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There have been a growth in DVD hire websites over the past few years providing a different service to what we all used to for many years before that - the traditional but unconventional video stores.
With video stores, we hired perhaps a couple of films for £2-3 each for a stated period of time, usually a night or two. How many times we all have done this, we panicked, realising that we have forgotten to take the videos/dvd back to the store and rushing at night time to post them, phew - won't have to pay late fee.
Once or twice, I even sent some back after not having time to watch it for myself.
As I said, some websites have popped up providing a solution to this, there are a several, such as Screenselect, Blockbuster, Amazon, Tesco, Easy Cinema and of course Lovefilm
** WHAT IS LOVEFILM **
Lovefilm is a website which provides a DVD rental service to registered members for a fixed monthly fee, renting a certain number of DVDs at a time, depending on the package you chose when joining. For most packages, you can rent unlimited number of DVDs in a month.
Lovefilm also provides some other rental services such as PS2 & PSP games as well as UMD films (for PSP). You can also purchase some films from the website. In this review, I will only be covering my experience and opinion on the DVD rental service as for I have not used the other services to date.
The website address is www.lovefilm.com
** REGISTERING **
If you are unsure about joining permanetely and want to have a taster of the services for a short period, you can - Lovefilm offers a free trial membership, at this time of writing, the trial period is for 14 days of unlimited DVD rentals.
To get the free trial, you need to register with Lovefilm and you would have to provide some details such as email address, name, address and your bank details. You also would need to chose which package (explained later) you would like to use.
They won't charge you during the trial period, the bank details is purely for security reason also for paying the monthly fee if you decide to continue with the membership.
They accept all kind of major cards such as Visa, Mastercard, Maestro, Switch, Delta, Solo and Electron.
IF you decide nearly at the end of the free trial that you don't want to continue the membership, you can easily cancel either by using the website online or by calling them.
** THE PACKAGES **
There are currently 11 different packages that you can chose from when joining but only 6 of them are available for free trial membership, these are....
DVD RENTALS ---------------------- 'Lite-2 per Month' - One dvd rental at a time with limit of two rentals a month - £4.99 per month (NOT available for free trial) ------- 'Lite-4 per Month' - Up to two dvd rentals at a time with limit of four rentals a month - £7.95 per month (NOT available for free trial) ------- 'Lite-6 per Month' - Up to three dvd rentals at a time with limit of six rentals a month - £9.95 per month (NOT available for free trial) ------- 'Unlimited 1' - One dvd rental unlimited - £9.99 per month (available for free trial) ------- 'Unlimited 2' -
Pictures of Lovefilm.com(film)
Two dvd rentals unlimited - £12.99 per month (available for free trial) ------- 'Unlimited 3' - Three dvd rentals unlimited - £14.99 per month (available for free trial) ------- 'Unlimited 4' - Four dvd rentals unlimited - £19.99 per month (NOT available for free trial) DVD & GAMES RENTALS ------------------------------------ Combination 1 - One dvd/game rental, unlimited - £12.99 per month (available for free trial) ------- Combination 2 - Two dvd/game rentals, unlimited - £16.99 per month (available for free trial) ------- Combination 3 - Three dvd/game rentals, unlimited - £19.99 per month (available for free trial) ------- Combination 4 - Four dvd/game rentals, unlimited - £24.99 per month (NOT available for free trial)
** HOW DOES THE DVD HIRE SERVICE WORKS ? **
It is pretty simple and painless, depending on what package you chose, for the sake of explaination, I've chosen 'Unlimited 3' for 3 DVDs at a time for £14.99.
All you need to do is to log onto the webite after you have completed the registeration process. On the website, you can chose films that you would like to hire, and there are thousands to chose from.
You need to create a list of DVDs that you would like to hire, it is recommended to have at least 20 films on the list.
As soon as you have DVDs chosen on your list, Lovefilm will instantly proceed and chose 3 DVDs from the listing and send them out to you.
You would receive them in the post, no signatures needed. Once you have watched the films, you can send the DVDs back (they will provide you with freepost envelope), or perhaps you would like to hold onto the DVD for a little longer to show family or friends.
After sending the DVDs back to Lovefilm, and as soon as they receive them, they will proceed to send you the next films on your listing.
You don't have to send all three DVDs at once, you can send one by one if you like, if you send back one and keep two, they will send you one new DVD. The process just simply repeat and repeat unless you stop the service.
** CHOOSING YOUR FILMS **
The process of chosing your films to go onto your DVD list can not be any simplier, all you need to do is browse around the website, either by using the search feature or using the genre menu on the left side of the website.
Once you find a DVD that you would like to hire, just simply click on the orange "RENT NOW" button that is very visible below every images.
Made a mistake chosing a film you didn't really want to chose ? No worries, just click on the same button, which should say "ADDED" by now - doing so will reverse the selection.
When you have chosen a film, three options will appear next to the button asking you what your priority is for the particular film you want to rent, options are High, Med and Low. Obviously, High would mean you really want to watch the particular film as soon as possible, and vice versa for Low.
** ORGANISING YOUR LISTING **
After chosing your films, you can organise your listing to your liking. You can chose in what order you'd like to receive the films, but it is not guaranteed, depending on whether they have the film in stock or not - IF your top choice DVD are currently dispatched to other people, they will chose the next film in the listing.
To organise your listing, click on "Rental Queue" button just below the website logo. You should see a list of films that you have just chosen.
To change the order of the films, just simply change the priority selection, for instance you want to speed up the choice you had on Low, just click on High for that film, then click on "Update Queue" to put the change in effect.
** USING FASTTRAK **
The listing is organised by your priority, however, you can use FastTrak option on some selected films. You are given certain number of FastTrak credits every month (depends on your package), and to use your FastTrak credit, you can click on the radio option where available and click on "Update Queue".
What is it for ? Right, it is to ensure that it WILL be one of your next DVDs as Lovefilm will hold the FastTraked DVDs 48 hours beforehand.
** DELIVERIES **
In my experience, the sending and receiving of DVDs has been flawless, I usually receive the next DVDs about 2-3 days after sending previous ones, which I think is as fast as they could possibly do it.
When you receive your DVDs, the DVDs are packaged in unique way which you can open the flap, tear the flap and throw it away, take the DVD from the envelope to watch it, and when you're ready to post it back - just put the DVD back into the envelope and peel off the adhesive tape, fold the flap to seal it, then post it.
The postage are free and first class to ensure that there will be no problem sending them back and quickly.
IF you receive a DVD which is a mistake (you didn't chose it) or not working, you can send them back and tick in relevant box which appears on the back of the envelope to let Lovefilm know about it.
** OTHER SERVICES **
DETAILS -------------- There are excellent information on the DVDs available such as reviews, genre, director, casts, runtime, sounds, subtitles, etc. You can also read other people's reviews of the film, just in same way as we do with products here on Ciao. You can contribute your own review if you have seen the film.
If you feel undecided even after reading all information & review on a film, you can always check out the trailers they have on most films, to watch them, just simply click on "Watch Trailer" button.
The trailer uses WMP (Windows Media Player) and views better with broadband, however if you're not on broadband, there's option available to watch a different and smaller trailer.
RATING ------------ As I mentioned, you can write reviews on films you have seen, but there is also a rating system which you can enter your likeness of the film. The options are - Unwatchable, Hated It, Didn't Like It, Watchable, Liked It, Loved It & A Mastepiece.
It is very easy to rate the films, all you need to do is chose your rating and click.
EDITING YOUR PREFERENCE -------------------------------------------- You can edit your account to suit, especially if you're a family person. You can set the account to only show / allow films with certain BBFC rating such as 18 after entering a PIN number, otherwise unaccessible. This is useful if you allow your child to browse the website and chose some films they would like.
Other account preference include ability to edit whether you'd like the rating option to be available or not, or to have the trailer to autoplay, etc.
DOWNLOAD ------------------- Instead of waiting for the DVDs in the post, you could download some select films, either to own or for rent. Some extra charges might be applicable for this. I can't provide my opinion on this as I have never used this service before.
RECOMMENDATIONS -------------------------------- You can click on "Recommendations" button on top of the page to view recommended films which the system choice for you based on how you have rated similar films in the past. I have found this feature useful sometimes, especially in discovering good but unknown films.
ACCOUNT FREEZING -------------------------------- There is one feature that Lovefilm provides that I find VERY useful, if there's time when I am too busy to watch the films, going away on holiday or perhaps have a little cashflow problem, I can easily get onto the website and freeze the account for specific period of time - the account will be frozen as soon as they receive all DVDs back.
You can freeze the account for up to 60 days. If you happen to decide that you want to start again before the set date, you can easily get on website again and re-activate the account.
Should you feel that after 60 days you still want to keep it frozen, you can do the process again.
This feature means that I never feel pressured to carry on or to cancel the membership.
** COMPETITIONS **
In comparison to Lovefilm's competitions, Blockbusters Online and ScreenSelect, whom both I have had a trial with too, Lovefilm comes on top easily overally.
Although both Blockbusters and Screenselect are just as effective and quick with postage as Lovefilm is, their websites, I found somewhat difficult to navigate in comparison to Lovefilm's.
According to some sources, Lovefilm also have better range of titles to chose from.
** OVERVIEW **
The prices for these three main DVD rental websites are pretty similar, but there is no other website that provides as much titles and cheaper. In conclusion, there's no other better website than Lovefilm.
Why should you go for it ? Because you will save LOADS by using Lovefilm rather than using a store. In a month, I often rent out about 15 films a month with Lovefilm, for £14.99. If I did that by using a store, renting 15 films, it would have cost me around £40 - and there's no pressure on returning either.
So these who goes to a store regularly, I'd wholly recommend using Lovefilm instead and save yourself lot of bother, time and money.
To share my tip on making the most of the rentals, just watch one DVD at a time, send it back and whilst waiting for replacement, watch the other one. That way you won't have to send all three back at same time and wait for 3 days for the next ones.
I hope I have covered all essential information that I need to provide about Lovefilm, but if it happens that you spotted some missing information, do not hesitate to put in comment and I'll edit the review wherever applicable.
Want to ask Lovefilm some enquiries ? Write to them here....
Customer Services FREEPOST RRAZ-ZJJS-XESH LOVEFiLM International Ltd Peterborough PE2 6UG
Excellent Review and Site, I've had about 9 months free rentals now :D
nobodyhome 02.10.2007 14:47
Good, well-written review but I can't agree with you. I was with Love Film for around five months - awful customer service, and poor service after the free period has finished. Rarely received the DVDs I wanted and they stopped sending discs out when my 'wanted' list dropped below the recommended 20 discs - effectively, for about a week, I was paying for a service I didn't receive. They also make it difficult to cancel membership, and I had to pay for an extra month because of this.