Netflix: How Not to Communicate with Customers

I am one of the Netflix customers who opened an e-mail titled “Important Netflix Account Info: Price Change and New Plans” to find that Netflix will soon be charging me more.

I’ve been a Netflix customer for many years, and have always been happy with the service. And I’ve had a number of subscription plans during that time, based on my viewing patterns.

Here’s the thing I noticed: Yes, Netflix is about to charge me $19.99 a month instead of $14.99 a month. And, yes, that’s a third again as much for the same service. Also, yes, it is only $5 a month–hardly likely to break the bank. But–and this is to me a bigger deal than the cost–previously, I have been able to continue whatever plan I was on until I chose to make a change. That plan was grandfathered in, and while new customers might not be able to select it, I could continue with it because I was already subscribed.

That’s not the case here. Netflix has made this change across the board, regardless of whether you are a new or an existing customer. And they’ve done it with fairly short notice; the new pricing will take effect starting September 1, and this is the middle of July. Considering that it’s summer, and people are at various stages of vacations (assuming they’re not moving), that doesn’t feel like a lot of time to me.

It feels like even less time when I click through the e-mail to change my subscription and find that the new plan will actually take effect next week. And the confusion continues when I see that one page tells me to return my current DVDs within seven days, and another tells me within 14 days. Come on, Netflix–make up your mind. What are these time frames, and why can’t you communicate them consistently within the same information stream?

Nevertheless, I’ve changed my subscription. We’ve had two DVDs for months, because we haven’t had the opportunity to watch them. So, clearly, we don’t need X number of DVDs per month. Streaming video is the way to go for this. If we really want a DVD, we can rent from Redbox.

So here’s the real question: Is it worth paying for Netflix at all when I already have a membership in Amazon Prime?

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Posted on July 13, 2011, in Communication, Marketing and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 8 Comments.

  1. Great write up! Netflix hasn’t really done anything to warrant the increased pricing. I think what often gets left out of the conversation when talking about cord cutting and Netflix is the quality of their streaming library. I think it’s pretty poor. There are tons of B movies I’d never pay to see. I think renting movies from redbox or premium new releases via VOD services is a better value.

  2. Thanks! I hear that one of the reasons for the increase is because of higher costs imposed by the studios, who see Netflix as a threat. I get that, but the way Netflix is going about this process is really flawed. Your costs are going up? Fine, that’s how it works–but there are better ways to handle the impact on existing customers.

  3. Digging the blog!

    I’ve had my Netflix account on hold for so long that I pretty much just use the website to keep track of movies that I want to see. Much easier to use VOD or cheaper/faster to go to RedBox; the last several times I actually got a movie from Netflix, I’d always end up holding onto it for 4+ weeks before getting around to watching it – not very cost-effective, and very frustrating.

  4. Thanks! We’ve known we were throwing away money on Netflix for quite some time, but this change definitely is causing us to take a harder look at how we really watch movies. Not on DVD, that’s for sure.

  5. What I like about Netflix is the amazing number of obscure movies that are there. I’m generally not very interested in new releases, but I sure love obscure English police dramas. Also depressing French movies in which children die. And Swedish movies in which alcoholism always gets a starring role. And Netflix has those in spades.

    I switched to DVD-only. And that’s now two bucks cheaper per month than I was paying before!

    • I think splitting the services makes perfect sense, and I don’t mind the cost increase (although as you point out, Jay, out-of-pocket costs go down if you choose one delivery method rather than both). My main issue really is with the communication about the change–with grandfathering being a secondary issue.

  1. Pingback: Netflix: How Not to Communicate with Customers, Part 2 « Kathy Lisiewicz

  2. Pingback: Redbox: How to Communicate With Customers « Kathy Lisiewicz

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