Netflix Hates Families

19 Jun 2008

Apparently Netflix is cancelling its multiple queue feature. They sent me a message saying:

We wanted to let you know we will be eliminating Profiles, the feature that allowed you to set up separate DVD Queues under one account, effective September 1, 2008.

Each additional Profile Queue will be unavailable after September 1, 2008. Before then, we recommend you consolidate any of your Profile Queues to your main account Queue or print them out.

While it may be disappointing to see Profiles go away, this change will help us continue to improve the Netflix website for all our customers.”

What are they thinking?

Hey, Netflix — how about you let your customers tell you which features would improve or degrade the Netflix website? Don’t tell me what’s good for me. You’re starting to sound like a big company. Microsoft tells me what is best for me when it tries to impose new features I don’t want. (And, occasionally, Apple does too, when it removes compatibility with older software).

I wrote them a note:

Dear Netflix,

I am writing to protest the removal of your profiles feature. This feature has been extremely helpful and enjoyable for our family of five, soon to be a family of six. We currently have four profiles with separate queues for the children that are old enough to understand the idea of a queue. It has been a great deal of fun for them to see the movies that are in their own queues and help pick them out. Getting Netflix envelopes addressed to their own names at our address is something they have come to greatly look forward to. It’s even been educational, since they get to think about how the mail works, how they have to finish one movie and return it before getting the next one, take care of the movies and keep them from getting damaged, plan ahead, and anticipate when each movies will arrive.
It also appears that your have chosen to plan to discontinue this feature in the most inconvenient way possible for customers, by simply dropping all the additional queues. Services like this exist entirely because customers find the convenience they offer to be worth the money. Your suggestion that users should print out their queues in order to keep a record of the movies they were planning to rent, and then re-enter them, is ridiculous — you couldnt have chosen a better way to inconvenience and alienate your best customers if you had tried.
Multiple queues is your single most family-friendly feature. I sincerly hope you will reconsider this decision. If you remove this feature I have to consider whether Netflix still offers any significant value to our family.

Yours sincerely,

Paul R. Potts

We won’t be buying a Ford because apparently they think their family-friendly minivans are no longer important enough to keep in their car lineup. If Netflix removes the features that make it family-friendly, we’ll have to get our movies elsewhere. But that would be a shame, because I have really enjoyed the selection Netflix has, and their basic business model has been great for us. In particular, the ability to try out movies we are curious but uncertain about, movies we wouldn’t normally buy or pay a regular rental fee for, has been a godsend. What could I replace it with? I don’t really want to buy (and maintain) a huge video collection. The traditional video stores apparently make all their money on late fees, and the one truism about growing a family is that life becomes chaotic, which means we would be getting movies back late, all the time. I’m not really into piracy, either. Does Blockbuster’s version of movies-by-mail have this feature? If so, Netflix may have just handed them their entire family demographic. On a platter.

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