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Amazon and LOVEFiLM

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Amazon has just announced that its sell-off of its UK DVD rental business to LOVEFiLM is now complete.

Five years ago I signed up with DVDs-On-Tap which later rebranded itself as LOVEFiLM. After suffering an indifferent service and too many DVDs being delivered so badly scratched that my DVD player would often not even recognise them as DVDs, I cancelled my subscription and joined Amazon UK’s DVD Rental scheme.

I cancelled my LOVEFiLM subscription using its website but soon after I did this it removed the option to do this from the website and cancellations could then only be made by phone call. Maybe LOVEFiLM thought it would be easier to retain customers by making it harder for them to cancel rather than fix what was wrong with its service. Other LOVEFiLM subscribers that I knew cancelled in the following months and soon I didn’t know anyone who used its service.

Amazon’s service, by comparison, was superb and I didn’t have a single complaint in the three years that I used the service.

Earlier this year my wife told me that LOVEFiLM had bought Amazon’s DVD Rental business. I told her that she must have got it wrong. Surely it was Amazon taking over the lacklustre and possibly ailing LOVEFiLM ? Sadly, she was right. Presumably, the deal was done because Amazon decided that it was not making enough revenue from rentals and LOVEFiLM was interested in increasing its market share.

There was absolutely no way that I’d go back to LOVEFiLM as a customer and so I ignored all the emails from Amazon instructing me how to migrate my rental account to LOVEFiLM. Then, one day, a rental DVD arrived from LOVEFiLM. I went to my account page at Amazon and found that there was no longer any information about my DVD Rentals. I checked my email and saw that Amazon had announced the completion of the transfer to LOVEFiLM. There were also several emails from LOVEFiLM welcoming me and encouraging me to login to my account on its website.

I wondered how Amazon had transferred the payment details for my account as surely it wasn’t legal for it to pass my bank details to another company ? I checked my bank account and found that Amazon was still debiting the account using a reference indicating that it was on behalf of LOVEFiLM.

I sent an email to Amazon making it clear that I wanted nothing to do with LOVEFiLM, that it was Amazon’s responsibility to cancel whatever arrangements it had made to transfer my account to LOVEFiLM, and that I considered any further debits to my account to be unauthorised. Amazon’s response was:

Subject: Your Amazon.co.uk DVD Rental by Post Enquiry
   From: "Amazon.co.uk Customer Services" <cust.serv03@amazon.co.uk>
   Date: Wed, 25 Jun 2008 10:41:17 -0700 (PDT)
     To: "seamonkey@..."
 
Dear Mr C Monkey
Thank you for contacting Amazon.co.uk DVD Rentals by Post.
Amazon.co.uk DVD rentals has now moved to LOVEFiLM and as part of this move, your existing rental list was transferred. You can access your rental list and manage your rental account only on the LOVEFiLM website.
In order to view your rental list and other information regarding your DVD rental service, we would ask that you visit the LOVEFiLM website directly:
https://www.lovefilm.com/amzn?page=/visitor/login_migrated.html
For any further questions or cancellation in relation to your DVD rentals account we would ask that you contact LOVEFiLM directly.
To contact LOVEFiLM, please visit their Web site at http://www.lovefilm.com/amzn, Email to support@lovefilm.com or call on 08444 820 123 (lines are open between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. Monday to Friday and between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. at weekends).
If you have any further questions, please refer to our help pages:
 
http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/help/customer/display.html?ie=UTF8&nodeId=200224550
Thank you for choosing Amazon.co.uk
Please let us know if this e-mail answered your question:
If yes, click here:
http://www.amazon.co.uk/rsvp-y?c=...
If not, click here:
http://www.amazon.co.uk/rsvp-n?c=...
Please note: this e-mail was sent from an address that cannot accept incoming e-mail.
To contact us about an unrelated issue, please visit the Help section of our website.
Warmest regards
Ram Gopal
Amazon.co.uk

Amazon ignored my specific request to cancel my account. Grudgingly, I conceded defeat and followed the link to access my migrated account on the LOVEFiLM website. It didn’t work. I got an error message saying that my email address was not valid.

I phoned LOVEFiLM and was told that the problem was that the my email address was not a valid address. Clearly this is nonsense. Not only is this an account that I’ve used since 1994, it’s the same account that I’ve used with Amazon for more than ten years, and it’s also the account that LOVEFiLM had sent its welcome emails to.

The LOVEFiLM representative that I spoke to told me that the email address was now valid and a temporary password was setup to allow me to login to my new LOVEFiLM account. I asked him to cancel the account which he did and then he advised me to login to the account to confirm my details and that the account was scheduled for cancellation. I thanked him and ended the call.

I went back to the LOVEFiLM web site and used the temporary password. This was accepted and I was presented with a page indicating that I had to accept LOVEFiLM’s terms and conditions to proceed to my account details. I gave up – why should I accept LOVEFiLM’s T&Cs when, as far as I’m concerned, I don’t have any business with the company ? I closed the browser and gave up.

I’m disappointed with the way that Amazon has dealt with the sell-off of its rental business. I understand that the deal it did with LOVEFiLM will have included the transfer of the subscriber accounts but, frankly, I object to being sold by Amazon to LOVEFiLM in this way. Even if I hadn’t previously had a poor customer experience with LOVEFiLM, I might have cancelled the account as a matter of principle. Amazon’s failure to respond adequately to my request to cancel the migrated account falls well below their normal level of customer service.

As for LOVEFiLM, sending emails to me and then telling that the email address is invalid, and encouraging me to login to my account when it wasn’t possible because of a technical issue with its website is no surprise. It just confirmed my belief that it’s a company worth avoiding.

Now I just need to find an alternative DVD rental service…

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Written by Sea Monkey

July 1, 2008 at 7:00 pm

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