netflix.ca – A giant “don’t bother”

Over the Thanksmericangiving weekend Microsoft was running a “Free XBox 360 Gold” promotion, and along with that, NetFlix was offering 30 days of free streaming service. I figured why not try it out, maybe we’d find some interesting movies or TV series that we’d enjoy?

Signing up was reasonably easy, although I would suggest creating your account on your computer first rather than trying to type out a decent password on an XBox 360. Twice.

The first thing that jumped out at me was the selection. More specifically, the lack of selection. It took me a good 15 minutes of flipping through TV shows and movies to find something I would watch to test out the streaming video quality and functionality. No, not a show to actually sit down and watch, just something to try out to gauge the video quality.

I ended up watching about 5-10 minutes of Mythbusters episodes. You won’t have to worry about spoilers of new TV shows if you’re a bit behind on your PVR watching since the available TV episodes were years old.

Recalling how much money and resources Netflix puts into algorithmically determining user preferences I thought I’d give it a chance, so that evening I spent about 45 minutes on Netflix’s website telling Netflix all about my movie preferences, genres I enjoy (and not), rating movies it offered to help Netflix learn about me. I also installed the iPhone and iPad clients, thinking I might go watch a movie on the iPad. Unfortunately I still couldn’t find anything that interested me. The suggestions weren’t bad, but I’d seen the movies I wanted to see and literally couldn’t find anything that I hadn’t already seen that interested me.

I picked one and sat through about 15 minutes on the iPad. Video and audio quality was good, but the movie didn’t grab me enough to care so I went to bed.

I got Lori set up with Netflix on her iPhone too to check out the selection, she watched a few more shows than I did, but the month trial isn’t even over and neither of us can find anything to watch.

The video quality was good, the interface isn’t horrible, selection of clients was nice. Heck, it even streamed video over 3G, something Apple can’t manage on the iPhone 4 (although other video-calling capable phones have been doing it for years), but what’s the point when there isn’t anything you want to watch?

More annoyingly though, when canceling service Netflix.ca is careful to spell out that they terminate your service immediately and you forfeit the remainder of the time you prepaid. Let me type that one again more slowly: Customer pays for service. Customer decides to not renew at the end of the agreed upon prepaid term. Netflix says “great, but don’t tell us until the last possible minute or we won’t bother to give you the service for which you paid.”

Sorry guys, but that’s a dickhead move and it pretty much guarantees I won’t bother trying Netflix again even if they ever get a decent selection of movies / TV shows.

(And yes, I’m aware that it was a trial and I’m not actually out any money. I plan on keeping it that way)

2 thoughts on “netflix.ca – A giant “don’t bother”

  1. I usually don’t bother posting, but really, the end of your article was too much. So you told this company that you had no intention of paying them after they offered you a month of free trial time… and you think its a dickhead move for them to then limit your access? seriously? access to a service where there “isn’t anything you want to watch”… and you’re bitter about that? Netflix is not a non-profit buddy, you don’t sample a baker’s goods, tell him they taste like shit and you aren’t going to buy anything, and then whine after he won’t give you more free samples.

    Had you actually paid, and then canceled, you would have gotten the rest of your month but they don’t want whiny freeloaders hogging their bandwidth.

  2. Had you actually paid, and then canceled, you would have gotten the rest of your month but they don’t want whiny freeloaders hogging their bandwidth.

    That is actually not correct, and their FAQ is fairly clear about it:

    Q:
    Why can’t I cancel my account on a specific date in advance?
    A:
    It is part of the terms of our membership service. Once you cancel your account, it’s effective immediately and all movies need to be mailed back to Netflix within seven days. We don’t give refunds or credits for unused days in the monthly schedule.

    I don’t mind that they limit access when canceling a free trial early, but I have a huge problem with companies that feel it’s acceptable to shut down service which was paid for because a customer has expressed a willingness to cease purchasing service in the future.

    This would be roughly similar to you buying food at a restaurant, telling the waiter that you’re not happy with your meal and you won’t be back, and the waiter then removes the uneaten portion of your meal and bills you the full amount.

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