Thursday, August 4, 2016

Netflix decides to get tough

Some time ago, I got a VPN for my internet connection, partly because it was recommended by various sources as a way to maintain privacy and make things more difficult for hackers. While I knew that it was possible to use the VPN to watch Netflix from other regions, that was not a primary attraction. So, when Netflix decided to make it impossible to watch outside of one's own region, I shrugged and accepted that we would stick with Canadian Netflix. But the other night, Netflix suddenly blocked all of its shows, all content, from those using a VPN/proxy connection. They offered a connection to write for help, so I did. Here is the exchange:


Netflix Charlie
Hello! I'm Charlie. How can I help?

You
Hi. I got the message about using a proxy and went through the steps to disconnect it, but I still get the same message.

Netflix Charlie
Oh! I see, I can definitely keep helping you on this. Just to confirm, can you tell me what device is giving you the proxy message?

You
apple tv

Netflix Charlie
Alright, thanks. Have you checked if you get the same message on your computer when trying to watch a title?

You
No, I haven't.

Netflix Charlie
Oh! Okay, in that case, can you please Click Here and play any title on your computer and tell me if you get the same message? Before moving forward we want to confirm if this message happens on more than one device.

You
Yes, same message.

Netflix Charlie
Okay, thanks for checking this. Just to confirm were you using a VPN or proxy before and turned it off already or were getting the message without using a proxy?

You
I was still hooked up to the VPN/proxy and got the message. Then I went through the steps to disconnect it---and the DNS numbers changed automatically---but I still got the same message.

You
And I rebooted both the router and the Apple TV.

Netflix Charlie
Ah, okay. I understand now. Well, now that the VPN is off, we recommend getting in touch with your ISP so they completely reset the network settings to default, since it's possible the VPN you had caused your home network to change and cause this message even when the vpn is off.

You
That seems like a lot of trouble, frankly.

You
I've started a trial with CraveTV, and that seems to run fine.

Netflix Charlie
I totally understand. The reason CraveTV runs fine is because they probably don't do anything to block about connections using proxies. I understand you are definitely not using one anymore, but after using one, its settings can permeate to other places. Your home network can have its settings changed or even your devices can have some settings modified and even after turning the VPN off, you need to refresh more info before you can connect normally again.

You
Sure, I understand. So, basically, Netflix is deliberately making this trouble for me, and you can't or won't fix it from your end.

Netflix Charlie
We definitely don't want you to think of it this way. It's not like we want to cause your trouble at all. You are paying for our service, so of course we want to help you so you can enjoy movies and shows. But when it comes to VPNs, this is the standard procedure after you deactivate one.

You
Yes, I quite see that you wouldn't like customers to think of it this way. And you, personally, have been very helpful. But I resent the way that Netflix has set up this policy. It seems terribly arrogant to me. (And it seems especially misbegotten at a time when growth of subscribers has slowed and stock prices are slipping.)

Netflix Charlie
Of course, I understand this doesn't seem particularly well-handled. But VPNs and proxies have been against our terms of service since the start, and while many were able to be used despite of this, we have been working on stopping more proxy servers from working with Netflix.

You
What I don't understand is that Netflix had already, some time ago, as far as I know, made it impossible to use the VPN to watch shows from other regions. Yet still, that wasn't enough. The company had to make it impossible to have a VPN at all. Why take these punitive actions?

Netflix Charlie
It's not punitive action we are happy to do. The reason is simply the licenses we hold. I'm sure I don't need to get into details about this, but it's not something we are doing just for fun. We don't like to restrict you in any way from the shows you want to see. We want to eventually get to a point where you won't need VPN to access your favorite shows and movies. For every region to get the same great content, but we understand this is also some time away.

You
Okay, thanks, I do understand all that. But, essentially, Netflix has agreed to beat up on its own subscribers in order to satisfy the lawyers representing those selling the licenses. Anyway, I've taken up enough of your time. Thanks for helping. But I think I will be cancelling my Netflix subscription. I have my own principles that I have to respect.

Netflix Charlie
I really wouldn't like to see you leave over this, but I can definitely respect that. We are not looking to beat up on you at all, and do our best to give you the content you want so there's no need at all for the use of VPN. But again, I understand where you're coming from. Let me know if there is anything else I can do for you tonight.

You
Nothing tonight. Thanks.

Netflix Charlie
Thanks again for your time, we greatly appreciate your input and I will be giving your feedback on all of this to my team. It was a pleasure.

Netflix Charlie
Have a good night. And one more thing, if you wouldn't mind, please stay online for a one question survey.

The one question was: "Are you satisfied with your Netflix experience?" You can guess my answer.