A couple months ago, you screwed up. (Note that the operative part of that sentence is not actually “you screwed up” – all brands make mistakes – it’s the “couple months ago” part that hurts.)
You announced a sizable price hike with little to no explanation, and zero community management in place to respond. Thousands of tweets, status updates, and posts of all shapes and size went up, and we heard nada-zip-zilch from you in return.
And I defended you.
I defended you because, in all honesty, the hike was not unreasonable. People talked about it in terms of percentage to make it sound ludicrous – really, it was just a few bucks, and something you probably should have done long ago. I thought separating the DVD and streaming services was a little silly, because most people only want one or the other but are willing to slide a couple extra bucks your way for both. But hey, that’s your choice – I don’t really use DVDs, so I just canceled them and went straight to streaming, which I probably should have done anyway but never would have if you hadn’t forced me to think about it. You actually saved me (and thousands of other customers) lots and lots of money, to your detriment.
While I thought you were seriously lacking in the way you handled the increase, you’ve been good to me these many years, and price-wise, you’re still worthwhile – so I was cool with it. I even argued on your behalf on Twitter and your Facebook page, because I’m loyal to my faves like that.
Then yesterday morning, I woke up to an utterly tragic, strategically-absent email from your CEO. Despite the smell of desperation already wafting up from my computer, I opened it, hoping there might be a few “make it right” nuggets inside. (And, you know, morbid curiosity.)
Netflix, I have to assume that Reed Hastings was shit-canned at 6am and accidentally hit “send” in a haze of Jim Beam-induced tears. His whiny plea was embarrassing to read, like that day in high school when the teacher makes everyone read a poem out loud in class, and you were the asshat who took it WAY. Too. Far. Everyone in class is shuffling their feet, refusing to make eye contact while the snotty girls make doodles on their trapper keepers mocking your raw and awkward sensitivity – and oh yeah, the jocks are totally going to beat you up in the parking lot after school.
Just when I thought things couldn’t get worse, they did. The only action point in the email was to announce that you will be splitting DVDs off from streaming to an entirely separate brand. So people now have to log into two completely different sites to use the same product in separate forms! And to try and distract us, you gave it a name that would have been really cool and futuristic sounding… in 1998. QWIKSTER? Really?!
(The Oatmeal describes this better than I ever could, so don’t miss that.)
Never before have I seen such a rapid deterioration of a brand’s image – at least not without massive environmental damage. It’s impressive, really. A year ago, you were this:
Attractive, witty, and well-loved. Everyone just liked the way you operated. You were a Gosling-esque smooth criminal.
Now, you are this:
It’s like the brand opposite of a “She’s All That” transformation.
I tried to stand by you, Netflix, but I have to walk away. I’ll still use streaming, at least until Hulu can come through our Wii. But as punishment, I’m removing you as a verb from my vocabulary. You will no longer be the “Google” of streaming to me, wherein you have monopolized the industry to the point where your name becomes the action itself. No longer will I turn to a friend and drop into conversation, “Oh, you can just Netflix it!”
You’ve lost that privilege, Netflix… and with it, my heart.