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Netflix whiplash stirs angry mobs -- again

John D. Sutter, CNN
Netflix's plan to split itself into two services received mixed reactions online from customers and bloggers.
Netflix's plan to split itself into two services received mixed reactions online from customers and bloggers.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Netflix customers not happy about whiplash decisions
  • On Monday, Netflix killed its sister company, Qwikster
  • Move is designed to be more convenient for consumers
  • But recent history of PR disasters leaves customers fuming, stocks down

(CNN) -- Angry Netflix mobs aren't putting away the pitchforks yet.

The company said Monday that it would kill its spinoff, Qwikster, only a month after it was announced.

That did little to placate consumers who are still fuming about price increases the company announced in July and who are starting to see Netflix as a once-innovative service that's lost its way.

"Netflix does more flip-flopping than a fish on a hot dock," a Twitter user named Steve Harrison wrote.

"Netflix's approval rating is so low right now it could run for president," @jokesbyCandice said.

"I don't think this fixes anything," said Ann Marie Blodgett, a 37-year-old in Utah. "This will make people realize how right they were to leave them. Now they're just back-pedaling."

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"I don't feel the need to go back when they've already made too many changes too fast," said Adam Britten, a 21-year-old in London.

The company's public relations nightmare began in July, when Netflix announced that it would stop offering free streaming video services to households that paid for its DVD-by-mail service. That raised monthly prices by 60% for some customers, without any improvement in the service.

Then Netflix said in September that it was splitting its DVD and streaming services into two companies: Qwikster and Netflix. That incensed some already-angry customers, since they now would have to deal with two corporations instead of one.

And, finally, on Monday the company pulled a 180-degree-turn.

"It is clear that for many of our members two websites would make things more difficult, so we are going to keep Netflix as one place to go for streaming and DVDs," CEO Reed Hastings said in a blog post. "This means no change: one website, one account, one password ... in other words, no Qwikster."

Actually, that puts Netflix back at square two -- before the Qwikster fiasco, but with price hikes.

Since all of the whiplash changes started, Netflix has lost an estimated 1 million customers -- possibly more. An earnings call on October 24 is expected to reveal details about how Monday's changes affected the company's customer base.

It's clear investors don't like all this back-and-forth.

The company's stock closed down nearly 5% by the end of Monday. Since mid-July, it's fallen about 60%.

Not all consumer reaction to Netflix's decision to kill Qwikster was negative, however.

Kyle Wegner, a 26-year-old in Fayetteville, Arkansas, said he was going to quit the service until he heard about Monday's announcement.

"It's the right move, not only because of the silly name of Qwikster, but it was just going to be such a huge pain to manage two separate companies that were doing the same thing," he said. "Nobody wants to have to manage two different queues and pay two different bills for something that we're doing all together now."

The company does seem to have lost its way, he said.

"They're being really reactionary at this point, and that's not very comforting."

Others cut the company a bit more slack.

"As long as Netflix continues to function for a reasonable price I don't have reason 2 abandon it," a Twitter user named @Nitesh_Arora wrote. "Wish they'd focus though."

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