Remember when Netflix first began it's mail-you-DVDs service back in 1999, and people were in awe? It was brilliant. We thought, "People won't steal them, because they know where you live! I can keep it as long as I want, let it sit in its little red jacket for weeks! I can toss it in the mail for free! I can plan my movie watching weeks in advance! This is the shiznit*!"
Film buffs rejoiced. Lazy people thought about cheering, but thought better of it. And video rental stores who made their profit off of late fees wept into their autmotic rewinding machines.
And for close to a decade it was good. It was grand. We'd nod in appreciation at those carrying the deep red squares down the hallway to the mailbox. Our people. Red square toters. We did that, too, when we finally got around to it. Great service for the price. Entertainment mailed straight to your front door.
Then the streaming came, and it was a marvel. The people were thrilled and they shouted their appreciation for on demand movies they could watch at any time. What a marvel of technology. How far we have come. One can see Jim Carrey blow snot rockets on a whim. And all for a little over a ten spot a month? Miraculous, Netflix. Truly.
I have said aloud more than once, "The best 12 bucks I spend every month is on Netflix. It's such a great value. I love it."
I would never have imagined how soon before I was thinking hard about leaving it.
But, I held on during the price hike. I get 2 DVDs and once and online streaming. The raise in fees was steep, but I still felt the price was fair for the service I so religiously used, and never once thought of ceasing service when others around me dropped Netflix with a hot quickness.
Then I got an email from Netflix's CEO, straight to my inbox, and I opened it and began to read only to become deeply annoyed. Saddened, even. What was going on with my beloved red squared movie company? Qwikster? Just typing the name alone hurts my feelings.
But I'll not get emotional here. My point is this: They are making me do something. The thing they were always so awesome at has now been made complicated and cumbersome, and now I have to act. Netflix was never about that. It was about sit back on your couch and let the movies come to you. Now I have to make a decision. Do I still want to get 2 DVDs at once? Do I still want to get DVDs at all? Will streaming be enough? How much is all this again?
And because I am lazy, I am just going to cancel. I was going to willingly pay 40% more for the same service I've always gotten, but now that they services have now split and the sites aren't cross-referenced in any way, it's going to mean lots of clicks, and even note taking to be sure I'm not overlapping films or missing movies. Who wants this? I don't want this. And it's too bad, because it was fun being a Netflix fan. Now I'm not even gonna get the red sqaures any more. I can stream elsewhere.
And if I may be so bold, I think this should be a lesson to companies everywhere. Don't make your devoted customers jump through hoops. Don't make them reconsider and reconfigure. They are already forking out their hard earned dough to you, probably automatically each month, pulled directly from their accounts. You want them to step in and create an almost ideal opportunity for them *not* to do that? That's not that smart.
So, I'm not mad at Netflix that it's over between us. I'm not leaving in a huff. I'm not slamming the door on the way out. I'm apathetic, which is part of why I'm canceling in the first place. I don't care enough to sort all these changes out. And there are thousand and thousands more people just like me.
I guess the lesson is leave the paying customers alone to keep shelling out your paycheck. Make it hard for them to do that, and expect that paycheck to shrink substantially.
*circa 1999 slang