In the early streaming days of Netflix, the online-video platform lured some people to its service by locking in their monthly rates. The “grandfathered” accounts meant that legacy users continued paying $7.99 a month for standard Netflix streaming, even as the monthly rate for newer members rose to $8.99 and then $9.99.
If it seemed too good to be true, that’s because it was.
In May, the company started raising prices for those legacy subscribers who were exempt from previous price hikes. At least one Netflix user is not pleased.
Netflix subscriber George Keritsis filed a proposed class-action lawsuit against Netflix in California federal court on Wednesday (June 29) for increasing his grandfathered rate. Keritsis said he signed up for Netflix in 2011 after seeing an advertisement that promised Netflix would lock in his monthly subscription rate at $7.99.
He said he called Netflix at the time to confirm, and was told over the phone that the rate would be “grandfathered or guaranteed” for as long as he continuously maintained his Netflix subscription, which the complaint claims he did. He was under the impression that the price guarantee was for life.
But, since October 2012, Keritsis said he was billed $8.68 per month for the service. And he was informed by Netflix in June that he would be charged $9.99 per month, beginning on July 22.
He is suing Netflix for breach of contract and seeking class-action status for “all persons who entered into an agreement with Netflix for a streaming plan at a subscription price that Netflix promised not to increase for as long as they continuously maintained their subscriptions,” according to the suit. That includes subscribers with grandfathered accounts, confirmed Thomas Shapiro, one of the lawyers representing Keritsis.
More than half of Netflix’s US subscribers—an estimated 22 million users—had grandfathered accounts, the company has previously said.
Netflix did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
While Netflix is charging legacy users more for its standard service, those subscribers have the option to downgrade to the basic package and continue paying $7.99 per month. With a standard subscription, Netflix members can stream high-definition video on up to two screens at time, while the basic package buys users standard-quality streaming on one device.