I don’t often take advantage of vouchers. I don’t know why. I guess I’ve just never been much of a coupon guy. The only coupon I will regularly use is for Dominos, and that’s because we all know that Dominos pizzas are extortionately priced and a coupon is required to bring them back to somewhere near the realms of reality. I guess I’ve just never fully embraced voucher culture like others have.
So it was with not inconsiderable trepidation that yesterday I signed up for my first ever Groupon. It looked like a good deal. Six months of Lovefilm for £10. Tidy. As an avid user of Netflix (I used to buy at least one Blu Ray a week, but in my post-Netflix life I haven’t bought one for months) I figured that Lovefilm could offer an alternative, and the cheap offer would give me chance to assess whether I truly needed another streaming service in my life.
So I go through the motions. I sign up. I hand ten pounds sterling over to the e-shop keeper at Groupon HQ, and within minutes an e-mail has informed me of what I need to do to collect my prize. I follow the instructions with textbook precision, and sign up to the service. Success, I think. Easy, I think.
While looking through my account settings on the Lovefilm website, I noticed something troubling. It listed my next billing date as the 20th of November. I checked my calendar to make sure. October 21st. My suspicions were correct; November wasn’t six months away. I’d been swindled.
No, no. I thought to myself. Let’s give them the benefit of the doubt. Perhaps it was a simple error. So I e-mailed customer services.
A short while later, I received this reply.
Perhaps they were mistaken. I mean, I wasn’t a Lovefilm customer. I never have been. I was pretty sure I’d stated my case pretty clearly in my original e-mail, but in the interest of resolving the matter (despite the smarmy tone and excess capitals used in their response), I attempted to clarify the situation with my next e-mail.
That’ll do it. I thought. They can check their records, realise their error, and everything will be hunky dory.
Like the hero of one of those hard-boiled, 40s detective novels I began an internal monologue trying to make sense of the situation. My narration reminds me that I know I’m not a Lovefilm customer. They should know I’m not a Lovefilm customer. Or am I wrong? Am I a Lovefilm customer? Is the twist going to be that I’m a split personality and my other half uses Lovefilm while I use Netflix?
No. Surely not. The split personality twist is too trite. Too contrived. Done to death. I would never stoop to that level. Never.
Annoyed with the substandard service that I hadn’t even started using yet, I responded.
Surely, that will get my point across. Surely, someone at Lovefilm HQ is reading that and thinking, “Let’s do our best to make sure we can help this clearly disgruntled customer!”.
"Success!", I think. I send my code. All is well. That’s gotta sort it out.
At this point, I’m getting pretty narked. For reasons three.
Reason the first is the disingenuous “Please accept our apologies…” they copy and paste to the start of every e-mail. Either mean it or don’t say it. You can’t copy-paste an apology. That’s like rule number one of apology etiquette.
Reason the second is that I’ve explained the situation to them more than once, and despite thinking I did a pretty good job of it, they still don’t understand what’s going on. I did everything that was asked of me, and they’re still giving me the shaft. I entered my code. It didn’t register it. It produced no error to say the code I entered was false, or wasn’t accepted, or anything. It just signed me up for the free trial I didn’t want.
Reason the third is the big one. The big daddy. The one that compels me to continue this life-sapping, soul destroying to and fro. Principle.
I don’t care about the money. Six months of Lovefilm costs like £36. I’ve spent more than that on a jukebox when I’ve been tanked. Me and money have long standing agreement. I will earn it under the condition that I spend it immediately. Saving is something I cannot do. Saving is a concept as abstract as quantum physics to me. And to hit home how abstract that is, I nearly started crying once watching a Brian Cox documentary.
To quote the second best Die Hard villain, “You know, money is shit to me”. I’m not penny pinching. I’m not tight. I’m just annoyed that this simple issue has been dragged out, and I know in my heart that I’m in the right. It’s my moral obligation to see this through. Like William Wallace in Braveheart (only without the raped/dead wife) I must stand up to my oppressors and fight the good fight for the little guy. The man on the street.
The single, white male who is so often marginalised in this Okay, too much.
So, I decide to send one last-gasp e-mail. To really hit home what I’m trying to say. To hopefully end this once and for all and get what’s rightfully mine.
I haven’t received a reply.
And so here ends the Great Lovefilm Debacle of 2013. Cheated out of what is rightfully mine, swamped in bureaucracy, and in dire need of lessons in Photoshop, I have decided to give up in my pursuit of justice.
The next time I go to my PS3 I will be streaming through Netflix. When I hopefully buy my PS4 in a few months I will be streaming through Netflix. For the best part of a decade I’ll be streaming movies and television through my PS4 and it’ll be through Netflix. When I’m stopped by the man on the street and they say, “Who should I use to stream my movie? Who will serve me best?”, I’ll simply whisper, “Netflix…. Netflix….”.
If I’m paying £5.99 a month for the next ten years, that’s £718.80. I know because I just typed it into a calculator. It could have been yours. Now it’s not. I have a lot of monthly £5.99s to give, and not a single, solitary one of them shall be given to you, Lovefilm.