Want to give Netflix as a gift? How very thoughtful of you! Just make sure the recipient has a valid credit card. And a good memory.
Debbie Thomas found this out the hard way. She bought her son a four month ($60) subscription to the online DVD rental service, only to find out that he couldn't use it because he had no credit card.
Due to the value of the DVDs being shipped out to people with whom they have no prior relationship, Netflix requires a credit card in order to activate all subscriptions, even those that are prepaid.
Also, upon the conclusion of the Gift Subscription period, Recipient authorizes Netflix to begin to bill the payment method for monthly subscription fees and applicable tax unless the Recipient cancels prior to the end of the Gift Subscription period. Although the subscription is cancelable at anytime, there is no refund or credit for partially used periods.
But still... it does seem unfair to us - or "No Fair" as this NBC affiliate serving D.C., Maryland and Virginia puts it in their new consumer advocacy segment, "The No Fair File."
And it definitely violates the spirit of gift giving, but not nearly as much as this nasty surprise from the same report: once your gift subscription runs out, Netflix apparently just keeps billing your recipient month after month until they cancel.
Isn't this exactly what held up the Netflix class action settlement?
They wanted to include this very same "negative option," so that the six million recipients of a "free month" would automatically continue as paying customers, unless they remembered to cancel the service.
Now, you can certainly make a business case for the need for a credit card because of the value of the DVDs being shipped - although we'd be the first to argue that the terms of that gift subscription should not be buried three clicks away - but what's the rationale behind billing people who were fortunate enough to receive a gift subscription allowing them to sample your service?
This is a chance for Netflix to shine, not play dirty tricks.
Why resort to this unscrupulous business practice, which has already been frowned upon in court? Wouldn't you rather that they enjoy your product, have a positive customer service experience and come back for more?
Rather than having to search for your phone number and argue with a customer service rep to get credit for something they didn't actually order?