« Netflix & Blockbuster Killing the Small Video Stores? | Main | The Fool.com Interviews Netflix CEO Reed Hastings »


I sent back the wrong disc once, and sent them an e-mail telling them so, with the real disc dropped immediately in the mail. I never got my original back.

One time I was totally not paying attention and I accidentally returned my girlfriend's Sportsnight disc 6 instead of Godfather II. I realized what I had done almost as soon as I dropped it in the mailbox, and I emailed them right away (thinking that if they knew about it before it arrived, they could avoid accidentally sending the wrong disc to another customer). As I recall, they responded quickly, but their response was basically "Sorry we can't do anything about it".

So I took matters into my own hands. I added Sportsnight disc 6 to the top of my queue, and when it arrived, I simply returned Godfather II in its place. I never heard anything more about it.


Same thing happened to me - was ripping a TV series and mailed back the ripped copy rather than the original. Got a message saying they'd received my disk in error and they'd put it in the mail. Also provided instructions on how to return their disk.

Did as asked and had my disk in my hands about 6 days later. What was interesting: my ripped disk arrived in one of those hard cardboard media mailers, instead of the paper sleeves they send their own movies in. I couldn't have been more impressed.


Guys, I realise that I sent a ripped copy to netflix yesterday (Friday 04), It was so very well done, that I confused myself. now, will the cops come to my home??? I am very worry about it.

somebody said they accidently sent in a burnt disc before and netflix just sent it back because it was part of their personal library...so no problem


Testing comments


We returned the wrong disc once by accident. Their response was essentially, "we're a really really big company, and we probably won't be able to find it."

I continued to email Netflix, using reasoning. I said that since they have no problem sending the RIGHT cd to me, they should have no problem identifying the WRONG cd when they receive it. I also implored them to demonstrate the good customer service that they claim to have. They again said that there wasn't much that they could do.

I still don't have the cd, and I doubt I ever will.


Ultimately NetFlix doesn't track disks, they track paper sleeves. And they probably get a fair number of their disks back in the wrong sleeve (due to customer mixup). When they get a mismatch, it's probably SOP to create a new sleeve for it.

It's different for audio CDs or DVDRs - they'd recognize those as not being NetFlix inventory - but if you accidentally return one of your own purchased DVDs, it's probably well and truly lost in the system.

Only Power

I accidently sent back a ripped copy of a dvd, and I just received this e-mail from Netflix this last Friday:

We received “DVD” from you on, 02/04/05. Unfortunately there is a problem with the return of this disc, as it is not one of ours. As a result we have placed your account on hold at this time. We would appreciate you providing us with responses to the questions below so we may review the situation:

Please describe any problems with this disc or if you noticed anything unusual about it when you received it?
Is it possible the title is still at home?
Who, if anyone, did you lend this movie to?

Please contact us as soon as possible to resolve this issue. If we have not heard from you within 30 days from the initial email or the system may automatically cancel your account.

I e-mailed them back saying it was accidently left behind, and that it would be mailed back w/ one of the other dvd's. The guy from Netflix replied to that e-mail saying this:

"Thanks for your message. You may return this title with one of your other titles. However, we still need to reconcile this issue with our warehouse. Where did the copy of “dvd” come from that was mailed in the sleeve?

Regarding the return of this movie at this time Netflix does not send additional return mailers.

If you have a return mailer from another shipment, you may include two DVDs in one return mailer. Otherwise, please send your DVDs to the following return address:

P.O. Box 49021 San Jose, California 95161

Unfortunately this was the second incident that has occurred on your account regarding the copying of a title and the copy being returned to us."

I e-mailed them today asking them what was the 1st incident that happened because it never has happened before.


Weird, are they trying to get you to admit you made a copy? Where else would the copy have come from? The questions they asked didn't fit the situation. It should have been a short paragraph explaining that you sent the wrong movie and need to send in the correct one to get credit for it.

I would just say that you make backups of the movies you receive and ask if they have a policy against this? Although, isn't the act itself illegal when you have to break the encryption on the DVD, still I don't remember them stating anywhere not to make copies. I wouldn't push for them to return your DVD, cut your losses.


Another thing, it is interesting that they keep a record of this type of event. Even when they don't make a big deal out of it, they still record it in your account information.

D Bates

I had a similar incident with Netflix. I was in a rush to get my discs sealed up and put in the mailbox cause I had seen him go down and knew he would be back in about 30 minutes and I wanted to get them out so I could get something back for the weeekend.

I wound up didn't notice that my brother had left the disc he watched the night before in the player and sent back an empty envelope. I caught the mistake that night when I went to pop in something to watch put it in a sleeve and sent it back like they say on the site. Day or two later I got an email about it, but that day it apparantly arrived and was listed as recieved. Luckily I keep my discs seperate from where I put the ones from Netflix so knock on wood I haven't sent back the wrong disc and hopefully won't or at least not too often.

Only Power

I'm actually thinking about closing my account, and going with Blockbuster. I will keep everyone up to date.


I sent a "backup" of a Netflix rental back in the rental sleeve. First they emailed me telling me it was received. Then I returned the original. Then they sent me an email saying that I had sent back one of my personal DVD's and that they would return it. I never got my "personal" disc back, but I got credit for returning the original. That was about 6 months ago, it sounds like they're getting nastier.


So far, Blockbuster Online has twice contacted me because they said I sent the wrong disc back, and both times returned that disc by the next day.

Now, it really was the right disc I was returning, and they just wouldn't accept that fact (I think because the DVD was double-sided and completely blank, no writing saying what it was anywhere on it). But that at least bodes well for getting back my disc if I really do send them one by mistake. Haven't had any wrong-disc experiences (rightly or wrongly) with Netflix to compare.

After two tries to get them to take the DVD back, I gave up and used the "I returned the DVD but it hasn't cleared my queue" option, which really is true (even if it's not what they meant).

I have a very hard time believing her supposed email. esepcially questions like "who if anyone did you lend the disk too." and "where did the cpy come from."

netlfix is NEVER ever going to ask such questions, and their attournies would never let them.

At that point they have to start turning customesrs into the FBI which wold be a major publci realtions mess for Netflix. the question would arrise do they look at the contents of every disk they get by mistake? are they looking at document disks?

Of course the customer could always claim they received the dup from netflix. I have gotten four wrong disks and quite a few very badly scratched and sticking disks in two years so I know they are not fool proof in checking the outgoing disks.

It is 100% illigal to rip disks from netflix and unethical 95% of the time (some would not consider it unethical to rent a dvd to make a copy of a disk they owned but was destroyed).

But prosecutions fro ripping of dvd's has never EVER been doen at the consumer level (ie people who are not mass selling pirate material). I very very verymcuh doubt netflix would want to be a party to the first such case whcih would probably fo to the suprmeme court.

I am certain their policy is ignorance is bliss.

Governor Breck

I'm glad I stumbled on this place, if only to know that other people have had the same problem.

So here's my Netflix Nightmare
"What?" you might be saying, "A nightmare involving the cuddliest mail-order DVD rental company ever? You must be a fool or a mountebank, sir!" And a month ago, I would have agreed with you. I've been a Netflix member since July and I have been nothing but pleased with their service. Then, almost a month ago, I tried returning a movie ("The First Circle" - nowhere near as good as the book). A day later, I get an e-mail from them: "It seems that you have inadvertently returned one of your personal CDs or DVDs. Rest assured, that we will mail back you disc and you can just return the disc you owe us." "That's funny," I thought, "I always check the disc before I put it in the mailer and I have a very small DVD collection, so it's not like I have thousands of DVDs falling all over the place." But, I'm open to the concept that I may be wrong, so for the first time I went through all of my CDs, DVDs and everything else. Shoeboxes with backup data CDs from four years ago that I haven't looked at in as long. Not only were none of my discs missing, I couldn't find The First Circle either. "Well, okay then," I thought, "When Netflix sends me back my disc, I'll get some idea what's going on."
Time passes...
No disc. I keep getting my regular four discs from Netflix (I'm on the "five at a time plan," and with them thinking The First Circle is still out, I'm technically on the "four at a time, but pay for five plan") but the personal disc I allegedly sent them is nowhere to be found. My irritation is small, but growing. I went to the Netflix Customer Service page and that was no help at all. "Maybe I can call them," I think, "because I really think I need to talk to a human being on this one." But Netflix doesn't include their phone number anywhere on their site. Undaunted, I did a google search for "Netflix phone number" and found it right away. (1-888-638-3549, if you're curious) I call that and wait on hold and wait and wait. No problem, I cut my teeth in the professional world fighting with various customer cervix departments. I've spent years of my life on hold and I can wait with the best. I finally get some guy and I explain the whole sordid tale to him. He puts me on hold for awhile and comes back: "Uh, how do you know that The First Circle is the disc that we didn't get back?"
"Because it's the only outstanding return I have with you. You've received all the other ones."
"Oh." He puts me on hold for awhile and comes back. "OK, we're going to have to fill out a 'template' on this one and someone will e-mail you soon." OK, that's fine. I disconnect. I go through all my stuff for the second time, just to make sure I didn't miss anything. Nope!

Two days later...

I get an e-mail from Jenny who says that they can't find my personal CD that I erroneously sent back and if I could email her back with the name of the CD or DVD and any other pertinent information, they would look for it. I reply to the e-mail with my theory: Since I am not missing any DVDs and since The First Circle is nowhere to be found at my house, I believe that I did send back the right DVD and somehow Netflix got its wires crossed. So I ask, very politely, for Jenny to humor me (the paying customer, after all) and look for The First Circle to see if that's turned up anywhere. The e-mail promptly gets returned as undeliverable and, upon further examination, I realize that Jenny did not include a valid e-mail address anywhere in her message. Just the automated e-mail address that doesn't accept incoming mail. "Well, that's just perfect," I say.

And that's where our story stands now, friends and neighbors. I have to call them again and go through the whole rigamarole.

Further updates as events warrant.

I still love Netflix. I'm still going to stay with them. I still think they're a great service. I live in the middle of Nowhere, VT and I'd have to drive 100 miles to get to a video store with even half the selection that Netflix has. I suppose I could go to Blockbuster's mail order service, but I really hate Blockbuster for purely irrational reasons. Like my parents used to say, "I'm not angry, just disappointed."

some name

I also sent a ripped or backup copy back to Netflix (talk about stupidity!) in early feb 2005.
They sent me the same e-mail onlyPower talked about: asking me questions such did I lent it to friend etc and putting the account on hold.
I have replied saying I sent the wrong DVD my mistake and have since returned the correct one.
Waiting for what they do.

I don't think they would turn you in to the feds, but I'm sure they would consider cancelling your account if you are ripping their movies.


Some of the folks here seem not to be able to tell the difference between CDs & DVDs.

Governor Breck, have you considered writing to them threatening to cancel your membership if they don't straighten this out? Lazy customer service is something we can all do without.

some name

They sent me an e-mail asking me how I got the copy of the DVD I sent them.
I have cancelled my account.


For the most part I consider myself a somewhat intelligent person but for the life of me I can't tell you WHY I sent in a ripped copy to Netflix. It was 5 am and I was in a hurry is my only explanation. That night I got home and popped open my drive to see the REAL dvd in it. After long Napoleon Dynamite-esque "uhhhhhh...sigh". I sent off the real copy and the same situation as we've seen above. They emailed me saying I mailed a personal dvd and would be returning said dvd. I thought..."Thank you Sargent Schulz". Then I got the inquisitor email mentioned above also. Same questions. I'm not answering them going to cancel go to blockbuster. Maybe come back to Netflix a few months later under my wifes name.


["]I also sent a ripped or backup copy back to Netflix (talk about stupidity!) in early feb 2005.
They sent me the same e-mail onlyPower talked about: asking me questions such did I lent it to friend etc and putting the account on hold.
I have replied saying I sent the wrong DVD my mistake and have since returned the correct one.
Waiting for what they do.["]

so what happened?

So what ends up happened to any of you that have returned a rip, gotten that nasty gram, and told them you just sent them the wrong disc? Do they just say, OK and things continue, or do they cancel you're account?


i sent back a rip, and when questioned about it further (as evidenced by the quoted letters above, so i won't go into it) i told them i must have lent it out and gave them a cock and bull story about how it got sent back, and then got the original back from my friend, etc. etc. ... make a long story short, they asked me to return a faxed hand written note stating that i don't copy their dvds or let others do so for me.

well, they canceled my account, because they matched the note to the handwriting on the letter.

though, it looks like i can sign back up with out issue (the site hasn't stopped me yet on my initial checks), so all is not lost.

i also agree with the posters above... i don't think they are in the business of turning in people to the FBI. and only have this policy in place as a pr move. similiar to a politician that does little, but claims to be tough on crime.


I thought I was the only one dumb enough to do this! I don't know how or why I sent them a ripped copy but I did. Dumb of me. After a couple of days, my account still showed that I haven't returned the movie and low and behold, the damn movie was in my disc drive. My jaws dropped to the floor. I didn't know what to do, so I went back online a paid for the movie that I supposed lost/damaged. What do you guys think is going to happen?


Arrrgh! I can't beleive I sent back a rip. Ive read all these comments, ill post up what happens in a few days. I thought about the whole "who made the copy" questions that they might ask... easy story is that a lot of people come through here and borrow my DVDs without asking... telling me theyll return them themselves. I dont want to have to cancel my account, I keep hearing that theyll put my account on hold, ill let you guys know what happens AFTER you return the original.


Arrrgh! I can't beleive I sent back a rip. Ive read all these comments, ill post up what happens in a few days. I thought about the whole "who made the copy" questions that they might ask... easy story is that a lot of people come through here and borrow my DVDs without asking... telling me theyll return them themselves. I dont want to have to cancel my account, I keep hearing that theyll put my account on hold, ill let you guys know what happens AFTER you return the original. But the fax thing, heres something brilliant: why not just get someone else to write the fax? Or... if youve written the label in PRINT, why not just write the fax in cursive? Luckily, the account isnt under my name, so even if they ask the REAL Nextflix account holder to write down on a piece of paper that they didnt copy the DVD, the handwriting cant be traced sinced its not mine, plus, you can techinically say that the DVD was lent out, the copy was made by someone else, and was returned mistakingly. Man oh man, im glad im just a tourist...


I wonder if anybody has any update or new story regarding this type of situation. I've been a netflix customer since 2002, and sometimes I rip movies to watch them later. Yesterday I made the dumb mistake to send a copy instead of the original (I am very careful most of the time, but this time I didn't noticed because I was in a hurry, and also, when I copy the movies, I print a nice label with the movie logo and everything, so it looks almost as the original one).
I was wondering what could happen, and that's how I found this article. Anyway, does anybody have any new information about what happens when you return a ripped copy of a movie?


I accidentally returned a brand new copy of my own movie that we had not even finished watching. It was the day after mailing that I noticed it. I had already gotten the e-mail saying they received their movie and were sending out the next one. Well I e-mailed them with the problem and got back the response: we have no way of returning personal discs, but we'll send you the next disc in your queue and you just return two movies in one sleeve. I wish I had not even contacted them in the first place. Now I'm out a movie and they have record of my mistake. As a side note, 90% of the movies we get from them cut off or skip around in the middle. It is extremely annoying. One even arrived completely broken. On their website they claim each disc is cleaned between uses. YEAH RIGHT!


oops. i just sent a copy to them too. i have never done that. i noticed that night when i turned my computer on and the movie inside started playing. i don't know if i wrote on the dvdr or what. i called them the next day figuring it would be smart to make the first move. the customer service person said that they received my other movies (2 of the 3) and to just send the movie back. they asked what movie i accidentally shipped them and i could just think to say, "i don't know". i never told him that the dvd i sent them was a copy. later in the day my queue said that they received 2 of the 3 movies and that they have shipped me 2 movies. guess i'll see what happens after i send the real copy back with my hand written note with my name and email address so they can credit me. the guy on the phone said that if i remember what movie i sent them, to call them and they'll see what they can do. it's been a full day and i haven't gotten an email regarding the disc being a copy.

i'll post back here when other things happen because i see that it's been a long time since people posted here.


netflix sent my disc copy back to me with the note saying i sent a personal disc with them. they then reminded me to ship back their disc with my name and email address.


i got credit for them getting the disc back. i have been sent 3 other discs. problems seems to be resolved with not consequences.

Not A Chance

Here's my story. I also sent in a burned DVD. Yes I am an idiot, yes it was Fraggle Rock - Season 1.

I freak out since I'm actually studying for the bar exam as we speak. So my level of paranoia is heightened. (Criminal Accomplice Liability for Netflix?) Probably not since they have to intend to help me usually. But maybe post offense accomplice liability (even though I don't think there's a duty to turn anyone in).

But either way I get this email:

Problem With Your Recent Return

Dear Pirate,

We received an empty white sleeve in your recent return. If you haven't already sent back the DVD you intended to return, please include it with your next return along with a note including your name and email address so we can match the movie to your account.

If you returned the DVD and white sleeve in its envelope, please visit the Shipping Problems page (http://www.netflix.com/ShippingProblems) and select "I returned a DVD but Netflix has not received it." We apologize for any inconvenience.

-The Netflix Team

I love these guys, I swear. So if you guys are out there freaking out like I was there is hope. I may still get something but I doubt it.

I love the Internet, together we can get away with anything. lol.


big dummy

Add me to the dumb f*ck list. I'll let you know what happens.


I sent back Disk 4 of the Season 5 box set of Deep Space Nine that I own mistakenly instead of the movie Out of the Ashes that they had sent and I had watched and left in my dvd player. I realized it this morning, shortly after they scanned my disk in in the hub. I know because they sent an email at 7:44 which I discovered after I got to work and checked my email. Only it said they'd received Out of the Ashes, which of course they didn't since that was on my shelf. On my way to work, I called them to tell them that I'd accidentally sent my DS9 dvd and it was very important to me. They said since they didn't rent that series (um, turns out they do), that it shouldn't be hard to get it back. They filled out a return property report. I called back once I saw the "We got Out of the Ashes" email. They said not to worry. All contents are double-checked by hand. It would be found. Then I get an email at 1:41 pm saying my next DVD. At 6:42pm, I got an email saying sorry they couldn't find it and we're sorry for the inconvenience, as if ruining a box set is just an inconvenience to me. Well, I'm ticked and I'm ticked that they didn't double-check it at the hub. I'm ticked that they could easily know right where my disk is but won't lift a finger to find it. I talked to them again and they said they don't track anything, that it's probably on it's way to whoever would get Out of the Ashes next and they'll notice it's a wrong DVD and report it. They offered me a measely $9.99 credit. Yet if you steal one of their DVDs, they charge you $20. I called back later offering this theory for the best chance of finding my DVD. The person who is getting Out of the Ashes tomorrow and reports it as the wrong DVD has my DS9 DVD. If they could match that with my return property report, it could get returned. The guy basically said, they could do it but won't. He said it's my fault. So basically, they are going to rent out my copy of DS9 Season 5 Disk 4 and make money off of it, when it's my property. They get a basically free DVD to add to their inventory and I get screwed. They don't track because they feel it would harm their efficiency. They don't actually try to find your mistakenly sent DVD. They just get to add it to their inventory. So what if they now have X+1 disk 4's to their X sets of DS9 Season 5, they still can't find my DVD which is the extra one. They won't help and they don't care. All it takes is a system to record when they scan a DVD in and where and when they scan a DVD out and where it's going and they could find all these things. Any shipping company knows to do this. But not Netflix. They don't have to. They have tens of millions of subscribers who don't know they will lose their prized DVDs if they accidentally return them to Netflix. Check out my blog for the whole story: http://gabriellewrites.blogspot.com

no one

I accidentally shipped back a burned copy of a DVD and I want to know if anything will happen. I noticed all of these comments are from a long time ago, and just wanted to know if there are any updates as to how netflix handles these types of situations. Were your accounts canceled?

The comments to this entry are closed.


Third-Party Netflix Sites