Su Tech Ennui: January 2008

Monday, January 21, 2008

Good customer service experience with Netflix

The overall theme of this blog is that there's really no excuse for crap software and the needlessly wasted hours we spend working around it. So I felt a blog post coming on this morning when I discovered that Netflix "Watch Now" wasn't working on my laptop, and I had spent several hours researching the problem on the net, and of course on the Netflix web site.

Getting nowhere, I finally gave up and tried the last resort of all techies - calling the support line (something you never expect to work...) and of course, what should happen but an hour and a quarter later I hung up the phone, tired of waiting for someone to pick up.

Well, while researching the problem, I had accidentally come across the blog of Netflix's CIO, and I'd noticed that a couple of people had posted requests there for help with netflix problems and appeared to have received satisfactory help. So somewhat apologetically I did the same because I'd pretty much spent the day on this problem (my day off work - MLK) and was getting somewhat frustrated.

I was much surprised and delighted when later that afternoon Netflix called me and a very competant young man, Matthew, worked out exactly what my problem was and pointed me at the solution.

Good work, and credit due to Netflix.

Now, for anyone else who bought the Walmart "Black Friday" Acer portable (model 5315-2153) who finds that they get a blank screen when watching Netflix Watch Instantly (and for the benefit of other Googlers looking for a solution, 'black screen' when watching 'Netflix Watch Now'), here's the cause and the solution:

At some point you've updated your Intel 965 Chipset driver, and picked up the October 2007 one. This breaks Watch instantly and apparently some other things such as Second Life!

A later driver (10th Jan 2008) can be found as follows:

Start with Googleing for upgrade intel 965 driver acer aspire 5315 which will take you to an Intel support page.

Select the drop-downs: graphics/laptop graphics controllers/965 express chipset family/advanced windows users

This takes you to a form for email requests - but we're only interested in the link to "download" which is above the form.

Select "Windows vista home basic 32 bit", and download "Intel graphics
media accelerator driver for windows vista 32 (exe)

Running this exe (as Administrator) installs smoothly, and on reboot, Netflix Watch Instantly is now working just fine.

Kudos to netflix for knowing the problem; minus several thousand brownie points to Intel (and Acer) for releasing a driver update that breaks stuff.

PS Matthew explained that the delays in answering the support line were uncharacteristic and due to a huge influx of new folks all trying Watch Instantly for the first time.