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Netflix Class Action Settlement
November 2, 2005 12:52 PM   Subscribe

Another class action suit, another lousy settlement. Are or were you a member of Netflix? Sign up for your benefits under the class action settlement, and receive a free upgrade (or for former members, a free month) of service. That is one whole extra DVD at a time per month. Doesn't sound so hot? It gets better. The next month, they'll keep you on the upgraded plan and raise your bill to match it! Class action settlement, or class action fleecing?
posted by jmccorm (62 comments total)

 
Oh, honestly, who the hell cares? If you don't think the service offers a good value, just cancel.

I just love the middle class and their fucking entitlement complex.
posted by selfnoise at 1:01 PM on November 2, 2005


All I know is that Netflix forgave a lost DVD (Fat Tire Fury V, which was awesome if you like bike mayhem) so NetFlix is getting a Christmas card from me this year.

Sounds like they were able to work out the settlement very much to their benefit. I'm sure if/when they lose a ton of members, they'll address it.
posted by fenriq at 1:03 PM on November 2, 2005


Members get a free month of four disks instead of three. The class representative gets $2,000 as an incentive payments. And class counsel? Well, they get paid $2,528,000 in attorneys' fees and costs. Who says class actions don't pay?
posted by monju_bosatsu at 1:03 PM on November 2, 2005


I don't think this is a "f***ing entitlement complex" issue. What jmmccorm is getting at here is that class action lawsuits are often used to generate huge attorney's fees for a law firm, at the expense of receiving any sort of compensation to the injuried people that firm is representing.

I was (apparently) in a class action against Blockbuster that settled recently. I received a few coupons for free rentals, but I would have been dismayed if I was automatically enrolled in some sort of higher-cost service without a clear warning.
posted by MrZero at 1:04 PM on November 2, 2005


I got this offer today, read over the terms, decided it was rubbish not worth my effort and deleted the e-mail. Took 30 seconds or so out of my day.
posted by genefinder at 1:08 PM on November 2, 2005


Yes, Netflix tested the limits of its marketing promises [unlimited rentals, most places get movies the next day] but the lawsuit was stupid and the settlement is just as stupid. I got the email about this, this morning and laughed. The lawyers for the plaintiffs knew this marketing campaign would be the closest to an actual settlement they would get.

Now if a pharacutical company caused damage to a class of people, it wouldn't even make to a filing since there are laws protecting them.

I love the legal system!
posted by birdherder at 1:09 PM on November 2, 2005


I just love the middle class and their fucking entitlement complex.

I just love the poor and their potty mouths and their freakin alcoholism and their uncontrollable rage.
posted by spicynuts at 1:13 PM on November 2, 2005


The iPod battery suit was the first class-action thing I claimed for. Owning 2 that started going out pretty quickly ("WTF?" was my first reaction when the battery wouldn't hold more than a two-hour charge) seemed fair enough, though monju's note that class-action is basically a scam for lawyers holds. We need a 50% marginal tax rate for this predatory shit.
posted by Heywood Mogroot at 1:13 PM on November 2, 2005


What exactly was the original reason for the lawsuit? The PDF at Netflix isn't very clear.
posted by odinsdream at 1:13 PM on November 2, 2005


This is what having class action suits has come to? Protecting DVD renters? Unfuckingbelievable.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 1:14 PM on November 2, 2005


Next up:

A Netflix class action lawsuit to represent those members of the previous Netflix class action settlement who were enrolled in a higher tier plan! (And those additional people who, a month or two later, switched back down to the cheaper plan, but no longer received their grandfathered rates.)

Seriously, though. More than the lawyers getting $2.5M on this, it ticks me off even more that a 'settlement' involves moving the customers to a higher tier plan (of marginal benefit), then charging them for it starting the next month. And the only warning is in the fine print. Glad I read it, because it was as dry as an EULA.
posted by jmccorm at 1:17 PM on November 2, 2005


spicynuts, shameLOL.
posted by BrotherCaine at 1:17 PM on November 2, 2005


If judges had any balls they would stop approving these bogus settlements. The plaintiff lawyers that do this are scum. A big value is put on the settlement, the lawyers take all the cash as their fees, the defendant takes a big tax break, and the plaintiffs get what amounts to marketing.
posted by caddis at 1:23 PM on November 2, 2005


The point of class actions is that they unify many small interests which are not worth litigating independently into one action which is worth taking to court. It's collective action. Yes, the attorneys do end up getting fees disproportionate to what their individual clients get, but the alternative is that companies would be able to get away with ripping off every client a little tiny bit and making big bucks in the aggregate. Do you all really think that's a good solution?

That said, the automatic renewal at the upgraded rate is a little sketchy, but as long as the class members are able to easily downgrade, it's not too bad.
posted by footnote at 1:26 PM on November 2, 2005


I just love the middle class and their fucking entitlement complex.

I just love the poor and their potty mouths and their freakin alcoholism and their uncontrollable rage.

I just love being ultra-rich while the lower and middle classes fight amongst themselves.

*polishes monocle, returns to counting piles of money*
posted by joe lisboa at 1:27 PM on November 2, 2005


*polishes monocle, returns to counting piles of money*

The truly ultra-rich have people to do both of those things for them. Poser.
posted by PinkStainlessTail at 1:30 PM on November 2, 2005


I just love the middle class and their fucking entitlement complex.

I just love the poor and their potty mouths and their freakin alcoholism and their uncontrollable rage.

I just love being ultra-rich while the lower and middle classes fight amongst themselves.


I just love being American and knowing that I'm safe as long as people are fighting.
posted by setanor at 1:31 PM on November 2, 2005


When has a class action lawsuit actually resulted in a true benefit to the consumer?

The most infamous one I remember was the CD price fixing one, in which comsumers got $15 or something like that if they bought a CD, but nothing actually changed.
posted by MysticMCJ at 1:32 PM on November 2, 2005


or perhaps even consumers got $15

(oops)
posted by MysticMCJ at 1:42 PM on November 2, 2005


Yeah, but when you're ultra-ultra-rich, you've got nothing else to do. So there you are.
posted by joe lisboa at 1:44 PM on November 2, 2005


Expired - Netflix.
Tired - Netflix of porn.
Wired - Netflix of ponies.
posted by eatitlive at 1:50 PM on November 2, 2005


The CD settlement was closer to $13.

Anyone is welcome to object to the conditions of the settlement at a public settlement hearing taking place at 2pm on Jan. 18th, 2006, in front of Judge Mellon in department 514 of the San Francisco Superior Court at 400 McAlister Avenue, San Francisco, CA.

If you can not be present, or just want to visit the SF library to borrow a film, the Asian Art Museum, or have other business nearby at City Hall, you can always mail your comments and objections to the:

Clerk of the San Francisco Superior Court, Room 103
400 McAlister Avenue
San Francisco, CA 94111

more info here:

http://cdn.netflix.com/us/corporate/settlement/long_form_notice.pdf

Sorry, something is wrong with my link.
posted by tzelig at 1:51 PM on November 2, 2005


Isn't the point of class action lawsuits that they serve as deterrents against unscrupulous corporations? I love how everyone points to the 10% of these lawsuits that are frivolous and ignores the 90% that actually end up policing an industry that otherwise would consider a 10% casualty rate for the introduction of a new drug acceptable. If you take away these ambulance chasing lawyers, then who do we depend on to make sure corporations act ethically? Congress? Name one person in Congress who isn't just a lobbyist in a cheap suit?
posted by any major dude at 1:54 PM on November 2, 2005


Actually, they only keep you on the upgraded plan if you want to. You can opt out of it by changing your membership level before the month is up. It's not THAT big a deal, is it?
posted by OhPuhLeez at 1:58 PM on November 2, 2005


I wish every service I used was as awesome as Netflix. They could run over a wagon full of orphan kittens in a Hummer with an NRA bumper sticker and I'd still use them.
posted by bondcliff at 2:06 PM on November 2, 2005


When has a class action lawsuit actually resulted in a true benefit to the consumer?

They aren't supposed to benefit "the" consumer, but rather "consumers" in the aggregate -- acting as a deterrent, like any major dude said. The individual class members all have small injuries, so they get an accordingly small amount of compensation.


Actually, they only keep you on the upgraded plan if you want to. You can opt out of it by changing your membership level before the month is up. It's not THAT big a deal, is it?


This kind of default increase is a classic way to boost revenue, because inevitably many people won't bother to opt out. People tend to stick with the status quo, and you better believe that companies take advantage of that basic psychology. I do wonder why the plaintiffs' attorneys agreed to it.
posted by footnote at 2:09 PM on November 2, 2005


I do wonder why the plaintiffs' attorneys agreed to it.

'Cuz they got paid $2.5 million.
posted by monju_bosatsu at 2:13 PM on November 2, 2005


Fair enough.... Although I rarely hear about class action suits that actually result an a true change in malicious practices. I suppose the problem is that the more acceptable and less frivolous class action lawsuits typically don't get the same press, or the same sort of resolution.
posted by MysticMCJ at 2:14 PM on November 2, 2005


Name one person in Congress who isn't just a lobbyist in a cheap suit?

You are so wrong. Some of their suits are pretty nice.
posted by jlub at 2:34 PM on November 2, 2005


I rarely hear about class action suits that actually result an a true change in malicious practices.

The reason is that there is no simple causal relationship between a single class action lawsuit and business reforms. Companies try to avoid wrongdoing because, among other reasons, they don't want to get hit with a costly class action lawsuit. Although class action settlements sometimes involve changes in how the particular defendant does business (e.g., including warning labels on certain products), the bigger impact is the more diffuse fear of liability that class actions engender. But it's hard to trace that to any individual lawsuit, so it's understandable that people see settlements like this and wonder what the point is.
posted by brain_drain at 2:40 PM on November 2, 2005


I received the email this morning and didn't care about it. It's about 9 hours since I read it and I still don't care.
posted by ob at 2:51 PM on November 2, 2005


This is obtuse:

Netflix Claim Form Process
Frequently Asked Questions

1. What is this lawsuit about?
Please refer to Section I of the Long Form Notice.

2. Who is eligible to participate in this settlement?
Please refer to Section II of the Long Form Notice.

3. What are the settlement benefits for class members?
Please refer to Section III of the Long Form Notice.

4. What options do I have for registering for the settlement benefits?
Please refer to Section IV.A. of the Long Form Notice.

5. Do I have to participate in this settlement?
Please refer to Section VII.B. and VII.C. of the Long Form Notice.

6. What happens if I opt out or exclude myself from the settlement?
Please refer to Section VII.B., VII.C. and VIII of the Long Form Notice.

7. What happens if I remain a class member?
Please refer to Section VII.A. of the Long Form Notice.

8. When will this proposed settlement become final?
Please refer to Section VIII.A. of the Long Form Notice.

posted by dhartung at 2:55 PM on November 2, 2005


I got this today too. What a fucking scam, both for the consumer and the legal system. And screw the lawyer(s) who originally proposed the suit. Quit wasting our time so you can get rich.
posted by fungible at 2:56 PM on November 2, 2005


I just love the poor and their potty mouths and their freakin alcoholism and their uncontrollable rage.
posted by spicynuts at 1:13 PM PST on November 2 [!]


Heh!
posted by freebird at 3:39 PM on November 2, 2005


Jeez. When did the lightbulb come on for you about class actions lawsuits? They only benefit the lawyers and provide some deterence to corrupt corporations. No members of the settlement class ever get squat. Are you outraged that grass is green? Surprised the sun comes up in the east?
posted by warbaby at 3:42 PM on November 2, 2005


Are you outraged that grass is green? Surprised the sun comes up in the east?
posted by warbaby at 6:42 PM EST on November 2 [!]


Couldn't have said it better...
posted by ob at 4:07 PM on November 2, 2005


dhartung, I laughed at the FAQ as well, talk about being useless.
posted by fenriq at 4:12 PM on November 2, 2005


just another reason to unplug and move back to the country.
posted by nola at 4:41 PM on November 2, 2005


This was worth posting just to see that FAQ.
posted by smackfu at 5:01 PM on November 2, 2005


Ok, so what do all you cynical geniuses think -- that Netflix should be allowed to lie to its customers and not deliver on its promised services?
posted by footnote at 5:04 PM on November 2, 2005


Oh, honestly, who the hell cares? If you don't think the service offers a good value, just cancel.

I just love the middle class and their fucking entitlement complex.
posted by selfnoise at 1:01 PM PST on November 2 [!]

posted by angry modem at 5:20 PM on November 2, 2005


What Footnote said. I think that class actions are a vitally important means of policing corporations. Here's an example of one that might not seem so penny-ante.

Also, IMO, If the Legal Services Corporation weren't banned from bringing them, we'd see a lot more truly useful ones filed.
posted by palmcorder_yajna at 5:23 PM on November 2, 2005


I have no idea why "weren't" is bolded in that post. Sorry.
posted by palmcorder_yajna at 5:24 PM on November 2, 2005


I just love this...I have to sign back up for the service in order to collect my share of the settlement. This is shear evil genius.
posted by Bluehenspecial at 5:41 PM on November 2, 2005


Jeez. When did the lightbulb come on for you about class actions lawsuits? They only benefit the lawyers and provide some deterence to corrupt corporations. No members of the settlement class ever get squat. Are you outraged that grass is green? Surprised the sun comes up in the east?
posted by warbaby at 6:42 PM EST on November 2 [!]


and then one wonders why things never change. "it's bad, but that's the way it's always been so c'est la vie." Pathetic.
posted by caddis at 6:03 PM on November 2, 2005


No members of the settlement class ever get squat.

I got $300 one time from a sleazy (*gasp!*) porn site. (I was young, I didn't know you could get the shit for free...) It took two years and I completely forgot about it until the check came. Which I promptly spent on beer and strippers.

I'm weak.
posted by Cyrano at 6:21 PM on November 2, 2005


I just love the middle class and their fucking entitlement complex.

Is that like the military-industrial complex, only naughtier?

/sorry, late to the game...
posted by craniac at 7:21 PM on November 2, 2005


What is this "Netflix" and why do y'all care so much about the subject?

And Cyrano, since when did people start paying for pr0n? I always got mine for free. Same with live nekkid grils, if you don't count my well-being, my self-respect and my sanity as a form of payment. (Come to think of it, maybe I should've spent more time at strip bars; in those situations you know right off what the real deal is.)
posted by davy at 8:30 PM on November 2, 2005


Netflix has been one of the better entertainment values for me and my family. You pay a monthly fee to have a certain number of DVDs "out". You browse their website, line up your DVDs in a queue, and they send you the number of agreed upon DVDs. They are sent to you in envelopes through the USPS (including return postage). Keep them until you want a new movie, then send them back. The key here: There are NO LATE FEES, ever. If you pay for the 3 DVD-out plan and you keep 12 Monkeys for a month, no big deal. The other two rotate.

I haven't darkened Blowbuster's doorstep since Netflix opened and I signed up years ago. Their web interface has improved (better navigation/more info/mouseover pops), and when my queue is combined with imdb and rottentomatoes I just sit back and let the flix flow. If you're good you can keep them coming in every day or two. I still use the dvd holder thingy they sent to hold the DVDs and their return envelopes... As an *added bonus* a Netflix distribution point is now in my city. I'm on the 4-disc out plan @19.99 (not sure if this plan is available any more). My rate only went up one time to cover local taxes when this distribution point opened. They have rarely ever not had a DVD I wanted in stock. Ends up costing an average of $2.18 per DVD rental. Never a late fee or extra charge, even with two lost discs reported "lost in mail". How much better than the old days at the Blowbuster with their co$tly late-fee and no-rewind fee BS.

As for the offer I received today: I read it and flushed it. I heart Netflix. [and my growing archives]
posted by HyperBlue at 9:16 PM on November 2, 2005


[insert lawyer joke here]
posted by HyperBlue at 9:21 PM on November 2, 2005


I just now started with Netflix and I'm loving it.
posted by Ethereal Bligh at 9:29 PM on November 2, 2005


What's really funny is that only about a week or two ago, I got an email from Netflix asking which day one of my movies arrived, essentially making sure that the deliveries were on time. I'm pretty sure that, within something like 9 months of using their service, I've only had one or two even slightly negative experiences. One DVD was really scratched and I can remember only a single instance of delivery lateness.

Save your class action lawsuits for defective baby-crib-deathtraps or un-recalled exploding car tires.
posted by Jon-o at 9:44 PM on November 2, 2005


Anyone is welcome to object to the conditions of the settlement at a public settlement hearing taking place at 2pm on Jan.

When is the hearing where we can register our dissatisfaction with the stupidity of the original lawsuit?
posted by obfusciatrist at 9:50 PM on November 2, 2005


You people pay for movies?
posted by IshmaelGraves at 10:21 PM on November 2, 2005


odinsdream, I believe the suit stems from the practice of Netflix allegedly "throttling" heavy users of the service by delaying shipment and otherwise dragging their feet processing requests from users who had a high turnaround on their rentals. Lighter use subscribers had their requests processed immediately. The topic was debated ad nauseam on Netflix blogs (yes, such things exist) and people kept detailed logs that supported the whole throttling idea. Then Netflix pretty much admitted to the practice, if I recall.

I've been an on-and-off subscriber to Netflix for years and have been pretty happy with the service. That being said, this "settlement" is a joke.

I was, however, a big fan of the Milli Vanilli class-action suit.
posted by Otis at 5:48 AM on November 3, 2005


That's not a FAQ, that's a contents page.
posted by runkelfinker at 6:39 AM on November 3, 2005


If the Legal Services Corporation weren't banned from bringing them, we'd see a lot more truly useful ones filed.
posted by palmcorder_yajna at 5:23 PM PST on November 2 [!]


That is a really excellent point!
posted by footnote at 7:09 AM on November 3, 2005


I just now started with Netflix and I'm loving it.

Ethereal Bligh, you are hereby never allowed to say "I'm loving it" ever again.

McDonald's is not the Simpsons. You can't quote them to look cool.
posted by zach4000 at 7:25 AM on November 3, 2005


We are totally on the Netflix bandwagon here, but admittedly we are "light" users. My husband works nights so we only watch movies on the weekends. So why would we bother with Netflix? For three reasons:
1. No late fees. I'm still hurting over that pre-Netflix $9.00 fee because we forgot we had a 2 DVD set and mistakenly returned only one of the DVDs to the video rental.
2. We don't watch mainstream stuff. Before Netflix when we passionately wanted to see a documentary or foreign film it meant a 45 minute trip one way to Durham.
3. A trip to our mailbox Monday morning is so much better than a trip to the video store.

So we will take the extra rentals for a month and make sure we switch back to the original plan.

When has a class action lawsuit actually resulted in a true benefit to the consumer?
I got a couple of checks from the manufacturers of Synthroid. I think the second check was around $275.00 and I have no idea what the first check was for. I figured out that the money I was sent was just about exactly equal to the money they had overcharged me in three years.
posted by Secret Life of Gravy at 7:53 AM on November 3, 2005


If 5% of the class opts out the whole thing is nullified. Please do this:

http://www.netflixsettlementsucks.com/

It looks pretty easy. We can stick it to these greedy lawyars.
posted by Mr T at 8:34 AM on November 3, 2005


... the practice of Netflix allegedly "throttling" heavy users of the service...

How many movies are the "heavy user"s getting? I averaged almost a movie a day for about 6 months (fairly hard to do on the 3-movie-at-a-time plan, but I'm an achiever) and never noticed a slowdown.

btw, Netfilx is about the only way I know to rent movies if you've got an infant (or 2) at home.
posted by originalname37 at 9:56 AM on November 3, 2005


originalname37: More info here.
posted by Otis at 10:39 AM on November 3, 2005


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