GhostPlanet Rant: “Netflix Is A Psycho-Ex Girlfriend.”
I was perfectly okay this evening. Chillin’ with my girl, watching pennant chase baseball, and sucking down a Mint Oreo Blizzard from DQ. (So good, it’s ridqulous.) This is what you would call “An Awesome Night.” Lo and behold, my evening was ruined by an email. And email I got from an ex. An ex I thought I got rid of long ago.
After thinking I was done with this service after it had attempted to rape my pocketbook, I received the most disingenuous piece of tripe I’ve ever read coming from the CEO of a company. If you are (or more importantly were) a Netflix customer, no doubt you received this as well. And it turns out I’m not the only one who feels this way. Check out what this dude sent:
I messed up. I owe you an explanation.
It is clear from the feedback over the past two months that many members felt we lacked respect and humility in the way we announced the separation of DVD and streaming and the price changes. That was certainly not our intent, and I offer my sincere apology. Let me explain what we are doing.
For the past five years, my greatest fear at Netflix has been that we wouldn’t make the leap from success in DVDs to success in streaming. Most companies that are great at something – like AOL dialup or Borders bookstores – do not become great at new things people want (streaming for us). So we moved quickly into streaming, but I should have personally given you a full explanation of why we are splitting the services and thereby increasing prices. It wouldn’t have changed the price increase, but it would have been the right thing to do.
So here is what we are doing and why.
Many members love our DVD service, as I do, because nearly every movie ever made is published on DVD. DVD is a great option for those who want the huge and comprehensive selection of movies.
I also love our streaming service because it is integrated into my TV, and I can watch anytime I want. The benefits of our streaming service are really quite different from the benefits of DVD by mail. We need to focus on rapid improvement as streaming technology and the market evolves, without maintaining compatibility with our DVD by mail service.
So we realized that streaming and DVD by mail are really becoming two different businesses, with very different cost structures, that need to be marketed differently, and we need to let each grow and operate independently.
It’s hard to write this after over 10 years of mailing DVDs with pride, but we think it is necessary: In a few weeks, we will rename our DVD by mail service to “Qwikster”. We chose the name Qwikster because it refers to quick delivery. We will keep the name “Netflix” for streaming.
Qwikster will be the same website and DVD service that everyone is used to. It is just a new name, and DVD members will go to qwikster.com to access their DVD queues and choose movies. One improvement we will make at launch is to add a video games upgrade option, similar to our upgrade option for Blu-ray, for those who want to rent Wii, PS3 and Xbox 360 games. Members have been asking for video games for many years, but now that DVD by mail has its own team, we are finally getting it done. Other improvements will follow. A negative of the renaming and separation is that the Qwikster.com and Netflix.com websites will not be integrated.
There are no pricing changes (we’re done with that!). If you subscribe to both services you will have two entries on your credit card statement, one for Qwikster and one for Netflix. The total will be the same as your current charges. We will let you know in a few weeks when the Qwikster.com website is up and ready.
For me the Netflix red envelope has always been a source of joy. The new envelope is still that lovely red, but now it will have a Qwikster logo. I know that logo will grow on me over time, but still, it is hard. I imagine it will be similar for many of you.
I want to apologize again to those members, both current and former, who felt we treated them thoughtlessly.
Both the Qwikster and Netflix teams will work hard to regain your trust. We know it will not be overnight. Actions speak louder than words. But words help people to understand actions.
-Reed Hastings, Co-Founder and CEO, Netflix
p.s. I have a slightly longer explanation along with a video posted on our blog, where you can also post comments.
Can I call you “Reed”? I hope that’s okay since you used my first name, I guess that puts us on a first name basis, even though you or I have never met. I thoroughly read your “apology” letter and have come to the most coherent conclusion that you have never had to apologize for anything in your life.
You run a business. I am a consumer. You made a bad business decision. I responded by leaving. I don’t need an apology. You want me back as a customer? Stop making stupid decisions. Evidently, you thought that sending out a mass email/blog post was going to somehow rebuild a bridge you burned as soon as Blockbuster went belly up and you figured you could violate customer trust. Your reaction to your stock price dropping is the only reason you sent this sad excuse to my mailbox.
Let’s take a quick look at all the dumb things you’ve done while in charge, shall we? I mean, after all, we’re friends right? And as friends we should be honest with each other.
First you wanted to get rid of DVD’s by mail. We hated it. Then you wanted to jack up the rates after your competetion ceased to exist. We hated it. Now, instead of simply going back to the original price (or maybe jack it to a flat rate of $10 bucks AND include Blu-ray and videogames), you decided to rebrand the DVD-by-mail as “Quikster” and keep the streaming site as “Netflix.” WE HATE IT. In addition you kept the rate structure. So what exactly are you apologizing about? So far it seems that if we were married, you wouldn’t be sorry that you cheated on me, but sorry that I didn’t find out sooner. Well guess what. I packed up and left. And already in a relationship with Hulu.
I don’t know who’s whispering these ideas in your ear, but whoever headlines your boardroom brainstorming sessions needs to get a clue. How you operate a business on the Internet and have absolutely no self-awareness when it comes to your broad consumer base is completely mind-boggling. So, in conclusion, I’m going to give you a lesson on how business works:
Because of what you have done (and continue to do on an utterly moronic basis), I no longer have any brand loyalty towards your product. It lacks depth, selection, and simplicity. As a consumer, unless you fix the broken headed manbaby that is your company, stop sending me emails feigning apologies, and instead do your job by making something people want again. Other than that, get lost.
P.S. We’re not friends.
Any company that feels the need that they have to submit an apology instead of an appropriate business plan that rectifies the problem deserves the scorn of the consumer they’re trying to woo. Or maybe they just shouldn’t be a skank and bother me while I’m chillin’ with my woman, my baseball, and my DQ Blizzard.
Dante Villanova is an avid freelance fiction writer, movie reviewer, and video game enthusiast. He dual wields sarcasm and cynicism like twin katanas and enjoys filleting pop culture for sport.