Discussions: Earlier Notice of Expiring Movies, Please


“Expiration dates? . . . You don’t need no expiration dates. We don’t have to show you any stinkin’ expiration dates.”   —Netflix

Okay, so maybe I got Netflix mixed up with the bandits in The Treasure of the Sierra Madre, which is a great movie about greed, and that brings us back to Netflix. While NF may not have uttered those exact words, I can’t help but feel that’s kind of their attitude. “Just give us money every month, don’t complain about anything, and chill.” I know I’m in the ballpark.

Netflix claims to make changes based on what their customers want. Have customers requested not to know when movies will expire, or only know a few days in advance? Hard to believe. I don’t understand Netflix’s treatment of expiration dates as closely guarded secrets. What’s the big deal??? More to the point, is there anything we can do?

What kinds of things do you think might get Netflix’s attention? Should we complain, reason, appeal, or threaten to cancel? Could we start a campaign that would extend out of our group, and into the larger population of Netflix users? Does anyone have a media connection? Do we know who, at Netflix, would be the person to change the current policy?

On May 25, all the May 31 movies will show up on Netflix as expiring. We can all call in, then, and raise a fuss, but will that get the results we want? Might we need a more prolonged, steady campaign to get Netflix to change its policy regarding expiring movies? How can we convince them 7 days isn’t enough lead time? How much should we ask for? Is it worth it to try?


Please share your thoughts and ideas about banding together to try to get Netflix to tell us sooner when films and other single shows are going to expire.

More thoughts. . . 
I've been thinking more about this. For now, I think we should focus on letting Netflix know we're not happy with only a week's notice for all of the exiting Miramax movies. (Again, it's probably a good idea to wait until May 25, when the notices go up on the Netflix site. We don't want to give them any ideas about cutting off the extra week from the various devices that have that feature, or think we're fine since we get 2 weeks notice instead of one.)

I doubt they'll make a change right away even if we all call, but we can plant a seed of discontent about expiration dates, and continue to grow it over upcoming months. Please consider:

  • Focusing on not getting enough notice, rather than being upset about the specific titles that are leaving. I think Netflix is strongly committed to their current plan regarding content, and probably won't change it unless millions of subscribers cancel. I'll bet there's more wiggle room on the "available until" issue.
  • Sounding disappointed rather than angry. Cultivating sympathy will stand a better chance of having your complaint taken seriously and properly channeled.
  • Letting them know you previously relied on the expiration dates that were available on the DVD site. (If you don't have a dvd plan, say a friend used to keep you advised. We are your friends.) It does kind of make sense that they took streaming expiration notices off the DVD site - it's more of a favor that they let you know when titles are available to stream. BUT, we need the full month's expiration notice for ALL titles on the streaming site (movies as well as series). A week is nowhere near enough notice.
  • Mentioning that other sites you use give more notice, and that's one of the reasons you subscribe to them. Doesn't Netflix want to be competitive with these kinds of perks?
Maybe our efforts will be in vain, but maybe they won't. I think we need to try. Who else cares more about getting early expiration dates for Netflix titles than we do?


26 comments:

  1. I think Netflix has taken customers' complaints about the amount of titles expiring to mean that people don't want to know when things expire. I remember years ago when a bunch of TV shows expired, I only had seven days notice that they were expiring and was very upset that I didn't have more time to try to get them done. Getting the month for TV shows now has been wonderful, so I don't understand why they can't do the same for movies. The problem with Netflix now is that even though they say they are driven by their customers, it's not something I can really believe anymore. I think Netflix has their vision and slowly twists us into following it.

    When I called Netflix a while back to complain that I couldn't find a title that was streaming on their DVD side, I was told that people preferred to have the titles listed separately. I told that person they were full of it--Netflix had already tried to split the two brands to much uproar. The person I spoke with had no idea what I was talking about. Seriously? You work there and don't remember or know anything about the Quickster debacle?

    On the one hand, I think it could be worth a shot to try to complain to them to see what they do. So long as it's done respectfully, they will at least tell you they are sending it higher up. Ideally, I would prefer to have the same 30-day warning as the TV shows (I think the DVD side was giving us around 25 days notice), but I think 14 days could be acceptable as well, since most months don't have entire contracts expiring. On the other hand, Netflix refusing to be open about this deal and taking the notices away from the DVD side altogether almost makes me feel like whatever we say, they will just do the opposite because Netflix Knows Best.

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  2. Thanks, Nica; very astute. I hate feeling like a sheep with no power, so I say, let's fight - respectfully and peacefully, of course, but determinedly. I don't see where NF has that much at stake - we might be able to wear them down. A unified effort is a force to be reckoned with. Much more has been accomplished by many fewer.

    I think we should ask for the same lead time as series. I could live with 21 days, but 14 still seems inadequate, especially if there are more than a couple expiring movies on one's list. People are busy; not everyone can drop everything to watch a movie. In any case, even if NF gives in, it will likely be for less than we ask, so asking for more seems like a good strategy.

    If others express interest, I have lots of ideas for things to do in addition to calling C.S., none of which would take much time.

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  3. Arrgghh! The disappearing comment thing is such a nuisance! Below is from Anonymous.

    Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "Discussions: Earlier Notice of Expiring Movies, Please" on May 19, 2016 at 7:19 AM:

    I'm in! What do you think is the best way to contact them? Calls? Their FaceBook page? Is there another way?

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    1. Excellent question, Anonymous. I'm old-school, so I've always contacted them by phone. Don't know if one way gets better results. Perhaps others can address that. I think it's important for each person to do what is most comfortable for them. Thanks for being willing to add your voice!

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  4. You'll be pleased to know that I'm more than willing to do my part to publicize my disapproval for giving us just one week's notice on expiring titles and removing the notices from the DVD section. I plan on posting something on NQB on the 25th to try to push for a month's notice on all expiring titles (I suspect that the campaign will take a little while to have effect) and bring back expiring notices on the DVD section. Definitely agree with the catching more flies through honey than vinegar and will try to use similar tactics over there.

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    1. What's NQB?

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    2. Hi PunkinheadDelux,

      Brian also has a Netflix-related site, called Netflix Queue Busters (NQB). The url is:

      http://netflixqueuebusters.blogspot.com/

      He also lists expiring titles, but offers advance notice of what will be coming to Netflix in the next month, as well. Check it out!

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  5. So, I brought this up on a NF customer service chat and suggested that having a month's notice for expiring movie titles would be more customer-friendly than having only one week's notice, and the CS guy on the other end acted like it was a completely novel great idea that had never crossed their minds before. The cynical part of me thinks they may have come up with a script for dealing with these kinds of complaints.

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    1. Thanks for doing this, P.V. I hear the cynical part of you, but honestly, I think the higher-ups keep C.S. in the dark, too. Perhaps if a lot of us can call or chat or both, and make the same point you did, it will start to sound like an even better idea. If C.S. can communicate up the line about multiple requests for more notice of expirations, who knows. . .?

      I've been so busy with the 5/31 list, I haven't had time to work on this issue, but I'm devoted to doing everything I possibly can to effect some change on this front. One week's notice is ridiculous, even when there aren't 520 titles expiring.

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    2. The following comment is from Anonymous. Anonymous, this was in my email; must have got zapped from this page after you left it. I have put the transcript of the chat you sent on a separate page and linked to it. Thanks for including that - it's typical of most of the conversations I've had with them.


      Anonymous has left a new comment on your post "Discussions: Earlier Notice of Expiring Movies, Please” on May 27, 2016 at 9:22 AM

      I'm a bit cynical as well. Had a similar chat with a CS rep yesterday. He kept trying to tell me how the information is available 30 days before the expiration if you look at the details for each individual movie. (I don't believe the info is there 30 days ahead of time except for TV series. But, I didn't want to get into an argument with the rep.) I tried to remain congenial throughout the conversation. But, in my head I just kept thinking are they really as clueless as they seem to be. Who knows whether the suggestions will help...but I'm not holding my breath as I don't think NF is really going to listen much. Here is a copy of the transcript of my chat with them so you can form your own opinions.

      NF Customer Service Chat

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  6. I just called and said that more than 7 days for movies would be a nice thing to have, especially with it being summer and people going on vacations soon. After all, some vacations last longer than one week, so people might be happy having more notice to be able to watch their favorite movies before they leave. They guy said it seemed like a good idea (maybe as has been suggested on other pages, they do have a script?) and said he submitted it. We'll see what happens. I was going to bring up the fact that the press release gives us more time for some movies but is not complete (I was going to use Korean shows and movies as an example instead of the Miramax stuff), but the guy just sort of took my suggestion right off the bat and rolled with it.

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  7. The following comment from Starchild was copied from the May 31 Movies page:

    Starchild May 28, 2016 at 8:15 AM

    I called to complain, in a very polite way. The man who took my call was shocked! He checked with others in the call center, and they hadn't received notice of this either. He spent a lot of time calling the "higher-ups" and they told him that some company that owned most of these films had paid a cancellation fee and ended the contract. He couldn't tell me which company, for whatever reasons.
    My suggestion is to give Netflix a call, and complain about losing so many titles with so little notice. They're really nice at the call center, and I've gotten results quite a few times. They fixed the format, perhaps because of many callers like me with the same complaint, made the black less intense and put space between the rows. No good complaining to each other, give them a call. It may not help, but then again, maybe it will.
    I also requested putting numbers back so we at least know how many titles are on our list, even if they don't number them. (Forgive any errors, I just had surgery on my one eye, though I tell everyone I'm aiming to be a pirate)

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  8. Meg here ... I called NF customer service and relayed my concerns re the degradation of services NF offered (reduced management of list, lack of communication on expiration dates [used to be shared on InstantWatch, to seeing 7 days notice on "my list', if movie is in your list]) and suggested that NF share a complete expiration list on their website, give it a 90 day trial and see how many customers would be drawn back to their website and hang around their website and spend more time there--isn't that what a company wants? I also said giving back management of the users my lists would be nice as well. She took down all my suggestions and sent it -- twice -- to the collection team for suggestions. I am not holding my breath.

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  9. i called and had a quick chat with the cheery netflix rep. she gleefully took down my suggestion and agreed it would be nice to have more notice. she liked the suggestion of one month, like the tv shows. i got the impression from her that others have been calling about this, especially with so many titles expiring at once by her own admission. without me ever saying the name miramax, she was quick to point out this was a contract that expired and they were taking comments from customers about renewing.

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  10. I have to say, given NF's past behavior, it's making me kinda nervous that we're half-way into the month and still have such a short list of what we know is expiring.

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  11. in the new version of the playstation 3 netflix app, i don't see any expiration dates at all, not even for titles expiring in under a week that are listed on the netflix web site.

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    1. Thanks for the update, Travis. I worry that Netflix is slowly taking away info about expiring titles. And, I guess Amazon Prime recently made it more difficult to find expiration notices. Maybe the research shows that a) most people don't care that much about knowing what's going to expire, and b) notices of expiration generate unhappy calls to Customer Service, or even cancellations.

      I have the feeling that the mindset of those on this blog is not representative of the general public. I don't think most people are all that deliberate about - or give much forethought to - what they're going to watch. Back in May, we got thousands of hits because of the Miramax expirations, so lot's of people learned about this site. But page views did not significantly increase after that, so not many were interested in keeping up with monthly expirations.

      I used to think that if we could make a really good case for more notice of expiring titles, we'd have a chance at getting it. Now I'm thinking we're too much in the minority to wield much power. It seems Netflix only cares about what's profitable, not what's right or considerate.

      On the Netflix streaming home page, they now brag about x-number of titles being recently added. On the press release, they only give about half the number of titles that are actually expiring on November 1. They claim honesty is a very important quality for potential new hires. Apparently, not for positions at the top.

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    2. on a related note, this new version of the app also seems to have removed the highly valuable (to me, anyway) ability to check what quality the video is currently streaming in. the select button while a title was playing would bring up some technical information in the top left corner, useful to see when the video looked pixelated. without this confirmation, customers can't call in and complain that the as advertised HD title isn't hitting (full) HD. you just have to go with it, man. thanks, netflix.

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    3. More disappointment from NF. Not surprising, but disheartening all the same. Thanks for sharing these details, Travis. I hope any of our readers who are potential customers for this product take note.

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    4. as of now, the expiration dates have returned to the ps3 app, i believe the same 2-week window as before. (the reason for the return is of course open to speculation.) the new design still does not include an option to display the technical details like whether it's streaming in 1080p. as anon says below, the CC functionality was also recently changed, stopping the playback, like with the amazon video app for ps3.

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  12. Carol, I believe you are right about NF taking away more ability to find expiration dates. As of this morning, the Netflix app on my Roku no longer displays expiration dates. They seem to have made a few other changes to the app as well which are less than user friendly (i.e. you used to be able to turn closed captions on and off without pausing what you were watching...now there is an extra step - you have to move around the screen to highlight options in order to turn on the closed captions and the movie pauses automatically. I fail to understand a lot of the design changes NF has and continues to make. Plus the ever increasing focus on original content and dwindling titles available really cause me to rethink my subscription to Netflix given the many other options out there. Disappointing to say the least.

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    1. i had to laugh the other day when netflix caught my attention with its row of titles that are "critically acclaimed." it piqued my interest, but then the first several were, of course, netflix originals. it's especially funny to me because my profile is so skewed that nearly every netflix original has an anticipated 4.5- to 5-star rating for me, and the only netflix original i've ever watched was the documentary mitt, which i did not give 5 stars. oh, netflix, you sure think highly of yourselves (and not much of me).

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  13. And, did anyone notice a recent addition in lower left hand corner of movie as you watch---wait for it, an expiration date. I watched Underdogs (you can hardly see the expiring wording at the bottom when you look at the details on Roku). It's already noted as expiring on: 1 week notice (if on your NF list), if you can see it when you look at movie details on a NF Channel on Roku, and, of course, this wonderful blog. I start watching the moving, and, there in lower left hand screen -- for the whole movie -- "Expiring on March 10th". And, NF being so good at what they do: if the screen was dark the font turned white, if the screen was light the font turned dark. Maybe all the NF engineers have gone deep underground and are gleefully trying to find as many new designs and changes to alienate their client base.

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    1. i have to believe that is a roku bug and hope for your sake it's fixed soon. i'll also use this opportunity to mention that all apps are the products of the devices you're on, not netflix engineers.

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    2. Thanks Travis. I'm pitifully ignorant about what various devices/apps offer. I have only the Netflix app on a Sony Smart TV - no Roku, PlayStation, or anything else. The expiration notice does not appear anywhere on my screen during a movie - only at the left-bottom of the screen below the details when I first click on the poster. That all fades as the movie begins.

      While display might vary from one device/app to another, surely they must contract with Netflix to GET the info, for example, 2 weeks notice rather than just the 1 week given on the NF site. I don't quite understand that, either. No doubt, it's about $$$.

      I hope the money is enough so that NF continues to feed this info to the devices/apps. If the new design on the NF site - without availability notice on the title info page - is permanent, I worry what will be next. The Sony app already no longer shows an expiration notice for individual seasons of a series, or the whole series, like they used to. Now, that space (upper left corner) shows only an Options feature, where you can turn subtitles on or off.

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    3. the independent developers have direct, commercial access to the netflix API, which in the early days of streaming was public, allowing all of us to have advance knowledge of when titles are expiring, not to mention enabling other web sites to develop complementary features and communities using exportable data from netflix. that was probably too much information to have out there from a business perspective. with streaming dates now gone from the discs side as well, most of us common users have been relying on a measly one-week notice (one month for tv series) on a manually ordered My List and whatever new titles are splashed on the front page of the web site as well as what we see on our respective devices. i'm guessing 2 weeks before expiration is the restriction from netflix; the apps probably can't see beyond then, effectively. unfortunately, when it comes to changes made to apps, because netflix aren't the ones writing and maintaining them, calling them to complain can only do so much.

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