Blockbuster experience

1/1/2005: Blockbuster has eliminated late fees with a program that I think is generous (a 7 day grace period, and a restocking fee of $1.50 if returned within 30 days)! The squeaky wheel does sometime get the grease.

As some people may know, in 2001, Blockbuster settled a lawsuit where consumers claimed the company engaged in deceptive practices to collect late fees. What they did was change their return policy to include an additional 12 hours, but then the late fee was computed without the additional twelve hours. So those who returned it a day late had to pay twice the fine.

Blockbuster hasn't changed this practice which I still think is misleading (I didn't know about the lawsuit until I fell victim to this folly). But in terms of strict interpretation, there's not a lot one can do since it is clearly spelt out. As part of the settlement, Blockbuster will issue coupons starting January 2002 for free rentals.

What I did was cancel my Blockbuster rewards membership which resulted in a full refund of the membership fee. This allowed me to count the free rentals I had already used up which more than compensated for the late fees I had paid. I personally don't ever plan on using Blockbuster again (I think it's time to try Hollywood Video or simply buy DVDs), but this process can be iterated to go one-up on the company.

Complaints || Ram Samudrala ||