LoveFilm: Trial, yes. Free, no.

UPDATE: Yeah, they refunded me as a “gesture of goodwill”.

Dear Lovefilm,

I wanted to love you, I really did. However, with my crappy rural Scottish ADSL connection, I could never get my PS3 to stream movies without breaking up right in the middle of an important bit, so I decided to cancel the free trial on the last day after having tried everything possible to get it to work. Now, as your lovely introductory letter said, the last day of my trial was the 17th of January, so that’s when I called. The kind gentleman at the other end of the phone, over in the fine republic of Bhārat Gaṇarājya, informed me that what he would do was extend my trial a further fourteen days so I could attempt to solve my internet problems. Short of moving my house nearer the exchange, I didn’t see how I could improve this, but hey, another 14 days to try.

Fourteen days later, that would be today, I called back to cancel once more, realising that it simply was never going to work. I was asked if I’d returned my last disk, to which I knew the answer because I was clever and I looked up what to do. I answered “No!” with great pride in knowing I was giving him the right answer, because that’s what the website tells you to do. Unfortunately, he told me that this would mean I was getting charged. Once I’d pointed this out, I was informed that it didn’t matter because I had already been charged while I was on the trial.

Now, in spite of your wonderful introductory letter explicitly telling me the last day of the trial was the 17th of January, what you really meant was the last day was the 16th and the 17th was the first day I was being charged, even if I was still on the trial; especially since I was now on a trial until the 31st! Cashey-money was removed from my account mid-way through my allegedly free trial. Oh, the irony.

How did we get here? The woe I felt when the best the man on the phone could do was to get his manager to explain to me that your instructions are over-ruled in small print that we assume we don’t have to read because you’re very clear in the welcoming letter. A less forgiving person may well assume that this was deliberate, but I can’t bring myself to assume a company with the word “love” in their name would be so bold.

Anyway, the upshot is that I’ve had a trial of a service I can’t use and been charged for the privilege.

As a Technology Pundit (it says it in my Twitter Bio; it must be true) I’m finding it very hard to consider recommending your free trial, let alone your service, considering my truly awful experience.

In fact, the only reason I’m writing this letter instead of writing off the £11.22 as a loss and a lesson learned is that your Twitter presence told me to and I do what I’m told on Twitter. The time I’ve taken doing this has probably cost me as much again in billable hours, so the very least I can do is publish this letter on my blog so people can at least laugh at me. I can definitely describe my experience as a trial, but the word free doesn’t fit.

Yours in unrequited love,

Jared Earle.

Jared Earle is a writer, photographer and systems administrator. You can find him on Twitter most of the time.

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  • Simon

    I’ve been a member of LOVEFiLM for a while now (since the end of last summer) – like you I tried to stream, but my connection was nowhere near capable.

    So I phoned to cancel, and waited in the queue long enough to be put through to a voicemail, where I was told if I left my details someone would call me back.

    So I did. But a few days later, I’d heard nothing so I called again – after a bit of waiting, I was put through to the same voicemail so I left my details again.

    This has been happening for months now – I’m trying to cancel my LOVEFiLM account, and they won’t let me.

    I’ve no idea why they force you to call them in order to cancel, especially when I haven’t taken out any discs since re-joining last summer. Seems to be a ploy to trick you into staying.

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  • Aaron

    Have I missed something?

    “I was asked if I’d returned my last disk, to which I knew the answer because I was clever and I looked up what to do. I answered “No!” with great pride in knowing I was giving him the right answer, because that’s what the website tells you to do.”

    To cancel your membership with us, two things must happen:

    You tell us that you want to cancel (so that we stop sending you any more rental discs)
    We receive back all rental discs that you have out on loan

    I’m not sure why you thought keeping the discs was right thing to do? It states they have to go back? Unless you’re presuming the two things must happen in order?

    • The order is 1: cancel, 2: send back disks. If you send back disks before cancelling, you get sent more disks. So yes, the order matters according to the LoveFilm website. That was my point but if you missed it, maybe I needed to state it more clearly.