Netflix Causes Customer Freakout

Let’s cut to the chase: Why hasn’t Netflix recently informed me, and its 75 million other subscribers, that there’s a price increase on the horizon?

Netflix Binge Watch memeI “cut” the cable cord back in 2010 and have relied heavily on streaming video to get my TV fix, with Netflix being my main squeeze since 2007. And who can beat $7.99/month, especially when compared to most people’s cable bill?

But I’m not here to profess my deep love for all things Netflix … instead, I want to ask this question:

Why hasn’t Netflix recently informed me, and its 75 million other subscribers, that there’s a price increase on the horizon?

There’s plenty of coverage on the subject of the price increase on Twitter:

Netflix tweetsBut what finally did it for me was the Marie Claire e-newsletter I received yesterday.

Marie Claire e-newsletter with Netflix articleNothing against Marie Claire, because I love those #LadyBoss slideshows, but this should not be my news source. Why haven’t I received ANY emails from Netflix about the increase? I searched through my inbox to see if there had been any, and I can’t find a single one.

Google the phrase “Netflix prices going up,” and you’ll receive 39 million results, with top hits coming from USA Today, ABC News, Huffington Post, Business Insider, but nothing from Netflix. I checked out the top story, from USA Today, which shed a bit more light:

This isn’t a new price hike for Netflix. Two years ago, the company announced it would raise the price of its standard plan to $9.99. At the time of the announcement in May 2014, Netflix said existing customers could maintain the older $7.99 price for two years, which is expected to expire this May.

Okay, so Netflix announced the increase in 2014 … but it’s 2016. Why not send an update?

Netflix could have cast the increase — which is $1 to $2, depending on if you were a new or existing member when the hike was unveiled — as something completely positive.

Netflix: Do you like Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt?

Me: Uh … I love it.

Netflix: Great! Well there’s a second season coming out April 15, not to mention Season 4 of OITNB in June, Gilmore Girls in the Fall and a lot more awesome stuff! And because we’re focused on creating fantastic original shows, we’ve found we need to increase the monthly subscription fee.

Honestly … Netflix would have had me at “second season of Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt.” Take my money, and give me more music videos starring Titus. But that hasn’t happened.

Instead, Netflix seems to be sitting back and letting everyone else cover the price increase. After doing some googling I found this Engadget article from Jan. 2016. Within the article, I came across the 4Q letter to shareholders announcing the increase.

Protip: Your customers, subscribers, readers should not have to google to find out about necessary information, like a price increase.

The reality: Most won’t. Instead, they’ll take to social media to express just how annoyed they are.

Netflix dropped the ball, and there’s a good chance some subscribers will cancel. Or, they’ll opt to downgrade the service to SD — instead of HD — and only have the capability of streaming to once device at a time for the lower price of $7.99.

Troll the Respawn JeremyFor me, this isn’t about the increase. It’s about Netflix’s poor handling of its customers and lack of messaging.

If Netflix can email me about a new show it just added, it can email me about a potential price increase. Letting the media run with this story — and have a fun time with the headlines — is just bad marketing.

Author: Melissa Ward

Melissa Ward is the managing editor for Target Marketing, and she has opinions! More importantly, she's a nerd for great copy and design, a disciple of authenticity, and really loves it when marketers get it right.

11 thoughts on “Netflix Causes Customer Freakout”

  1. Meh, I’d be more ticked if about any other really important service provider didn’t alert me to a price increase. Netflix doesn’t cost that much for the huge service it provides. My cable bill is $180.00 a month. I’d cut the cord if the UFC would ditch Fox Sports 1. So from the perspective of “if you want it, you pay for it” it’s whatever. Everyone likes to get crazy about an email and a couple dollars a MONTH and yet will spend outrageous money to jump on some bull crap like designer clothes, wagyu beef, or the latest, greatest, most hyped movie. What the H.

    1. I agree that a lot of people like to freak out about almost anything, but this doesn’t excuse Netflix from exercising good communication practices with its customers. They do SO many things right … why drop the ball on this?

      Thanks for reading!

  2. Very odd, I have received two emails from Netflix about the price increase. The first one stated I would not see the increase for another year and the second reminding me of when the increase would take effect.

    1. Interesting! When did you get the second email? Because I reviewed my entire inbox and found nothing. And apparently, others have too.

      1. The first email was in October 2015. The second was 3/10/16. The title of your story intrigued me to read but once I saw what your article was about I was perplexed. I agree it is poor customer service to not notify, but it really makes me wonder why I would get notified (and my siblings) and a majority of customers did not. Netflix needs to look at their delivery method and make sure customers are the first to know.

        1. Wow … it is perplexing! Confession: I hoard emails, so I was able to do a quick search of my inbox and I have received NOTHING about the increase! March 7 was an email from them about the addition of Cuckoo, and March 11 was an email about the addition of Flaked.

          Though really, if there was a method to this communicating with some, and not with others, why doesn’t Netflix just SAY SOMETHING NOW???! Otherwise, news outlets and bloggers and angry people on Twitter are just going to keep the freakout ball rolling along.

          1. Yes this is bizarre, I went through my email after reading this and no notification sent to me…

  3. Well, if you were a Verizon customer in Florida (and Texas and California) you would have gotten an email on a Monday saying that your new service provider starting on Friday is going to be Frontier. If you bothered to read the email, since it didn’t come from Verizon and the subject was ‘Welcome to Frontier’ and you might or might not have opened it, that’s how you would have gotten that vital piece of information.

    Now, if you had opened it, and Googled Frontier, you would then find out that this is a small company and the transitions don’t go so well. And the customer service team is kept in the dark.

    And if you are one of a select group of customers, you might not have internet service for a couple of weeks after the cut-over.

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