The Dark Side of Netflix

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Spamalot: The Land of Netflix Solicitations

If you are currently a Netflix subscriber, you have the distinct pleasure of receiving unsolicited Netflix marketing emails. These emails encourage you to upgrade to more expensive plans, market Netflix to your friends and family, etc. These emails can be annoying, but Netflix can justify sending them out by classifying them as "subscriber benefits."

If you cancel your Netflix subscription, you’ll be surprised to discover that Netflix does not stop sending marketing emails to you. This spam is basically a series of messages begging you to come back to Netflix. A new invitation to rejoin will probably arrive in your mailbox every few weeks.

The fact that Netflix is using non-subscriber contact information for sales purposes is bad enough, but the really insulting element is the content of the messages. Like a lot of spam, these emails are misleading. For example, Netflix might imply that they have made improvements that will get DVDs to you faster. They might offer you their cheapest, most basic plan but give you the impression you are eligible for a special discount on your previous plan. Netflix will attempt to woo you back with numerous ploys, but be aware that generally Netflix will not offer anything to you that isn’t available to the general public. (Most likely, Netflix makes exceptions for former subscribers who rented few DVDs and were therefore highly profitable.)

If Netflix is spamming you, report them to your Internet service provider. Most ISPs make reporting spam very easy. All you have to do is flag the message as junk mail when it arrives in your mailbox. If this does not fix the spam problem, you will need to manually unsubscribe from Netflix’s mailing list.


Anonymous said...

As an eCommerce marketer (Not with Netflix), I must disagree with your method of dealing with Netflix emails. You should first unsubscribe through their site, as they are legitimate emails you gave permission for (During sign up).

If they still send emails after you unsubscribe, you should bring it up with your ISP and/or flag them as Spam. BTW, I also suffer/suffered from their movie allocation method, so I do feel your pain.

Editor said...

Your comments from an ecommerce marketer’s point of view are appreciated.

Please keep in mind that the initial issue here is that Netflix is sending solicitations to people who have already formally severed their relationship with Netflix. These disgruntled customers should not be further inconvenienced by being required to cancel their Netflix relationship on more than one occasion.

The issue of post-cancellation solicitations is minor. The real irritation and the focus of this article is that Netflix’s spam is misleading. It’s sleazy that Netflix continues attempting to trick people after they have canceled their subscriptions. A naive person might rejoin Netflix assuming they are getting a special deal, when they are simply getting the same deal any sucker would get.

We know Netflix misleads prospective customers through their advertising. We know Netflix misleads current customers through their business practices. Now, we know that Netflix misleads former customers through their client recovery program.

Hopefully, this article will provide a little more information so that fewer people will be misled.

Anonymous said...

Well, well well, Warren. Have you seen Netflix's resent stock preformance? Looks like inspite of your efforts NFLX is kicking ass and taking names.

I bought NFLX at 11-12, it is now at $20.

Have a good day, ass clown.

Editor said...

Dear Zach Smart (

Why all the hostility? I’ve been nothing but courteous to you on this site. I’ve allowed you to post whatever you want and responded politely to your questions and comments. Is your tone really necessary?

I just talked to one of my buddies in Fayetteville. He read your comment and thinks it’s out of line. I’ve noticed that people tend to get a little bold and crude on the Internet because they feel perfectly anonymous; however, it’s good to remember that real people are behind the computer screens. For the good of everyone involved, you should keep your future comments civil and respectful.

Since you brought up the investment topic, please provide some more information about the investment you mentioned. When did you buy your Netflix stock? Do you know what you actually paid for it, or does your broker normally give you a price range for your transactions (like “11-12”)? Did you purchase a lot of it or just a few shares? Why did you not buy NFLX when it was under $9? Was this your first purchase of Netflix stock? If not, please elaborate on how your earlier NFLX purchases are doing compared to the current price.

I know it’s fun to celebrate NFLX clawing its way back up into the $18s and $19s again, but let’s remember that it used to be near $40. If you’re actually turning a profit on NFLX, be very happy, because a lot of investors are very unhappy about the 50% loss.

By the way, as I’ve told you before, the purpose of Netflix Underground is not to hurt Netflix. The purpose of Netflix Underground is to inform consumers. I really do not care what happens to Netflix. If the consumers are more informed, then the mission is accomplished.

All the Best,

P.S. As a Netflix investor, what do you think about the 7/27/05 article from MarketWatch’s Herb Greenberg: Does Netflix 'Manage' Earnings? (Now that’s kind of spooky.)