QUICKFLIX’S DVD POSTAL
delivery and return service and Stan and Netflix’s online streaming services offer free trial periods of one to three months, depending on whether the offer is promoted online or with media subscriptions.
What’s the catch?
An offer means you have a period of free use of the particular service, but there is a catch – the aim is to capture subscribers. I was given a Quickflix free trial by a friend. And for me, Quickflix’s free trial offer amounted to a trap. The free period gives a taste of the service for a limited time, but also signs you up as a subscriber from the start and requires you to provide your name, address, email address and credit card details.
To avoid being billed beyond the free trial period, the terms and conditions say you must cancel your subscription before the trial period comes to an end. And it is up to you to be aware of that date. Leave cancellation until the last minute and you will run the risk of being classed as a fee-paying subscriber and being billed monthly, using the credit card details asked of you to participate in the free trial.
In Netflix’s case I’m told it sends an email warning that your free period is about to finish. My experience with Quickflix was different. After activating the code on the free trial offer and providing the required details online, I chose five films. But after that I could not find anymore in the library that appealed. I clicked on “unsubscribe” and also sent an email to Quickflix saying I did not want the service anymore – an email Quickflix said it didn’t receive.
Nevertheless, for the next five months I was billed $22.99 a month for a service I thought was cancelled, I didn’t want, and didn’t use. After several complaints, it was explained to me that the only way to cancel the subscription was to go to My Account on the Quickflix website and click cancel.
As I had unsubscribed and no longer used the service or received emails, I didn’t know I had an account – let alone an ID number or password – and had been sent no details of such. And it took a while to notice the monthly billing.
Moreover I had been tipped into the expensive package – not the $10 one – because someone at Quickflix decided that was “the appropriate package” for me. I would have liked to have been asked if I was happy with the free trial and if I would like to become a paying subscriber, instead of becoming one by default. Stan and Netflix have similar systems, which require the provision of ID details and a credit card number when signing on.
And you are regarded as a subscriber with some free viewing time. While you may receive an email pointing to the end of the free trial, the written terms and conditions require you to cancel before the free trial period ends or you will start to be billed.
How do I cancel?
This can be tricky and requires a careful reading of terms and conditions relating to cancellation. Check to see whether you can email or mail a cancellation, or whether you have to cancel only through accessing
your online account.
After several heated exchanges, Quickflix finally said it would not bill me again. However, I was told by my bank that, as the service has my credit card details, it was possible billing of me would continue and the only way to ensure there’d be no further billing would be to cancel my credit card. The terms and conditions say there are no refunds.
What else is involved?
Stan and Netflix have the right, under their terms and conditions, to share the gathered private information – including what you watch, buy or participate in. And it can be used by the service provider for information sharing with just about anyone.
In Stan’s case, that includes a long list of related companies, contractors, external providers of websites and those otherwise connected to provision of its products and services, existing or potential agents (that could be anyone) business partners, partners or companies that might merge with Stan in future, sponsors, promoters, advertisers and other specified third parties. These may be located here or overseas. It amounts to broad, free-and-easy use of your private information, in return for a free trial period. If you have any products you’re unsure of, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org