The Dark Side of Netflix

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Netflix Favors Eliminating Saturday USPS Mail Delivery

On June 23, 2010, Netflix's Chief Service and DVD Operations Officer, Andrew Rendich spoke before a Congressional hearing in support of the United States Postal Service's desire to reduce mail service by eliminating Saturday deliveries.

This is a good time to ask what Netflix's priorities really are. Netflix is a company whose existence is largely based on residential mail delivery. Sure, some Netflix subscribers have moved to downloads, but millions of subscribers still receive all or most of their movies through the USPS. If Netflix was primarily concerned about meeting the needs of their customers, they would be horrified by the prospect of the USPS cutting back on delivery days. Instead, Netflix is actively supporting reductions in postal service.

Here is one likely reason why. If the USPS eliminates Saturday mail deliveries, average mail transit times are going to increase. It's simple. Under the proposed Monday through Friday delivery schedule, whatever mail you should have received on Saturday will arrive on the following Monday or later. Even worse, that DVD you watch on a Friday night will no longer be able to go out in the Saturday morning mail and get back to Netflix on Monday. Under the new plan, unless you go to a lot of extra trouble, Monday will be your first chance to mail that DVD back to Netflix. Who knows when Netflix will actually check in that DVD and send out a new one? If that new DVD does not happen to get to you by Friday, you will just have to wait until Monday to watch it. It will be a frustrating cycle.

This change will increase significantly the turnaround times on your account. Essentially, you will be paying the same monthly subscription fee, but you will be getting less DVDs per month. Here's the best part. Netflix gets to blame the whole reduction in service on a lazy, slow, and inefficient postal service. The elimination of Saturday delivery is a dream come true for Netflix. It is no wonder they are marching into DC and supporting the measure before Congress.


Netflix Fails to Honor Free Month Offer for Returning Customer

Netflix Undergrounder, Renée claims to have been cheated by Netflix on a free month membership incentive. Renée was a former Netflix customer for a couple of years and eventually received an invitation to rejoin Netflix for a free month of service. It was one of those "It's been awhile. Try Netflix free for a month," emails.

Renée decided to give Netflix another try. According to Renée, after just two weeks of service, Netflix charged Renée's debit card. Renée called Netflix to raise attention to the billing error. The customer service representative claimed the free month was only for new customers. When Renée called attention to the personalized email from Netflix and offered to forward the email as proof, the customer service representative hung up the phone.

Perhaps Renée's story is unusual, but the tale seems consistent with the sort of behavior that has made Netflix infamous. If you were wise enough to have already canceled your Netflix account, be thankful, move on with your life, and don't look back. If Netflix contacts you and tries to entice you back into the Netflix fold with special offers, consider Netflix may not fully honor those deals. If you do take the risk and rejoin Netflix under a special offer, make sure to check your account diligently. Make sure Netflix fully honors whatever promises they make to you. If Netflix pulls any tricks, cancel your account and report any fraudulent or unscrupulous activity to your bank/credit card company. If Netflix cheats you, you might be able to get some or all of your money back through your financial institution.