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DVD Clubs Discuss & Strategize about DVD Clubs like Columbia House

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Old 08-04-07, 11:11 AM   #1
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Questions about Columbia House? Ask them here, Part II

This thread supercedes the old one (not that I would expect anyone to wade though that many pages).

It would be helpful if you didn't ask questions in the "stickied" threads at the top of the forum, unless they are specific to those topics. While you are welcome to open a new thread to ask a question, I have noticed that some are reluctant to do so. So, feel free to ask questions here. There are a number of Columbia House "veterans" in this forum who can often answer questions.


I’ll start this one off with some answers to FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions):


• Is joining Columbia House worth it?

Yes, purchasing DVD as part of a Columbia House membership package is usually substantially cheaper than getting them anywhere else. The downside is that they have to be purchased in a package deal, of from 8 to 11 DVDs, to get the best price. And buying DVDs from Columbia House can be a hassle at times when they make a mistake.


• Doesn’t Columbia House send out DVDs automatically that I then have to return if I don’t want them?

Yes and no. Yes, Columbia House will send out a “Director’s Selection” every few weeks UNLESS you decline it beforehand. It is very easy to decline the DS on-line (CH will even send you a reminder e-mail). So no, you should never have to return a DS except in rare cases when CH sends them out by mistake. Returns due to mistakes or damage are at no cost to the customer.

Another way to avoid hassling with Director’s Selections is to fulfill and close the account as quickly as you can. Once the account is closed, no more DS.


• Columbia House DVD prices seem to be very high, how can it be a good deal?

It is best to think of a Columbia House membership as a package deal. You get a bunch of enrollment DVDs for very little, then you have to buy a couple of high priced DVDs to fulfill the membership commitment. When you add the cheap enrollment DVDs to the rather expensive fulfillment DVDs you will end up with an average cost of DVDs that is substantially less that what you could buy them for elsewhere, typically about $5 each.


• Can I have more than one account?

There appears to be no limit on the number of accounts that you can have. Some folks here have had more than a hundred accounts over the years. However, Columbia House usually limits OPEN accounts to no more than two per address.


• How do I get the best deal on DVDs?

The lowest cost for DVDs can be obtained by opening an account using one of the best enrollment codes, fulfilling it with the minimum required DVDs using a good sale offer code, then closing the account and opening a new one. We call this: “Enroll, Fulfill, Cancel, Repeat”.


• Can I use the same name, address, or credit card on my accounts?

Yes, you can use the same name, address, and credit card number on all your accounts. As long as there are no more than two open at one time, there shouldn't be any problems with this.

You will need create a new username for each account that you open (you can use the same password). Most of us just number our usernames, for example: “username1”, “username2”, etc.

When using two addresses, home and work for example, it is best to use a different credit card. Columbia House can, and sometimes does, search out accounts by credit card number. They don’t like it when the same person opens accounts at two different addresses.

Trying to get "cute" by using variations of the same name and address to have more than two accounts open can, and has, led to the blacklist. Don't do this.

Repeatedly ordering more than two copies of the same DVD can lead to the "blacklist" (all open accounts are closed immediately and future applications are rejected). Columbia House will blacklist those suspected of re-selling DVDs (perhaps their contracts with the studios prohibit this, or they just don't want to be in the business of being a distributor). Ordering more than two copies of a single DVD is a red flag. An exception is during the holidays when one can order extra copies of DVDs for use as gifts. Yes, some people will report that they ordered many more than two copies of some DVDs over numerous accounts. But eventually most of them get shut down by CH. Best not to do this.


• What is an “Enrollment Code”?

Many first timers make the mistake of applying for a Columbia House membership using the rather poor “standard deal”. Be sure to check out the CH Enrollment Codes Part II thread at the top of the forum for the best enrollment codes. The current best codes offer 6 DVDs for 49¢ with a commitment of buying 3 DVDs at $19.95 or more. By purchasing a “bonus” DVD at $9.95 the commitment is reduced to two (the second $9.95 “bonus” DVD does not lower the commitment and should not be purchased). We call these “7:2” codes, because you get 7 DVDs when enrolling (for $12.89) and are required to buy 2 more DVDs (at $19.95 or more) to fulfill the account.

Edit: A new “best” offer is B9V, a 6:1 code. One gets one DVD for “free”, plus $1.99 shipping. It requires one fulfillment. Then one gets five more “free” DVDs, plus shipping. When ordering the five delayed fulfillment DVDs, Columbia House may or may not charge shipping. It depends on the CSR that happens to process the order. Even with the shipping charge, this code offers the lowest average DVD price, using a typical BOGOF plus free shipping sale offer to fulfill: $3.99 per DVD.


• What is a “Sale Offer Code”?

Columbia House applies a “Sale Offer” to your account using a six digit code beginning with “80”. The standard offers, like buy one DVD, get 50% (or 60%) off additional DVDs, are worthless. But Columbia House often sends out good sale offers in e-mails and we keep track of them here.

The best “sale offer codes” for fulfilling an account are usually listed in the last pages of the http://forum.dvdtalk.com/dvd-clubs/5...es-part-v.html thread. For lowest cost DVDs, a code that allows “Buy One Get One Free” (usually abbreviated as “BOGOF” or “B1G1F”) plus free shipping, is the most prized. Using a code like that, the average cost of DVDs in an account can be as low as $4.80 per DVD!

I need to remind people here, especially newbies, that the sale offer codes we use ARE OFTEN NOT INTENDED FOR OUR ACCOUNTS. The Columbia House system allows us to use them (didn't use to be that way, btw) and they nearly always honor them SO LONG AS NOTHING GOES WRONG WITH THE ORDER AND THEY DON'T HAVE TO FUSS WITH IT! In the case of very large orders, there is more likelihood that something will go wrong and a CSR will have to change the order, causing all sorts of problems. My advice: DO NOT place orders for large numbers of DVDs.


• I have a “BOGOF plus free shipping” sale offer on my account but I keep getting charged for shipping. What gives?

Free shipping offers often require a purchase of three or more titles in the order; check your offer details. "Special” priced titles, such as box sets, rarely qualify for free shipping.


• I have a “BOGOF” sale offer on my account but I can’t get the titles I want to show up for free. Why is that?

Pre-orders and “Special” priced titles, such as box sets, usually aren’t available as “freebies”. However, they can be used to qualify for regular DVDs as freebies. At times, pre-orders that are near release date WILL show up as freebies, so you should try them and see what happens.

The order in which titles are placed in the shopping cart sometimes makes a difference in how a BOGOF offer works. If you are having trouble getting it to work correctly, try removing the titles and placing them in the cart in a different order.


• What DVDs should I choose for my enrollment?

In general, choose whatever you like. However, you might want to save DVDs priced at $19.95 for use as fulfillments. And many of us prefer to use pre-orders as fulfillments because they won’t be available for enrollment for several months, if at all, and because pre-orders are usually discounted. For example, a $22.95 pre-order is usually discounted to $19.95. If you wait until after the release date to order it, you will have to pay $22.95.

Another technical note: when buying a pre-order you can use it to qualify for a free DVD using a BOGOF sale offer code. And for qualifying purposes, the list price is used, not the discounted pre-order price. That means that you can match it with a more expensive regular DVD.

For enrollments, you might want to choose the more expensive DVDs on your want list that are available for enrollment. But consider buying some $14.95 list price DVDs also, because they are too low priced to be used as fulfillments. (They can also be used as freebies when matched with higher priced DVDs in BOGOF sale offers.)

The strategies for optimizing Columbia House DVD club accounts can be complex. Just do the best you can and don’t get too hung up on it. But if you do have questions, this is the place to ask them.


• How many DVD titles does Columbia House sell?

Columbia House typically has from five to ten thousand titles in its catalog. They have DVDs from most major studios, such as WB, Paramount, Universal, MGM, Dreamworks, Sony/Columbia, Fox, and numerous smaller ones. But CH does not sell DVDs from Disney/Buena Vista/Dimension/Pixar/Miramax. You will need to buy DVDs from those studios somewhere else.


• Are all DVDs available for enrollment?

No, some DVDs are not eligible for enrollment. Those that are “Special” priced can never be used for enrolling in the regular DVD club (although a limited selection of box sets can be used for enrolling in the “TV Edition of the DVD Club”). Also, some Special Editions tend to not become available for enrolling if there is a single disc version of the movie available. But the vast majority of DVDs at Columbia House are, or will be, available for enrollment. Newly released DVDs generally become available for enrollment after about three months, depending on the studio.

To see at list of DVDs that are not yet available for enrollment, take a look at the first post in the Not Yet Available for Enrollment, Part VIII thread, which is “stickied” to the top of the forum. To see what titles have recently become available, check out the last few posts in the The Recently Available For Enrollment List. Again, for that latter thread, you want to check the last few posts; you really don’t need to try to read the whole thread.


• Can I buy a box set to fulfill my account?

Yes, “Special” priced items, such as box sets, can be used to fulfill an account if the price of the set is $19.95 or more:

The current Columbia House fulfillment credit schedule:
Selections purchased at $19.95 to $39.94 count for one
Selections purchased at $39.95 to $59.94 count for two
Selections purchased at $59.95 to $79.94 count for three
Selections purchased at $79.95 to $99.94 count for four
Selections purchased at $99.95 and higher count for five


As you can see, a box set “Special” priced at just over $39.95 can be a really good deal because it will fulfill your account. For box sets priced at $59.95 it is best to decline the $9.95 “bonus” DVD when enrolling. That way you will need three commitments to fulfill your account and the box set will count for all three.


• The help section in my on-line account gives a different fulfillment credit schedule. Which is correct?

The table above is correct. Columbia House changed its fulfillment credit schedule several years ago but never bothered to update the information in the help section of the on-line accounts.


• What is “CH.com”? Is it different from the regular DVD Club?

Yes, CH.com accounts (www.ch.com) are very different from the regular DVD club accounts (www.columbiahouse.com). With CH.com prices are usually 40% off list, shipping is always free, and there are no “Director’s Selections” to fuss with. Also, the two required fulfillments can be any price, as opposed to $19.95 or more.

The downside is that the enrollment selection is very limited and one can’t use sale offer codes at CH.com. This means that DVDs purchased in a regular club account are usually much less expensive than at CH.com. But CH.com is more convenient and much less hassle. Many of us keep a CH.com account open in addition to our regular DVD club accounts.

For more information and discussion about Ch.com, check out the Is signing up for ch.com worth it? thread and the CH.Com Deals thread.

Edit: On 2/21/08 Columbia House changed the features of the CH.com club. Most prices are not 40% off, more like 25% off, and the terms and conditions now require the purchase of two DVDs a year (at any price) to retain membership. They also removed the sale offer code window, eliminating any possibility of future sale offer codes. At the present time, CH.com looks like a poor deal and is not worth the trouble to join.


• What is the “TV Edition of the DVD Club”?

The “TV Edition of the DVD Club” is similar to the regular DVD club except that you can choose from a limited selection of box sets as enrollment choices. The commitments can be any DVDs of $19.95 or more, same as in the regular club. For more information about the TV Edition of the DVD Club and a list of enrollment titles check out the TV EDITION - Available For Enrollment List thread and the TV Edition Club, Discussion Thread.


• I need to contact Columbia House about a problem with my account. How can I do this?

You could try e-mailing them at dvd@columbiahouse.com but be aware that the first reply you receive will likely be a useless “canned” response. If you reply to that you will usually get a live person to answer your inquiry. Be polite, succinct, and state the problem and the needed fix clearly.

Calling Columbia House on the phone used to be the best way to contact them but it has become more difficult to get a live Customer Service Representative (CSR) on the phone. Always try to call during normal business hours, Monday through Friday.

In the past, selecting the “place an order” option and entering zeros for the sale offer code would get one to a CSR. Now the most reliable way to get a CSR seems to be to select the cancel account option. A CSR will then take the call and try to persuade you to keep the account open (just tell them that you have another open account and that you only need one). But this might not be a good option for those who don’t want to close an account.

The main phone numbers for contacting Columbia House include 888-467-7404, 800-262-2001, and 800-667-0364. For new enrollment applications to the regular DVD club use 888-242-3837. For new enrollment applications for the TV Edition of the DVD club use 800-861-9505 (but be aware that the best enrollment code, HDL, does NOT work on the phone).

Discussion of the best way to phone Columbia House is in the Columbia House Phone Number Live Person thread. Please report your experiences there.


• I got a damaged or incorrect DVD. What do I do?

You need to call or e-mail Columbia House and get them to send a replacement. If this is the first replacement on the account, the CSR will likely tell you to throw out the damaged DVD and just send out the replacement. Otherwise, CH will send you a “return label” so that you can return the damaged/incorrect DVD at no cost. They will also send out the replacement DVD separately (one often gets the replacement DVD before the return label, don’t be concerned about it).

Please be aware that, in the case of a return, CH will charge you again for the replacement DVD and will then credit back the charge on the returned DVD when they receive it. This credit takes weeks; the wheels at Columbia House grind slowly. If they still haven’t credited your account in four weeks or so, give them a call and let them know.


• Does Columbia House sell Blu-ray Discs?

Yes, Columbia House currently has more than 500 Blu-ray Disc titles in its catalog. BDs can be used as the "Buy One" part of a BOGOF offer, however Columbia House has been issuing BOGOF sale offers every couple of months that also allow BDs to be taken as the freebies. BOGOF offers that have free shipping also can be found on occasion.

Thus far, the problem with buying Blu-ray Discs from Columbia House is that one must buy a bunch of SD DVDs to make the prices cost effective. But most of us who are buying BDs are no longer interested in buying many SD DVDs. Still, if you (or a friend) have regular DVDs that you want and also want to pick up some BDs, they would make good fulfillments for your DVD club account. One can also use them as fulfillments on a TV Edition of the DVD club account. (And most TV sets aren't likely to make it to BD anytime soon.)

There are no plans to offer BD only accounts, so far as we know, save for one that isn't a good deal. Since CH doesn’t sell Disney DVDs, it is very unlikely that they will sell Disney Blu-ray Discs; you will need to buy those elsewhere.

For a list of BDs carried by Columbia House please check out the first post in the http://forum.dvdtalk.com/dvd-clubs/5...bia-house.html thread.


• Does Columbia House have Criterion DVDs?

Yes, Columbia House does have a few Criterion DVDs in their catalog. However, they haven’t added any titles in several years so it appears that they didn’t sell well enough for CH to continue to carry them. If they have a Criterion you want, best grab it now before it disappears. CH used to carry The Third Man, for example, but when it went OOP they stopped selling it. And it is unlikely that they will carry any newer version of it.


• What is “Funcash”? Is it worth bothering with?

Columbia House gives a small credit with DVD purchases that it calls “Funcash”. The accumulated Funcash can then be used to purchase additional DVDs. Because most DVDs have to be purchased at full price with Funcash and shipping is never free in regular DVD club accounts, Funcash has a very low value compared to just buying DVDs as part of a membership package. By the way, the use of Funcash has been discontinued in CH.com accounts.

For a well-optimized club account, one wouldn’t accumulate enough Funcash to bother with. However, some people prefer to keep an account open after fulfilling it and make multiple additional purchases. Those people can end up accumulating enough Funcash to be useful. Columbia House used to allow Funcash to be used as a partial payment for DVDs and box sets. Now it is no longer allowed on box sets and one must have the full amount of Funcash to pay for a regular DVD. When decent deals turn up for Funcash use, a discussion thread on the subject will usually appear.

Be aware that Funcash usually has a time limit and tends to expire worthless at the end of the year.


If you have any additional questions about Columbia House, this thread is the place to ask them.

Last edited by lizard; 04-12-09 at 12:42 PM.
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Old 08-04-07, 11:56 AM   #2
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Very nice work, lizard.
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Old 08-08-07, 12:57 AM   #3
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Hey does anyone have any advice on getting cheapy titles in a fulfilled account?What would be the best offer code for this situation?
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Old 08-08-07, 02:54 AM   #4
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Thanks Lizard!!!


I went ahead and emailed them to ask what the status was of my application, applied on the 1st and received this response:

Thank you for your e-mail message.

Once you submit your application online, it normally takes 3-5 business days for
us to approve it and set up your account. If you wish to confirm the status of
your membership please provide your name and complete address. Approved new
member orders normally ship within 2 business days of the application approval
date.

has anyone else received an email like this?
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Last edited by mazzystar; 08-08-07 at 03:09 AM.
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Old 08-08-07, 08:19 AM   #5
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^ No, because after about 5 days, I always just apply again. My advice -- if you haven't done this already -- is to enroll by phone. I had about 10 straight rejections on the web and my first phone app was approved.
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Old 08-08-07, 08:36 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by awlez18
Hey does anyone have any advice on getting cheapy titles in a fulfilled account?What would be the best offer code for this situation?

You will want to wait until there is free shiping and then some sort of 60% off sale, and if your lucky extra funchash. If you are patient there are a lot of titles that you can end up getting for just under 4$ and then you can use the FC to get a good set or something.
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Old 08-08-07, 09:04 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by awlez18
Hey does anyone have any advice on getting cheapy titles in a fulfilled account?What would be the best offer code for this situation?
As starman9000 has suggested, there was a code not too long that was b1 get 60% off + triple FC + Free S/H 3+

Not only did I get cheapie titles for about $3.xx-$5.xx shipped, I was getting $6 in FC for each one. That was an amazing time for racking up FC.
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Old 08-08-07, 09:40 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by awlez18
Hey does anyone have any advice on getting cheapy titles in a fulfilled account?What would be the best offer code for this situation?
^I agree with the suggestions above. The problem with cheapy titles is that they usually won't qualify for BOGOF. (I think some BOGOF codes will all allow a $14.95 list price title to be used to qualify but several of the current codes I just tested did not.) So a code that gives 60% off and free shipping would be best. Extra funcash would be a bonus.

The problem with most 60% off codes is that one usually has to buy a more expensive title first. If there is one $19.95 DVD you want plus lots of cheapies, that could work. Otherwise you will need to wait for a promotion that gives 50% or 60% off without a higher priced purchase first.

It may take awhile to get an offer that combines the characteristics you need to get a good deal on cheap titles. It is hard to get good deals on DVDs on a fulfilled account. That's why most of us just close the account and open a new one. But with cheapies, it can be done, on occasion.
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Old 08-08-07, 09:52 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mazzystar
Thanks Lizard!!!

I went ahead and emailed them to ask what the status was of my application, applied on the 1st and received this response:

Thank you for your e-mail message.

Once you submit your application online, it normally takes 3-5 business days for
us to approve it and set up your account. If you wish to confirm the status of
your membership please provide your name and complete address. Approved new
member orders normally ship within 2 business days of the application approval
date.

has anyone else received an email like this?
Interesting. I haven't seen reports of an e-mail like that before. Whether it would actually work to submit one's name and address to find out the status of an application, I couldn't say.
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Old 08-08-07, 10:07 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lizard
It may take awhile to get an offer that combines the characteristics you need to get a good deal on cheap titles. It is hard to get good deals on DVDs on a fulfilled account. That's why most of us just close the account and open a new one. But with cheapies, it can be done, on occasion.
That's why i think it is a good idea to keep one fulfilled account always open, ready to pounce on these rare triple FC w/ free shipping or similar deals.

In the past, I've been "between accounts" and have missed out on good codes.
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Old 08-08-07, 10:33 AM   #11
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Thanks Lizard.

The sticky threads are getting out of control, hope this helps.

...And here I am cluttering up this thread instead
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Old 08-08-07, 11:36 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by awlez18
Hey does anyone have any advice on getting cheapy titles in a fulfilled account?What would be the best offer code for this situation?
Besides the previous advice, a lot of the cheap titles show up as part of special offers- like right now they're having a "warehouse sale" for $5 each with no other purchase necessary. If you can get a free s&h code during these deals, that's a good way to get any titles that are part of the sale. Although the free s&h code that was running a couple weeks ago didn't work with the "ensemble cast" sale they had going, so make sure it's being applied at checkout if one does come up.

The important thing to remember, assuming you're not in a big hurry to acquire these, is that if you're paying more than $6 apiece (including shipping, and also factor a full price title you might have to buy that doesn't count as fulfillment) then you're paying too much, and are better off just using enrollment selections on them.

Also, if you have a ch.com account, that's a good way to get a lot of these.
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Old 08-08-07, 12:01 PM   #13
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Hey-- I've looked around, but haven't been able to find any answers. Can I cancel an account if I have negative fun cash?
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Old 08-08-07, 12:25 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cgray
Hey-- I've looked around, but haven't been able to find any answers. Can I cancel an account if I have negative fun cash?
Yes! I have done this and have never had any problems with opening up a new account.
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Old 08-08-07, 12:28 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cgray
Hey-- I've looked around, but haven't been able to find any answers. Can I cancel an account if I have negative fun cash?
Yes, you can. Columbia House doesn't care about negative funcash balances.

[Edit: SBJ beat me to it!]
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Old 08-08-07, 12:39 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cgray
Hey-- I've looked around, but haven't been able to find any answers. Can I cancel an account if I have negative fun cash?
Someone will ask, so it might as well be me. How do you get negative fun cash?
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Old 08-08-07, 12:44 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Trevor
Someone will ask, so it might as well be me. How do you get negative fun cash?
CH will sometimes have a glitch where they will replenish your FC after it has just been redeemed. You can place another order during this glitch and use the replenished FC. CH eventually corrects the glitch and places your FC balance into a negative balance.
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Old 08-08-07, 01:12 PM   #18
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Sneaky sneaky. Also, I guess you can get FC from director's selections, then return them (or any return really).
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Old 08-08-07, 03:04 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sweet Baby James
CH will sometimes have a glitch where they will replenish your FC after it has just been redeemed. You can place another order during this glitch and use the replenished FC.
Be careful doing this, though. I tried it a few months ago (I rarely try to scam the system like that but something made me do it), and before the second FC order was processed, my balance had been reset to zero (based on my original FC order being processed), and they ended up processing the second FC order as a regular order and charged my CC for the full price of the DVD. I chalked it up to karmic justice, and let it go.
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Old 08-08-07, 06:36 PM   #20
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^ No, because after about 5 days, I always just apply again. My advice -- if you haven't done this already -- is to enroll by phone. I had about 10 straight rejections on the web and my first phone app was approved.
I would if they had the bill me later option. I've had ahem problems with maxing out cc, and had issues with overdrafting my checking accn, so husband and I decided no more for me lol. I use gift cards mainly or just have my bro pay for things on his card if need be.

I'll probably just wait till tonight and if I don't get another email, I'll try again. I'm kinda hesitant to try with the same selections though, just in case the prior app is approved. Do you normally just try different selections when you would reapply via web??
Thanks.
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Old 08-08-07, 08:01 PM   #21
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^It has been reported by others that it was possible to apply for a "bill me" account by phone. You might want to call the enrolment application number (888-242-3837) and ask the CSR if that can be done.
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Old 08-08-07, 08:37 PM   #22
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Okay, thanks Lizard. Will try that.
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Old 08-08-07, 08:56 PM   #23
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Okay, just got off the phone with a csr, that was real easy, they allowed the bill me later option. Said if approved I'd receive it in a week. So this is the normal process, they don't automatically approve you on the spot do they??
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Old 08-08-07, 09:22 PM   #24
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Location: Omaha, NE
Posts: 1,429
No, you have to wait. And I guess it's rare to get an e-mail either. The only way I knew before my DVDs arrived was there was a pending charge to my card for about 5 days before the DVDs showed up. Since you are on a bill me option, I'm guessing you won't know until you actually get DVDs in the mail.
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Old 08-08-07, 09:31 PM   #25
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Join Date: May 2007
Location: Phoenix
Posts: 349
Cool, if it gets approved, than I'm sure I'll be doing more phone orders from now on. Thanks again dane!
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