All hail the death of Qwikster

by Colin McGuire. 0 Comments

After the most movie-filled weekend I’ve ever experienced (cancel all of your plans for tonight and go see “The Ides Of March;” be sure to watch “50/50” in the theater; “Win Win” is DVD-worthy yet still a nice movie to sit down with; and “Sideways,” well, by now, you’ve seen it, judged it, loved it or hated it), I woke up Monday morning to find an email that began much like this:

“Dear Colin,

It is clear that for many of our members two websites would make things more difficult, so we are going to keep Netflix as one place to go for streaming and DVDs.

This means no change: one website, one account, one password…in other words, no Qwikster.

While the July price change was necessary, we are now done with price changes.”

This, in turn, prompted me to toy with emailing the following note back:

All right. So are we done now? Like, honestly, Netflix? Can we stop? Please? All this back and forth is really driving a wedge between us. Should we make an attempt at a trial separation? Maybe take a break? I’m sorry, but all of these changes just have me doubting our relationship. It’s not fair to either you or me. It’s hard to be with somebody when there’s so much instability, you know. Maybe we should reconsider our relationship. 

Yeah. So, anyways, Monday officially marked the death of Qwikster, the Netflix offshoot that was supposed to offer the company’s DVD mailing service for those who still wanted to stick with DVDs over Internet streaming. The cause of death is pending toxicology reports and the deceased is survived by 1,000,000 empty envelopes with the word “Qwikster” printed on the front of each of them.

Speaking as a Netflix subscriber, I’m thrilled, and I have to think that if you are a slave to the little red envelope yourself, you are, too. Speaking as someone who keeps this blog for the three people who read it, I’m thrilled (Qwikster is a hard word to type multiple times, you know). And, of course, speaking as one of the few who have opted against the streaming-only package, I’m super thrilled to know I won’t have to set up another user name and password to manage my list of DVDs I am looking to receive in the mail.

But speaking as the increasingly bitter, annoyed curmudgeon of a person I have become, I’m a bit put off by all this. Actually, a lot put off. Weren’t we supposed to wipe the slate clean when your CEO “personally” emailed us a couple weeks ago, Netflix? Weren’t we supposed to move on and forgive you for your unprecedented stupidity when you began your note by saying “I’m sorry. I screwed up?” I mean, come on here. This feels like an abusive marriage between a couple that just want to “stay together for the kids,” while never even realizing the amount of damage both are providing to those cherished kids they claim to love. How many times can you be burned by a lover before you finally move on to a different relationship?

According to stockholders, as many as you’d like. The company’s stock rose 6.6 percent Monday, the first good news the little red envelope has heard in months. That probably has a little bit to do with Netflix’s insistence upon keeping the price hike it instituted a couple months ago in tact — you’ll still have to pay separately if you want both services, regardless of the death of the “Qwikster” imprint. Remember: stockholders don’t care if you feel inconvenienced. They just care about your money, and all signs point to customer relief after Monday’s news. The happier the customer, the happier the company who takes the customer’s money.

But how happy the customer actually is, is still a question that may take time to answer. Sure, this might be some much-needed good news for both customers and the company, but the biggest issue this brings about is the notion of a lasting effect this may have. All told, Netflix looks stupid. It looks like a company that has no direction and no true regard for its customers (if you really cared, idiots, then you’d go back to the way things were before this stupid price increase).

So now we move forward? Maybe. I don’t know about you, but all of this commotion has actually pushed me to explore other options online (Amazon, for instance, has a wonderfully easy process, FYI). And considering I’ve recently had the time to get through a big chunk of my que, the idea of jumping ship on the red-enveloped machine has become more and more attractive.

Then again, who knows? At this rate, maybe we’ll all be subjected to another email and blog post in a few weeks about how the company plans to revert back to its old prices (highly unlikely), and we can actually begin getting over this moronic public relations nightmare once and for all. But until then …


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