Worst Company In America Round One: Netflix Vs. GameStop

Everyone else might be thanking God it’s Friday, but not the companies that had to start off their weekend by beating the ever-loving crud out of each other in the Worst Company America Thunderdome.

To get things started off the right way, here’s a match between two companies that seem to be making an effort to make home entertainment a chore.

First up is perennial WCIA contender GameStop, where many gamers reluctantly shop because they can get new, big releases at midnight and the retailer often has enticing, exclusive extras if you pre-order through GameStop.

By that same token, gamers blame the chain for encouraging greedy game makers to create different sets of exclusives for all the major retailers, which means more money if fans want to eventually get all the content associated with a particular game.

This also leads to situations like last year’s Deus Ex debacle that saw GameStop employees removing coupons from game boxes because it promoted a competitor’s product.

Then you throw in notoriously bad customer service — quite possibly because management seems more intent on loss prevention than anything else – and you end up with a store that even Best Buy feels justified in mocking.

Two years ago, Netflix seemed to have the world in its hand. It had millions of customers who loved streaming videos and having a few DVDs coming in every month for a very reasonable rate — a rate the company spent a ton of money pushing through every form of advertising short of branded urinal cakes.

And then, with little warning or explanation, Netflix announced it was spinning off the DVD business in to a separate company called Qwikster, which would have its own website, and which meant you’d suddenly be paying double the rate that Netflix had built its reputation on.

The Netflix realized Qwikster was not only a stupid company name, but that it should keep the streaming and DVD businesses under one roof for a little bit longer. It did not, however, do anything about the now-doubled rate.

In the months since, it seems like there are continual announcements of companies pulling streaming content from Netflix and/or everyone from Comcast, to Dish to Sony to Amazon making inroads in the streaming business.

The result of this bout could end up being a decent barometer for Netflix’s long-term outlook. Or it could be a lot of people who really, really hate GameStop.

Only one way to find out… rock/paper/scissors vote!

(Voting for this poll will close at 11:59 p.m. on Sunday, March 18)


This is a post in our Worst Company In America 2012 series. The companies competing for this honor were chosen by you, the readers. See the entire WCIA 2012 bracket and schedule of match-ups HERE.

Comments

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  1. Superdemon says:

    No contest here.

    • BuntaFujiwara says:

      I’ve truly never had a bad experience at a Gamestop. I usually frequent 1 particular store, but visit a few others in my area too. Always have pre-order bonuses, never hassle me for pre-orders I don’t want, never offered an open game, etc.

      Netflix on the other hand raised the plan I was on by 60 percent, poor customer service, broken discs, scratched discs, wrong discs, no loyalty reward or grandfathering in.

      I actually feel quite the opposite, because at least with GameStop, if one stinks, there are plenty of alternaties, or perhaps other types of stores. Netflix is the best at what they do, just not the best at handling what they do.

      • Doubting thomas says:

        Gamestop has sold me a broken disc, which I dicvoered before I got in my car and still had to cause a scene before they agreed to replace it, not even a refund, just swap the broken game for an unbroken one.

        With Netflix in 5 years of being a disc customer and a streaming customer for as long as they have had the option I have had 3 discs arrive broken. The first one they shipped me a new disc as soon as the broken one arrived. The other 2 shipped as soon as I reported the issue.

        Gamestop opens new games allows their employees to rent them then tries to sell them to me as new.

    • Doubting thomas says:

      +1. Netflix has taken a lot of crap this year but they are still my favorite luxury expense. Far bettertnah the other options of cable, or nearly non existent broadcast TV.
      Even with the price increase they are still the most bang for my entertainment dollar.

      • kc2idf says:

        That’s it, exactly, and that’s why I voted for Gamestop. Neither of these two have failed me personally in any way, but I don’t think that Netflix’ actions can be viewed as evil or otherwise malevolent.

  2. impatientgirl says:

    I voted for GameStop because they are consistently bad. If Netflix ditches their head who’s made all these bad decisions, they should be alright. Maybe.

  3. speaky2k says:

    GameStop is just bad in so many categories. NetFlix at least has listened to customers and changed their mind about things.

    • BuntaFujiwara says:

      Yeah, that 60% hike never stayed right? And they still offer a discount for having a disc and data plan too right?

      Oh wait…

      • PunditGuy says:

        The rate hike was not exactly optimal, but they are still a phenomenal bargain. Just less so than they used to be. I’m not going to knock them for that.

        • Scorpyn says:

          Netflix WAS a phenomenal bargain, but if you’ve had the service for any length of time you’ve probably already watched everything you wanted to. Sorry, but Netflix sucks at adding new content. And yes I’m sure it’s due to movie studios wanting more money or starting their own services but Netflix’s whole business is to bring you movies/tv shows so if they’re not adding new stuff then what’s the point? Subscribe for a year and watch what you like. then wait a couple of years for them to add more stuff?

          Don’t get me wrong I like both companies, but Netflix is the one that continually disappoints me when I look at their recently added section.

          • PunditGuy says:

            I’m not close to caught up on stuff that I’m watching for the first time. Walking Dead, Breaking Bad, Being Human (both U.S. and U.K.), Mad Men, Sherlock, White Collar, the most recent season of Futurama — and that’s just some of the TV shows. Never mind the Swedish Dragon Tattoo trilogy, the True Grit remake, Tucker & Dale vs. Evil, the restored Metropolis, and about 20 other films in my instant queue that I’ll get to eventually. Then there’s the matter of the 70-odd things in my disc queue…

            • Scorpyn says:

              And judging from your list you use Netflix a lot less than I do. So thanks for a run down of your tastes in tv & movies but that doesn’t change my point.

              • PunditGuy says:

                I use it plenty. It’s used multiple times daily in my household.

                > if you’ve had the service for any length of time
                > you’ve probably already watched everything you
                > wanted to

                Categorically false, and what I was responding to. It’ll take months for me to get through just what I’m interested in watching right now, never mind anything that might be added in that time.

                • Scorpyn says:

                  Say what you want but I have seen the same movie on the new arrivals – new releases slide for the last 6 months (and that’s after watching and rating it).

                  And I’m also looking for NEW content, not just slapping another season of a tv show up. They need to do both.

          • SerenityDan says:

            Really? I’ve been a member since 2007 and I still have almost 500 things on my Disc Q and almost 200 on instant most of which are TV shows.

  4. chucklebuck says:

    I figure Gamestop will (deservedly) win, but I expect Netflix to get a decent chunk of “SON, I AM DISAPPOINT” votes given what they once were and what they’ve become thanks to their own missteps coupled with the uncooperative attitudes and actions of the studios.

  5. 8bithero says:

    Gamestop for me. Only because I don’t use Netflix but I do play video games.

    • BuntaFujiwara says:

      So you’re voting on something not knowing if the other is better, just because you dislike one?

      Please stay away from the voting booths in the upcoming presidential election. If you don’t know what you’re voting on, don’t bother.

      • jono_0101 says:

        “Please stay away from the voting booths in the upcoming presidential election. If you don’t know what you’re voting on, don’t bother.”

        I would venture to say thats probably about 75% of the voting population, and i think i am probably being generous with that number…

      • Thassodar says:

        Smug much?

      • tbax929 says:

        You could be less of a jerk when you’re trying to make a point. In fact, acting like a jerk pretty much guarantees no one will listen to you. The poster who called you smug had it right.

      • 8bithero says:

        /faceplam

        Obviously, you don’t understand what’s happening here. We are voting for the companies we do not like.

        I don’t like Gamestop. I cannot say that I do not like Netflix as I have no experience with them.

        What you stated is akin to saying “How can you not like Pepsi when you have never even tried Coke?!?”

  6. geargutz says:

    I use both of these companies. As a streaming only customer, I don’t have a problem with anything Netflix has done up to this point, as it all made sense to me at least.

    With regards to Gamestop, they are practically the only game in town for this sort of thing, and while I feel they buy used too low and sell a bit too high, they are in the business to make money, and if I really wanted to let my wallet do the talking, I’d buy my used games online.

    TL;DR: Not voting on this round.

    • pythonspam says:

      As I understand it, one reason for the split was so that the company could publish your “rental history” something outlawed for rentors of physical media?

      Would you have been okay with Netflix sharing that information (or selling it to advertisers)?

      • geargutz says:

        In this age of constantly connected, constantly tracked electronic communications, I had become (perhaps sadly so) complacent in the fact that my service providers will use information for their benefit. Since I already signed by life over to Google, what difference does it make if my movie provider hits me with some targeted ads? As long as they don’t show up during the actual streaming or share/sell protected information (SSN#, CC# etc…) I could care less.

  7. bnceo says:

    Considering that GameStop controls how it makes decisions on their policies and how Netflix is hampered by content providers on how big their library gets. I think it’s GameStop with the win here.

    And those who voted Netflix really don’t understand the industry at all. Learn and understand how they do business and their various obstacles. Then complain. But of course you won’t.

    • cyberpenguin says:

      If you think Hollywood is bad, you haven’t dealt with EA.

      • bnceo says:

        EA makes a product and sells it. After that, your relationship for GameStop is done.

        Netflix, it’s a constant presence. In addition, studios are intentionally hampering Netflix to sell more DVD. EA is not hampering GameStop so they can sell more games. Big diff here.

    • Difdi says:

      Exactly. Yeah, Netflix may suck because their content providers suck. But that’s not the faulty of Netflix. It wouldn’t be an issue at all if everybody wanted Bollywood instead of Hollywood.

  8. slightlyjaded says:

    Oh come on… Netflix has had a horrible year, but their actions can best be described as moronic, not evil. They are not actually TRYING to screw their customers, like Gamestop. This is not even a contest.

    • vliam says:

      Dead on.

      I can forgive ‘stupid’. It’s hard to forgive ‘evil’.

    • MaxH42 thinks RecordStoreToughGuy got a raw deal says:

      Seriously, I can’t even believe it’s as close as it is (Gamestop is only leading 3:1 as I type this).

    • longdvsn says:

      I’d say doubling prices overnight is definitely an attempt to screw customers.

      I voted for GameStop because they (and most companies in the bracket) are very bad – but I think Netflix deserved to be included, though with this first-round loss.

      • Tyanna says:

        No, doubling the prices over night wasn’t an attempt to screw customers. It was an attempt to keep their service expanding.

        Do you have any idea the royalties they have to pay the studios for the service they provide? And when those studios feel that Netflix and services like it are some how robbing them, it just makes matters worse.

        To keep providing the service they want they need to pay studios more money, meaning they need to charge more money for their service. Sucks, but it’s true.

      • jeb says:

        How did they double costs? Even the people with the lowest plan that included both only got a 60% price increase. Still large, but not double.

    • BuntaFujiwara says:

      Please explain how GameStop “screws people over”?

      And before you say any of the following:
      1. Open games sold as new
      2. Used Trade In Prices
      3. “Forcing” Preorders

      1. You don’t HAVE to take the open game, you are not being FORCED to buy it.
      2. You don’t HAVE to trade to them. Amazon gives great money. Or you can take the huge risk of selling on craigslist or get ripped off on ebay. GameStop may give you crap for credit, but they will take ANYTHING regardless of it’s condition or if you even have the case.
      3. Just say no, it’s simple.

      • Thassodar says:

        By your logic every company on the WCIA ballot is free and clear because you “don’t HAVE to” do business with them. Please go elsewhere.

        • Difdi says:

          I agree his logic fails, but yours does a bit too.

          Some companies CAN reach out and screw you. Suppose you had a mortgage with an awesome small, local bank with friendly tellers, competent and helpful managers and an eager desire to help their community…and then Bank of America takes them over. Suddenly you have BofA screwing with you, even though you never did business with them before.

      • slightlyjaded says:

        Opening games sold as new, removing access codes for downloadable content that should ship free with games, and then trying to sell it, etc., etc.

        Sure, you don’t have to do business with them. I don’t. There is no universe in which they are not a worse company than Netflix.

      • Difdi says:

        Yeah, and Netflix can’t possibly suck either, because you don’t HAVE to rent DVDs or stream movies, after all.

  9. Cat says:

    My Gamestop is one of the good ones, sometimes going above and beyond. Worst issue I’ve ever had was when the Gamestop web site said the store had a used game in stock, but the store didn’t have it. But that’s not an issue with my local store.

    I love Netflix, but I’m loving them a lot less these days. New content is a trickle, and since the doubling of the price I only have streaming – and there’s a lot thats only on disc. In fact, I’m putting Netflix on hold soon and going for Amazon prime. In a few months I’ll see if there is enough new content to make it worth the money.

    I think Gamestop will never change for the better. But I’m holding out hope that Netflix will get better if we express our displeasure with the direction they’re headed.

    So, I’m voting for Netflix.

    • BuntaFujiwara says:

      I have to agree with you here. My GameStop is fantastic and have not once had an issue. I’ve been going there for nearly 10 years now (Eb Games prior). Friendly, no hassle, always have items, no re-wraps open box stuff. Netflix hiked my plan 60% and has poor customer service.

    • MutantMonkey says:

      I agree. I have never had any issues with GS. To people voting for them because of their used game offers, I hope you realize that you are not forced into trading games with them.

      Anyway, Netflix is the one with the big screw over this year.

      GS removing coupons to a competitive service was a bad move on Squenix, one they recognized themselves and apologized for. Glad whoever posted this article remembered that and mentioned it. /eyeroll

  10. Mambru says:

    No contest here, gamestop with their pawn shop like gmaing exchange. Netflix made a big mistake with the wickster debacle, but overall has been really good in customer service and the service it provides overall

  11. zandar says:

    Gamestop is a chronically diseased company. Netflix made some bad choices. The two really aren’t comparable. Gamestop all the way.

  12. brinks says:

    I hated Netflix for making me choose between streaming and DVDs by mail because our household used both services, and I prefer to watch movies on the couch, not in an office chair in front of the computer.

    Then I bought a Roku.

    I get to watch unlimited movies on the couch now, instead of one at a time. So, while I still think it was a douchey move on Netflix’s part to suddenly split the services, I am actually much happier with streaming-only.

    • SissyOPinion says:

      They didn’t force anyone to chose between DVD only or streaming only. Perhaps you are referring to the price increase for the DVD & streaming packages?

  13. bigdirty says:

    This is for everyone who thought EA was bad a couple of days ago for Project $10/DLC/etc. GameStop is the direct cause. They focus on used merchandise, undercutting the developers and publishers, leaving them to focus on how to best serve those that buy the game new.

    And of course, the poor customer service, gutting of games, requiring pre-orders if you want to buy a game new – GameStop is the obvious choice here.

    • thenutman69321 says:

      Wawawa the poor developers. Project $10 is caused by EA and EA only. I am legally able to buy a product used if I want and I shouldn’t have to pay more to get the full capability out of the product.

      For all the other reasons GS is the obvious choice though. Except for your flat out lie about needing pre-orders to buy a game new. Other than maybe 5 games a year you will be able to walk into almost any GS and buy a game day 1 w/o a pre-order. For those other 5 games that are super popular, they’ll have them on the shelves within 2 or 3 days.

      • bigdirty says:

        When you buy a product used – you get all the capability of buying the USED product. P$10 removes the added value of services from the purchase of the media. Quit your whining.

        I’ve never been able to walk into gamestop and buy a game new, meaning still in factory seal with all inserts, without being told “you should have pre-ordered – if you want one, you got to take a gutted one”.

        For the “poor developers” – if they don’t sell games, or in your case the added content and services because that $5 off the price of a new game is sooooo enticing to you, they don’t make any more games. If the world stops buying new (insert product here), the people who make said product wouldn’t be making any more new of that product.

  14. PlumeNoir - Thank you? No problem! says:

    Honestly, I’m surprised Netflix has gotten as many votes as they have. The qwickster thing was dumb, but they seemingly rectified that. Percentage-wise, the price hike is huge – but when you figure the dollar amount, it’s still cheaper than the cable route. (I was one of the people that just didn’t understand the outrage.)

    Netflix is also the only company that has ever proactively contacted me when they screwed up and offer to comp me for an outage.

  15. George4478 says:

    >>which meant you’d suddenly be paying double the rate that Netflix had built its reputation on.

    I see this doubling mentioned a lot now. At the time, the articles were more accurate. Pre-price increase the lowest price plan was $10. Worst case, a subscriber went from $10 to $16 (streaming and 1 DVD mail). 60% Not doubled. And only one portion of their subscribers.

    Any other plan than that plan was less that 60%. I was on the 3 DVD plan and went from $25 to $28, a 12% increase.

    http://www.usatoday.com/tech/news/story/2011-08-31/Preparing-for-the-Netflix-price-increase/50205346/1

    http://www.nytimes.com/2011/07/13/technology/netflix-raises-price-of-dvd-and-online-movies-package.html

  16. akronharry says:

    Netflix messed up but they are trying to patch it back together again. Still beats other venues.

  17. longfeltwant says:

    Wow, there are a lot of GameStop haters in here. I’ve never even seen a GameStop in my life, much less stepped into one. From my perspective, Netflix is the only dog in this fight. Are there really so many people who buy video games in malls?

    • elangomatt says:

      I think most of the ill will towards gamestop is related to the fact that their problems are more systemic in nature, where as Netflix has made a couple of missteps but is still mostly a good service. I think people go to gamestop for games because they so often have exclusives with new releases that you can’t get anywhere else. Where I live anyway they are pretty much the only place to find used games in a retail environment as well.

      Netflix on the other hand still has a good service, but take a lot of flack for the Quickster debacle. I think the price increase was inevitable, and the reduction of some of their streaming options isn’t really their fault. It is the movie studios that are pulling that are pulling the content

    • Misha says:

      They have a ton of non-mall locations, and also a wwebsite as on the internet.

  18. dolemite says:

    Gamestop is just awful, awful, awful.

    I’ve had 2 bad experiences with them in the past 6 months. And I’ve only shopped with them 2 times in the past 10 years. That’ll teach me to give them a 2nd and 3rd chance.

  19. bben says:

    I haven’t been in a Gamestop in several years. I am amazed they are still in business. They are so bad that I am willing to wait a few more days to get a PC game from a more ethical online source. (Do they even sell PC games anymore?) If I want to sell a game. I discovered I could get a much better deal either trading or selling the game to an individual than just taking the Gamestop lowball price.

    I think their entire business model has degenerated to selling console games to kiddies who just don’t know any better and grandparents buying a game for the grandkids.

    • Outrun1986 says:

      Most states won’t allow a child to trade in a game because that falls under pawn shop laws but you can trade them in if you are under 18 and you have a parent with you, so if the parent lets the kid trade in the games then they are the stupid ones. But yes they are the go to place for grandparents and parents to buy gifts, although most parents will not accept an open, new copy of a game for a gift which is usually all they have as they want a factory wrapped one to present as a gift so that doesn’t go over too well, and for that I don’t blame them. I don’t think they sell PC games anymore but they might have a few like World of Warcraft.

  20. KTK1990 says:

    Gamestop all the way. Promised that my xbox 360 was worth $100, with a $50 promotion going on, and about $50 for 2 games and some other stuff….

    Bought the new 360 at best buy (Same price as others and they had it in stock) and went to trade in the old 360, they said mine was worth $20, a brand new game that they were selling used for $40, was worth $3… so the whole thing went from $200ish trade in value to $90.

    • thenutman69321 says:

      I hate GS as much as anyone but you need to quit telling lies. If it was a brand new game they would be selling it as used for $55 and if they were selling it for $40 they would be offering around $10-$15. Also I guarantee the deal had restrictions and you brought in the arcade Xbox or something which I’m sure whatever flyer or email you saw with the deal had fine print about.

  21. Bionic Data Drop says:

    I could list a dozen reasons why Gamestop is terrible. I foolishly did all my game trading there for years and just like Best Buy, the employees would not let me leave without being severely annoyed. The last time I went to a Gamestop, I wanted to trade in about 8 games. I told the employee right away I was definitely not interested in their rewards card. It took him 20 minutes to finish my transaction and didn’t shut up once about the card. This is while I’m repeatedly declining him after every sentence. I consider myself a polite person, but he was especially annoying. I told him if he mentioned the card one more time he can give me my games back. Then he said “I guess you don’t like free stuff”. What an asshole. I spent the gift card I got the next day and have never been back. I emailed their customer service to tell them why I wouldn’t be back and they couldn’t have cared less.

    I’ve had Netflix for 3 years and haven’t had a single issue.

    This one is a no-brainer.

  22. thenutman69321 says:

    Not even close on this one. Gamestop is hand down the shadiest company around. Removing stuff from games, selling used games as new, letting employees borrow games and then selling them as new, and just an all around completely useless staff. it’s as if they ask on the application “Do you know about video games?” if you answer yes, you aren’t hired.

  23. Squeezer99 says:

    Gamestop is good for browsing used games and writing down which ones you want. Then buy them used on amazon.com for half the price.

  24. Azagthoth says:

    I’ve never had Netflix refuse to let me complete my rental before they offered to put ten more movies into my queue. I’ve also never had them tell me that I was getting a brand new disc, only to allow me to watch them pull it out of a sleeve behind the counter and re-shrinkwrap it.

    Screw GameStop. I hope they burn as the next gen consoles start to render them useless.

  25. damageddude says:

    Netflix, only because they have made it next to impossible for me to watch the occasional old movie. Before the split, we had streaming and DVD. However we barely watched one DVD a month and found it foolish to buy $8 a month just for that.

    One little problem with that logic. Netflix killed our local Blockbusters which killed our local video stores. This makes it next to impossible to rent the occasional several years old movie that we missed when it first came out and now want to to watch unless we want to pay Netflix another $8 a month to rent DVDs as not many older movies are available for streaming.

    For not providing streamers an alternate plan to rent older DVD movies for, say, $1-2 a pop, I nominate Netflix.

  26. Duffin (Ain't This Kitty Cute?) says:

    Seriousy? Who even nominated Netflix for this? Oh no, they raise prices! That makes them worthy of possible being named Worst in America? Come on…

  27. tape says:

    Netflix may have had some really ridiculous brain farts this year, but GameStop is inherently evil.

  28. harksaw says:

    Netflix does not even deserve to be nominated. Yes, they raised their prices. Big deal. They are still an incredible bargain compared to video rental stores. it’s not like they are a cable company that consistently lies about sending people out to fix your service, and makes you repeatedly take off work to wait for them to show up.

    IMHO making minor business mistakes like splitting the company in two, and then backtracking, does not warrant a nomination for WCIA.

  29. HogwartsProfessor says:

    I can’t vote against Netflix, because I still love them. GameStop it is!

  30. FrugalFreak says:

    voted gamestop because netflix has added captions, they deserve something for doing that.

  31. psm321 says:

    Netflix for encouraging/fostering a world in which DRM is accepted

  32. Outrun1986 says:

    Gamestop for sure on this one, they are hands down one of the shadiest companies out there. I try not to shop with them but I get gift cards for them from a survey program that I am on which basically equals free games for me so I don’t complain when I am getting something for free but I would not pour money into their stores and buy into their trade in program like I see so many other people do.

  33. Zer0.MediA says:

    I’ve never had any problems with Gamestop and enjoy shopping there. Netflix provides me with a good selection of cheaply made zombie flicks and inexplicable price gouging.

    I have no idea what people’s problem with Gamestop is.

  34. RavenWarrior says:

    In so many places Gamestop is the only game in town to trade in games, and it’s sad. Plus the sales staff there usually makes Best Buy gaming employees look like geniuses when it comes to actual game and product knowledge. Sure they sometimes have more midnight openings for games, but that only matters to super hardcore, gotta-have-it-ASAP kind of gamer, AKA not me. The one thing I can say in its defense is that it’s an easier place to find more obscure games that other stores don’t stock, but that isn’t much in the long run when a simple online search can likely beat them.

    Netflix on the other hand doesn’t bug me that much since I usually just have it for streaming things and don’t use the DVD service. The fact that I can watch Doctor Who pretty much whenever and wherever I want is enough for me to like it and keep it around.

    In short, Gamestop gets my vote.

  35. STrRedWolf says:

    Netflix, because they just pulled the “ARBITRATE OR ELSE” card.

  36. Ihateyourhighhorse says:

    I’ve never had a problem with either….and I am a frequent user of both….

  37. donovanr says:

    This is like which one is worse: A backrub or ebola?
    Free money or poop in your eye?
    Healthy life or sudden painful death?
    Love and happiness or pain and suffering?
    A kiss or a punch?