Lovefilm: our review

lovefilm dvd rental

Lovefilm are now one of the UK's only options for DVD rental by post.

Find more about their streaming option Amazon Instant in this review or read on to find out more about their old school physical disc options.

We've been covering that part of the business since 2004 so this review is a definitive look at their strengths and weaknesses including customer service and those all important prices.

How it works

Since their streaming service became Amazon Instant in February 2014, Lovefilm have only offered one pay monthly rental package.

The deal is for two discs out at a time with unlimited discs every month and differs only depending on whether or not you have Amazon Prime, their £79 a year free shipping deal.

DVD rental by post with Prime or Prime Instant Video£6.99More details
DVD rental by post without Prime or Prime Instant Video£7.99More details
Amazon Instant Video£5.99 a month or £79 a year with PrimeMore details

This change means that there's no longer any way to rent games through Lovefilm and the pay as you go rental option has also bitten the dust.

30 day free trial

What is still going is Lovefilm's long running 30 day free trial which gives new users enough time to test drive the service.

Cancelling before the end of the free trial, or later, is pretty painless. It can be done online via your Amazon account with no need to call to confirm/face a sales pitch.

Cancellation will take effect from the next billing cycle (e.g. if you miss the end of the free trial deadline you will be charged for a month's service).

Also remember that, as with any by post service, outstanding DVDs must be returned before the end of the free trial or before the end of the next billing cycle to avoid being charged for another month.

Cheaper elsewhere?

There's only one other DVD rental by post site in the UK now, since Blockbuster stopped rental by post in late 2013, Cinema Paradiso.

They are more expensive than Lovefilm but they do have more options. Here are their deals:

Two discs at once, four a month £6.98. More details
Two discs at once, six a month £9.98. More details
Two discs at once, unlimited £11.98. More details
Four discs at once, unlimited £22.98. More details

The other option, of course, is online streaming. At this point it's much more convenient, cheaper and easier than DVD rental by post but the downsides are:

Is Lovefilm any good?

Lovefilm is still one of the best ways to rent DVDs by post.

DVD library

Lovefilm have over 80,000 DVDs (including bonus discs) on their shelves, almost every single DVD currently available for rental in the UK.

In fact Jason Norris Lovefilm's Online Marketing Manager told us that, "if for some reason we didn't have a title, members can request we get hold of it and we will try. This is something we will always try. The usual reason we do not have a title is that it is not out in UK format region 2."

Sometimes titles are unavailable, however. For example, a few years ago a spat between Lovefilm and Universal Pictures resulted in many mainstream titles being unavailable for a number of months.

Online streaming

Lovefilm's streaming library used to be included with most rental packages.

Now, though, Amazon Instant Video is a separate service that's available for £5.99 a month.

Customer experience: online and on TV

Cleanly designed, without n'er a broken link in sight, the ability to look for rental films through the Amazon website is definitely one of Lovefilm's biggest assets.

It's exceptionally easy to navigate around, add titles to a rental queue and find answers to common problems - in other words, do all the things that'll allow you to get hold of the films and games you want with as little stress as possible.

We're also pleased to see that Lovefilm have taken a leaf out of Cinema Paradiso's book and added in multiple rental lists to make it easier to manage your DVD rental subscription when you're sharing.

Customer service

As you might have gathered, the vast majority of feedback we've got about Lovefilm down the years - and certainly, our own experience - is very positive.

For such a big company, that's pretty impressive.

When we do hear complaints it's usually about speed of turnaround.

This complaint is worrying because, for unlimited users, the faster titles arrive the better the value for money.

Lovefilm have admitted to 'throttling' very heavy users of their unlimited service but we would note that users should remember that Lovefilm are constrained by the service of the Royal Mail, so don't expect discs to arrive faster than a 1st class letter would.

Comments

1
31 August 2016
growltigerkat

I have to say I've been with Lovefilm since they started and never had a complaint about them and they rarely sent me damaged dvds. A few were lost in the post but i simply filed a postal report and they carried on or didn't. I didn't have to follow up. Since they've been with Amazon I do have a complaint: it's very hard to contact them for any reason. It took me a long time to discover I could chat with Amazon online and they would get in touch with Lovefilm by Post to report the issue and clear it up. I think it's the best but I do wish they would go back to dealing directly with their customers. The company was very friendly, easy-going and it's why I've stayed with them for 20+ years. What I hate about streaming is it's so hard to find foreign films that aren't recent and the same with the classic films. But Prime is better than Netflix for my purposes because mostly Netflix is action/blockbusters and almost totally commercial. I do like the Netflix serials like Breaking Bad but I'd rather avoid them as they're so addictive and I can't stop watching till I've completed the series. Often I'm happier with a B vintage film on utube than a slick US action movie but I'd love to know some sites you recommend like Lovefilm. Mubi is okay but my adobe flash didn't work for over a year and when I looked at it the other day there wasn't a single film I hadn't already seen. They're the other extreme to Netflix: over-intellectual but often something truly rewarding slips into the mix which makes it worth joining. Also it's pretty cheap or was when I land joined. I'm surprised most of you had so many complaints about Lovefilm. I wish they were a laid back film buff outfit too. One size fits all is the attitude of Amazon and Netflix because they're in it for the profit not the films so they don't cater to people like me. If you come across any outfit that does, please let me know. Thanks.

2
20 May 2015
Nicholas Scott

One important thing you haven't mentioned in your analysis - streaming looks inferior to the (blu) disc every time. The bigger the TV, the worse it gets. Projection? Forget it. Just saying.

3
20 January 2013
Oly Shipp

Yes, I really like using LoveFilm - and I'm a bit gutted to realise they are part of Amazon. As I have (slightly reluctantly) promised to boycott Amazon until they pay their fair share of taxes, I'm now looking for another provider - any recommendations?

(At first it can be hard to find alternatives to Amazon, they have such a grip on the UK market for most things - but I'm now starting to find all sorts of other providers, often better and sometimes even better value than Amazon).

4
20 January 2013
Brutto

I agree with most of what you have written, but I feel you should mention you cannot stream onto an android tablet, (with Netflix you can).

5
22 March 2012
cheatedgoat

I have to say that whilst I've generally been happy with Lovefilm's service - I agree with Martin's comment about the number of damaged DVDs received. Yes they are quick to respond and to replace the unplayable DVD.

However the biggest let down is when they send the replacement as part of the next rental pack. So what this means is if I send back a damaged DVD I always get one less DVD that month. Each time it happens I email them to the fact and add a note on the offending DVD but to know avail... Gets my goat!

6
19 February 2012
Lucy

I've been with Tesco DVD that is run by Lovefilm for years and I have finally cancelled my membership as I am fed up being sent DVDs that are faulty or that don't play properly on an ongoing basis. The one good thing about them though is that they are quick to send out DVDs as soon as they receive the previous DVD back, and while customer service kept giving out freebies if there is a problem, I would have preferred to have received a better service, DVD wise for the amount of time I was their customer. Needless to say I found a cheaper service and even if the DVD turnaround time is not as fast as Lovefilm, as long as they send me clean DVDs in good condition, they will have me as a customer for a long time.

7
26 January 2012
Tony

This is our first time renting DVDs with Lovefilm - but we need Audio Described DVDs because my wife is blind.

Starting from about 70,000 titles there appear to be only 624 Audio Described titles on their website. We borrowed a copy of "The Kings Speech" from friends which did have AD but according to Lovefilm it didn't have AD.

I pursued this with Lovefilm and they pointed out that they can only print the information the distributor gives them contractually - this was obviously inaccurate data in this case. I tried to get a contact at Lovefilm to talk to but they were not forthcoming.

Has anybody else found this lack of disability access a problem and does anyone have an alternative source for more accurate information please?

Thanks

26 January 2012
Choose team

We covered a recent story on a disability access issue for people who are deaf or hard of hearing regarding a lack of subtitles here - <a></a> We're Left Out by Lovefilm, say Hearing Impaired.

8
29 December 2011
Luigi

I was very happy with Lovefilm until I bought a Smart TV... Then the nightmare started. Watching online movies is nearly impossible and Lovefilm is being helpless despite all my calls and emails. Pity...

9
2 December 2011
Claudia

I agree with everything you say about LoveFilm in your review - on paper it's terrific, but have you tried watching an online movie on a Friday night? Or just accessing their www on a Friday night? Or any peak time for that matter? What a joke - their server is too busy to cope so there you sit, all set up to enjoy your monthly membership perks and you can't watch a damn thing. Frustrating doesn't begin to describe it. Feels like a complete con.

2 December 2011
Choose team

We're soon to be reviewing the LoveFilm streaming service in more depth so we'll be taking your comments into account and testing the service on a Friday night.

It is worth bearing in mind that peak Internet times such as Friday evenings are busy generally and it could also be traffic being slowed by your broadband provider. It might be worth looking at our <a href="http://www.choose.net/media/guide/features/broadband-fair-use-policies.html" rel="nofollow">article here</a>, which shows broadband fair use policies by provider and seeing how your ISP is listed.

10
25 September 2011
Louis

Lovefilm is great for me. I save loads of money by renting games and always find something good to watch from the online streaming service. I had a few DVDs from them and not had any problem with them. The service is quick, good customer support and the only thing I would really like to see is they bring it to the Xbox 360.

11
21 September 2011
Capt Beekie

Was with Lovefilm who have excellent customer service and fast turn around in discs but moved to Blockbuster because of the irritating amount of films not available through the Universal dispute (20 films from this distributor alone at point of moving).

Blockbuster are also very good though occassionally are a day slower turning the discs around, don't have as good website and customer service is not as transparent. The online streaming options are also not offered by Blockbuster though the quality was absolute rubbish anyway and you can forget HD quality let alone DVD quality - unwatchable on a projector! I'll happily return to Lovefilm once they finally sort their silly dispute out but for now Blockbuster edges it on films available - Kick Ass, Inglorious Bar Stewards, Scott Pilgrim, Public Enemy, etc - the list goes on.

12
18 September 2011
Boomhaueruk

Have to say the 'no Universal pictures' thing is getting a bit irritating as a Lovefilm customer. I've been quite happy with the rest of it.

It's not just films that are affected though - anything distributed by Universal since 2009 gets affected to - so for example Not Going Out Series 1 and 2 are, Series 3 and 4 aren't. BBC TV programmes of course, but since they're distributed by Universal...no go.

And, of course, there's the issue of quite a high scratched disc rate - though I've no idea if Blockbuster and Cinema Paradiso do this too, to be fair and Lovefilm quickly send you out a replacement if you report a scratched disc. Quite pleased in general - not enough not to be trying out Blockbuster quickly once my subscription runs out.

13
25 July 2011
Donnies

Well, I think it's pretty good.

14
12 July 2011
Notsure ifIlovefilm

I don't get all this talk about renting dvds in the post. Surely these days it's easier, quicker and better overall (no scratches) to just stream the movie off the site? Or is this rubbish?

I am interested in checking out Lovefilm only for the streaming aspect. Apple's iTunes streams very quickly and smooth so is Lovefilm as good?

15
27 June 2011
Martin

Does anyone check out the quality of Lovefilm / Tesco DVDs?

Some 20% of the Lovefilm DVDs I received are damaged or unplayable. Sometimes the damage is visible - scratches and grease fingerprints. Do Lovefilm make any attempt to check DVDs on return or dispatch?

I also get DVDs twice and DVDs I never ordered.

Does anyone check out Lovefilm's turnaround time? 1st class post? That means 3 max 4 days? More like a week in reality.

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