Netflix's contentious new pricing structure has taken effect, and after weeks of noisy complaints, it's time to wonder: Did you make a big loud stink about the 60 percent price hike? Did you follow through by canceling your account? Or did you just quietly take Netflix's policy changes for what they are -- a business conducting business -- and pick a preferred format?
Or -- worse yet -- have you forgotten to change your plan and are now getting sacked with an inflated bill?
Netflix saw the customer backlash coming a mile away -- and saw it ending soon, too. As a whole, the company weathered the storm well by adding extra employees to its customer service department, which ranked No. 3 in MSN Money's 2011 Customer Service Hall of Fame. Plus, the 60 percent price increase actually only amounted to an extra $6 per month, and if you're anything like me, those DVDs gathered dust for months, my attention stolen by Netflix's streaming selection.
Still, the complaints piled up: Netflix's blog post that explained how the company was separating streaming from DVD plans closed its comments section after 5,000 posts, but kept the "discussion" alive on Facebook, where it now has 81,683 mostly negative posts (and 1,429 "likes"). And even if all 86,000 of those people ditched their accounts -- or went to Blockbuster, which is laughably delicious -- Netflix has more than 25 million members in the United States and Canada, so a few thousand defections won't hurt its bottom line that much.
Online protests can work. Examples: political revolutions in Iran and Egypt, fueled by social media. And on a smaller, more comparable scale, the protests about the iPhone's broken antenna reaped the reward of free bumper cases, and sites like MoveOn.org and Change.org have grown in influence and seen many successes.
But the Netflix protest died quietly after passive social media posts.