Netflix: We Can Murder Your Account With No Notice At Our Whim

It’s amazing what we agree to every day when we scroll through infinite screens of dense legalese to click the box that said we’ve read and agree to abide by the terms of service on various sites. Brandon discovered that Neftlix users have all consented for the company to stop its endless supply of movie and TV shows for any reason whatsoever.

Brandon quotes the Netflix Terms Of Use:

Right to Terminate

“We reserve the right to terminate or restrict your use of our service, without notice, for any or no reason whatsoever. “

Really? For no reason whatsoever? From one lawyer to Netflix lawyers: This appears to be a case of lawyers gone amok!

So remember, as you’re streaming 30 Rock tonight, if someone at Netflix deems that it should cut off your service at random because he girlfriend left him and he’s bitter, it’s all good under Netflix law.

UPDATE: The moderator has let us know that people are interpreting this as if Phil actually objects to the language. He doesn’t, it’s fairly standard. We just think the idea of Netflix terminating your account for “no reason whatsoever,” is humorous.

Comments

Edit Your Comment

  1. Sandtigrr says:

    Has there been any reports of this happening at all?
    I assume this is in there in the event that someone abuses the service.
    ie. doesn’t return multiple DVD/Blurays and reports them as never delivered.

    Heck of a way to build a movie collection if Netflix didn’t have the right to cancel. :)

    • chaesar says:

      agreed, given their track record of being awesome, this is probably a safeguard against abusive subscribers, that way they don’t have to spell out every instance where a customer’s actions can get them booted

    • trey says:

      DVDFAB and DVD Shrink and Any DVD will build your collection very fast…. thanks netflix.

    • The hand that feeds, now with more bacon says:

      I had mine cut off, but service was reinstated as soon as I called them. No reason was given and I received no notice. There was no indication on their website that my service was stopped either. They just stopped shipping discs one day. The streaming still worked.

      When I called they said my account had a “flag” on it. My guess is it had something to do with loss because about 3% of the discs they send never get here. I’m convinced they were never sent to begin with.

      • d0x360 says:

        chances are they were being sent out but they were stolen by someone at the post office. we had a postman here stealing netflix disks…he no longer works for the post office. He would steal them and keep most but sometimes I would see a disk returned like a week after it shipped yet i never got it…weird.

        • PatrickPortland says:

          “Chances are they are being stolen at the post office”? Really? How rampant do you think theft at the USPS really is?

          • Phil Villakeepinitrreal says:

            Given the large number of times we see people talk about never receiving numerous discs from Netflix, or returned discs not getting back? Or given the half dozen times or more a postal employee has been busted with a huge stash of Netflix discs?

            It only takes on bad apple in a huge mail sorting center to do this, we don’t have to be talking about rampant corruption here.

      • TheGreySpectre says:

        I think netflix sends them, but even though it is a federal offense I would not be suprised if a good deal of netflix discs end up in the hands of unscrupulous mailmen.

    • dbeahn says:

      “Has there been any reports of this happening at all?”

      Look at the byline and you’ll understand why this is a “story”

  2. Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

    You’re also free to terminate your subscription at any time as well.

    • ExtraCelestial says:

      Bingo. As long as I’m not continuing to pay for service I’m not receiving I don’t see a problem. It’s probably a blanket statement included to avoid having to list all the different ways you can abuse your membership. I’m not too bothered, arbitrary cancellations aren’t likely to happen. It’s not like they WANT to lose revenue

  3. bsh0544 says:

    Just about every terms of service contract I’ve actually bothered to read has a clause like this. Non-story, IMO.

    • Rectilinear Propagation says:

      Yeah, I’ve never seen a TOS that doesn’t have this part.
      Hell, “The Right to Terminate” is the easiest part of the TOS to understand.

    • Shadowfax says:

      Agreed. Standard disclaimer. It lets them terminate service to idiots even if they haven’t previously thought of how the idiot will be an idiot. Total non-story. But boy the headline sure was sensational!

      (I frankly find it somewhat galling that Consumerist, which bills itself as a pro-consumer site rather than a tabloid site, would choose a company with one of the best consumer-service reputations out there to falsely snark on)

      • dragonpancakes says:

        Same here, I thought this “term” was general practice in providing ANY subscription service. Magazines, newspapers, online games. hundreds of other companies use this. +1 for Shadow -1 to non-story.

    • Pax says:

      Agreed, +1, and all that.

  4. cf27 says:

    That’s legal boilerplate. The idea is, basically “we can terminate your account without having to be dragged into a courtroom about why we did so.” There’s always a reason — the point is that they don’t want to have to explain their reasons.

  5. Liam Kinkaid says:

    And?

  6. Dover says:

    From The Consumerist User Agreement:

    XII. Termination

    We reserve the right to terminate our Site and this User Agreement for any reason. Consumer Media also reserves the right to restrict, suspend or terminate your access to the Site in whole or in part at any time without notice if we discover that you have violated this User Agreement. Your license of rights to Consumer Media under Section V and the Disclaimer of Warranties, Limitation of Liability, Indemnification and General Provisions Sections of this User Agreement survive such termination.

  7. raydee wandered off on a tangent and got lost says:

    A lot of forum sites I frequent have similar legalese in their TOS. Most reputable sites will NOT remove accounts without a good reason–but it covers their behinds in case of a technical error, an automated ban due to triggering some scripted failsafe (usually an anti-botting measure) or someone on the staff going on a power trip. In many cases on other sites where the suspension is accidental or otherwise unmerited, it can be contested and the account reinstated … but it doesn’t *have* to be.

    In Netflix’s case, this means that if they have any reason to suspect one of their members of illegal activity or abuse of the service, they can get refuse to conduct further business with that individual.

  8. DanRydell says:

    Why wouldn’t they have that clause in there? Why would they list specific reasons they might cancel your account and exclude things they haven’t even thought of? I bet they’d cancel your account if you wiped your ass with every disc you sent back, but if they left that off their list of reasons they could cancel your account then tough luck?

    Is this “lawyer” who is complaining really a law school dropout?

  9. mdoneil says:

    So what?

    It is not as if they are providing heart transplants and there is no where else to go.
    I can cancel my account at Netflix without warning and for no reason as well.

    Try reading some airline conditions of carriage if you want to find some egregious contract terms. Netflix contract is fine.

  10. runswithscissors says:

    While I’m sure this is one of those “This clause is there for the unforseen, we would never use it unless we really had to” things, it does make me smile an evil smile to think that if a Netflix customer was ever banned for no good reason (streamed too many movies? Annoyed his neighbor who worked at Netflix?) then there would be a whole bunch of the usual OP blamers here saying “you should have read the contract in full like I always do (/smug)”.

    Plus commenters here LOVE the whole “businesses can refuse service for any reason at all” thing. Which is funny because none of them would stand for it if a business like Netflix banned them for no good reason. “If it happens to someone else, it’s their own fault… and it will never happen to me!”.

    • Dover says:

      Businesses can refuse service, but that’s why we have site like The Consumerist, to warn other consumers and effect change where possible. It’s not *just* a place to whine.

  11. NarcolepticGirl says:

    Have you ever read ANY agreements on anything similiar?
    They’re all like this.

    Apparently even The Consumerist.

    Ridiculous.

  12. chaesar says:

    All your user agreements are belong to us

    I bet if every one of us donated a dollar to Consumerist once a year, they probably wouldn’t need to run these nonsense pieces just to up site traffic

  13. leprechaunshawn says:

    This must be how they legally “throttle” peoples accounts. I just get around that by getting myself a new email address and then creating a new Netflix account. I’ve had to do it twice in the 3 years or so that I’ve been using Netflix.

  14. joshua70448 says:

    Come on Consumerist, knock it off with the sensationalist headlines and stories. This is ridiculous.

  15. NTC-Brendan says:

    I can stop doing business with one of my clients at anytime as they can decide they no longer wish to take advantage of the services we offer.

    I guess I am missing the issue….

  16. Jabberkaty says:

    I thought this was standard. I’ve worked at several newspapers and there’s a clause that states they can refuse advertising for any reason. It’s not like they WOULD refuse advertising. In fact, I think they’d give you a sloppy hug, sobbing a little while they whispered “thank you.”

  17. brianisthegreatest says:

    This isn’t your cookie cutter tos stuff? Not very surprising.

  18. smo0 says:

    I don’t have any issues with this…. I can cancel at any time I want as well… I’m sure if you’re ripping copies of movies and they are finding out about it or you’re taking a little “too” much time returning a flick… again, don’t see the issue.

    • regenerator says:

      Netflix LOVES customers who take too much time returning a movie. It means they’re getting more money for doing less work and lending out fewer films.

  19. Truthie says:

    Oh please, this is standard boilerplate text in so many TOS’s. It’s basically the same as a restaurant saying “we reserve the right to refuse service to anyone.” It’s basically a way for them to CYA.

    Is this really worthy of any level of outrage?

    • Benjamin Stearns says:

      No. It’s not worth outrage at all. It’s just Consumerist trying to get people outraged. All businesses should be allowed to refuse service. No one has a right to force a business to give them service.

  20. Benjamin Stearns says:

    OK. This is a total non-issue. What’s wrong Consumerist? Did you run out of reasons to scandal monger today? Why don’t you read the user agreements of other services, and then rethink this story? It seems that this website is more devoted to ATTACKING businesses instead of informing consumers.

    • NarcolepticGirl says:

      byline

    • Dyscord says:

      There are times where I can see the point Consumerist is trying to make. However you can tell they’re reaching when they try to bash Netflix, a company that is like, as my friend puts it, “customer service sex”, for something that Consumerist itself does!

      Really, who the hell thought it would be a good idea to run this article?

  21. Awesome McAwesomeness says:

    I’d be able to watch 30 Rock much more easily if Netflix were not throttling my streaming.

  22. zandar says:

    Cool, i’m just waiting for the day that paranoid media providers deactivate all my accounts and render all of my files worthless. And then what shall I do? I don’t even remember how to get up and go outside anymore.

    Maybe we all ought to try that tonight. Get up, go to your door and take a walk in the evening air with your wife, kids or dog. media megacorps can’t take that beautiful sunset away from you. Yet.

  23. whogots is "not computer knowledgeable" says:

    Oh, Phil.

  24. Bob says:

    I don’t understand the problem. The clause is there in case they goofed and cancels John Doe’s account instead of John Public’s account by accident. We rely on good business sense of Netflix to correct the mistake. We don’t need to have another 345,263,453 paragraphs in the terms of service for Netflix and the customer to play nice and do the reasonable thing because it would be in Netflix’s own interest to do so. That would be lawyers run amok.

  25. Rectilinear Propagation says:

    This is the equivalent of those “We reserve the right to refuse service to anyone” signs in restaurants.

  26. g051051 says:

    How is this even remotely news? That’s standard for any company providing any service, except under a specific contract. Ever look at the EULA for an MMO? Or any other sort of subscription service? In most cases they specifically reserve the right to terminate you and keep any money already paid.

  27. nkash001 says:

    “So remember, as you’re streaming 30 Rock tonight, if someone at Netflix deems that it should cut off your service at random because he girlfriend left him and he’s bitter, it’s all good under Netflix law.”

    Yeah, I’m sure that’s going to happen. Netflix has some of the best customer service around, but they’ll just pull your access whenever they damn well feel like it for no reason.

    I’ve been a Netflix customer for almost 10 years now, and I’ve never had any problems with them. I’m sure they would need an extreme reason (perhaps you “accidentally” lose several 100 DVDs?) to terminate your account.

  28. Darwin says:

    What a misplaced sense of entitlement the pubic has these days!

    “We reserve the right to refuse service to anyone.” It used to be a sign in most places of business, from diners to dry cleaners. Now people get all worked up when they think they might be denied their supposed rights to shop anywhere they feel like.

  29. d0x360 says:

    Why does it matter? Unless you are stealing from netflix by keeping an extreme number of disks why would they ever shut you off? You are a paying customer, of course they want to keep you. Even if you rent a ton of movies on a low plan they like having you because you pad their subscriber numbers and chances are you tell your friends how awesome netflix is.

  30. Paintmann says:

    I do not see this as unusual. Any restaurant has the right to refuse service to anyone. It’s when they refuse service to a certain group of people that they get in trouble. Standard practice for any company.

  31. 4Real says:

    Yeah if you dont return the movies or make up lies why things are not delivered they will cancel it. I have never had an issue and I love the streaming through my Wii.

  32. Benzona says:

    Netflix can do no wrong in my opinion. Any time I had the slightest issue they resolved it promptly. This agreement is a non issue. If they cut your service stop paying them.

  33. jezebelcsz says:

    I completely agree with previous posts that this is a non-story. I wandered around the internwebs for a few minutes and found this:

    AMAZON: Amazon reserves the right to refuse service, terminate accounts, remove or edit content, or cancel orders in their sole discretion.

    YAHOO: You agree that Yahoo! may, without prior notice, immediately terminate, limit your access to or suspend your Yahoo! account, any associated email address, and access to the Yahoo! Services….Further, you agree that all terminations, limitations of access and suspensions for cause shall be made in Yahoo!’s sole discretion and that Yahoo! shall not be liable to you or any third party for any termination of your account, any associated email address, or access to the Yahoo! Services.

    iTUNES: Apple reserves the right to do any of the following, at any time, without notice: (1) to modify, suspend or terminate operation of or access to the Site, or any portion of the Site, for any reason;

    REDDIT: Service Provider has the right to terminate and/or suspend your ability to access the Website or any portion thereof, for any or no reason, without notice

    CNN: CNN reserves the right in its sole discretion to remove or edit User Content by you and to terminate your Account for any reason

    LOL CATS/FAILBLOG/ETC: Pet Holdings may suspend or terminate your access to the Websites or terminate these Terms of Service, at any time, for any reason.

    ALBERTSON’S GROCERY STORE: Albertsons, acting in its sole discretion, without notice, may refuse at any time to allow any person to use the online shopping service and may terminate at any time any person’s use of the online shopping service.

  34. JeremieNX says:

    This is nothing new. My company has a similar clause. It’s used mostly in cases where it is determined that a customer is not worth keeping. A prime example is someone who was calling in every single day cursing and being abusive to the reps for no good reason other than wanting something for nothing. I have seen that provision actually invoked twice in my years of working there.

  35. NotLeftist says:

    A lawyer is the only person whose primary function is to protect people from members of his own profession.

  36. Duke_Newcombe-Making children and adults as fat as pigs says:

    Q: How do you get rid of customer complaints?

    A: Get rid of all the complaining customers.

    This is why they have the “any or no reason” termination clause.

  37. Galium says:

    I reserve the right to never use netflix and retain the right to never ever having netflix.

  38. soj4life says:

    and? I work at a bank, our account disclosures have about the same wording.

  39. asookie says:

    Personally, I found the fact that TOU runs to 13 pages and 12,500+ words abusive. (and that’s not including the sub-tended Privacy Policy)

    In any case – if I’m reading most of the commenters correctly – I should be sanguine about Microsoft’s “leasing” me software for hundreds of dollars, while merely being required to pledge my “… right arm and … next newborn …”

  40. jedifarfy says:

    Everything I’ve ever seen has a clause like this. They’re a company and you are the customer. They have the right to refuse service for any reason. Don’t be mean, yell at them, or try to abuse their system, and they probably won’t just cut you off.