Blockbuster: Return Of The Late Fees

| March 20, 2010 | 3 Comments

Video Chain Quietly Changes Late Policy

The next time you go to rent a movie, your wallet might get a shock at your local Blockbuster.  Last night, an Annapolis resident was shocked that there was nearly $30 in late fees assessed for four movies that were a week late.

Five years ago, Blockbuster rolled out a consumer friendly plan where late movies would be re-stocked for a nominal fee. There was great fanfare and promotion of this new initiative. This time around, not so much. In a decidedly consumer unfriendly move, Blockbuster has reinstated (without much announcement) stringent late fees. We visited the Blockbuster on Hillsmere Drive in Annapolis and the only notice of the change was a photocopy of the new corporate policy taped to the door. It was hardly obvious. And in another non-obvious move, the video store changed their rental period from 7 days to 5 days. When we tried to obtain a copy of the policy (which is not readily available online) and the manager refused and asked us to leave.  When we attempted to take photographs of the policy through the window, he informed us that it was “illegal” to take pictures.

The new plan calls for $1 per day and after 15 days, Blockbuster will charge anywhere from $2.99 to $29.99 per film to your account–after which you own the film.

While Blockbuster claims that they initiated the new plan to remain competitive, many see this as a precursor to their demise.  Just two days ago, Blockbuster announced that they are considering bankruptcy.

It appears that Blockbuster is doing what they can to keep this hidden moneymaker a secret from their customers.

To read the vague text from their new policy, we have tried to transpose it from the photographs we were able to obtain. (after the jump)

Membership rules and certain restrictions apply for rentals.

Movie and Game Rantals: All movie and game rentals are due back at the date and time printed on the transaction receipt (the “Initial Rental Period”). For each day a member chooses to keep the item after the Initial Rental Period, the
member will be charged and additional daily rate (each, an “Additional Daily Rate”). If member chooses to keep the item for more than ten (10) days after the end of the Initial Rental Period, BLOCKBUSTER will convert the item to an automatic sale (AutoSale) and on the eleventh day after the end of the Initial Rental Period, charge the item’s AutoSale price to the credit card or check card on filer ot the membership account as applicable, subject to the return policy set
forth below.

AutoSale Price: The “AutoSale price” means the price, at the time of rental, for either the previously viewed product or the new retail product (whichever is lower) be charged by that BLOCKBUSTER store for the product, if the product is eligible for sale as a previously rented product at that BLOCKBUSTER store at the time of rental.If this product is not available for sale as previously viewed product at that BLOCKBUSTER store at the time of rental, then the “AutoSale price” will be the new retail price charged by that BLOCKBUSTER store for the product at the time of rental.

AutoSale Return: If a member returns the product within ten (10) days of the AutoSale, the member will receive a credit back in the amount of the AutoSale price to the credit card or check card on file or the membership account as applicable. If a member returns the product more than ten (10) days following the AutoSale but on or before thirty (30) days following the AutoSale, the member will receive a credit back in the amount of the AutoSale back to the membership account. Products may not be returned after thirty (30) days following the AutoSale.  PLEASE NOTE: For all movie and game rentals, if an AutoSale is required (as described above), the member will be credited back for the AutoSale price, but the member remains responsible for all accrued Additional Daily Rates incurred prior to the AutoSale.

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