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Subscribers to Netflix: The thrill is gone

The recent changes at Netflix are enough to give many a once-satisfied customer whiplash.

By Karen Datko Oct 11, 2011 11:29AM

Angry subscribers won a victory when Netflix aborted Qwikster, a separate service for mailed DVDs. On top of a recent 60% price increase, the move would have required customers to access two different websites to manage their DVD and streaming accounts. 

 

So, are Netflix customers -- a very vocal group -- again enchanted with their once-beloved company?

 

It doesn't seem that way. Subscribers are finding other flaws to complain about. Trust has been strained, and that's hard to rebuild in any relationship, no matter how good it was. 

 

The decision to drop Qwikster in its tracks was announced Monday in a short email to subscribers from "The Netflix Team." The same brief note was posted on the company blog and signed by CEO Reed Hastings.

 

It said in part:

It is clear that for many of our members two websites would make things more difficult, so we are going to keep Netflix as one place to go for streaming and DVDs.
This means no change: one website, one account, one password … in other words, no Qwikster.

No big apology, like the one contained in an earlier post that also announced the creation of Qwikster. And perhaps just a whiff of suggestion in the wording above that subscribers aren't clever enough to handle two accounts instead of one. The message also announced that more content recently became available for streaming. Post continues after video.

What did customers have to say? Many readers of the Netflix blog simply thanked the company for listening. But not all. Here are some samples:

  • "Months after a firestorm of protests, we still have to hover over titles to get the title text when it should be visible at a glance and the horizontal scrolling is a frustrating implementation."
  • "When does this miraculous 'more awesome videos' thing take place?"
  • "Stop sending patronizing emails."
  • "I'm offended you didn't apologize in this statement for taking your customers on these silly rides."
  • "MORE MOVIES! I can't make it any clearer. I want more movies on streaming. More recent movies as well."

And then there's:

Surprise, they don't have YOUR best interests at heart, just their revenue. People need to stop complaining and realize it's a company. Sheesh.

Some wondered what all the fuss is about.

If only we gave as much of a damn about things that matter: cancer, AIDS, Alzheimer's, child literacy, hungry kids in Africa ... I could go on. If we gave that much of a damn where it counts, we could really make a difference.

Is that reader right? A friend of mine, who asked that I identify him only as "the smartest person I know," thinks customers have too grand a sense of entitlement. (He's the No. 1 fan of Louis C.K., who also talks about such things.) He was unfazed by the Qwikster plan and thinks some have protested too much:  

Any movie I could possibly want will appear in my mailbox within days; or, even better, on my TV screen immediately if I punch a couple of buttons on my remote.
BUT GO TO TWO WEBSITES? OH MY, THE WORLD IS ENDING HOW CAN THEY DO THIS TO ME BLAH BLAH.

Regardless, Netflix should have known how angry customers would be. "Clearly, the two business moves (price hike and Qwikster) were in the firm's best interest. But, somehow, the company seemed to have the notion that customers would happily support what was in the company's best interest -- without any pushback," Gloria Goodale of The Christian Science Monitor wrote.

 

Me? I'll continue to be a Netflix customer, although the thrill is gone. Is Netflix back in your good graces or are you moving on?

 

More on MSN Money:

120Comments
Oct 11, 2011 4:30PM
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Its not that customers feel they have a 'grand sense of entitlement',  Mr. Author, customers have the POWER.  We have the power on what we chose to buy or not. If a company like Netflix change the game for the sake of more profits, then loyal customers can yell and scream and demand whatever they want.  We, the consumer, are the ones keeping any business in business. And the scales will always tilt in our favor. Power to the consumer! :)

 

Oct 11, 2011 6:45PM
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Here's an idea-

Turn off the TV and read a book.

Oct 11, 2011 12:00PM
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It seems as if market research should have headed off most, if not all, of these problems. Whomever is running the company should fire the person responsible for this PR and marketing failure. If he is the person who caused this, he should consider hiring someone with a little more sense to handle matters such as this.
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Hello, BoA, anybody listening .....................pay attention, the customer will let you know if you are worthy of existing as a business in this country!
Oct 11, 2011 5:02PM
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Already cancelled my membership.....  Heading to Redbox!
Oct 11, 2011 1:41PM
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Don't get me wrong....we do take a lot for granted in the US, however, that doesn't make a complaint any less valid if it can be addressed and fixed.

 

Just because I have easy access to movies doesn't diminish the inconvenience of two sites and a price increase. I'm a fan of Louis CK, and yeah, it's marvelous we have access to things people in other countries have never seen. But it's all relative.

 

The relative part is in the US we're seeing cost increases, diminished wages, and a lack of social safety growing every year.

__________

 

That's why people freaked out. Pressure is ever mounting in basically every detail of life, home repair, car repair, taxes, insurance, and everyone is trying to just get by.

 

Netflix was a great reward. Entertainment of the newest releases at a very big discount. While maybe people could do more productive things (again, the family is under immense pressure and extremely busy with just about everything), that cheap reward was a thrill in times when prices were just marching up for everything.

 

Anything you could think of doing, box office, dinner out, trips, outdoor activities, etc. All of it has been going up. People latched onto the value netflix was providing.

 

It's insane to think that kind of price increase wouldn't draw ire at a time when everyone is hurting. A simpler idea would have been to offer new plans.

 

If people want new movies, new streaming content, offer a premium plan. That way, the revenue matches the costs to license that content. Many of us don't care so much, I like netflix for the access to a library of many non mainstream movies, off the wall foriegn films, documentaries, etc. So do different levels, some of us don't want new content. Don't ask us to pay for it.

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You really thought you could split 1 product into 2 and double the price? Really?
Oct 11, 2011 4:40PM
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I did a month with Amazon, and then a month free trial with Netflix.  I went with Netflix because of the DVD delivery, on line streaming was just about limited with both of them.  What  I found out was that I don't really want to go through the hassle of mailing in DVDs, and did not care about the titles I saw.  I was mostly after the older TV shows.  So when the price increase hit, I dropped Netflix, and have signed on with Amazon, it is cheaper and the content is about the same for streaming.

 

As for Netflix, the worst thing they have done is shown that they are not a MATURE company and not very well managed.  If you want to raise prices do it, if you want to split your company, then do it.  BUT NEVER, NEVER change the vision.  In the end, you will lose.  In ten years, we will all be saying, "Do you remember that company Netflax, or Nutflix, or Nunflut, or something like that..."

Oct 11, 2011 4:38PM
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It's nice to see the public respond when corporate greed  takes control of a business. If the consumer can find an adequate substitute, screw netflix. It appears Blockbuster is eager to get your business and wants a shot at  replacing netflix. When any business perceives themselves as the only game in town this is the kind of crap you get.
Oct 11, 2011 3:55PM
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If they'd have just left things alone, I would have probably been a Netflix subscriber for life.  But they made those stupid changes (pay more for less!) and I canceled.  I imagine millions of others did, too.  Apparently, Netflix just doesn't get it or care about what they've done. 

Oct 11, 2011 4:56PM
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So...the big win is that we don't have to log into a second web site for DVDs? How about we now have to pay $16 instead of $10 if we want both DVDs and streaming?  Somehow that fact seems lost in this wonderful reconciliation.  Are we stupid or what?
Oct 11, 2011 4:30PM
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Notice the considerate management style:

 

This latest flip-flop is leaked to the press first, rather than contacting the customer. Ergo, the customer and any business needs he or she might have, comes last.

 

And the remaining streaming selection ?  Diminishing rapidly: Starz was only the first.

 

We elected to cancel our membership in July, and despite the " please comback " email blitz, see no reason to return. There are many other options available between today and January, 2012.

Oct 11, 2011 5:11PM
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I'm surprised by all the boot licking schills on this thread.  They are complaining about people that are complaining.  That almost sounds like a Seinfeld episode. 

 

I first dropped the streaming portion of Netflix then dropped the rest of it last week.  At the same time I signed up for Blockbuster through Dish since I'm already with Dish.  Dishnetwork gives the customer quite a bit of choice but their customer service absolutely sucks.  But with Amazon and I already have a Roku HD player there is no need for Netflix. 

 

And to all of those people who think customers like me should simply act like lambs and do or say nothing, I say NO WAY.  These companies need to understand that if you're going to make us pay more and work harder (divide the company into two ) then expect us to look at other options.

Oct 11, 2011 7:47PM
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It's not the extra money....It's not really the extra hassle of two different sites....For me it's a lack of respect for the customer, who by the way has made Netflix what it is today.

 

Netflix just got a big head....they thought they had the DVD/Streaming video market cornered, so they could act with impunity....the customer's wishes be damned.  Reminds me of the American automitive industry in the 70's & 80's.....'We're the big dogs, so we'll make the cars we want, who cares what the customers want'.

 

And what happend there?.....the Big Three made big, ugly, unreliable, gas-guzzlers that people eventually thumbed their noses at....pushing Toyota, Honda, and Nissan to the top of the hill....and the American companies into a ditch.

 

I'm not saying the customer is always right, but it would be in any company's best interest to ask them what they want before they make major changes....they are the ones that pay for the service.  

 

I think most people are upset by the feeling of disrespect, more than the changes themselves. I also think that people were shocked to find out that Netflix has become just another large company that puts dollar signs above their customers. 

 

I think people are just sick and tired of being manipulated and having to read the fine print to on everything. Why all the games? Why the smoke & mirrors? The shell game? These companies need to learn that being straight forward and honest, goes a long way with customers.

 

To sum it up, I'd say the uproar is born mainly out of disappointment. We thought Netflix was different....we thought they were above the fray. Sure, we know Bank of America is a greedy snake....and politicians are two-faced.....but now Neflix. The humanity! ;)

 

Oct 11, 2011 5:33PM
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Regardless the cost, Netflix is just a bunch of old movies.
Oct 11, 2011 4:51PM
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Netflix is doing their very best to kill the goose that laid the golden egg. They might succeed.Eye-rolling

Oct 11, 2011 4:00PM
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They need to fire the CEO of Netflix, the guy is an arrogant idiot
Oct 11, 2011 4:05PM
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I cancelled my cable carrier (Comcast) last year to stream and rent an occasional movie from Netflix and watch "live" TV off a digital antenna. I saved a bucket load of money every month. But let's be honest, Netflix does not offer up-to-date movies for the most part. It is a cheap alternative, convenient and you get what you pay for. Breaking the company into two business units feels like Verizon and Verizon Wireless - behemoth, corporate and ever increasingly expensive. They double the price and double our inconvenience. Trying to be like the big boys is a really stupid business move. We went to Netflix because you were NOT the big boy. Screwing with a good thing that wasn't broken was a colossal mistake.

Oct 11, 2011 2:21PM
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A perfect example of first world problems.Sarcastic
Oct 11, 2011 6:39PM
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I think it's high time the shareholders oust the board of directors, president and CEO of this company! They arrogant way they have handled this entire situation was childish to the extreme. Most undergrads studying marketing 101 would have know better to do what this group of morons have done to permanently damage the Netflix brand and alienate their customer base. 
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