Netflix is in a bit of a bind, but you wouldn’t know that from paying attention to anything the company is saying. Earlier in the year, they came up with the brilliant idea of raising their prices by cutting their services in half and charging customers for both (where they used to get both for the same price). Customers got angry. Netflix acted like the knowing parent, coddling children who are upset that they weren’t chosen for the football team (or to be cheerleaders). Customers got pissed because they really don’t like being treated like children when they’re actually customers.
I kind of got pissed, too. The patronizing remarks from Netflix’s leadership surprised the crap out of me to the point where I decided that if it benefited me in the long run, I’d jump ship at the first opportunity. I, too, hate being treated like a little kid, even when I might act like one.
To see it from the viewpoint of all of the analysts, the same point keeps being made: If there’s no viable alternative to Netflix, then Netflix can pretty much crap on its customers, and it’s still going to be all right. The more you read of this kind of stuff, the more you start to wonder if the reviewers are in the same world as the rest of the people who happen to be customers of Netflix.
What no one has addressed, and I find this probably the most significant factor, is that Netflix offers a service that is a luxury, not a necessity. As most Americans are seriously aware of economic constraints in a recession era, the idea that streaming video and mailed dvds are an added luxury might just be enough to cause a potential customer to think that perhaps the money might be better spent on other pursuits. After all, no one really needs movies and television shows. They’re nice and fun, but they are entertainment, not food staples or part of one’s housing needs. On the whole Maslow heirarchy needs thing, Netflix comes long after most of the other needs and desires have been met.
And that’s what I’ve started to realize recently. As I watch through the fifth season of Star Trek Voyager, a series I’ve seen a long time ago when it actually aired on television, I realize that I don’t really need to watch it. It’s an interesting way to occupy time, but I have computer games, writing, my health club membership, an untapped drug habit I could start at any moment, and all sorts of other activities that have been available a long time before television ever emerged. I could even watch network television (or whatever is on the free cable I receive). The need for Netflix is pretty low on the overall scheme of necessities.
So, I’ve been thinking that once Voyager’s run is finished (there were 7 seasons), I’m dumping Netflix completely. You see, Netflix has this belief that people will “respond” by switching to either mailed disks or streaming only (what they wanted in the first place), but there are 12 million people who may choose my option: Cancel completely and never come back. I was charged my first increased charge this month, and while I can afford it, I’m still angry at Netflix for the way it treated me as a customer. Because of that, I, like I’m sure many others like me, will dump Netflix and wish them well. They’ve already indicated in all of their press releases that they could care less whether or not I stay with them (because they expect to make bank based on the rest of the people who will be unwilling to jump ship). Well, fine. I just suspect that they haven’t read the tea leaves well enough to understand that when you cut out your bread and butter, you sometimes go without food.
But what do I know? I’m just a stupid sheep guy who Netflix doesn’t take seriously anyway.