their mail order process. What the heck, I thought, it's only $6.99 for one month's worth of two movies. It seemed very reasonable and I'd heard so much about Netflix that I electronically signed on the dotted screen line. They recently dropped the fee to $4.99 a month!Since then, I have no regrets whatsoever. The entire process is extremely easy and actually enjoyable, as I don't have to:- drive to the rental store; with gasoline approaching $3.00 a gallon, you can easily add that amount to the cost of your movie if your store is roughly ten miles from your house.- wade through the crowds at the store; nor stand in line behind the crowds. - be disappointed when I see my top pick isn't available; they never seem to have enough copies of what I want to see.- second-guess what my alternate choice should be; you can't always tell from the movie jacket if it's a good pick or not.- return it by a specified date. The Netflix web site is very easy to navigate, is personalized for you, and has a lot of functionality. The movie genres are categorized for easy browsing, and the search function is superb. For instance, if you are interested in the new releases and clicked on the tab, Flags of Our Fathers might catch your eye. When you place your mouse cursor on the jacket illustration, a popup window gives you a good synopsis of the move, and also includes the actors, the director, the genre, and the rating -- A very handy feature to help you decide.It also has a viewer rating, based on actual ratings supplied by other renters. But, it doesn't stop there. Click on the movie, and you get an awesome amount of detailed information about the movie. Previews of the movie are also provided
What I really like are the reviews. There are two types included: the critic reviews and the member reviews. Each has ratings of its own. As I don't always trust the critics, I gravitate to the member reviews. You can then see why other people liked or disliked the movie. You can't do that in a rental store! When you decide on a movie, you click on the "add" button and it's inserted into your queue. If it's the first time doing this, it will be at the head of the line. Any movies you select afterward will go behind it. But, you can always easily change the sequence in your list. I signed up for the two rentals per month schedule, which is the basic level. My monthly schedule begins on the 29th of each month. Now here's another neat feature Netflix provides: they email you on the day your movie is shipped. You also get an email when they receive your movie back. It's done like clockwork and really amazed me.There are no due-dates and no late fees, either. It's all done in the comfort of your home and at your leisure.Because of the large number of distribution warehouses, Netflix can get the movie to you in two days. I live in a rural area and get the movie the same day that the email indicates. I save all my emails in a Netflix folder on my PC just in case, but Netflix has a "rental activity" tab where you can check on the movies you have out and the ones you've returned.I've been a member for five months now and have not had a single problem. The owner of the company, Reed Hastings, is the epitome of the American success story.He was interviewed on TV and related the genesis of Netflix. It seems he got into trouble with his wife when she found a rental movie that was seriously overdue. And it wasn't his first time being late with returns. So one day, he decided to try something: he put a CD in an envelope and addressed it to himself. He didn't believe it would survive intact in the postal system. When he got his CD back, it was fine. That started him on the path to a movie rental empire, with over 6.3 million subscribers and a DVD title list that exceeds 75,000!Oh yeah, I forgot to mention that the return postage is on him. What a deal!