Netflix Ate My Baby; Or, The Great DVD-By-Mail Swindle

ramblings

Sometimes I wonder if the fine folks at Netflix have fully functioning brains. Will their PR people never stop and ask themselves “What Will Caris Do (W.W.C.D. – best goddamn meme I’ve ever seen, feel free to make wide use of it)?”

Actual Netflix conversation:

Jeb: Okay, we’ve got to pass on another huge disappointment to the public.
Mac: We can’t do that! That Caris asshole will have a fucking field day with this!
Jeb: Listen, I’ve got it covered. We’ll frame it as an apology.
Mac: An apology?
Jeb: Yeah. Everyone listens to apologies.
Mac: They do?
Jeb: Of course. Remember how I banged your prom date that time?
Mac: I loved her…
Jeb: Right, right. But I apologized. And you forgave me.
Mac: So what you’re saying…
Jeb: Is we frame this services split as an apology. Those dumb fucks won’t know what the hell is going on!
Mac: Wait. Which dumb fucks?
Jeb: The American public, of course!
Mac: Oh! Those dumb fucks.

Those dumb fucks, indeed, Mac. Those dumb fucks, indeed.

Netflix made big news this morning when they publicly “apologized” for all of the shitty things they’ve done to their subscribers in recent weeks. When I first saw the note show up in my email, I thought Mr. CEO was going to take it all back, that he’d heard the public outcry and he was sorry.

The truth, however, was a bit less satisfying. Netflix is sorry for being a douche. But not so sorry that it’s planning on doing anything to make things better. I don’t doubt that they’re very sorry. Very sorry that their stock sank like the fucking Titanic. Very sorry, indeed, that they’re losing 2,000,000 paying customers.

What are they doing now, you ask? What could possibly be worse than the price hikes and device limits? I’m glad you asked.

One magically becomes two!

Netflix is dividing! In the very near future, Netflix will run two companies: Netflix (streaming) and Qwikster (DVDs). Subscribers will receive two separate bills and maneuver two separate interfaces! Netflix has taken what used to be easy and made it hard! Like a high school math teacher!

“Who gives a shit?” you ask, growing impatient. “I already downgraded to the streaming-only option anyway.”

You give a shit. You, dear reader, are in the midst of the great DVD-By-Mail Swindle! Here’s a handy timeline of what Netflix has done in the past year:

1. Netflix adds streaming-only option. DVD price plans increase in cost. (November 2010)
2. Netflix increases prices by 60%. (July 2011)
3. Netflix begins to enforce a streaming limit. (September 2011)
4. Netflix separates streaming and DVD-by-mail services. (September 2011)

Here’s what they did:

They started out with a cool service: DVDs by mail. This cool service put all of your local video stores out of business. Neat, eh? Once that was done, they introduced an economical alternative to DVDs-by-mail: streaming media. It costs them pennies, but you still pay the same thing you were paying before! Great, isn’t it! Fair, right? Wait, wait. It gets better.

This past July (can you remember way back then?), they jacked prices up by 60%. Remember that streaming business model? It only gets better! Netflix is a genius! And then, earlier this month, you start getting this error message that prevents you from using multiple devices for streaming. The fewer devices you use, the more Netflix saves!! Think of all those pennies they’re amassing. Enough to fill a tube sock to hit you in the scrotum with, isn’t it? Ouch. That smarts!

“Dude,” you say. “How could this possibly get any worse?”

You and your questions! Quite the inquisitive lass you are! Let me give you a little history lesson. Once upon a time there was a tax-funded entity called the United States Postal Service. In the 1980s, the USPS was doing so well that it became an independent, self-funded agency! It took to the streets on its wobbly legs and gave ’em hell! Unfortunately, the USPS got leg cancer. And now it’s going to die.

Million dollar question: How do DVDs-by-mail get delivered?

If you answered “by mail,” you’re absolutely correct!! Good job!

Way to go!!

See, Netflix saw this on the horizon. They realized that cheap postage (what their company is based upon) wouldn’t last forever. So they separated out their services so that it would be Qwikster that would die the ugly death, not Netflix. Even when the USPS collapses and Qwikster is history, Netflix will still be there, charging customers the same price they’ve always paid for a service that’s half as convenient and 10,000 times as cheap for them to execute!

Bottom line: This is why they can lose so many customers and remain unscathed. When your product doesn’t cost jack shit to deliver, you don’t need as many suckers to buy into it. They fucked you. They fucked me. And they’re laughing about it with their friends.

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