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Netflix plans to automatically terminate inactive accounts

AFP via Getty Images

A time-honored tradition at subscription services -- hoping lapsed customers don’t realize they’re still paying every month -- is going away at Netflix Inc.

The company said on Thursday that it will check if inactive members want to keep the service -- and automatically cancel their subscriptions if they don’t respond.

“We’re asking everyone who has not watched anything on Netflix for a year since they joined to confirm they want to keep their membership,” Eddy Wu, who oversees product innovation, said in a blog post. “We’ll do the same for anyone who has stopped watching for more than two years. Members will start seeing these emails or in-app notifications this week.”

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Losing the customers shouldn’t be a big hit for Netflix. Inactive accounts make up less than half of 1% of its subscriber base, or a few hundred thousand, Wu said.

That means the move could provide some relatively pain-free goodwill for Netflix -- and some anxiety for all the subscription services out there that are trying to lie low.