Netflix Keeps Your DVD If You Send It In By Mistake

What happens if you accidentally send the wrong disc back to Netflix? Netflix keeps your disc. Hacking Netflix reader Cheesemold accidentally sent in a game disc, and Netflix is keeping it. This was their response:

I’m really sorry to hear that you have sent us in your game. I researched this issue and found out that our distribution centers aren’t set up to return customer discs of any kind so we’re not able to send your disc back. I understand this is frustrating for you and I am very sorry that we cannot mail your disc back to you.

If you have not been able to return our DVD, feel free to send it back in the same mailer as your next return (2 in 1 mailer) once you have finished viewing the film. Be sure to include a note with your email address so that we can process the DVD.

I apologize for any inconvenience this may cause.

If you have any further questions or concerns, please feel free to contact us.

Thanks,
Netflix Customer Service

So, sorry we’re keeping your 60 dollar game, but how about sending us our movie back? Nice. Then again, it might be logistically impossible to find the guy’s game. Better watch which disc you put into that little sleeve.—MEGHANN MARCO

What Happens When You Send Back The Wrong Disc? [Hacking Netflix] (Thanks, Riley!)
(Photo: Maulleigh)

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  1. Coder4Life says:

    Actually, they can find the disc. When the discs are finally returned to Netflix, there is someone that looks through the paper sleeves to make sure the right disc was returned, and that it is not damaged. So this would be a very easy solution for them.

    When they get a game, the person shoudl put that aside, and not being able to MAIL THEM. Are you kidding they mail 1000’s of discs everyday. How is there facility not setup for that.

    Do they not send out mail to clients, and advertisements, and pay their bills. That person just doesn’t want to go throguh the hassle.

    SWITCH TO BLOCKBUSTER!!!

    I didn’t get my DVD’s for about a week, and I emailed them and they sent me coupons for 3 free rentals in the store within 12 hours of the email. On a SATURDAY MORNING TOO…

  2. infinitysnake says:

    @Jaideepg: “there is someone that looks through the paper sleeves to make sure the right disc was returned”

    Not always. I once got someone’s ‘guitar classics’ instead of the movie I was expecting.

  3. MeOhMy says:

    I thought it was hilarious that they would say their DISTRIBUTION CENTER can’t send them something. Assuming they found the disc, they should be able to pull this off.

  4. royal72 says:

    “Netflix Customer Service”

    there’s a bullshit title… you know this must happen all the time, considering they send 1.4 million dvds a day (wikipedia)!

  5. Sudonum says:

    This reminds me, did the person ever get their cell phone back from that Inn near Yosemite? Maybe they’re running Netflix customer service department?

  6. Scuba Steve says:

    Assuming it wasn’t lost or stolen the moment someone found it. I hope that if they do find it, they can send it back. Otherwise I just say tough cookies to anyone who sends in the wrong thing.

    I hope it wasn’t a good game, anyways.

  7. tracilyns says:

    @infinitysnake:
    nobody checks the Netflix envelopes before they get sent. i once was sent two dvd’s in one envelope, and had the second movie not been some craptastic movie that i didn’t want to own, i would have kept it.

  8. B says:

    So, if I keep the netflix discs, and send them blank CDs, they’d be no problem, right?

  9. dboy55 says:

    my response would have been:

    “If you still have not been able to return my game , feel free to send it back in the same mailer as my next movie, once you have finished reviewing your Customer Service 101 DVD. Be sure to include a note with your email address so that I can comprehend your stupidity.

  10. linedpaper says:

    My blockbuster online gives me the option to mark “I returned a personal disc or DVD”. I haven’t had to use it so I have no idea if/how it works, but one would assume if it’s there they support it.

  11. squidbrain says:

    Blockbuster ain’t any better. I returned a store-rented DVD to the online service by mistake. I tried to get it back but they told me that once it had already been processed it was too late. So instead of being stuck with the purchase fee of the store rental I rented the store rental through the online service and switched them, returning the wrong disk to the online service and returning the missing movie back to the store, haha!

  12. bluegus32 says:

    Why should NetFlix be responsible for YOUR property when you accidentally send it to them?

    Think about it from a legal perspective. If you send them your personal property, unsolicited, and they discard it, they have no liability. If, however, they choose to set it aside for you and/or send it back, the law then imposes upon them a minimal duty to use reasonable care in protecting your property. In essence, they become a self-imposed bailee of property. Now imagine that out of the goodness of their hearts, they go to the trouble of sending the disc back to you and it arrives either scratched or broken. Guess what? Now, arguably, they owe you a new game.

    From their perspective, legally speaking, it is more appropriate to simply discard any personal property that is sent to them in one of their mailers.

    This truly falls under the category of consumer responsibility. The guy who sent in the game by accident is responsible for maintaining proper control over his own property. His failure to do so is his fault and his fault alone. Neither decency nor bailment law require NetFlix to do a damn thing about it.

  13. meadowlarkb says:

    I’ve gotten a music CD I accidentally sent to them back. Just FYI.

  14. Lebo (in exile) says:

    As I understand it, the key to Netflix’s ultimate success is turning disks around fast… real fast. They don’t want to warehouse anything, instead they want as many DVD’s in as many homes as possible. I imagine the distribution centers move a mad pace. A mad, computer controlled, pace. Finding a personal disk could be a needle in a haystack.

    Chances are probably good that once they track down the envelope, via its barcode, it may already be in someone else’s home. Good luck getting it back then.

    This breakneck turn-around plus the legal reasons outlined by blugus32, lead me to believe Netflix in the right on this.

    Just be careful what you do.

  15. tekniklr says:

    This happened to a friend of mine, too (though for her, it was another movie, not a video game).

    I told her she should just rent a copy of the movie she lost, keep that, and return Netflix’s original movie in the new envelope… don’t think she’ll listen, though.

  16. BMR says:

    if they chased down every bit of lint that careless customers sent back to them in error, it would seriously affect their business. do you want them to rent DVD’s or run a lost and found?

  17. erock0 says:

    @bluegus32: 100% spot on
    . Let’s all send in our scratched/outdated games and hope they try to send them back in vain.

  18. emax4 says:

    Don’t forget that you still have the movie that you received in the mail. Now you can keep it and use it as leverage or try to sell it on ebay for a profit.

  19. Nicholai says:

    @BMR: You have good point. Someone should stick something in there besides a CD or DVD and see what happens……

  20. Trai_Dep says:

    Netflix isn’t staffed by The Matrix-esque robots powered by towering pods of pickled humans. Somewhere, there are human beings shuffling around the warehouse.

    Would I expect a FAST turnaround? Nope. Would I be 100% certain my disc would be returned w/o scratches? It’d be nice, but nope.

    Netflix should do something. They sure the hell expect *their* disc back, turn-around is fair.

  21. orielbean says:

    Squid, that is genius, I love it.

  22. MeOhMy says:

    @erock0: That would be fine – if that’s the excuse they gave.
    They could say “We will never be able to find it.”
    They could say “Sorry, we destroy discs sent back mistakenly as a precautionary measure.”
    They could say “Our policies do not permit us to send back items mistakenly sent to us for any reason.”

    Instead they say they are “not set up” to do it. Not “not permitted.” “Not set up,” which implies that they COULD do it, but they are lacking in some important feature like availability of postage, packaging, or a mailbox. Which is obviously not true – the facility exists primarily for shipping/receiving.

    If they simply will not return it because that’s the policy, why not just say that instead of making up an inplausible abuse?

    I think bullshitting is one of the biggest problems in customer service. People would rather just hear the unpleasant truth than get some bullshit excuse.

  23. battlerobo says:

    So… they can’t find your game disc? Is that it? What? Why not?

    Does this mean they can’t keep track of what discs are inside what envelopes?

    I guess we can just return future ‘dvd’s with just blank cd’s right? Just keep that nice ‘new’ DVD instead.

    If the person hadn’t told them he sent them his/her game, would Netflix have noticed that they didn’t return the right disc? What would be the case then? They send you a notice saying you didn’t return the right disc? Can you dispute that?

  24. @Lebo (in exile): I think you’re right on. It’s no one’s responsibility but the consumer’s in this situation.

    It would be nice however, if Netflix kept a ‘lost and found’ bin for this sort of thing. This cannot possibly be the first time this ever happened. It could have been one of those ‘above and beyond’ examples of some kind netflix employee sifting through a box of wrong dvd’s and dropping it in one of those 1.4 million envelopes for him.

  25. Kornkob says:

    Actually that would be an interesting Consumerist test.

    Get a couple different netflix accounts and send differnet combinations back to see how their CSRs handle it. Empty envelopes, wrong movie, games, blanks, burns.

  26. not_seth_brundle says:

    @trai_dep: Of course Netflix wants its own discs back. Its customers pay Netflix to rent them, not buy them. The same cannot be said in reverse if you screw up and send your own property to Netflix. Take some responsibility, people.

  27. StudioGeek says:

    Just an FYI to Consumerist.com/Ben P. GameFly.com (Video Game Rentals) does the same thing if you send back your own game by accident or send them a movie.

    I myself sent them my personal copy of a different game in a GameFly envelope in Feb. and was told that the disc had already been sent on to the next person, even though I notified them of this shipping mistake the DAY I put it in the mail, they were unable to stop it from going out to the next person.

    Apparently no one at GameFly.com checks the contents of the envelope sleeves once they come in, they scan the barcode and move it on to the next person.

    GameFly claims they will try to recover the disc and send it back (and boast about how they are the only online rental service to even attempt this) and I told them what about sending me a rental copy of the same game I accidentally sent in, so they could just put my version into their rental que – no dice.

    If I was a more sinister person I would rent the game I accidentally sent back, and instead of sending it back, I’d send back GameFly’s original game in the replacement game’s sleeve, but I’m just not that evil.

    Still, I believe these companies should be a bit more diligent, if not just nicer to the consumer about mistakes like this…

  28. Chaluapman says:

    So…You sent your games disk back by mistake. It would be nice if they could send it back. They say they aren’t set up for it? Here’s what it might take:

    *Extra people
    *Different Envelopes so customer returns don’t get confused with movies.
    *Additional software development to handle the new requirements (there are a whole slew of steps here)
    *not to mention the extra cost in postage and other over head.
    *then let’s say they *do* send your game back. But it’s cracked. Then you’re bitching because they broke your disk and we’d be here writing about that or you’re calling them to ask for them to pay for your broken disk, that *you* sent in by mistake.

    Do you expect them to subsidize this? Don’t. They will pass on the cost to the customer. And as a customer who pays attention to what goes in the envelopes, i don’t want to pay for your screw ups.

    So please, Mr. Airhead, pay attention to what you put in the envelope. It’s not their job to make sure you don’t screw up.

  29. Firemedic510 says:

    I Have sent a personally owned disk back (VPN software client for my firewall), and they emailed me, telling me i had returned a personal disk, and that they would be shipping it back to me.

    They did. took about two weeks, but i got it back, in perfect condition.

    I think this is an aberration, or else the shipping center this person returned it to is different than the birmingham, alabama center.

    I got zero complaints about netflix, other than the apparent “throttling” of my subscription at times. I mean, does it really take a week to turn my disks around when the center is 80 miles away from me??

  30. Raanne says:

    It sounds to me like someone kept it, and thats why they can’t find the disk.

  31. Gasface says:

    I was gonna return the right disk to Netflix, but then I got high…
    I didn’t mean to send them my $60 game, but then I got high…
    I still have their copy of “Clerks” and I know why…. (why man?)
    Because I got high, because I got high, because I got high….

  32. Chaluapman says:

    @Gasface:
    ROFLMFAO!!!

  33. Kornkob says:

    @Gasface: Nice.

  34. d0x says:

    That sucks but I use gamefly for games and I did by accident send them one of my games once..

    I sent them an email once I had noticed and they quickly responded. 4 days later I had my game back and all was well.

  35. The Bigger Unit says:

    I don’t use Netflix, so I was sitting here trying to figure out how/why you would send in a personal disc rather than your rental (do the return blindfolded? While hammered off your gord? temporary dementia?)…but then Gasface explained it succinctly. Thank you sir!

  36. cheesyfru says:

    I don’t really think they’re doing anything wrong here. Their business is super-efficient and automated, which is the only way a business like theirs could stay afloat. I’ve seen video of their factory in action; it’s amazing.

    It’d be a great gesture of customer service heroics if they could get it back to you, but you really can’t hold it against them if they don’t.

  37. dogmatixx says:

    I also accidentally mailed back a personal DVD to Netflix, and they were able to return it to me. I think their unwritten policy is to try to send it back, but if your personal property ends up going missing, they fall back on their official policy. Satisfied Netflix user since 1999.

  38. M3wThr33 says:

    I’ll bring this up next time I talk to my girlfriend. She works at a Netflix processing center.
    I do know that she has to go through about 600-800 discs a day, so I’d imagine they don’t have time to carefully sort what is misappropriated.
    Heck, they don’t even have a professional disc cleaner, just Windex.

  39. r81984 says:

    How does one accidently send in the wrong disk?
    Ever heard of reading the labels, or do some people just grab any upside down disk laying around and put it into the envelope thinking its the right one and not once flipping it over to read the label?

  40. Trai_Dep says:

    Dogmatixx -

    I think that’s what we can reasonably expect Netflix to try to do. They would be beter off if their response to the absent-minded customer was, “Geez, we tried, but it’s sometimes difficult. Sorry it didn’t work out this time. May we suggest less potent marijuana or a stronger eyeglass prescription before you return your next Netflix disc?”

  41. Grrrrrrr, now with two buns made of bacon. says:

    Personally, I think everybody should just send them all their useless AOL CD’s they have lying around. Ooops, so sorry..must’ve sent those 5 million in accidentally.

  42. Bay State Darren says:

    I’m curious about the guy/gal who next got the disc. If Netflix’s system is, as thread suggests, disc comes in and is sent out without inspection to next person to order it, don’t they also get screwed?

    “Hey, I ordered Showgirls, what the Hell is this?!”

  43. orig_club_soda says:

    I wonder if, whenever I get a movie I want to keep, I could just send in a blank disk.

    Did he get credit for returning the movie when he sent in the wrong disk?

  44. diggmequickly says:

    Hello:

    Just wanted you to know that about 3 months ago, I acidentally sent Netflix one of my own DVD’s (that I had bought in a department store), and they sent it back to me within two days.

    I thought you might want to know.

    Good luck!

  45. garbuhj says:

    Netflix is totally in the right here. If you made a stupid mistake it’s not anyone else’s responsibility to fix it for you.

    And it’s not like it’d be some small feature Netflix could add just as a courtesy. Do you know how much money it would cost them to create a whole system for checking that each disc that’s returned is the correct one and then processing any incorrectly set in discs and then storing them, and then getting them addressed to the correct person who messed up in the first place and then spending extra postage and handling to get it back to you?

    Just as I’m ready to condemn a company when they act poorly, I’m also ready to back them up when they’re condemned unjustly.

    Netflix is acting properly and honestly and is totally in the right.

  46. ean says:

    “Did he get credit for returning the movie when he sent in the wrong disk?”

    >> “If you have not been able to return our DVD, feel free to send it back in the same mailer as your next return (2 in 1 mailer) once you have finished viewing the film. Be sure to include a note with your email address so that we can process the DVD.”

    One might assume that they have checked, some employee probably pocketed the DVD and said nothing was returned. Otherwise, they might have just sent the disc on to the next guy.

    In the end, we would need to know how they track down false returns. Do they go through the trouble of taking down the serial number and matching it with the previous renter’s account? Has anyone ever been warned about a false return and had a debit applied to their account?

    We need to know from someone who has actually sent in the wrong thing and refused to return it.

  47. yaddayaddayadda says:

    Are you guys joking? Look, this probably happens dozens of times per day at each distribution center.

    There is no free lunch. If you want Netflix to return all these discs, it will raise the cost of the service and/or make the service less efficient.

    I am not going to pay higher rates to subsidize your carelessness. Sorry.

    You can argue that they should return the discs but at least admit that this will cost money and/or time. Ask yourself why other people should be inconvenienced by your mistake. I am a netflix customer and I don’t want to pay more, or wait longer, so that Netflix can coddle your carelessness.

  48. Nerys says:

    “Why should NetFlix be responsible for YOUR property when you accidentally send it to them?”

    Lets try some newspeak on this one shall we

    Why should YOU be responsible for NETFLIX property when THEY accidentally send it to you?

    How does that work? So if netflix or blockbuster accidentally send me something I did not order I am justified in keeping it?

    SO if the USPS accidentally drops off a $2000 laptop to my house instead of its proper address I am justified in keeping it ?

    Thats some seriously twisted logic man.

  49. Helvetian says:

    Here is what someone suggested on another board that mentioned this: Just hit the “I returned the disc but Netflix hasn’t received it” on a few DVDs to recover your loss. Sell them or keep them, hit them where it hurts!

  50. MarFarMa says:

    @Nerys – exactly true, if someone sends you something you didn’t order, you are completely legally in your rights to keep it as a gift.

    However, if you signed a contract – or agreed to ‘terms and conditions’ that state you will return such accidentally sent merchandise.

    At least that’s the law as I understand it – but IANAL.

  51. tomdobb says:

    Saying your DVDs were lost and then keeping them is a pretty quick way to get flagged for abuse and have your account cancelled.

  52. celtickuja says:

    @nerys:
    Yes, actually. If someone addresses something to YOU at your address that you didn’t order, you have the right to keep it. If it is addressed to someone else, that is a different matter. But unsolicited packages delivered to your name are yours to keep.

  53. infinite8s says:

    @ Nerys
    Actually, that’s how the law works (at least for your first example). If a company (or person) sends you something unsolicited, you basically can do anything you want with it, including throw it away (see http://www.vanosteen.com/columns/consumer/unsolicited.asp)…

    I’m not sure with the second example (post office misdelivers mail), since it’s not directly addressed to you (actually, see the last paragraph in the above link).

  54. bronzemustache says:

    My girlfriend used her son’s XBox to watch DVD’s, and she accidentally sent Netflix his copy of Halo. He was about 14 at the time, and he was really mad about it. So I went and bought another copy of Halo for him and a handful of the most violent video games that I absolutely knew he would love and his mother would hate: Riddick, Grand Theft Auto, a couple of others. For weeks afterward he was all, “Hey Mom, look at this!!!” as he ran over a pedestrian or something.

    I told her that’s what she gets for sending in his game… she never did it again.

  55. Ben Popken says:

    Joshua writes:

    “Opinion: Netflix is absolutely in the right to not put effort into looking for his game. These are the compromises we as consumers have to make when dealing with faceless internet companies. I practically guarantee his local video store (especially a privately owned one) would have been able to return the game to him. It is absurd to expect Netflix to be able to find it among the millions of incoming & outgoing videos they deal with on a daily basis.

    Helpful: Netflix will forgive a lost disc or two (maybe more). He could rent a couple DVDs and conveniently misplace them to even things out a little. “

  56. fixorater says:

    I had a similar situation with the GameFly service- which I believe is owned by the same parent company. I got a bad disc from gamefly and mistakenly sent back the bad disc in the envelope (with the barcode) of a good game. With several attempts at contacting support- they were of no help to me, charged me for the game (which they admitted I’d sent a copy of to them). So I cancelled my account.

  57. a says:

    @r81984: My guess is when they originally put the movie in the player, there was already a DVD in the player, and instead of leaving THAT ONE out to be scratched, they put it in the Netflix sleeve. When it came time to return, they just grabbed the sleeve with the wrong disk in it.
    No, it doesn’t make them any less at fault, but it makes them look a tiny bit more intelligent than waving their arms around blindly, shoving the first thing that feels like a DVD in the sleeve.

  58. Americana says:

    How stupid do you have to be return a game instead of a movie?

  59. maryelinn says:

    I suupose I’m one of the lucky ones. My husband and I returned one of our own dvd’s by mistake. We didn’t even realize it until they sent us an email stating what had happened. We received our dvd back within 2 weeks. I’m ashamed to admit, however, that we weren’t able to locate their dvd so we could send it back to them. Through all of the confusion it got lost. This time I sent them an email. I was surprised…I was fully expecting to have to pay for it. Instead they had me fill out a short form online stating what had happened and aussured me there wouldn’t be any negative marks left on my account because of it. (this was several months ago and thus far they have been good to their word) Perhaps I was one of the lucky ones who got an honest rep? Or maybe my dvd I sent in by mistake was of little interest to them? (Learn To Play The Guitar….boring. What can I say? It was my hubby’s.) Whatever the case may be, I have been a Netflix custstomer for a long time now and have been nothing but satisfied with their service. As a matter of fact I suggest them to all of my friends. Hopefully they will continue not to let me down.

    Sincerely,
    MaryEllen

  60. zaky says:

    I’ve just recently joined Netflix—-and of the 4 or 5 movies I’ve received, every single one skips. So reeeeeally—are they actually checking to see if the DVDs are “damaged”? They’re almost unwatchable.

  61. Maulleigh says:

    You know those stories that you read that you just chew and chew in your head for days/weeks/years? Well, this is that story for me. I can’t stop thinking of ways netflix could be more efficient in this manner. Why? I don’t have anything better to think about? Evidently not.

    Perhaps they could SET ASIDE the items in a large bin: perhaps putting a sticky note on them. Then, when someone writes/calls/emails that s/he lost Their SIMS game, an employee could go through the bin, find a SIMS game, and send it back. HOW DIFFICULT IS THAT?!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  62. Adam J. Sams says:

    Just stream the movies then there is no problem.