Saturday, February 11, 2006

Netflix takes their most loyal, high volume customers for a ride

Roving reporter who is too lazy to rove:

If you are a low volume Netflix account holder and don't request over 11 DVDs per month, then don't worry about reading this. Quit worrying and go to some sort of online game site. However, if you are a high volume Netflix customer, you may not be one much longer. Chances are, you are frustrated with them for punishing you for your loyal business.

Netflix is a service that let's you rent "unlimited" DVDs per month (2 or 3 at a time) by mail, at a flat fee. 1. Order them. 2. Watch them. 3. Send them back postage paid. 4. Get the next ones. Repeat as necessary -- as many times as you can fit in one month. Late fees are a thing of the past.

PROBLEM: Netflix delays shipment of the more popular movies if you are a high volume customer (over 11 DVDs per month) People call it "throttling." Netflix calls it "smoothing." Hmmmmmmmm.

Read all about it here.

Well, anyway... We have a Netflix account and are low volume customers. So, your roving reporter decided to call up Netflix and ask 'em about it. Yup. And what a phone call it was. First, I sweetly and simply told the customer service dude that I was calling about the news article (Yahoo) about throttling. He suddenly became extremely defensive and talked in a very loud, quick, and perhaps angry manner. This surprised me as I meant to at least start things off in a civilized manner. He talked a long time and said that Netflix has "never tried to hide the fact that they delay the shipment of movies to high volume customers." Speaking in a controlled manner, I gently injected the poison and asked him when their Terms of Use agreement changed, and if they had hidden this from their customers before the Terms of Use was updated. He got upset and said that everything I needed to know was in the article. He said that he was "not in a position to answer this" and expressed concern that I might be recording the conversation. I didn't record it BTW.

After more talk I told him that I thought that some people felt that they were treating their new customers well and treating the more long term loyal customers like a bunch of trash. His responses to this were the most interesting of all. He said, "Most of the customers I have talked to just feel like those people ([high volume customers]) just need to get a life." His attitude insinuated that he agreed with the idea that his high volume customers are just stupid! In other words, he could care less about his loyal high volume customers. That's nice. What a sweety.

His next little antic was to impart a pearl or two of wisdom to me: "You know, it's not what America can do for you, but what you can do for America." Huh? Does this sound like someone who has any grasp on what the term customer service means? Let me translate for him, as I am bilingual in English/moron: "You know, it's not what Netflix can do for it's customers, but what it's customers can do for it."

He then said: "Some people just have this idea -- all they can think about is me, me, me, me!" Wow. I mean he is of course right, but what kind of customer service attitude is that? So his high volume customers who pay Netflix $17.99 per month are just selfish???!!! Gimmie a break!

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