Updated Post: Netflix's Post-Price Hike Messages For Gift Subscription Customers Are Confusing

Amanda and her husband found the news that Netflix was un-bundling DVD and streaming video packages and raising prices disappointing, as did most other customers. They figured that they didn’t have to worry about canceling or changing their subscription until early 2012, though, because they had received a one-year subscription as a gift. Twelve prepaid months is twelve prepaid months, right? Nope. From Netflix’s point of view, the gift giver didn’t pay for a fixed number of months for the couple–he prepaid a certain amount of money, and the length of their subscription was readjusted once the price went up. Amanda got some clarification from Netflix on this issue. Her prepaid subscription is being left just as it is.

Update: Here’s the update Amanda sent us this afternoon.

I just spoke with customer service, and they CORRECTED me. I’m happy to report that the price increase DOES NOT affect gift subscriptions during the run of the gift. However, even based on how Consumerist, I and other readers all took different meanings from the language they posted in my account, they could have taken better steps to clarify how the price increase affects gift subs, especially if they are going to put a bunch of “alert” icons around the news on my account page.

I also alerted them to the “page not found” links in their terms of service, and the rep was very thankful and said it would be fixed.

So, now I’m doing my due diligence as a good consumer by requesting that you please update the story online to reflect this new info.

I’ll take my spankings from the other readers now.

Amanda’s original letter is below. Is that how you would have understood the messages posted in Amanda’s account? I understood them the same way that she did.

Like many subscribers, I was disheartened when Netflix announced they were splitting DVD and streaming. My husband and I knew that the 60% price hike would definitely lead us to reevaluate the one dvd & unlimited streaming subscription we really enjoy (currently re-watching Arrested Development and Red Dwarf!). However, we did take solace knowing that we wouldn’t actually have to decide anything until February. You see, our subscription was a gift from my brother, a 12-month subscription that was pre-paid. We thought that meant our subscription was a pre-paid contract whose terms were final. But alas, I noticed this on my billing page:

“- The regular price of the Unlimited Streaming + 1 DVD out at-a-time (Unlimited) plan is now $15.98 (plus any applicable tax).

- You have 5 free periods remaining on your Netflix gift.The remaining $11.98 from your gift will be applied toward your next paid period.”

So basically, although our subscription was to last for 12 months, Netflix will now hold us responsible for the price difference.. I’ll be contacting them to see if instead, we can cover the full amount for less time or a lower subscription for longer, but I’m not too hopeful that these are option.

In the meantime, I wanted to check the netflix terms of service to see if it addressed how a price change would affect gift subscriptions. Unfourtunately for us again, Netflix’s website points to a ” Gift Subscription Redemption” terms of service that links to a “page not found”.

It’s just disappointing. I thought Netflix was better than this.

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