From Prince to Pig

Last week, Netflix decided to remove the “Add to DVD Queue” feature from streaming devices and announced it in a blog post by the director of product management.  What this means is that customers will no longer be able to add a DVD to their list of DVDs from any streaming device like an Android phone or iPhone.

What struck me about this announcement is not so much my opinion of the move, but rather by the unbelievable public outcry about utterly stupid it is for Netflix to do this.  After just one week, there are 4,825 comments to his blog – and counting!  I’d say that the product manager named Jamie Odell should start blogging at WordPress so he can be the next Freshly Pressed king of the week.

In all seriousness, this unprecedented response from Netflix’s customer base highlights fascinating implications to our increasingly transparent world.  And nowhere is this transparency more evident than in those companies that exist in a completely online universe.

For example, when is the last time you were annoyed at a restaurant and took the time to fill out the survey that comes with the bill?  Or how about stuffing a comment card into a “We Respect Your Opinion” bin at a retailer?  But when it comes to being annoyed by Netflix, or Amazon, or other online service providers,  the public is perfectly willing to throw tomatoes and really let those opinions fly for the whole world to see.  Some people feel so comfortable with their keyboards that they just get outright mean. I bet Eldenor in real life is actually some 65 year old grandmother of 6, but online she’s Mrs. Sarcastic:

“ties up resources”. What a farce. What about the resources you wasted in programming that feature, and the resources you’re expending in removing it? Clearly Netflix wants to send less discs through the mail, and therefore wants to make it more difficult for the user to add to their queue in furtherance of that. Just say that, rather than trying to contort it and argue that its for the user’s benefit.

What this means to me is that online service providers cannot stumble too many times when they live in the cyber-bubble.  If they do trip and fall, they had better be prepared with an army of bloggers to accept responsibility for the decisions the company makes while showing respect for the impact on its customers.   Otherwise, the once loyal customers of yesterday can suddenly turn bitter and be out to destroy you the next.

So, for all those services out there looking to build an online following, be ready to accept responsibility for every move or stumble you have so that you can return to being a Prince.


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