GameFly’s Slimy Retention Tactics?

I’m what you’d call a casual gamer — I’ll play a game a few hours a day over a long weekend maybe once a month. I joined, a service like Netflix, in 2005 as an economical way to get a different title each month.

I’ve been downsizing recently in preparation for a move and decided it was time to unload the Xbox. So I cancelled Gamefly and shipped back The Chronicles of Riddick: Escape from Butcher Bay. A week or so later I get an email from GameFly saying they haven’t received the game and they will charge me the full cost of Riddick… Though all will be forgiven if I “reactivate your account.” Huh? At this point I should mention when I tried to cancel online they kept throwing up extra screens to dissuade me. Since the first email, I’ve received two more. The final email I received this morning informed me I will be billed $52.49, though I have 60 days to return the game via Registered Mail to have the charge reversed. Of course, I also have the option of reactivating my account online.

I tried contacting support earlier this week, but their phone lines don’t open until 9AM PST weekdays (doesn’t help me much since I try to take care of these things first thing in the morning EST). So I fired off an email to the provided email address which was promptly ignored. I’d call them today regarding today’s email however they don’t staff their phone lines today (Saturday). Interesting how that works, eh?

There are three possibilities here:

  1. The USPS lost the game. I find this unlikely as I shipped back two Netflix discs at the same time which successfully made it out of the local drop box (where most postal crimes seem to occur). What are the odds the last game I ship back is the only one they lose?
  2. GameFly got the disc but hasn’t processed it yet or has misplaced it. This is a distinct possibility given the horribly slow response times I’ve experienced in sending/receiving games.
  3. GameFly is manipulating me. Initially I would have said this is unlikely and a paranoid thought, however the cancellation roadblocks combined with warning emails offering amnesty if I resubscribe to avoid “delinquent” fines makes me wonder.

So how will I proceed? I’m hopeful this is a bluff on their part or internal inefficiencies that will be corrected shortly without my intervention. Though the second a $52.49 charge shows up on my AmEx card, it will be contested. If that doesn’t resolve the issue, I’ll have to waste time getting a used game off ebay or Amazon for >$10 and send it to them via Registered Mail. If I’m forced to go to that much trouble, you can guarantee I’ll be blogging about this again which is possibly more effective than dealing with the BBB. Regardless of the outcome, when I purchase a 360 with HD-DVD this fall, I’ll be getting discs via a service other than GameFly.

UPDATE: I just received an email from GameFly. Apparently they thought I wanted to buy the game since I didn’t respond to their emails. Uh, hello I have to contact them whenever I don’t want to buy a game? Never mind that the email said send the game back (which I had) OR I could reactivate (I think not) online. Last but not least, I guess they forgot they were responding to the email I did send them. “Kevin” informed me the $52.49 charge would be reversed.

39 thoughts on “GameFly’s Slimy Retention Tactics?”

  1. I never experienced the long turnaround times you mention (I’m in the Baltimore area) but I have experienced their inefficiency in processing returns. Gamefly “found” a game I returned over a year after I dropped it in the mail – probably during some sort of inventory.

    I guess I understand them being more forgiving of lost games for active members than non-active members, but would Netflix act this way? Having never quit Netflix, I can’t really say . . .

    I quit Gamefly because the cost of current-gen games got too low for renting to be worthwhile. If I buy a copy of Return to Butcher Bay for 18-20 dollars, keep it for two months (I too play somewhat casually, so it takes me a while to play through it) and sell it back for a couple of bucks, I have in effected “rented” it for less than it would cost from Gamefly.

  2. This is a very common story if you do a little searching. I’ve been a customer off and on since they opened for business and they’ve gotten downright awful the last eight months or so. The “lost” games, the horrible turn around times, and this retention tactic seems to be the norm.

    I have been keeping track and 60% of all the games I send back get “lost” for at least a week. That’s just astounding.

    By an odd coincidence I am cancelling with them this week, and I am going to send the last two games back certified mail so I can avoid this scam.

    From what I have read, it is a scam and they’ll most likely back down (especially if you contact the BBB, because for some reason they have a good rating with the BBB). Since they deal mostly with kids/younger adults I believe they feel they can get away with bullying tactics.

    When I get my next-gen console this fall, I’ll be signing up with Gamerang again. They aren’t as fancy or as full featured, but ya know what? They tell you when they get games back. And get this…. they ship out new ones to you. I know, amazing.

  3. Your probably better off joining the Gamestop club thing. I think its like 15 bucks and you get a monthly mag plus they buy back used games from you at 20% more.

    All in all, used video games, whether rented or otherwise are often damaged , though.

    You know, it makes you wonder when X-box is going to let you download games to play. Seems like they would have already done it.

  4. I have been a Gamefly member off and on for the past year or so. The biggest gripe I have it that several discs have gotten lost on the way to me. It has been 3 in the past couple of months. They haven’t tried to charge me for them; however, I’m sure they will if it continues.

    The biggest thing(s) keeping me with GF right now are:

    1. The upcoming holiday season
    So many games are slated to come out in the next couple of months for all of the various consoles that I have. Seems like the best time to have GF so I can compare/try games before I shell out the $$$

    2. The “Keep It” discount
    Gamefly discounts new releases from day 1. So if you get a new release like The New Super Mario Bros. for the DS when it first ships, you can choose keep it right away and get about $10 off retail. Combined with Gamefly rewards $ and I was able to buy that game for around $17 shipped. This option will be much more valuable when all of these holiday releases come out.

  5. My son joined Gamefly about 8 months ago and he recalls that 6 of his 8 game shipments were late. The typical ship time is 6 days (not 2 – 4 as advertised). However, the latest game has yet to arrive after a delay of 12 days. Gamefly simply claimed the game was “lost” and a reship order was placed. The reship is now late too (5 days and counting…). On behalf of my son, I submitted a request for refund of half of the monthly membership fee for this month (August). This seemed resonable because Gamefly does not use the most reliable shipment methods and therefore should provide compensation to a member for any policies (shipping or otherwise)that result in failure on their part to perform to contract. However, I am also suspicous that “lost” shipments are really “slimy retention tactics”. Retention increases Gamefly profits (regular billing to our credit card occurs regardless of whether or not my son receives the game.) And Gamely can simply pass the blame onto the USPS. Providing shipment tracking numbers would be helpful here, but expect an increase in membership costs to cover the extra shiping. However, for my son and I, we would rather pay extra and get the games as promised than to suspect you are being taken in a con.

  6. It amazes me to see people giving the USPS such an easy time. My brother delivered mail for a few years before he quit in disgust at the inefficiency and corruption — literally tens of thousands of pieces of mail get lost or misdelivered every day.

    My kids, who live in Tennessee, subscribe to gamefly, and I’ve never heard anything from them like the comments above. Maybe that’s because they’re happy with the “FastReturn” option and the “Keep It” discounts. They’re pretty serious about their gaming and they’ve timed it so they always have at least one game from gamefly in their xbox, with another game (or games) either coming or going in the mail. Makes me think that the people who are diligent are the same who are happiest with the service, and it’s those happy customers who never feel a need to go online and talk about the service they’re getting.

  7. I opened a Gamefly membership for my son almost 2 years ago and it has been a lot of frustration. We have returned many games that have “never been received” by Gamefly (to the tune of 10 or 12 – my son is a serious gamer) and a few that were “lost” in shipment to us. I don’t blame the USPS because Gamefly has a tracking number on the return envelope that is scanned by the post office as soon as they receive it and Gamefly is *supposed* to receive this and immediately ship the next game in the que. They don’t, however, and it isn’t until we report a game returned and not received by Gamefly (have to wait 7 days after returning game before Gamefly will research the problem) that Gamefly responds with, Oh, yeah…post office said they got it…we’ll send out your next game. Further, I return all Netflix DVD’s the same way and have never, not once, had this problem. USPS manages to get mail to Netflix but not Gamefly. Interesting, huh?

    Oh, and I also think that Richard that posted a comment here must work for Gamefly.

  8. No, Heather, I don’t work for gamefly, I was only trying to understand more about what my kids were interested in, and so I searched and ended up here.

    I can’t speak to your experiences, I can only comment on what my kids have told me about their gamefly renting, which by all accounts has been good. I asked their mother and she said that it’s helped her save money because now they don’t buy games anymore. It does sound like you’re getting some bad service, in which case I’d recommend doing what I do whenever I get bad service: get ’em on the phone and give ’em an earful. Squeaky wheel gets the grease, right?

  9. I’ve used Gamefly for a while now and have gotta say their service has greatly improved. I think we’re looking at a simple case of a company growing and needing to catch up with their success. I don’t have any shipping issues or haven’t I should say for some time. On average I get games in about three days and haven’t ever had any thing “lost.”

    As for the comments about about Richard working for the company I gotta say, there are a LOT of new competitors on the scene looking to get a piece of the market. I wouldn’t be surprised if half the negative comments out there are planted by them. Just food for thought.

    As an genuine consumer of the product I speak from experience when I say they’re top notch. Whatever issues they may have had in the past around shipping have been resolved. I’m an unabashed Gamefly lover. What can else can I tell ya?

  10. I am actually sitting on two games that I am afraid to send back because the 5 of the last 10 games were lost in transit, either to me or from me. I have the temptation to send them registered and cancel my account, though.

    I’d rather pay full price than deal with Gamefly much longer.

  11. while 5 out of the last 10 is really abnormal, it’s par for the course for these things to get stolen by usps employees, netflix has/had the same problem. you’re taking that risk with any online rental business. that said, i think the benefits, like overall cheapness if you rent enough, far outweigh the risks.

  12. My son is also a subscriber (me $$) and he has had about 5 games “lost” in the mail being returned. I was looking at the list today and it seems they were all game cube games. Pretty strange as his PS2 games have never gotten lost. Their last 2 games they sent us, we only received 1, so I reported the last one as not received. Now I get a letter saying how frustrating it must be for us, but if it continues they might have to review my account. Please, I’m going to send them back this last game, take everything out of the queue, then cancel after they receive the last game. I am sick of it.

  13. We have had gamefly for 1 yr. I am going to quit them when our last pmt amount is up for the month. We have had too many “lost” xbox games. We go into the post office and give them to a person. Just as we do our netflix. We like to make sure that a person there gets them. We have never had an issue with Netflix. But Gamefly is different. We returned a Star Wars game in June of this year and they have yet to receive it. They say it is still out and rented even though I have reported that they must not have received it at least 4 times so far. I have even made a claim with post office about that game. They have sent the wrong games and when we have returned them saying wrong game sent, it takes them 2 weeks at least to figure that out after I have reported it. People have asked us if it is good adn I say no. Too inconsistant. Yes it’s convient but too many issues. I do not recommend Gamefly to anyone. The local game store for rentals will ahve to do for now. Or possibly the PC game download site that just came into operation.

  14. People, when you have a problem just call the customer service number and tell them. They’re not your enemies. It’s not hard to believe that a company that works through the mail is going to make some mistakes along the way — it took netflix many years to get where they are now. So if you’ve sent back a game and your account says it hasn’t been received — this happened to me last month — call them and get it sorted out. They eventually got my account back in order la di da end of sad story. I don’t begrudge them for it. I’m spending about 20 bucks per month renting 2 games when I used to spend 100 bucks per month buying 2 of them new. The selection is way, way better than a local video store and the games are never damaged or unplayable, and if you like it so bad that you never want to send it back, you can use the “keep it” option. Which is what I just did with Saints Row. Got it at a discount because of my Gamefly subscription. Let’s see Blockbuster do that.

  15. I signed up for the Gamefly trial a week ago and still have not received either game they were supposed to ship me. I’ve already cancelled my trial membership because what good is being able to keep a game for 2 days out of a 10 day trial.

  16. Prence, it’s a shame you cancelled it because the whole point of a free trial is to give you a sample of the service. You would’ve seen better selection and lower prices than the other game rental sites, and shipping is now way better than it used to be.

  17. I posted earlier, october 31, I finally cancelled and returned the last two games via certified mail. They received one and not the other. They were threatening to review account anyway with so many not received returns. Thank goodness I sent them the tracking number for the last missing one, and they said they would not charge me. Hopefully that’s a truism. It’s a shame as they have quite a good variety of games and my son enjoyed it, but I can’t take the chance of having to pay for missing games when I have no control over it.

  18. Maybe if they didn’t decorate their envelops with their stupid logo no one would want to steal or “lose” the discs. Movie DVD’s are just about worthless compared to xbox 360 games.

    Stupid idea to mark the envelops for marketing purposes.

    Idiots I tell you… I’ve had the service for a month and have received 2 games. Sent them both back together and they show only one.

  19. I am VERY dissatisfied with Gamefly. Let me put it this was, I have Gamefly and I have Netflix. Lets say I return a Netflix movie and a Gamefly game on the same day, a monday morning for instance. Later that same day Netflix says the have recieved it (they havent, they just have a deal like fast return…except it actually works)and are sending the next movie and it should arrive by wednesday. They say that but quite often it actually arrives by the next day (tuesday) or wednesday by the LATEST. Conversely its usually not until thursday or friday that Gamefly emails me to say that thier shipping my game. Then you have an average wait of around 5 to 6 days to actually recieve it.

    So were talking almost 2 weeks for Gamefly compared to 2 days with Netflix. This is absolutely ridiculous. There are other problems as well, such as you will check your account queue to see games listed as “SHIPPING” only to check again the next day to see them back as “SHORT WAIT”. So frustrating, which brings me to the THIRD problem. Nothing is ever availible. A new game comes out and you are guaranteed to have to wait days for one to become availible. Netflix ALWAYS has new movies ready to go. Does Gamefly not order many or what? And if you want to email them with a problem? Expect to wait between 6 to 8 days (not 2 to 4 as they say) for a response.

    I emailed them and asked them why they were three times as slow as Netflix, and never had anything availible. They replied that they were currently studying the “feasibility” of opening more shipping centers. So what that says is they arent even sure if they need to improve thier service or not. I sent back my last two games on Saturday. I have not recieved any confirmation that they have been recieved. As soon as I do I am done with them FOREVER!


    The slowness of their service has been beat to death on here, so I’ll let that go. We’ll just say that the it took over a week between when I sent a game & when they got it.

    The thing that really set me off is that I sent back the 2 games I had from them the day I cancelled my account. 2 weeks later I get an e-mail saying they had not received the games & they would be charging me for them if I didn’t respond to the e-mail. I responded with the appropriate “games already sent” in the subject line, and they even automatically opened an incident # for the e-mail. Now this morning I get 2 e-mails that say they’ve charged me for the games that I sent them over 3 weeks ago, and told them as such via e-mail.

    To top it all off, they’ve charged me & I can’t even speak with someone there because their customer service is “closed for annual inventory”.

    A poor service that has a terrible tracking system. Leading to them being able to charge honest customers for games they’ve already sent back & then claim plausible deniability. Avoid at all costs.

  21. BjErickson,

    Don’t give up on this one. It may be perfectly true that their customer service dep’t was closed for annual inventory. This doesn’t mean that you can’t follow up when they become available again.

    Fact is, you run into problems like this whenever a company operates through the mail. They’re not interested in committing fraud — that would be a sure way to ruin their business. More likely, there was either a problem with the postal service or an oversight in their tracking. It happens. Believe it or not, it even happens with Netflix sometimes (I can attest).

    Call their customer service number again (and again and again if need be) and they will get it straightened out.

  22. Gamefly has a new promotioni where you sign up five people, and get a free wii. If anyone is interested, let me know and ill send you my link.

  23. try gameznflix….

    i don’t know if they are better than gamefly, but i KNOW they are much cheaper….

    $ 8.99 1 out at a time
    $12.99 2
    $16.99 3 out at a time

    u see daily improvements to the website (search engine now powered by Google)

    inventory is ok, needs improvement, but u can get movies too for the same price…. young company…. only 23,000 subs…


  24. I feel like Gamefly has really stepped up to the plate over the last year and made some real improvements. The new new distribution center in PA seems to be improving shipping times, game tracking and rapid return all around. And I just read that New York is being added to the states the PA center will be serving so those of us here in NY can look forward to getting our games even quicker. I’m giving them the medal for “most improved.”

  25. i live in south texas and it only takes 2 days for GF to ship from LA. first 2 games were scratched and wrong, so they extended my free trial.

  26. I just canceled my service, thanks to the posts listed here. They shipped a game to me already though, heres to hoping that it gets returned as it should.

    I live only in upstate NY and have a turnaround of around a week and a half on games, even with the new distribution center in Pittsburgh.

    as for starting a service with Games-n-flix, I wouldn’t recommend it, as I had the trial for close to 2 weeks and they hadn’t even shipped anything to me yet. Nearly everything on their site wasn’t in stock (the hand needs to be totally full).

    Thanks for the help

  27. Gamefly is great.They just have a problem with losing games in the mail.All they have to do is contact the Post Office and let them know what their mailer envelopes look like so the employees don’t put the games in the machine where they would get damaged and end up lost.I had Games-n-flix for a month and the I agree 100% with the other guy.None of their games are in stock and the service is pretty slow.I received 1 game which took 9 days to get to my house and that’s after I waited a week for the game to be in

  28. He he, if you’ve ever worked in support or back office, you’d know its definitely number 3. They’re manipulating you. If a company is going to fire people to keep profit estimates, it should be no stretch that they’d lie to attain said profits.

    Anyone you talk to at the support desk is a liar. If they have a problem with lying they get fired, trust me.

  29. I bought my fiancee an xbox for XMas and got him a subscription to gamefly.
    I ordered two games Monolopy and Quantom of Solace.
    Solace did not come. It should have come on 12/26/08 like the other game. Reading these posts does not give me a good vibe that I won’t have this problem again.


    I signed up for Gamefly in July of last year.
    For 1. My games would take about a week in a half to get to me everytime.
    2. After the first month of my membership I never recieved a game listed in the top 10 of my Q, even when the game was listed as available.
    3. On December 23rd, I cancelled my membership with gamefly. Not only did they charge me for the entire month of January yet, today they charged my bank for the “missing game” they magically never recieved, very coincidentally timed with the cancellation of my policy.

    Another concern of mine is there is no customer service phone number given on, and i had to search through forums to find one, which was no help to me tonight when I found one (888) 986-6400
    As gamefly’s customer service is only open 9-1 PST.

    If you do not believe me or the 50 people above me on this chain. then google things like “charged by gamefly after cancellation” or similar.

    You will find a never ending list of similar stories.

    I wish I would have known this before ever dealing with gamefly.

    My best advice, don’t deal with gamefly ever, but if you already are, cancel now to save yourself a headache, and pay to send your last games back via certified mail.

  31. Before canceling a service like Netflix or Gamefly, I always empty out the queue and then send the disc back. I don’t cancel until after they’ve confirmed that they received the disc. That way they can’t pull a fast one.

  32. I’ve been a gamefly member for nearly two years without incident. i use the two game package so that by the time i’m done with one game the next is arriving, which works pretty well for me.

    so you know, the pending time between getting another game in after yours was received could be due to unavailability in your Q which can be remedied by putting more games into your Q. The only time a game is actually available is when it says ‘available now’ high availability means 75% chance they have it in stock and so on.

    the way you can avoid having problems canceling, which is how i plan to do it should i need to cancel, is you empty your Q and mail in your game(s) wait for them to clear then cancel. then they won’t have a chance to do anything sneaky.

  33. yea I had the same exact experience when I tried to cancel my account, they pulled that BS where they never got the games and wanted to charge me. f*ck them, what a crap company they are


    charged after cancellation

    alleged lost games

    Contact me at:

    nikki (at) hawaii (dot) rr (dot) com

    i’m building a legal case against them and could use feedback from other victims


  35. – GAME FLY SCAM –

    Game fly is the worst. We all know. And anyone saying they are not, WORKS for them, is has not used them in full. They attempt to over charge, which is basically “STEALING” from a majority of their customers.


    I had a problem once. No big deal, I was over charged 60 dollars. Again, small. I thought it was just me, so I opened an account in my sisters name, SAME THING. They lied, said they didnt get the game back and charged me again.

    If you research this, this is what they have done thousands of times. The same scam.

    THOUSANDS OF PEOPLE with the same complaint happen to be making it up? Or the Game Fly corporation expliots people for money? Which do you think?

    YOU HAVE TO COMPLAIN to YOUR credit card company.

    They will continue to do this, until you get them where it counts. In the pockets. You have to simply do a chargeback. Call your credit card, THIS IS WHAT THE BANKS ARE PAID TO DO. You are insured against companies like game fly.

    They are flat out liars and frauds. The reason they are still around, is because the amount of money they make and the lack of competition.

    Really… someone should look into starting a competition company. But really, game fly is beyond help. They are horrible.

    I am waiting for the day, some crazy guy goes nuts on them.

  36. I’ve done 2 separate Gamefly trials about 5 years apart. BOTH times, they charged my card for “not receiving” the last game I rented. What are the odds of that? At least they credited it back right away when I told them I had sent them back. Another suggestion for those thinking of canceling, could be to clear your queue and wait for them to receive the game before canceling. There’s still some risk involved there, though, because I hear they often “lose” returns even when you’re an active member. If Gamefly doesn’t stop this scam, they’re going to end up losing it all to another competitor… like redbox.

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