Thanks for Nothing, Netflix

That's how I look when I'm angry.

I was alerted yesterday, along with millions of other Netflix users, that the price of my plan would be increasing soon. I’m obviously a movie geek so I do the four-at-a-time plan, which had been costing me $23.99/month. With the new increase, my plan is now going to cost $27.99/month. That’s no small increase. That’s 16%. That’s $48/year. The new price is the cost of a three-at-a-time plan PLUS I could give a one-at-a-time plan as a gift to someone who might even become a customer who pays more per month. I’d even have money left over. At the new rate, it’s like Netflix is getting two months of subscription money at my old rate out of me without ever sending me a disc.

What bothers me about this the most is that it’s not an isolated incident. Netflix has been making antagonistic decisions towards their most loyal customers for about a year now, maybe longer. First they drastically reduced the “Friends” feature, burying it in a small font at the bottom of the page. The actual features- the lists that fans created, the reviews, the slider page where you could see what your friends had in their queues- all remained. But it was almost impossible to find. And on the individual film pages, you could no longer see how your friends rated certain movies. That was an integral part of my film-selection process- knowing how people with similar tastes felt about a movie. They replaced it with their own statistical matrix that predicts which films you’d like based on your other ratings. While it’s not a horrible system- the new matrix- it’s far from perfect. It’s been way off more than it should be if it’s supposed to be the replacement for, you know, ACTUAL FRIENDS WHOSE TASTES YOU CAN TRUST.

Then, soon thereafter, the Friends feature disappeared altogether. It was gone “like a fart in the wind” (thank you, Warden from Shawshank Redemption). The reviews are still up, which is all well and good, but I have no clue what any of my friends are watching and/or rating at this point. Additionally, any lists that you created before have been taken down and buried in a bunker in the desert in Area 51. Those would’ve come in really handy since I started TDYLF, which has sort of served as a therapy for my annoyance (and now anger) with Netflix.

Adding insult to injury, as they pushed people towards more Instant Watch titles, a big chunk of my queue vanished into the “Saved” section. It was no longer available because it wasn’t cost-effective for them to hold onto those titles anymore. Now… trust me, I understand that it’s their business, and they have a right to do some of these types of things. If they want to remain viable, it’s something they have to consider. But now I’m being asked to pay more, while receiving less. It’s not like there’s been some whopping increase in Instant titles that are available. Far from it. Nor is instant watching going to be the same quality as having an actual disc in hand.

It’s just a piss poor mode of customer service. It’s been one thing after another and I’ve finally had enough. I’ve downgraded my account (cutting it in half) and I’m keeping an eye out now for other DVD delivery services. As soon as I find one that has Netflix’s selection, this divorce will be final. Of course, it’s not like I could send them an e-mail saying as much because they guard their customer service info- beyond a generic phone number that goes God knows where- like fabregé eggs. Netflix used to be a service that I loved. Ask several of my friends and they’d tell you how I’d sing Netflix’s praises. And now they’re systematically taking away every single thing that made me say that about them.

Side note here… odds are good that some of the folks who are happy with Netflix are going to read this, and potentially bash me for what I’m saying. Good for you, I say. If you’re happy with the service and the price and you’re unaffected by the things I’ve mentioned, then that’s fantastic. I’m glad someone can get their full value out of it. Just understand that I am not one of those people.

And to Netflix, I say “Thanks for being a bigger turkey this Thanksgiving than any other I could possibly buy”.


Filed under Movies

25 responses to “Thanks for Nothing, Netflix

  1. Jim

    That sucks, John.

    We do the cheapest plan just to get the streaming features, which we have on three TV’s. It comes with a single disc a month, and I’ve had a dusty Dexter disc on top of the Blu-Ray player for about a year now. The news of the change doesn’t mean a lot to me. I suspect I’m the problem.

    It sounds like users like you (multiple discs, using the friends features on the site, etc.) are paying the price for folks like me who just want to stream. As internet delivery gains popularity, I imagine Netflix has to readjust its business plan accordingly, especially since it seems the streaming content is getting fresher and more diverse. It all costs money.

    Either that, or they just want their Dexter disc back. They could’ve just asked…

  2. rtm

    I heard about this yesterday, too. BUMMER! But I’ve only got time for 1-at-a-time plan right now so it’s not going to affect me as much as you. I think eventually there’ll be other rivals, but whilst they’re still on top of the food chain, they can pretty much do whatever they want.

    • I’m highly intrigued by Green Cine but I think all of their discs ship out of CA, which means I’d have long wait times.

      Despite it all, there’s still a lot that I like about Netflix- how quick they are with turnaround times, the fact that they aren’t charging… YET… for the instant watch, their selection is still top dog, etc. That’s what makes it doubly disappointing to me. It’s like watching a friend make a bunch of poor decisions.

      If only someone would send them that Dexter disc. /shakes fist in the air

  3. Dude

    Reminds me of when my favorite cafe in town was sold. The food got worse and more expensive than it was previously. Why pay more for crappy food? I at least was able to take my jing elsewhere. You don’t have that option yet, which sucks. (= Side note = I am one of the “Friends Droid has talked into going with Netflix, so there’s another few bucks they have made from his recommendation) Let me know when you find the cafe down the street. Good Luck!

  4. And another thing…they still don’t have a copy of Barfly!!!!!

    • A-freakin’-men to that. How can they not have Barfly? Charles Bukowski would be rolling over in his grave if corpses could move. But they can’t.

    • bob lelli

      same here on ‘Barfly’.how hard can it be.the little local guy down the street has it but i’m not payng him every month,perhaps i should be.

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  6. Are the price increases only for disc in hand? Im getting a blue ray and was told I could stream unlimited for $10 a month…

  7. Greg

    You’re not that thin dude.

  8. iamcart

    copy and paste another stick dude next to you and it will be marty, he won’t stop bitching about this!

  9. Kelly

    This is all very interesting to a non-Netflix user. Oops… did I just expose myself as living under a rock?

  10. Emily

    I just was notified of the price increase, and I’ve really been missing the List feature. It was a great way to find movies I might not have otherwise, and showed connectivity of tastes/moods in a way that Google can’t replace. Thanks for stating these concerns so clearly! By disposing of the lists, I feel like Netflix has lost a lot of goodwill from the people who created them, giving them free content when they needed it. I expect this will become a bigger problem on the internet, the disappearance of user-generated content, it’s as if your diary decided to delete the last year’s entry because it thought blank paper was a more stream-lined format.

  11. Have any of you looked into Facets? I’ve been using their service for about 6 months and I love their selection. It ships out of Chicago and is pretty reasonably priced. Also, as soon as you mark a DVD as returned, it immediately sends out the next ones on the q.

    • A friend of mine had a free trial with Facets. He used it mainly for extremely obscure things, and was impressed with what they had (Bergman’s “The Rite”, for instance). His overall impression was that it was a good service to use as a supplement to Netflix.

      He also found sock puppet porn called “Let My Puppets Come” on Facets, which is kind of awesome.

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