How To Get The Best Out Of Your LoveFilm Experience – Take 2

I originally wrote an entry about how you can Maximise Your LoveFilm Experience back in September, with the idea of writing a second entry to expand on what I’d said at a later date, but a couple of months after I wrote that entry, LoveFilm changed things around a bit and made some of what I said retroactively inaccurate and pointless. So with that in mind, I’ve decided to combine the expansion with an updated, currently more relevant, improved version of the previous entry

(You don’t need to read the old entry, I’ll be repeating the still accurate and relevant details here, probably word for word.)

The original entry was brought to you by my Good Friend pointing out that my assisting him with his LoveFilming should be turned into a blog entry.

So here we are!

I am a LoveFilm user. I’ve been a member since August 2010, courtesy of my aforementioned Good Friend, who has been a member for at least two years before me. Which is why it was quite surprising for me to be giving him pointers on Maximising The Experience and not the other way around.

First of all, you need to be a proper DVD/Game buff to get your moneys worth. As advertised, you can get a basic service for the minimum of £4.99, but that only allows you to get one DVD at a time and a limit of two DVDs a month, and there’s No Online Viewing Time at all. The more up the price ladder you go, the service vs money spent evens out for you. Think of your average price of a Movie or a Boxset, plus P+P, and then compare it to the subscription fee. If you’re looking to get the latest releases but run the risk of your list always being at 10 Titles or less, this service won’t be for you. There is also an issue of Copyright/Renting Laws that I won’t go in to right now.

The service I originally signed up for was the Full Whack one costing £16.99 a month. I could have 3 DVDs out at a time, and an Unlimited amount of them per month. That service also gave me an Unlimited Online Viewing and access to many free films to watch Online.

With the other, lesser packages, you get a limit on the amount of films (and games) you have out at a time, and a maximum amount of films/games you can have per month. You also have access to less free films on the Online Viewing service, as well as a maximum time limit, measured by Minutes, to watch a film online. A bit like a PAYG Phone Tarriff.

The service I have now, I believe, is the Full Whack One +Loyalty Extras. All parts of the Full Whack Services apply, but with what I’ve come to believe is a Loyalty Extras Scheme, I can have Four Discs out at a time instead of the standard three. This means I can now get through a maximum of 12 Discs a week if the Returns/Sending Out system and Postal Service runs smoothly.

I will talk about what could happen when these doesn’t work smoothly a little bit later.

There’s not really a downside to being a part of the Loyalty Scheme, if infact that is what it is, but I have noticed that those who now have four discs instead of three are no longer entitled to Free Extra Disc Tokens. These are things that are part of LoveFilms FilmExtra scheme, which I’ll go into a bit later.

Due to the fact that I’m just a film buff and not much of a console gamer, I won’t be going into the Games side of it. With me never using those services, I don’t have experience with them, or any reason to look into them, to have any opinions or suggestions. All I can say about it is that, for anyone as out of the loop as I am, you can rent games from them for the following consoles: PS3, PS2, PSP, Xbox 360, Xbox, Wii, DS, and Gamecube. For further information, you will have to google it.

So, now we’ve established what account makes the service worth it and the best kind of customer for such a service, lets move on to the service itself.

There is no point filling your list with films you don’t want to see or be sent just for the sake of buffing up your title list so that you’re not sent annoying messages telling you that your list is low. That is why you need to be quite the TV/Movie fanatic. Prioritising does work, but it’s not perfect. To date. I’ve only ever been sent “low” priorities three times, but it can and does happen without the influencing circumstances that befell me:

Once was when I had a short list of about 15 Titles and most of them were either “Short Wait” or “Long Wait”, the second time was when I’d entered a competition. (I will talk about Competitions a bit later). The third time was recently, just before Christmas. I had a Total of five titles on my High Priorities and the rest on medium or low. In the “low” priority list was a Christmas film. The only Christmas-related film on my list. I’m thinking that they had a system where Christmas films were sent out, regardless of priority, to watch at the appropriate time of around Christmas.

Unfortunately for them, or maybe just me, I had no intention of watching that film at or around Christmas Time and was waiting for a less-appropriate time in the future to watch it. I’ll consider it a lesson learnt.

Which brings me on to my next point. To make sure you can influence the discs LoveFilm send you so much so that you’re mostly in control of what you get, use Lists wisely. Separate different Genres/Themes/Mediums if need be and then prioritise within those Lists.

For example, I’ve made sure all films are in a Films List, and the ones that I really want to see as soon as possible are Maximum Priority. I have a Selected Television Series list so that I can make my way through a TV Series one by one. Sequels to Films and other Television series waiting to be watched after the current one are in a “To Be Organised” list. I also have a Documentaries list. On the Edit Lists page, Disc symbols symbolise the amount of discs you should get from each list. I have two on the Selected Television Series, One on Film and the remaining one on Documentaries. You can have 10 Lists on the go at a time.
When lists get to Ten or Less Titles, you will be alerted as such and told to add more. Sometimes, due to high demand, short stock of certain titles, and/or some other variable, LoveFilm will make the executive decision to send out a title from another list or a title of a lower priority and they do their best not to go out of order on grouped series. If anything happens where they do go out of order, though, send them an email letting them know. They’ll tell you whether you should return the disc or what they can try and do to correct it for you.

There is a Subscription option where you can get five Titles at a time, with a total of ten discs total a month. It also comes with a maximum of 10 Hours of Online Viewing Time. I’m guessing that would work quite similar to my system, if you wanted to get more discs from your lists at a time, but the total of 10 Titles a month for £17.99 might not be worth it when you can get that many +more in the same time frame with the Full Whack £16.99 subscription.

Some good methods of always keeping your Lists above the minimum amount, apart from being a constant film buff, is cataloguing. Don’t know what that is? That’s ok, I think it’s something that I made up a few years ago.

It’s where you choose an actor or a director that you’ve liked the work of, and you rent their whole catalogue of films and TV shows they’ve ever been in/worked on. That gets you, on average, a good 10 films, and maybe two complete TV Series as well. Even if they’re just in one episode. Obviously if you know you won’t like the film or have already seen it, don’t add it; But it can be a great way to expand your viewing horizons, it gives you a reason to see films or shows you wouldn’t have otherwise seen.

I mentioned this to my Good Friend and he liked the idea, and then came up with a good idea himself. Get your friend, who may or may not have different tastes to you, to list all the films they hate and add all the ones you haven’t seen yet/don’t know whether you’ll like or not to your list.

Or if you do have similar tastes, ask a friend to list their top rated films and add those instead. Unless you’ve seen them, that is.

When there is a “Long Wait” or “Short Wait” on some Titles, I find it best to rejiggle the priorities around so that they’re medium or low priority, so that you have a higher choice of getting something Top Priority, instead of them potentially bypassing the next disc and choosing something you didn’t want to see just yet, or had better things to watch right then. As soon as they’re no longer classed as “Short Wait” or “Long Wait”, you can re-prioritise them to their previous position on the list.

Sometimes, things don’t go as well as they should. Sometimes it’s the Postal Service’s fault; post is sometimes delayed and some discs have been known to “go missing”, but when it’s LoveFilm’s fault, let them know. If there’s a faulty disc, it’s easy to report it and get a replacement. Depending on how your lists are set up and what list your disc is from, you might even get a second Disc along with the replacement. All you have to do is return the one that doesn’t work.

I’ll be honest, in all of the time I’ve been using LoveFilm, I’ve had to report a lot of discs as faulty, but their extra discs on replacement and prompt responses of Customer Service make up for it. What you have to remember is a LOT of people use LoveFilm, some discs will be worn from over play and some will be scratched by careless people. The same can go for any rental service.

Something I referred to earlier was that LoveFilm sometimes do competitions. Sometimes they’re to win merchandise, or free cinema tickets, or even a free subscription to LoveFilm. The prize more often than not, though, is an Extra Film Credit Token for their FilmExtra scheme. And most of the time, you get one just for participating.

Due to the rejiggle of accounts, I’m not sure how many accounts have access to this scheme. I’m 99.9% that Full Whack +Loyalty customers don’t. There’s a chance that Full Whack customers don’t either, from what I’ve worked out from feedback and comments on Twitter, but their site still lists FilmExtra in their FAQ so I’m pretty sure it hasn’t been fully eradicated.

Running purely on that assumption, here’s some information about how it works:

An Extra Film Credit Token is exactly what it says on the Tin. You get one, you use it, you get an extra Film sent out to you from your list. Usually it’s from your Top Priority, sometimes it can be from your Medium Priority. Once I got one from my low Priority, but I won the token after adding a bunch of films I had no intention of watching to my List, just because it would have got me a Token.

When it comes to those kind of competitions, here’s a sneaky tip. Add the films you need to, to your main list, but put them all on low priority. When you get your token for it, delete the films you added and make sure your list maximises the chances of you getting a title you really would like to see, then choose to use it.

When you have more then one Token to be used, wait a good two weeks before using one token after another, because adding an extra film can make it go a bit wonky, in a good way, for a few Dispatches. And don’t worry, if a token disc arrives faulty, reporting it won’t lose you the extra film.

Last but not least, the CopyRight/Renting Law Issues I mentioned at the beginning of this entry. There is a problem between Universal Pictures and LoveFilm in the UK, just as there is with Netflix in America. Even if you reserve Universal Movies and they stay in your Reserve list until the day of release, once it’s been released, any and all Universal DVDs will be “Buy Only.” This is why you need more than just Coming Soon or New Releases on your lists, you’ll end up getting less than your moneys worth if you’re waiting for new releases to come out if they’re made by Universal Pictures.

For more indepth information on that, google it, because it’s a very involved topic that I just wouldn’t do justice by summing it up here. You just have to remember that the lack of Universal options aren’t purely LoveFilm’s fault. Many people don’t seem to understand that, and they end up reviewing the titles with complaints on the matter. Doing that is both pointless and wrong, because all that does is skew the title’s popularity rating and makes it seem all LoveFilm’s fault.

I hope I’ve been of help. If you’re not a member yet and my entry has tempted you to become one, I can get you a month free trial. Just drop a comment with your email (I’ll delete it straight afterwards if you’d like) and I’ll get back to you with the referral link.

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