How to tell your Netflix password-sharing pals it's over

Telling your friends you won't pay for them to use your Netflix account can be awkward, experts say. (Shutterstock/Antonio Guillem - image credit)
Telling your friends you won't pay for them to use your Netflix account can be awkward, experts say. (Shutterstock/Antonio Guillem - image credit)

Netflix is cracking down on password-sharing in Canada, and this month it's starting to charge customers $7.99 a month for additional households wanting to use the same account.

While $8 a month may not seem like much, Netflix already raised prices recently, which means customers could end up paying up to $37 a month for a service that in 2010 cost $8 per month.

High inflation and interest rates are already forcing people to make tough choices about where to spend their hard-earned money.

Now, people across the country may have to have difficult conversations with friends and family members about whether they're able, or willing to, spend that extra $96 a year to allow them to use their account.

In some cases, people might be telling their account-sharing pals that they've decided to cancel the service altogether.

Watch | Netflix users react to password sharing fees:

It's a talker, says counsellor

Counsellor Rupinder Sidhu said sharing streaming services actually comes up in sessions with clients often. She said it's not unusual for people to feel anxious about talking to a loved one about taking them off a streaming subscription.

"It's a concern for people," said Sudhu, who is also the Clinical Director at Skylark Counselling Clinic in Abbotsford, B.C.

"You don't want to rupture a relationship and talking about finances in general is just so uncomfortable."

Morten Rand-Hendrickson
Morten Rand-Hendrickson

Sidhu advises people approach these uncomfortable conversations with transparency by explaining the situation honestly, whether it's based on finances, use or something else.

Willow Verkerk, a Vancouver-based philosopher and scholar who studies friendship, says the conversations will also vary depending on the type of relationship the account owner and subscription sharer have.

"$8 can be significant," she said, emphasizing the constraints of the current economic climate.

"If you have a friendship that's merely useful, in which it's more contractual, then maybe that $8 plays a huge role," she said.

"But if it's a long-term relationship and you've been friends with someone ... since childhood and there is a shared understanding maybe that $8 doesn't have to matter so much, and maybe it's worth some discomfort."

Watch | What's behind Netflix's move to stop account sharing:

Verkerk said a good way into the conversation is to ask the person how they're doing in light of rising costs all around us.

"You're probably already familiar with that if they're a close friend. They might already be familiar with your economically difficult situation and so you try and create a dialogue … of shared understanding," Verkerk said.

Sidhu suggests writing out what you want to say or send in a message beforehand to ensure the tone and messaging match what you are trying to get across.

If it's really stressing you out, Sidhu says you should tell the person that.

"It's very automatic then that the person you're talking to is going to say 'oh, you're really upset about this. This must be something that's really important. Let me listen before I jumped any conclusions.' And so you kind of alleviate that for yourself too in calling out your emotions," Sidhu said.

"Now you get to put that aside and have that conversation."

And, if you're on the receiving end of the Netflix password-sharing breakup, Sidhu said that while feelings of discomfort are valid, the person did not intend to hurt you.

"Acknowledge the feelings for yourself, see if there's anything that you can do about it, and then find a way to move through that pain. Whether it's a workout, listen to music, do something fun that's going to distract you from that so you can come back to it at a later time with a bit of an easier mindset."