Here's a shiny *new* copy instead, Netflix.
December 8, 2008 8:24 PM   Subscribe

A co-worker ripped and burned a DVD and accidentally sent the copy back to Netflix. Ouch. Should she flee the country? Retain a brace of lawyers?
posted by codswallop to Law & Government (19 answers total)
Probably nothing will happen, since I'm sure the copy was a legitimate backup of a DVD she actually owned and rented from NetFlix by mistake. Right? Right??
posted by ostranenie at 8:29 PM on December 8, 2008 [3 favorites]

Maybe I'm optimistic, but I find it hard to believe they will look at the disc. They will probably just contact your friend to tell her she didn't send back their movie. There's also the issue of confidentiality - according to their Terms of Use they don't give out information on what individual users are watching to third parties. Does this include the FBI? Not sure...
posted by mpronovost at 8:36 PM on December 8, 2008

I'm sure for liability reasons they don't ask their employees to look at burned discs that get sent back. What if it was child pornography? Or, hell, even regular pornography? I doubt that's in the job description and ultimately it isn't in Netflix's interest to have employees paid to check out what's on unlabelled discs they get in the mail. They'll probably trash the disc sight unseen and contact your friend.
posted by crinklebat at 8:39 PM on December 8, 2008

From Netflix's website

Q: I accidentally returned a personal CD or DVD. How do I get it back?

A: If we can identify that a CD or DVD does not belong to us, and we recognize the customer who sent it, we will automatically return the disc.

Minimum wagers, or thereabouts, are processing this business. I'd bet money they do not give a rat's ass: when they see it is not a Netflix DVD they will ship it back to your friend along with the envelope and ask for the right DVD back. If they don't ship it back, she should double-stuff the original in with another of her returns and stick a post-it on it that notes there are 2 DVD's in it because she accidentally returned a personal DVD with the other envelope. There will be no repercussions.

If I'm wrong I'll buy your friend a coke. In jail.
posted by nanojath at 8:43 PM on December 8, 2008 [7 favorites]

I'd play stupid and claim to have lost the original and in a panic asked a friend to copy theirs to return. That's only going to work if she can play a convincing idiot.

Or alternatively claim to have left a DVD of home movies/family photos/thesis data in the case by mistake and ask them to send it back so she can swap it out. This probably only works if she didn't write the name of the pirated movie on the disc...

Overall though, I don't think they'd actually care a whole lot, just want their original back. But perhaps to play it safe she could go buy a legit copy of the film and claim to have sent back her legal back-up copy.
posted by chrisbucks at 8:44 PM on December 8, 2008

Chill. They have neither the time nor the interest to get your friend in trouble.
posted by jayder at 8:45 PM on December 8, 2008 [2 favorites]

Netflix customer service is, in my experience, awesome.

Have your friend call them at 1-866-716-0414. They're open 24 hours a day. She just accidentally sent in the wrong thing, and would like a new sleeve / envelope to send the actual DVD back. Probably nothing else will happen from there.

If she's *really* worried, she can report it as lost. My DVDs sometimes don't make it back due to mail theft / bad processing. Clever thief in her neighborhood did the rip-and-burn and sent it right back! Ooops!
posted by charmcityblues at 8:47 PM on December 8, 2008

IMHO whoever is at the level of the organization whose job it is to open and file DVDs, are going to look at the disc, realize it is not the right DVD, and throw it out. or if they normally return them, return it. I mean, whose job is it @ Netflix to waste time creating a headache for a customer that would only result in a negative for them? Nobody. I figure absolute (unlikely) worst case scenario is they have a policy of cancelling subscriptions for anyone who copies a DVD, but even that seems like a real stretch.
posted by citron at 8:49 PM on December 8, 2008

I read about somebody else doing this. They said they were banned for life.
posted by pmurray63 at 8:49 PM on December 8, 2008

Its your work that you need to be careful about. I'd not reveal this "funny" story to anyone there.
posted by Ironmouth at 8:53 PM on December 8, 2008

crinklebat writes "I'm sure for liability reasons they don't ask their employees to look at burned discs that get sent back. What if it was child pornography? Or, hell, even regular pornography?"

I wouldn't be surprised if policy specifically forbids employees from looking at contents in case it's a data back up or even home made porn.

They say they'll terminate the account if they catch you copying disks.

They may however return the disk if they can: "Occasionally we are able to identify personal CDs, DVDs or other items inadvertently submitted to us as part of our rental return process. In such instances, we will attempt to return the item to the sender. However, it may not always be possible for us to identify and return your personal items. In addition, on rare occasions, these personal CDs, DVDs or other items are re-transmitted inadvertently to members during our normal shipping and receiving operations. We disclaim any responsibility for and you hereby expressly release us from any liability arising from any re-transmission, including both the shipment and receipt of such items. We encourage you to be careful in returning items to us in our postage paid envelopes.
posted by Mitheral at 8:54 PM on December 8, 2008

Netflix tracks DVDs by the bar code on the DVD. So how should they know who sent in this home-burned DVD? As far as they know, they haven't received the rental DVD back yet. She should just return the rental, and when they get it back, all will be well.
posted by exphysicist345 at 8:58 PM on December 8, 2008

Once I got a movie from Netflix with the correct title on the envelope and the wrong movie. I sent it back and got the next movie on my queue but a few weeks later I tried to get the movie I had missed again. I got the same wrong movie, in the same correct envelope. I'd say don't worry about it.
posted by martinX's bellbottoms at 9:18 PM on December 8, 2008 [1 favorite]

Nothing warms my heart more than seeing someone with more irrational paranoia than me.
posted by Crotalus at 10:34 PM on December 8, 2008 [5 favorites]

You are all thanked profusively.

Nanojath, keep that coke on standby. It may yet need keistering.
posted by codswallop at 11:18 PM on December 8, 2008

I can't answer this specific question, but here is my "oops wrong disc to netflix" experience.

I rented Walk The Line. I accidentally returned a home movie (not a dirty home movie, a boring home movie). It was burned to a blank DVD which somehow got inserted into the Netflix envelope so as not to get scratched. Feeling the envelope and feeling a disc in the envelope it was mailed back.

Embarassed I called Netflix and desperately tried to get the disc back as it did hold sentimental value. However, since it had no label, no identifiable marking, they said it was impossible.

What I find funnier, is Netflix marked my copy of Walk The Line as having been returned, even though I still had the disc at my house. The employee scanned the barcode on the envelope and that was that...

Now, what I imagine is that since it was "checked in" as OK, then the next person to rent Walk the Line was probably really disappointed......
posted by arniec at 5:40 AM on December 9, 2008 [1 favorite]

Here's a post at Hacking Netflix that might make your co-worker feel a little bit better.
posted by soonertbone at 6:49 AM on December 9, 2008

Netflix tracks DVDs by the bar code on the DVD....

Please ignore that. I was thinking of RedBox.

Netflix tracks DVDs by the barcode on the SLEEVE. So just order the same movie again, move it to the top of your list, and when it comes, the sleeve will contain your copy.
posted by exphysicist345 at 6:33 PM on December 9, 2008


I found out that they just said she had sent back the wrong one, it wasn't going to be returned, and would she please send the right one back now?

No harm, no foul.
posted by codswallop at 10:42 PM on January 11, 2009

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