Netflix created shockwaves when they announced they would be adjusting their pricing plans. The idea was to separate charges for DVD and streaming services. For customers that wanted both, their bill was about to double. The pricing recently went into effect, causing many Netflix subscribers to cancel. Netflix CEO Reed Hastings turned to email in an attempt at damage control. Whether he fixed or furthered the damage is up for debate.
In an email, Hastings began “I messed up [yes you did, Reed]. I owe you an explanation [yeah, you do].” He then added “It is clear from the feedback over the last two months
...” If it is so clear, why did it take two months to send this email? This blog has discussed apology emails in the past and I have always said an immediate response is your best bet. Two months later? That’s an afterthought, Reed.
His explanation was a mixed bag at best. Hastings did a decent amount of tooting of the Netflix horn. The issue wasn’t with whether or not people liked Netflix, though. It was with the decision to double charges for streaming and DVDs. It gets more confusing from there.
Halfway through the email Hastings dropped another bomb. They weren’t just splitting DVD and streaming services, they were changing the name of the DVD service altogether. Introducing Qwikster. Apparently just keeping the name Netflix and calling your streaming service Netflix Streaming
was too difficult. So would keeping the services integrated. They’re two separate websites that don’t work together.
It doesn’t even end there. While Hastings was sure to establish the website Qwikster.com, he neglected to take control of the Twitter handle. Who owns @Qwikster? A man named Jason Castillo, who has things to say like:
If you’re launching a new company, you should probably make sure you claim the name across all available platforms. Certainly take care of it before you send an explanation/apology email to your entire subscriber base.
For some inexplicable reason Hastings even goes for some sympathy points, saying it is hard for him to see a new logo on his precious red envelopes. I’m so sorry that you lost your precious logo in the process of inconveniencing everyone, Reed. That must be so hard.
Sometimes you need to learn to quit while you’re ahead. Hastings thanked customers for sticking with them and acknowledged that they can’t win back trust overnight. Probably the best, most honest thing he said in the email. Going on to say “Actions speak louder than words. But words help people to understand actions” is really where it goes back downhill. Your actions meant not sending this email for two months and then creating an even bigger headache with two services that don’t work together. Understand actions? I’m more confused than ever.