It’s so hard for families to make a dollar, and so easy for the private sector to take it away

Last night, my wife showed me a letter from The Wall Street Journal telling me that my subscription price is going to more than double. Guess that hacking scandal really has put ol’ Rupert in a bind, huh?

Then, just moments ago, I received this from Netflix:

Dear Brad,

We are separating unlimited DVDs by mail and unlimited streaming into two separate plans to better reflect the costs of each. Now our members have a choice: a streaming only plan, a DVD only plan, or both.

Your current $14.99 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, 2 out at-a-time (no streaming) for $11.99 a month

Your price for getting both of these plans will be $19.98 a month ($7.99 + $11.99). 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.

You can easily change or cancel your unlimited streaming plan, unlimited DVD plan, or both, by going to the Plan Change page in Your Account.

We realize you have many choices for home entertainment, and we thank you for your business. As always, if you have questions, please feel free to call us at 1-888-357-1516.

–The Netflix Team

Hey, I just switched from the three-movies-out-at-a-time plan to the two-movies one because I didn’t LIKE spending something like 19 bucks a month on it…

Good thing I know that the private sector is driven by such wonderful motives as customer service and efficiency. Otherwise, I’d be a little bit ticked right now.

23 thoughts on “It’s so hard for families to make a dollar, and so easy for the private sector to take it away

  1. Brad

    Maybe I’m onto a good, facile campaign slogan here. Maybe I should go ahead and run for Congress or something. The bennies are good, and I could use the extra income to pay for my subscriptions…

  2. `Kathryn Fenner

    Oh puhleeeze–Netflix is the best entertainment deal going, short of the public library–unlimited entertainment for under $20 a month!

    We don’t have cable or satellite, but I understand they are considerably more expensive–besides, Netflix used to be more than $20 when they started out and no streaming at all, and it was an awesome deal!!

  3. Brad

    Seriously, when my wife sees the Netflix thing she’s going to freak. Especially since the streaming thing only works about half the time… which is one reason why I just signed up the other day to change our Internet provider. Which is going to, um, cost more.

    And note, that was only ONE reason. The other is that, well, we only have an Internet connection about half the time at home. Even though we’re paying to have it ALL the time.

    The private sector is so wonderful. It just does everything right, thanks to that awesome profit motive…

  4. Brad

    Hey, y’all are kinda missing the point here with that “unnecessary luxury” stuff. That’s the problem. Mamanem’s not going to make me stop buying gas. Necessities going up are a pain, and a problem. But when luxuries go away, you could lose them. And then where would we be? I ask you. Huh?

  5. Brad

    And now that you mention it, I happen to think my South Carolina taxes are a great deal, too. But Nikki Haley goes around complaining about those in exactly the same terms, and she gets elected governor.

    So get off my case. Y’all don’t know a great idea when you see it…

  6. `Kathryn Fenner

    Seems like you need to fix your internet connection–we have no trouble with our Roku box–heading up now to watch Intelligence, the Canadian “The Wire”– slow start, but rich characters and realistic, intricate plots…

    Take a thermos instead of buying Starbucks a few days and you’ll more than make up the difference.

  7. Bernard M. Corbett

    Brother Brad:

    The Netflix account is an unnecessary luxury – which I am also addicted to. Hey, as an escape from reality, Netflix is cheaper than booze, in terms of both dollars & intangible costs.

    Pardon me if I have no sympathy concerning your WSJ subscription – which methinks is for you a fully deductable business expense.

    Real sympathy can be had discussing the rise in cost of gasoline, food, clothing, electricity, etc.


  8. Brad

    No, I won’t. I go to Starbucks maybe once a week. Twice at the most.
    Just so I can flash my London gift card, and impress the baristas. The esteem of baristas means a great deal to me.

    And we’ve already had the people out to work on the connection, and they replaced the box, saying the new box was so much better, the very box of the world. But if anything, the connection is worse now. Which is why I’m switching providers.

    Yeah, I’ll bet that’s just like “The Wire,” except that no one can pronounce the letter “O.” And there are no criminals, because everybody in Canada is so content and well-behaved, on account of single-payer health care…

  9. Brad

    Oh, wait — according to “Law and Order UK,” and “Snatch,” and “Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels,” and the newspapers I read over there, they also have crime in England, despite having single-payer. So apparently it isn’t a panacea. Doesn’t matter. I still want me some.

    Also, there are crimes on “Inspector Lewis.” But they consist mostly of highly eccentric murders that apparently only happen in Oxford. Which made us a tad nervous staying there even for a few days, I can tell you. Because I’m sure the people who make “Inspector Lewis” wouldn’t make that stuff up…

  10. Steven Davis

    I and I suspect thousands of others cancelled their Netflix subscription today.

    They had it made with me, I’d get a movie, let it sit near the television for two or three weeks, maybe watch it and usually send it back unwatched.

  11. Norm Ivey

    Netflix expects to be out of the DVD mailing business altogether within a couple of years.

    I suppose I’ll be hearing from them soon about splitting my account as well. It is an addiction of sorts, but a (so far) harmless one. (American Experience: Harry Truman was my most recent indulgence.)

    I know (I think) even without the assistance of an emoticon that your running for Congress comment above was in jest, but if you’re seriously thinking of a career change, maybe you should explore Mark Quinn’s position. He’s gonna be missed on The Big Picture.

  12. Norm Ivey

    My previous comment was posted at 11:21. My Netflix email explaining the increase in fees arrived at 11:47.

  13. Brad Warthen

    Doug, I don’t know where you get that. Here’s what I wrote:

    “Ditto with the related nostrum, When families fall on hard times, they tighten their belts. Yeah, of course they do — and at the same time they search frantically for ways to bring more revenue into the house. But people too seldom challenge these facile sayings, so it was good that Kathryn did so, and so very politely.”

    People tighten their belts because they’re forced to. But they simultaneously do everything they can to replace the lost revenue. In fact, if they can replace the revenue quickly enough, they don’t even have to cut back, especially on essentials. But generally, they do both.

  14. Doug Ross

    So basically you need to prioritize what is important and adjust accordingly. One or two fewer Starbucks trips a month covers the Netflix increase. Just like not spending $750K on the Woodrow Wilson house would allow the family homeless shelter to be fully funded.

    Your checkbook shows what your priorities are.

  15. `Kathryn Fenner

    Netflix used to charge $20 or so for three discs ata time, no streaming. they kept reducing the cost in response to potential market subs like Blockbuster. Then they added streaming–a bonus service–but the cost of mailing out DVDs as killing them. They have to raise more INCOME. Duh.

    Remember–you don’t have to go get the DVD or go somewhere to return it–no late fees. For me, the clincher is the excellent algorithm that suggests films and shows I never would have thought of—studies show it’s more accurate than when you choose for yourself. I have found this to be true.

    –and re: Intelligence–the Salon reviewer suggested that the weakness of the show was that Canadians are just so polite. It’s also a strength–when you just have psycho killer criminals,who mow down anyone in their way, it gets boring and you don’t have any plot constraints. It’s the same problem with romantic plots–you don’t get any plot when there are no reasons why the couple can’t just get together–no wars, family intervention, religious issues…..

  16. Brad

    Sounds like “Brave New World.” They tried to remove all tension from life, and made it so boring that people had to undergo VPS (Violent Passion Surrogate) treatments to keep their body chemistry working properly.

    So that’s what Canada’s like, huh?

  17. Brad

    And Doug — who uses a checkbook?

    By the way, a coffee at Starbucks costs about $1.60. And a refill is about 50 cents. I’m not there for soda fountain drinks the way some people are. I’m there for coffee.

    Also — I’ve got connections. Did you know that baristas are encouraged to give “comps” — free drinks — to people they are related to? Enough said, except that me actually PAYING for a coffee at Starbucks is only an occasional thing. And when I do pay, I flash my cool London card. (And I’m not kidding; baristas actually DO exclaim over it).

  18. Brad

    By the way, speaking of griping about the private sector. Did you see what I Tweeted last night?

    “Why not keep some paper tape in the gas pump so customers don’t have to go in and stand behind lottery fiends to get a receipt?”

  19. Mab

    Maybe Steven Davis will chime in on their *rights* to be lottery fiends.

    Maybe the lottery commission will one day fund each Get-N-Go with a specially-designated lottery clerk and hire only Baptists, and force them to work on Sundays.

    Maybe the world will one day right itself…

  20. `Kathryn Fenner

    I love Canada. It is so much safer than here, people are so genuinely warm and they get so much in return for their community spirit.

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