Netflix’s underhanded tactics deceive customers and cast aspersions on Internet providers

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For immediate release

This statement is attributable to Ken McEldowney, executive director, Consumer Action.

Netflix’s recent admission that it has been automatically degrading the picture quality for AT&T and Verizon wireless customers is surprising and concerning. Not only does this action demonstrate a complete lack of transparency with customers, but the news is also confusing: Netflix settings have long allowed users to choose their own preferred balance of picture quality vs. data usage.

And the harm doesn’t end with consumers. Most consumers that encounter video playback issues are likely to unfairly place the blame on their broadband providers. In fact, the Netflix admission came out because one mobile carrier incorrectly claimed that two of its major competitors were slowing customer’s viewing speeds. Surely there was a better way to “help” consumers than by secretly slowing their streaming video entertainment and in doing so, casting aspersions on Internet service providers.

Then why, we ask, would Netflix need to slow mobile users’ video speeds without their knowledge? The company says it was protecting consumers from exceeding their mobile data caps. We wonder how many consumers simply gave up rather than watch fuzzy video? Customers who pay a monthly fee to view unlimited streaming video content deserve to be able to watch it, not to be driven off their devices by frustratingly low resolution.


For Netflix customers who want to adjust their playback speeds, go to the Your Account page and select Playback settings in the My Profile section. The company says it can take up to 8 hours for the preferences to change so if you plan to watch on your mobile device, make your choices well in advance or select the “auto” option which automatically adjusts video definition based on your current Internet connection speeds.

Consumer Action recently published two related publications that are free for distribution for educational use:

Through multilingual consumer education materials, community outreach and issue-focused advocacy, Consumer Action empowers underrepresented consumers nationwide to assert their rights in the marketplace and financially prosper.




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