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MCCULLOUGH: Netflix should lay off the changes -- and emails -- for awhile

Dear Netflix executives: Step away from your computers.

Seriously. If you're in charge of anything at the corporate level at Netflix, take a week off, maybe two. Go somewhere sunny, with poor cellphone service and no access to the Internet. Whatever you do, don't send any emails to your customers for awhile.

Do this now, before you kill again.

You have taken one of the few companies on Earth that 1) did what it was supposed to do and 2) had few enemies and, well, negated No. 1 and No. 2.

I understand you have rising costs. I understand you have (or had) rising demand. Those two things require a price increase. But why couldn't you have nudged us a little instead of shoving us off the bench and then kicking us in the ribs while we were down?

A 60 percent price hike was ridiculous. If gas went up 60 percent in one day there would be rioting in the streets. Granted, gas is a necessity and movies are a luxury, but still, it's the principle of the thing.

There was an earlier mistake, however: Way back in the beginning, you offered streaming as a free add-on to DVD rentals. As many companies have found in the Internet age, it's awfully hard to start charging for a service people are used to getting for free. When you first launched streaming you should have structured it the way you later did the same package in reverse, charging for streaming and charging a small fee to add DVDs. Then if you had to raise prices you could do it incrementally.

But instead you made one of those big, bold moves your company had been so proud to tout -- and alienated, and lost, a million customers.

Even so, I personally hung in there. The DVD selection is much greater than streaming, which is good for me, and my kids use the streaming all the time, so despite your ridiculous price hike, I was considering staying with both.

Then came the Qwikster email.

It was bad enough you were going to reach in my wallet and take more money. But then you were going to kick me off your website, too, if I wanted to keep DVDs. Two accounts, two websites, two bills to do business with one company.

Combine that with the faux-sorry, smarmy, made-me-want-to-throw-up explanation email, and I pulled the plug on DVD rentals from Netflix, as did quite a few other folks. I kept streaming. For now.

After that email, more customers jumped ship. Your stock price lost two-thirds of its value in the past few months. You apparently saw the writing on the wall, and this week you killed Qwikster.

Then you sent another email, sort of apologizing but not really.

At this point, you just sound sad. Stop emailing your customers for awhile. In the interim, find someone who understands the meaning of the word "tone" when it comes to writing.

I don't know if you killed Qwikster because you made too many people mad or because the rumored deal to sell your DVD division to Amazon fell through. Or maybe angering so many customers torpedoed that alleged deal -- you know, the one your CEO wouldn't confirm or deny on "Nightline."

Either way, you've made enough of a mess. You still have quality products. Let them speak for themselves.

Do not speak for them for awhile.

Sincerely,

A disgruntled fan.

Email Nate McCullough at nate.mccullough@gwinnettdailypost.com. His column appears on Fridays. For archived columns, go to www.gwinnettdailypost.com/natemccullough.