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“No late fees” at Blockbuster….hip-hip….hooray?

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“No late fees” at Blockbuster….hip-hip….hooray?

Blockbuster, the movie rental giant that over the years have run over every small market video store in their quest to be number one have finally broken the straw on this consumer’s back.

I admit it, when Blockbuster first came to my neighborhood, I too abandoned my local “Mom and Pop” video shop for the land of better availability and wide open aisles of video tapes. I was in awe of their library and grew tired of having to put my name on a waiting list (actually it was an index card) so I could rent “Batman” when it first came out on tape. Over the years, this love has started to fade away until there is nothing but disdain for this company.

First it was their shoddy customer service and the inability to even have a conversation with any of their high school employees without getting a “yep” or a “nope”. Did I mention their late fees yet? These late fees made Blockbuster rich to the tune of almost a quarter of a billion dollars per year (2004). I hated having to fork over almost $5 per tape even if they were one hour past due.

Blockbuster (with all of their money and their initial Viacom relationships) has always acted behind the eight-ball when it comes to anything new. They were slow to make the transition to DVD’s from VHS and they were slow to new competition (NetFlix) in a new market environment (the internet). Only recently, they have bottomed out their prices to grasp at the customer base of NetFlix and over the long haul will be forced to raise their prices.

This brings me to their “no late fees” policy. Again, I stress that they are only reacting to NetFlix and certainly not trying to repay the remaining loyal Blockbuster consumers. True they will not charge late fees but if your movie is not returned within 7 days after the due date, you will automatically be charged the lowest retail price of the movie. You may return the movie within 30 days and be refunded for the cost of the movie minus a $1.25 restocking fee.

Why would Blockbuster forego almost one quarter of a billion dollars in late fees for 2005? Please view an excerpt from an article from Eric Hellweg, on the CNN Money site:

In other words, only Blockbuster can truly celebrate the “no late fees” policy. Is it a win-win scenario for everyone?

Well…I think I will go online today and rent out “The King of Comedy” by Martin Scorsese from NetFlix.

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About Richard Porter

  • http://www.roblogpolitics.blogspot.com RJ

    Blockbuster hires idiots at minimum wage to do a repetitive job.

    But they offer the best selection of movies around. And you don’t have to wait days for the movie to be mailed to you.

    So, they will continue to thrive.

  • http://www.resurrectionsong.com zombyboy

    Actually, the employees at my local Blockbuster are great. They are all eager to help, polite, and willing to laugh at my bad jokes. Great people (although, admittedly, with a job I wouldn’t personally want to touch). As for late fees (either the early incarnation or the current incarnation), I have little sympathy for people who complain about the fees. If you know the rules, you pay the cost. I don’t mind their new rules as it keeps me from paying extra while being reasonable enough to encourage people to actually return their rentals.

    Here’s to Blockbuster.

  • leelee

    This “No Late Fees” is the “The New Coke” of the new century; ultimately, Blockbuster’s marketing strategy disaster. You are kidding me that you can still go the store and rent a movie here-and-now rather than waiting a couple days for the movie to arrive via mail. My husband and I waited for weeks to finally rent “Ray” because it was never in stock. Why? Oh, because people are not returning movies on time because thera are no longer late fees. There is no incentive to return a movie on time, so no one’s doing it, and the more recent releases are never in stock. Also, to claim “No More Late Fees” without more clearly disclaiming the details of the policy is sneaky and manipulative. They present it as if they are looking out for their customers out of the goodness of their collective heart, but they are really looking to take advantage of customers using their poorly implemented policies, that despite their claims that they’ve thoroughly trained their employees to know and be able to explain, none of them seem to actually be able to clearly and accurately state.

  • sydney

    “Blockbuster hires idiots at minimum wage to do a repetitive job. But they offer the best selection of movies around. And you don’t have to wait days for the movie to be mailed to you.”

    — I don’t know what Blockbusters are like where you people seem to be going, but where I’m from, Blockbust has next to know selection.

    A Blockbuster store thats 3 times the size of a mom & pop store, ussually carries less titles. Blockbuster is almost exclusivly new releases and they don’t even carry the classics.

    Movies that niether of blockbusters near my house, had; Thin Red Line, Goodfellas, MASH, FEllinis’s 8 1/2, Happiness, Annie Hall…. on and on….

    It’s pathetic.. they narrow their selection down to the movies that rent most. As such they have alls orts of kids movies and movies that are popular, rather than ones that have any artistic and lasting value.

    We have a bunch of Jon claude vandame movies and none of the classics. Such fruckin corporate whore of a company. We need a cultural revolution in this country!

  • sydney

    know = no

    (sorry..was in a hurry)

  • vio

    Sydney, you think Blockbuster stuff their stores with new releases(which i agree are often total crap and waste of time) and ignore classic movies because they WANT to? Please… Blockbuster is the first stop video store for your typical Joe Sixpack renter who cares about renting nothing but the newest, most “popular” crap fest from Hollywood. They don’t care what the movie is or how bad it actually is, as long as it has a big budget, flashy CGI special effects, and some well known turd of an actor like Tom Cruise or Adam Sandler in it. This is what Blockbuster’s core demographic is; the LOWEST COMMON DENOMINATOR. If they don’t have 200 copies of the latest shit fest fresh off it’s theatrical run, these Joe Sixpacks will have a fit and vow to never return to their stores. Although most of them will infact return 5-6 months later after they’ve forgotten their “vow” from repeated nights of consuming drugs and alcohol…

    Seriously, go see for yourself sometime. Go into a Blockbuster on a Tuesday when all the new movies are released and hang out in the store for say 20 minutes or so and observe the other customers. Watch as they all come in the store and head STRAIGHT to whatever “big new release” came out that day(be it star wars or whatever) like robots. I swear to god, you’ll see one person after the other do the EXACT same thing. It’s really quite pathetic.

  • Personal

    you’re being highly stereotypical of blockbuster employees- or the employees of any business that doesn’t require any formal education for that matter. i am a blockbuster employee and also a full time college student, and i can hold a conversation quite well, thank you. AND once graduated i will more than likely have a better career than more than half of the people who rent movies at blockbuster. so i don’t feel that it’s fair for you to attack the store-level employees just because you don’t agree with how blockbuster runs their business. also, you have to keep in mind that employees really aren’t there for your socializing pleasures, too. all we’re there to do with you is make an economical transaction and that’s it. so if you’d like to have a nice conversation with someone, go talk to your shrink.