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Dear Netflix

Dear Netflix,

After many years of loyal patronage, I will be canceling my Netflix membership at the end of December.

As we’ve shared so many delightful years together I thought you deserved an explanation, so I’m writing this letter to spell it all out for you.

I’ve been with you from almost the beginning. I think we first subscribed in 2000 or 2001. We took a break after our DVD player went on the fritz, but we reactivated in 2004 and embarked on a mad alphabetical odyssey, watching almost 300 movies I’d always wanted to see. I reviewed them all on my blog. When we finally finished the list three years later, we started all over again with another alphabetical list, which took us a mere thirteen months to complete. Since then, parental responsibilities have cut into our movie viewing time, and the alphabetical approach has broken down, but we’ve continued to enjoy the service.

We’ve been through some tough times together. In 2005, when our home was flooded and much of the Gulf Coast lay in ruins, I was impressed that you handled our account in a sensible and humane fashion. Not every corporate entity was so enlightened. That led me to believe that perhaps you were that most elusive of chimeras, a corporation with a conscience. But perhaps I was projecting my wishful thoughts because of all the pleasure I derived from those movies. Several recent developments have made me question your integrity.

First, you phased out the Friends feature earlier this year, despite vocal protests from many of your most loyal members. I was disappointed, but decided to hang in there.

Next, you announced our subscription fee would be going up. The reason? You’re wanting to plow more resources into delivering streaming content. You’re also offering a new streaming-only plan which would actually save me money. But here’s the rub: Of the 34 movies currently in my queue, only 12 are available for streaming. I’m perfectly happy to get a DVD in the mail instead. But I’m not happy to pay more for it.

And here’s what sealed the deal: I read Jessica Thurber’s post on the Deaf Politics blog. It seems the Achilles heel with streaming videos is a lack of support for captions. Oh, it’s technically possible, it’s just that you’re not doing much of it, not are you indexing which movies have captions and which don’t. I don’t generally use captions, but I understand their value. When my parents were visiting for the holidays we watched movies with captions so that everyone would catch the dialog.

Therefore, in solidarity with the hearing impaired, and to protest your fee increase, and because I don’t like the way you got rid of your community features, I am going to cancel my membership.

I will probably check out one of your competitors such as GreenCine. I think they may have a better catalog of obscure and artsy films anyhow. For example, they’ve got The American Astronaut which has been in my Netflix “saved” queue for a year now. They’ve also got Don’t Need You: The Herstory of Riot Grrrl and The Ipcress File and a whole bunch of flicks you haven’t seen fit to acquire for DVD or streaming. As a matter of fact GreenCine is looking better all the time.

But don’t worry Netflix. I’m sure you can lure me back if you address the issues I’ve listed above.

What’s more, I am posting this letter to my blog, and encouraging anyone who feels as I do to follow suit.


Published inConsumerismFilm & VideoLetters


  1. Lee Lee

    I too have been overwhelmed by life lately and have been using my netflix account to just rip dvds to my computer for later usage.

    I think I know why the jump in price though, it seems as comcast is bullying them (netflix’s streaming partner) into paying a toll for any content that is sent to a comcast internet subscriber.

  2. That was something I almost mentioned in the letter: I’ve supported net neutrality in the past; it seems like Netflix is the sort of company that really stands to benefit. Why punish the old-school traditional DVD-mail subscriber like myself? Don’t make me regret my support for net neutrality!

  3. ned ned

    Not that it matters to me which company you choose to get your movies from, but you’re switching because:
    1. netflix dropped friends (but greencine doesn’t have similar social features)
    2. netflix raised their prices (to the price greencine charges – $9.99/month)
    3. netflix doesn’t support captions in streaming video (greencine doesn’t either, since they don’t have streaming video)
    I might not understand how GreenCine’s service works, though, and they do look like they have a good selection.

  4. Ned, your comment gave me a laugh. Much appreciated.

    But lest I be misunderstood:

    1. It’s not that I need the social features, it’s more that I didn’t like the way Netflix treated their customers who used that feature. After all, when I got started with Netflix they didn’t have it.

    2. By raising prices, Netflix makes GreenCine’s rates seem more reasonable.

    3. The crux of the matter. I don’t crave streaming or captions, but if you’re going to offer the former you should surely offer the latter. Netflix falls short in this regard; GreenCine hasn’t gone there (yet) so they have not sinned.

    More than anything I am hoping a boycott send a message to Netflix.

  5. Anne Anne

    Bart, you got me addicted to Netfliks many years ago, so as far as I’m concerned it’s all your fault. I decided to keep my subscription after crunching the numbers on how many dvds I get per month and what type they are (mostly documentaries, which are in short supply most places). My cost went up $3 or $4 per month, and postage went up more than that relative to the number of discs they mail me, so I managed to justify it. Also, if I didn’t have my documentaries, I wouldn’t have anything to watch!

  6. ned ned

    Yes, keep Netflix on their toes. I agree with the blog you linked to, it would be handy if Netflix would at least allow searching for movies with captions (iTunes lets you do this, and it looks like they have a large selection, but it’s hard to tell). It looks like some folks wouldn’t mind discs just dropping out of use, so it’ll be interesting to see how streaming services develop over the next few years. I’m particularly interested since the library where I work circulates a ton of these things right now.

  7. Jack Schick Jack Schick

    I’d hope, B.,
    that you are into not only the entertainment, but the serious notion
    that valuable social commentary, documentaries, etc. are going to be
    even more deleted from our social consciousness by the totalitarian Satanic
    forces which control these media.
    For Example-
    “Heavens Gate”
    This movie is intentionally quashed because it depicts the true story
    of how genuine American Frontier Democracy got CRUSHED by
    Fascist Criminals given some “militia” authority.
    That’s right. It happened, and they, THEY don’t want anybody to know.
    They, THEY are actively working to suppress our Real American Culture,
    which By GOD is Christian, regardless of how much “pagan” cunt-worship
    now predominates the young folks.
    Let’s make sure, B. that Valuable stuff like “A Boy and His Dog” is COPIED
    and presented to some intelligent young radicals, for educative purposes.
    “Three Days of the Condor” where we see that the big Oil conspiracy was
    gaining control of our whole future, Thanks Robert Redford.
    It’s not just about your movie entertainment time, B.
    YOU are aware, articulate, and interested. THE KIDS REALLY NEED to be
    guided into Controversial, banned, radical stuff, because we are subjected
    to Dumb-Down mass media 24/7.
    It would be really neato to see discussion about “what titles are not available
    and WHY?” What is the big thing with “Jews” (yes, that term needs to be in quotes) making such a fuss about THE PASSION OF THE CHRIST,,,?
    Let’s educate our youngins to be aware of the organized EVIL in this World.
    Movies are great.
    Your Netflix letter is also Great, and I hope they’ll respond with appreciation.

  8. PJ PJ

    Pagan cunt worship? Come on Jack. Are you trying to be intentionally inflammatory?

    I don’t want to know what you mean by that. Your rhetoric is tiresome to me.

  9. Wow, Jack, that’s really out of line. Deeply offensive on every level. If you’re gonna talk like that I’d prefer you do it elsewhere. I like to think of this blog as a forum for civil conversation with a level of decorum roughly equivalent to my living room. And I have to be honest, if you dropped a line like that in my living room, I’d show you the door.

  10. PJ PJ

    Ok I’m glad it’s not just me. Normally I find Jack’s ramblings not worthy of my engagement. Probably just because they lack a civilized tone generally and not constructive typically. I held my tongue after some of the others that bothered me more.

  11. Jack Schick Jack Schick

    To say Sorry is not enough, to the truly offended.
    To have disturbed somebody with the scream of FIRE! or CALL THE COPS! is
    an example of a necessary intrusion.
    I have High-IQ “Amazon” sisters.
    They unfortunately share the female ego problem where they are above reproach,
    and just full of pure Falsehood, intending to talk loudly over any intelligent thought which might be issuing from a Man.
    Heinlein speaks of the Only Real Patriotism , worth standing up for, is that
    Patriarchal Man who says “Save the Women and Children FIRST”, and THAT is
    our real Duty, to recognize that Men should be self-sacrificing for THEIR
    FAMILIES. So, we have to get it….Read up….Jezebel and Ahab…really!
    This story is meant to be FUNDAMENTAL education for your success.
    I hope a little wake-up will result.
    Rudyard Kipling: The Female of the Species (Is more deadly that the Male!)
    So, B.
    I thought about whether to use that C. word or not.
    Let’s not be mamby-pamby…
    What is really impactful upon us is the Power of a Woman to Insist on Having
    her way, or else a lotta indignation, head trips and maybe Lawyers.
    B., and PJ, and y’all….If you try to Warn somebody about a real, REAL, Complex
    dangerous Reality, which the WOMAN has not Heard about, she will say:
    “You’re so negative!”, or “whatta wimp!” or something….
    Do You Know, B….
    Your top entry today, you FINALLY broach the Oil DISASTER.
    “Oh, You’re so Negative”….uh huh…
    You haven’t SCRATCHED the SURFACE of the Reality.
    My “lack of a civilized tone…not constructive typically” is because I’m
    the freekin’ Screamin’ Guard on the WATCHTOWER, tryin’ to WARN you,
    while you-all “civilized” Bourgeoise try to give a pciture of Genteel Rhett Butler
    standing there so sophisticated with your hoop skirts and mint juleps.
    Please go to the oil thread now.
    You will Read some stuff, and you will BEGIN QUICK PLANS TO EVACUATE.
    “Oh, you’re so Negative!,…Whatta Wimp!…Whatta Asshole, to poke pins in my
    Don’t be Offended, Take a Lesson.
    You woman is not going to “get it”….You’re going to have to maximize your
    best tactics to motivate the family for SURVIVAL.
    IT IS MY DUTY to Give the WARNING.
    New Orleans is soon DEAD. Go to the Oil thread.

  12. Kevin Kevin

    Just my experience: I tried Greencine a few years ago because of their offbeat selection, and because I wanted to support an upstart company.

    Most of my queue – which consisted of movies they claimed to have – got listed as “Very long wait.” It didn’t matter if it was a more popular indie feature or a complete obscurity. Eventually it seemed to me they either only had one copy of most things or they were using queues to determine what they should buy.

    The last straw was trying to contact their customer service. Two emails went unanswered. Finally, with the third, I explained my issue and their nonresponsiveness and said “I want to support you, but you’re making it too hard. If you don’t get in touch with me I’ll probably go back to Netflix.” I never heard from them, either before or after I closed my account. It wasn’t so much a bad experience as it was a completely vacant one.

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