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Spotify, Netflix Halt Free Trials in Vietnam. Are Black Market Accounts to Blame?

No more Netflix and chill for free.

According to VnExpress, the video streaming service Netflix has discontinued its 30-day free trial option in Vietnam starting this month, while Spotify will halt its three-month free premium music streaming offer next week.

Both streaming services didn't elaborate on the reasons behind the move. A spokesperson from Spotify told the news source: "We're looking at different marketing promotions in Vietnam to attract new members and give them a great Netflix experience."

Some netizens believe that these steps were taken due to the presence of cheap subscriptions on the black market. These accounts are available through ads on search engines and social media when users search for Spotify or Netflix.

While an official Netflix subscription costs at least VND180,000 per month, a black market account valid for up to a year costs just VND18,000-60,000.

Enterprising individuals and groups would anonymously sign up for the free Netflix trial with throwaway emails and then re-sell them to multiple people. Once an account's trial period ends, the user will be provided with a new one. This sometimes caused problems for users, however.

Xuan Quy told VnExpress that they bought a three-month subscription for VND180,000, but they had to contact the seller again after another buyer changed the password. A month later, the account was locked, so the seller had to provide another account option.

The account sellers also require up-front payment by bank transfer or e-wallet, and do not offer refunds in case an account is faulty. Now that trials have been ceased, it's unclear what would happen to existing customers who bought these cheap subscriptions.

A Netflix trial account requires an email and credit card for registration, but black market accounts were created using virtual cards or stolen Visa or MasterCard numbers.