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Thousands threaten to quit Netflix

Fred Prouser / Reuters

Could Netflix's loss be Redbox's gain? Customers rent DVD movies from a redbox video kiosk in Burbank, California, May 8, 2011. Picture taken May 8, 2011.

If you're a Netflix subscriber, you received a rude awakening today in your inbox when the company announced it would no longer be offering a combined DVD and streaming plan and would instead separate the services, for a minimum cost of about $16 a month if you still want both.

I've been with Netflix since 2000, but only recently downgraded from three DVDs a month to one and unlimited streaming. I got this today: 

Your current $9.99 a month membership for unlimited streaming and unlimited DVDs will be split into 2 distinct plans:
Plan 1: Unlimited Streaming (no DVDs) for $7.99 a month   Plan 2: Unlimited DVDs, 1 out at-a-time (no streaming) for $7.99 a month

Your price for getting both of these plans will be $15.98 a month ($7.99 + $7.99). You don't need to do anything to continue your memberships for both unlimited streaming and unlimited DVDs.

These prices will start for charges on or after September 1, 2011.

These changes raised the ire of Netflix's fans on Facebook, almost 9,000 of whom stormed onto its page to voice their vehement disapproval. Many of them complained about Netflix's "greed" and said they were going to leave Netflix for Redbox. Other users suggested services like Crackle, Hulu Plus and even Blockbuster.

Here are some excerpts from the Facebook page:

  • It takes a real genius to destroy a thriving company in a single day.....Congrats Netflix!!!!!
  • Greedy CEO + a mediocre, slow, limited streaming service + waiting for DVDs in the mail = Many canceled Netflix users and Redbox's Best Day EVER!
  • This is weeeeaaaaakkkkk!!!! I can't count on one hand how many people I've gotten to join Netflix. This isn't the time to go UP on prices! Let's see what Blockbuster has in stored!
  • HORRIBLE IDEA. Let's all cancel our plans until they CHANGE IT BACK
  • Well, I won't be recommending Netflix anymore. If all movies and shows were available no matter which option you chose, then we could choose one or the other. As it is, the customer is in a no-win situation, you have to choose "both" options in order to ensure that you will be able to watch ALL of the movies and series you want. We will be cancelling. Time to go check Hulu.

More than 4,300 have commented on the Netflix blog, and again, reaction seems to be against Netflix, for the most part.

We've reached to Redbox to see if they've gotten any boost from the Netflix move, and Netflix to see if they've received cancellations and if they have any intention to restore the plans in light of such a negative reaction. Subscribers also complained about not being able to reach customer service. We tried too, and weren't able to get through, due to technical problems on their end.

This is not the first time users have expressed their frustration and disappointment with Netflix. In January, we reported how Netflix removed the ability to add DVDs from the streaming sites on game consoles and boxes, and how Netflix played down the negativity.

But it's a much more crowded landscape for streaming video now, and there are thousands on Facebook, at least, that intend to act on their displeasure.

UPDATE: Redbox, which offers movies at $1 apiece for each night checked out, "now has more than 27,000 locations that are within a five minute drive of 60 percent of the U.S. population," shared with us comments from its public Facebook wall that seemed to confirm at least some possible migration from Facebook to Redbox. Here are some:

  • I am renting 5 tonight just to show you my support and to rebel against Netflix! 
  • wowsah. i bet redbox gets a lot of new customers today.
  • C'mon Redbox — you need to create a streaming option to supplement your DVD rental business — Netflix's decision today definitely leaves a gaping hole in the market now. Boo Netflix!

Redbox did not share any other information about any boost from the Netflix changes.

As of 10:47 p.m., Netflix had not responded to our queries.

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