Netflix Offers Ex-Customer Disappearing Free Trial

Dana used to be a Netflix subscriber, and they want her back. To entice her back, they sent her an e-mail offering a free trial. She decided to try it out…but Netflix wouldn’t let her. Because, according to their system, she is an existing Netflix customer. Who received an email addressing her as a former customer.

She writes:


So I received this email from netflix. I wasn’t able to view their instant movies on TV last time I was a member (in 2007). So, I decide to give the trial a shot and see how the instant movies on TV works. I click through to their website, click on rejoin, and am asked to update my billing information. My credit card has expired, and since the free trial automatically renews at the end of the trial period, they need my new credit card information before I can sign up for the trial. This is understandable, and so I update my address and provide them with another credit card’s information. Once I do I’m told I do NOT qualify for a free trial as I am an existing customer. Even though it specifically says below and on their website that this is for new customers and certain former members. I believe this email was a scam to get updated credit card information from me… the intent was never to offer a free trial. Shady business from Netflix!

The credit card harvesting theory is suspect, since either she authorized Netflix to charge her card, or she didn’t.

The e-mail’s fine print reads, “Free Trial offer available to first time and certain former members of the Netflix service …” But if the “certain former members” category doesn’t include Dana, why contact her in the first place? A call to customer service may be required here.


Edit Your Comment

  1. nsv says:

    Ha… after a really bad trial offer (and no interest from Netflix in addressing the problems) about a year ago, I’ve been ignoring similar emails. Now I’m glad I did.

  2. Leela says:

    I got the same email and couldn’t re-sign up again either. So I found one of the ubiquitous 2 weeks free Netflix ads on the net and signed up with a different email address. Silly.

  3. CompyPaq says:

    It was probably a computer fluke. I’m sure if you call up netflix customer service and explain what happened, they will give you a free month.

    • sponica says:

      yeah. netflix is one of those good guys in the realm of customer service. i was so delighted when they scrapped the email cs and switched over to phones only…imagine that, us humans like to talk to OTHER humans!

      granted I’ve never actually needed to USE the cs…so I can’t speak first hand of its awesomeness

      • catastrophegirl chooses not to fly says:

        i recently called them to figure out how to put a credit toward someone’s subscription as a christmas present but still keep it secret from them until christmas when i don’t know what plan he is on. the guy who answered at 8 pm [when i got off work] was very helpful and informative and knew exactly what i was looking to do [i bet it happens a lot this time of year]

        and the tech support has been great. i’ve had to contact them for problems with the silverlight movie viewer before when i watched some movies with a friend on her mac on my account and then the next day went back to my toshiba and it kept trying to recognize it as a mac.

    • DAK says:

      My thoughts exactly. This sounds like a disconnect somewhere between marketing and IT.

  4. theSuperman says:

    Perhaps she has to use the same credit card to be eligible? I dont remember what the signup pages look like anymore.

  5. BugsBenny36 says:

    For the same reason credit cards feel obliged to send their spam in the mail!

  6. padams89 says:

    same exact thing has happened to me a few times now.

  7. fantomesq says:

    Was she a current member of Netflix when she attempted to sign up for this? If she was, then she clearly didn’t qualify. If she wasn’t then shoe ought to have qualified. Sounds like a customer service/comnputer error if it was the latter,

  8. harrier666 says:

    I am an early early adopter of Netflix. I have rarely had any issues with them and greatly enjoy the service; however, on the few occasions I did run into trouble a quick note to their customer service resolved the situation.

    Did the OP contact Netflix about the problem before assuming it was a scam? More likely, it is just faulty programming and they will rectify it immediately.

  9. Colonel Jack O'neill says:

    You can’t sign up for a free trial again if you use to be a member.
    If you were able to do that, then some people will keep on taking advantage of them by signing up for a trial then cancel it in two weeks and then sign up for it again, and keep on doing the same thing every two weeks.

    • frodolives35 says:

      The e-mail’s fine print reads, “Free Trial offer available to first time and certain former members of the Netflix service …” But if the “certain former members” category doesn’t include Dana, why contact her in the first place?
      Did you miss that part.

    • MsAnthropy says:

      You can if you happen to have moved house in the interim – you’ll need to use a different email address and credit card, though… however, this (presumably) isn’t the problem that Dana is experiencing. Dana’s problem sounds like a glitch that should, I hope, be easily resolved by a quick call to Netflix’s customer service people, who have (at least in my limited experience) always proved refreshingly helpful!

    • Kishi says:

      Given that the e-mail says things like “have ANOTHER free trial” and “come back now,” it certainly seems like this is aimed at former members.

  10. DAK says:

    Also, for the record, we stream Netflix via our Blu-Ray player. Awesome.

  11. Cant_stop_the_rock says:

    What did Netflix customer service say when she asked them about it?

  12. Skellbasher says:

    I’ve experienced this same issue myself, and a quick call to customer service will get it resolved. Really shouldn’t have a problem.

    For those that will spend time saying that the OP is trying to scam something, Netflix has long handed out a free couple weeks or a month to customers who had canceled to try and bring them back. It’s nothing new for them.

  13. humphrmi says:

    I’m finding it hard to believe that Netflix is doing this just to harvest credit card info. It doesn’t excuse the snafu, but calling it a credit card harvesting scam is probably a bit of a stretch.

  14. SecretAgentWoman says:

    Ok, I’m with the general consensus here, “OP, don’t be so quick to judge!”

    I mean, what your first idea was “quick, email the consumerist!” before giving Netflix CS a chance?

  15. Geekybiker says:

    I’ve got similar emails from them before. I was a customer years ago and get a “free trial” email. I go to check it out and once I get to the end it says I can’t have a free trial because I was a paying member at some point. I don’t really thing they are trying to be sneaky, just not verifying their email list well enough.

  16. jesusofcool says:

    Their customer service phone line is generally really helpful (they have REAL people working there and last I called them, no automated crap to get through *gasp*). I agree with prior posters who say that the OP should have called them before griping to Consumerist – I have a feeling Netflix would honor it and it’s just some sort of glitch.

  17. Synth3t1c says:

    the same thing happened to me, but i just gave up on it. i dont need to waste the money anyways

  18. tonberryqueen says:

    I think sometimes their system is screwy with that sort of stuff.

    I joined Netflix for awhile (maybe 2005?) and dropped it after maybe a year. I signed up again in 2007 and have been a customer since. However, I keep periodically getting emails telling me that I started to sign up for a free trial, didn’t finish, and they want to offer me a free trial.

  19. RevancheRM says:

    Haven’t read thru the forums (yet), but I had to cancel NetFlix for a considerable amout of time, only to find I could re-sign up with the same account. I had to use a new email address (which what may be catching the OP) and then I was off.

    Lost my rather full queue, but that’s my fault, not their’s.

  20. TVGenius says:

    Had the same thing happen to me. They sent me a mailer, I tried to sign up using the code, and everything seemed OK through giving my credit card info down to the final confirmation, where they finally told me I was a ‘former customer’. The thing is, the account I had before is now my ex-wife’s, so technically this was a new account.

    • theblackdog says:

      Call and explain the situation and they should be able to fix it.

      I had my own queue even though it was my ex’s account, when we broke up I called them up and got them to move the queue to an account for me.

  21. zimmi88 says:

    Sounds like a technical glitch in their system. Calling them up should clear things up….

    However… did the OP check the email headers? This may be a phishing attempt… in which case there’s a lot more to worry about than a free trial from Netflix…. =/