Enterprising Netflix users are subletting their accounts in online auctions, but the sales have questionable legality.
Users of the popular streaming service usually pay a subscription of £6 per month, which provides access to hundreds of films and TV shows.
But entrepreneurial customers are turning their Netflix account from a money pit into a money-spinner.
Shared login details are getting sold on eBay and Facebook with some going for less than £2 a time.
Is it against the rules?
Netflix does allow users to share accounts so programmes can be streamed on multiple devices.
While there’s technically no limit to the amount of people who can access an account at once, the terms and conditions say this only counts for “other members of the household”.
Therefore, giving your login details to friends who don’t live with you – a common practice – isn’t strictly permitted, and could be considered theft of property.
The terms also state that the account holder is responsible for what happens with their details, and the company expressly forbids selling of passwords.
When you look at the kinds of accounts for sale, the only condition is that nobody changes the password or login details – because that wouldn’t be fair to everyone else.
Netflix’s official advice is to be cautious when online offers seem too good to be true.
If the company gets wind of this cunning workaround, they could terminate the parent account, cutting off the account owner and any squatters in the process.
The company has urged customers not to be taken in by blatant scams, but this hasn’t prevented some users from taking a gamble.
Netflix users aren’t the only victims
This type of scam is nothing new, third-party sellers have been selling account logins for a range of platforms for years.
Subscription services such as Spotify and Hulu are also vulnerable to subletting.
Third-party sales of accounts undermines these services, potentially losing companies millions in revenue.
Netflix has previously altered its terms and conditions to deter users accessing the service through VPNs, and could do the same to pull the rug out from under third-party sellers.
Using a VPN allows users to access international versions of Netflix. Many users have noted the disparity of content between the UK and US variants of the streaming service.
Customers argue their membership fee should give them access to the entire library of films and TV shows.
However, as some people are currently circumventing the membership fee, the company may be reluctant to respond.