Glitches disrupt shipping atNetflix DVD-by-mail service

Netflix Inc. said Thursday that major technical problems over the past three days have severely limited the number of DVDs it could send out.

The unspecified problems affected all of the Los Gatos, Calif.-based company's 55 shipping centers and marked the biggest disruption in service since Netflix launched its DVD-by-mail subscription business nine years ago.

It was unclear when shipments from the online DVD rental leader would resume.

Netflix spokesman Steve Swasey said the company was able to send out some discs on Wednesday, but shipped none on Tuesday and hadn't shipped any Thursday morning, either.

About a third of the company's 8.4 million subscribers are waiting for DVDs held up by the problems. Affected customers were promised a credit to their accounts for the delay.

The glitches didn't affect Netflix's Web site or its service for streaming movies and television shows instantly to customers' computers.

Previously, Netflix's longest disruption had been in July 2007 when its Web site went down for 18 hours. The company suffered another outage in March of this year when the site was down for about 11 hours.

Swasey said that was the first time Netflix was unable to deliver DVDs for an entire day.

“When we miss on that, it's a big deal,” Swasey said.

The company hasn't specified the problems that triggered the latest outage, nor has it identified the root cause.