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'Stop being so greedy': Netflix users lash out as password crackdown grows

More and more Netflix (NFLX) users are expressing their concerns (and confusion) over the streamer's crackdown on password sharing.

Earlier this month, Netflix revealed the first details of the crackdown after an update appeared on the company's help center which appeared to show the streamer would require users to identify a "primary location" for all accounts that live within the same household.

Netflix later clarified that information was only applicable to the test countries at the time, which included Chile, Costa Rica, and Peru. Last week, however, the crackdown expanded into Canada, New Zealand, Portugal, and Spain, which set off a new wave of customer concerns.

Calgary, Alberta. Canada Dec 9 2019: A Person holds an Apple TV remote using the new Netflix app with a hand. Netflix dominates Golden Globe Nominations. Illustrative
Calgary, Alberta. Canada Dec 9 2019: A Person holds an Apple TV remote using the new Netflix app with a hand. Netflix dominates Golden Globe Nominations. Illustrative (Marvin Samuel Tolentino Pineda via Getty Images)

Over the past few weeks, Netflix users have flooded our inbox with thoughts, concerns, and questions surrounding the crackdown.

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Many have threatened to cancel if extra fees are implemented, with some implying the move will likely help boost competitors like Amazon Prime Video (AMZN) and Disney+ (DIS).

Yahoo Finance has reached out to Netflix for clarity surrounding the most-asked about questions and was directed to the platform's help center pages which detail the rules for each specific country where the crackdown has been rolled out. (Remember: there has been no U.S. announcement so far)

According to the help center, "a Netflix account is meant to be shared in one household (people who live in the same location with the account owner)."

"People who are not in your household will need to sign up for their own account to watch; or in some countries you can buy an extra member and add them to your account," Netflix said.

The company added account holders can manage and update their primary location through the Netflix app. Users can also easily access their accounts while traveling or on vacation.

Still, some users remain uneasy about the changes. Below are the top thoughts and concerns from our readers:

Liz C.

I’m a Canadian that pays for a premium Netflix account, so we can have up to 4 devices logged in at a time. We watch it on our cable box, and our two children watch it on their laptops at University. So now Netflix wants us to pay an additional $7.99 for additional users? My frustration is they are not making any money because costs of their movies and series is increasing, or costing too much. …Then stop spending so much on them? This sounds like a “you problem” not a me problem. I am paying enough for tuition, groceries and rent for my kids, now you want me to pay more? Stop being so greedy.

Hunt D.

One aspect of this story that I am not seeing mentioned in Canadian media is the impact of snowbirds. Over a million Canadians travel south for much of the winter, and the Netflix changes seem to eliminate our ability to use Netflix if we are away from our Canadian homes for over a month. ...We have not cancelled yet, but according to Netflix we will be locked out of our account on the 21st, so they may see a wave of cancellations at that time from Canadians who do not have access to their home wifi this time of year.

Jeff K.

I understand Netflix’s desire to stop five friends that don’t live together sharing one account login, but that is how they built their business. Families with children away at university would be considered part of the household under the Stats Can definition, since their primary residence is still with their parents. It is not a simple issue, but I feel Netflix has gone too far, unnecessarily.

I have been a Netflix customer for years and seen numerous price increases. It started at about $8/month and is now $23/month. If I need to add another location, then I will most likely put Netflix on a rotation schedule throughout the year along with the other streaming services that I do that for; Disney+, Paramount+, Apple.

Amanda G.

If the policy change makes it that we would have to pay full price for a subscription, we would not add the service. The reality is each subscription service provides limited options at this point, and frankly I believe people will be returning to illegal downloads. Netflix was a draw because it meant we could get rid of our overpriced cable service. At this point, by needing multiple streaming services it will end up as being as expensive as cable.

While I understand these are all businesses that want to make a profit, I believe it will end up being a short sighted approach.

The economy is rapidly entering a recession. Streaming services are not a need and are an easy service to cut to save money. Netflix likely will only be the first to move towards preventing account sharing, but unlike Amazon prime, which offers an additional service for the cost, or Disney plus, which has the most popular children’s programming, they have little to make themselves imperative for the viewer.

Annette C.

This password crackdown is discriminatory to families whose children live in two households. Life is disruptive and chaotic as it is for two-household children and their ability to access their own content on streaming platforms across two-households helps establish some stability and reliability in their lives.

Eric W.

I stay at three other locations beside my home each month.

This Netflix agreement is reducing my livelihood and subjecting me to hardship.

Netflix has made new agreements with actors and film production companies and piggy backing on consumers to pay for their deals through these agreements!

Peter K.

One of our two sons attends university locally and lives at home (no Netflix problem there) The other one studies in another province. But although he's at home occasionally, most of his Netflix use is away from home (Netflix will likely force him to get his own account- as if students these days have more money to spend...)

My wife and I are retired and travel a lot. Months at a time. But we live on a budget. ...We enjoy our Netflix account, but overall, the whole family is a rather occasional user.

Phil K.

My brother and I share a Netflix account. He lives elsewhere in the city.

I pay for the entire HD package. I have decided if they implement this I will cancel. We currently have Prime, Crave & Apple at times. So don’t need Netflix. Paying $23.30 a month is not worth not being able to share. We both live alone. Those are my thoughts.

Donna M.

As a snowbird on a fixed income, I have chosen Netflix as my streaming service. The new Netflix changes do not accommodate individuals/couples that spend part of the year out of their primary residence and they are asking snowbirds to pay the additional $7.99 monthly user fee to be able to stream when away from their primary residence, despite the primary residence not using Netflix during that time. ...I was told by Netflix customer service that I couldn’t share between my two residences unless I added the second one to my plan.

I get them trying to reduce password sharing outside the home, but am really disappointed in them restricting the use of the primary account holder who travels.

I will be canceling the service and really hope these changes prove to be disappointing to them.

Julie W.

One extremely important aspect of password sharing I have yet to see addressed, are those serving in the military, especially those who have spouses on deployment and can access Netflix.

Patrick C.

I feel like my issue with Netflix is a first world problem since we have 2 homes but I believe there are enough of us that Netflix will need to have a solution. I doubt we would cancel if they come up with a reasonable fix.

Cara L.

I'm wondering if this crackdown includes the account access that's included with some contract phone companies now because Verizon and T-Mobile include Netflix and Paramount+ with their plans. I share a phone plan my friends and don't live in the same household because if so then that's not fair since it was included in our phone plan when my friend signed us up through T-Mobile

Michael J.

While I respect and appreciate where Netflix is coming from I also have a serious question.

My parents and I do not share an account they have their own they pay for it and we pay for ours but they snowbird between a Northern State and a Southern state half the year. They own property in both places they use one Netflix account though. They don't bother to change their primary address they forward their mail for 6 months out of the year. Changing their primary residence location would be very difficult and require them to change their credit card information and the bank information just so that they could tie it to something like Netflix and set an address half the year to something else.

They're really worried about this change in Netflix I don't know how to contact Netflix and tell them my concerns about this but I liked your article and I just wanted to tell our story. I was thinking about how I'm going to help my parents they're obviously not going to be able to go home and get on their Wi-Fi to get recertified and I'm not going to tell them they should change their address and billing information just to cope with the new rules so what should they do? They're legitimate paying customers who migrate and if migrating is going to be difficult they'll probably just cancel the account and I wouldn't blame them.

I believe Netflix has a right to curtail their service to prevent theft of their service of a sort. But they've got to find a balance between doing what's right for them and what's fair for their customers. We don't all live the same life or in the same way. If people pay for the service they should be able to use it no matter where they are.

Alexandra is a Senior Entertainment and Media Reporter at Yahoo Finance. Follow her on Twitter @alliecanal8193 and email her at alexandra.canal@yahoofinance.com

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