Blockbuster, Foiled!

Ha HA!

Scenario : Yesterday, I receive a postcard in the mail from Blockbuster. They inform me that I returned Big Fish late, and they want my $4.23 late fee.

I had rented the movie at the request of my father, who was visiting me one weekend… rented it on Thursday, watched it Friday evening, and took it back, as I recalled, on the Saturday or Sunday thereafter. Certainly before the 8th day, on which it was due. That being 6/25/04, Friday, according to the receipt I immediately dug up - the postcard says I turned it in… ah, that same day. No doubt they’re going to say I turned it in after noon.

But then, an epiphany!

I call the local Blockbuster and ask for a Manager. The girl on the other end of the line informs me that she, in fact, is one of the managers. Fine, I say, there’s a late charge notice here, and it’s in error.

She checks the details - “Says you turned it in 6/25 - must’ve been after noon.”

“No, it couldn’t have been. You see, I was out of the state on vacation that day, and the day before, and I can prove it!” My thourough record-keeping and my Origins vacation meaning I could show that I was definitely in Columbus Ohio on 6/24 and was still there until 6/27.

The girl says simply “Well, I’ll take off the charge then.”

Victory is mine!

I wonder - did they not find the movie in the return slot? Did a Blockbuster employee co-opt it for their own viewing? Did the Blockbuster Random Customer Screwing Selection machine just happen to turn up my name?

It matters not, for they were foiled.

Good for you! Blockbuster still claims I owe them an $18 late fee on a movie I NEVER RENTED THERE. Rented it at Netflix, yup. Even checked my netflix account to be sure I had done so, just in case I really did mess up. Nope, I did not!

I’m also the only person on that account, so it wasn’t anybody else.

Apparently, I still “owe” them money, but I stopped renting from them completely anyway, and haven’t heard a thing about it in a while. Either they actually realized I never rented it, or figured they weren’t going to get anything out of me.

Someday, I’ll try to rent another movie from there, just out of curiosity.

About eight or nine years ago, I got nasty phone calls from Blockbuster demanding that I return an overdue Beavis & Butt-head video game. I had never rented it, or even heard of that game until these calls. I never went to that store again.

I wonder, if I were to go to Blockbuster today, would they still have my account flagged and give me a hard time?

I rented a game and returned it the day it was due at 11 am, well before the noontime due-age. I took it into the actual store and handed it to a person, too.

Next time I went to rent, I was charged $12 for late fees. I complained loudly.

At the time, they had these free “remove all late charges” coupons. The counter monkey* told me I could use that. I told him that I wasn’t going to use my coupon for something they screwed up, and besides that, I didn’t have it on me. The manager type that was there looked over, saw what was going on and immediately went into the back. I just stared at the guy, who had looked to the manager for help.

I said to him, “look, I know it’s not your fault, but you should know that I’m not going to pay this late fee that I didn’t incur and I’m not going to leave this store until you rent me this game”.

He scanned some other schmo’s get out of jail free card and let me go on my way.

When I returned that particular game, I took it into the girl working and had her check it in while I stood there. She gave me a look, and said “um, you know I’ll check it in right away”. I laughed and told her that was a lie, and I’m not fighting another late fee because you don’t have a grace period for those who return their movies on time, but you don’t get checked in until seven hours later.

We don’t go there anymore.

*I am, myself, a counter monkey, so no disrespect is meant to counter monkeys everywhere.

How, exactly, does blockbuster stay in business?

You know, after about three weeks or so, they actually send collection agencies after me. For my five-dollar late fee. I’ve gotten much better at returning stuff, but for many years now I’ve been buying movies I was sure I’d like (and even some I wasn’t), just because the twenty I spent on the DVD would, in the long run, probably be cheaper than rental plus late fees.

My mother once went into the store without her card. They gave her fifteen kinds of hell about a late fee and wouldn’t listen to a word she said about never having rented Halloween II. It was a good few minutes and a manager-visit later before someone thought to ask her what her first name was. Same last name, same address, my card and late fee. She’s never been to a Blockbuster since.

But she did pay my late fee, because she’s my mommy. :slight_smile:

Late fee scams.

When I was a Blockbuster counter monkey (while in college), people who pissed me off ALWAYS had late fees (and I could always find a tape that they would be too embarassed to challange). People who treated me decently could keep their Sega and Nintendo carts for months on end and never owe a penny.

Of course, a few years later, my ex-boss (who I called a slut on my last day of work) did the same thing to me. Turned in a tape the same day I checked it out on a 5-day rental, and I owed $20 in late fees and God knows how much in collection charges. But I guess I had the last laugh in the end – she had a baby 4 years after her husband got snipped.

My personal favorite story is the time they did the same to me - accused me of returning a movie late when I knew full well that it was on time. However, the fun thing is how I found out.

Roommate: Oh, there’s a message for you on the voicemail. I forgot to mention it earlier.

Me: Okay.

Voicemail Operator: This message is … three … weeks … old.
Apparently, his intentionally vague “earlier” comment was successful.

Yeah, I used to manage a Blockbuster. I’m so sorry, please note the past tense before Pitting me!

Sometimes all of the above. Usually, we took out about 50 movies from the drop box at once and lined them up (after checking inside to make sure you didn’t return your private porn tape in the Mary Kate and Ashley Go to London box) and then scan each barcode on the side. Beep. Beep. Beep. What do you need, helpless little counter monkey? Oh, Ok. Beep. Beep.

Missed one, never knew it. Put it back on the shelf not checked in.

NOW. We are supposed to physically check the shelf EVERY MORNING for tapes more than 3 days late. I’d say that happened about once every three days, on average. Add that to the fact that counter monkeys aren’t always that great with putting tapes back in the right place and darling children move things around, and it is likely that your tape was simply not checked in and misplaced for a while.

My thought? ALWAYS give the customer the benefit of the doubt. There are SO many things that can go wrong with the return process.

Of course, if you’re a jerk to me and your history says that you’ve never returned a movie on time EVER, I’d not be so likely to help you out.

Yep. Your account stays in the mainframe forever. But it’s badly cross-referenced. So just have your wife open an account and put your name on it. Never bring the old card back.

Skin of their teeth, man; Skin of their teeth. Netflix has them wetting themselves.

You didn’t hear this from be, but CPA (Credit Protection Association) is not a collection agency. It’s another letterhead of Blockbuster. (At least this was the case when I worked there.)
I will now be in hiding from the Blockbuster mafia for spilling secrets. If I don’t post in 24 hours, send someone after me. :smiley:


How extremely professional of you.


I’ve had that happen to me, except in my case there was no voicemail and the message concerned a job interview. :mad:

I rent a LOT of DVDs from the local Blockbuster (they have everything on DVD!).

A few months ago I returned some DVDs after hours to the drop box, and the next week when I came in again, the clerk told me that one of the DVD cases I returned was empty, the DVD was missing (“Willard”). I told him that I was certain that I had put the disc in it’s case, but I would check my DVD player when I got home to be sure.

It wasn’t in the DVD player, so I called them and told the manager I did not have the DVD. I told him that if I wanted to keep a DVD, it surely wouldn’t be “Willard”. :smiley: He laughed and replied “You have a point there. I’ll take care of it.” And cleared the matter from my account. I never heard another word about it.

They also frequently waive late fees if I miss the noon deadline.

That is why Blockbuster gets my business, and lots of it.

I’ve come to the conclusion that Blockbuster’s unwritten corporate motto is “We Hate Movies.” On the rare occasion that I’ve found a film there that I’m actually eager to see, there’s always some kind of hitch: the DVD is scratched, the tape has distracting subtitles in Spanish (yes, this happened), or (my favorite):

I’m an Errol Morris fan. I’d rather watch Fast, Cheap, and Out of Control for the fifteenth time than 2 Fast 2 Furious for the first. And I’d always wanted to see, but never been able to find, a copy of his first film, Vernon, Florida. It’s about an hour long–not a rental-friendly length–and weird enough to be of interest only to specialized nerds like me. And then I found it at freaking Blockbuster! I was browsing around, and there it was: Vernon, Florida!

The catch? It was in the comedy section. There is no way anyone could possibly call this documentary a comedy, unless you get a chuckle out of lines like the old man who says of a deceased friend, “Well, he always said, ‘That’s the last thing I’d do, is kill myself!’ …Which it was.” (OK, I confess I do get a chuckle out of that one, but it’s a dark chuckle, a Peter Murphy of a chuckle.)

Anyway: “Blockbuster. We Hate Movies.”

I live in Vernon, Florida. I’m not in that movie, though. What would you like to know about Vernon? :smiley:

Really? Wow, that’s cool. Are there Vernon, Florida t-shirts available? And if so, would you send me an e-mail? I’d gladly reimburse you for one.

Sure, no problem. Email to follow. :cool:


There should be a law against putting a trash can in front of a Blockbuster. On 2 seperate occasions I’ve seen people “return” there rentals to the trash can. Inspite of the large “TRASH” printed on the can. On both occasions, it was also seen by an employee, who would come out and retreive it from the can. The only “after hours” slot is one of those drive up types at the side of the building. I wonder how many movies were lost in the trash.

Hollywood Video counter monkey/semi-management checking in.

Add me to the list of people who don’t know how Blockbuster stays in business. Just about every single customer that comes to our store has some kind of Blockbuster horror story, usually about late fees. The few people that have a problem with us tend to shout “I’m going to Blockbuster,” then show up a few weeks later.

As for the late fee, it really is pretty easy to accidentally miss a movie when checking in a big stack of DVDs, and since we only do a store-wide inventory once every three months, they can go missing for quite a while if nobody else tries to rent it.

I’m pretty sure that this is what happened to a couple of movies that I returned in the night drop off at BB. Except in my case, the movies never made it back into the store inventory…two movies, “Treasure of the Sierra Madre” and another one.

After trying to get BB to check its inventory for the movies, I gave up. I KNOW that I returned those tapes (this was in the days of VHS tapes) on the way back from dropping off my daughter at high school. And I know that I actually returned the tapes early.

BlockBuster has never been graced with my business again. Or my family’s. My husband and daughter will each rent a couple of movies a week, maybe not a LOT, but it’s steady income. We have NetFlix AND Hollywood Video accounts. Netflix, of course, gets most of the business, but sometimes we feel like seeing a movie RIGHT NOW. Personally, I like renting movies because I enjoy being able to pause the movie to go pee, and I can have my own selection of FRESH snacks and drinks (I used to work in a theater, I know how stale the candy usually is), there’s no screaming babies or adults in my living room, and we have a comfy couch.

I really think that BB needs to get a lot better at inventory control. Either have just the managers checking the rentals back in, or make the system more accountable, or SOMETHING.

Yeah, I’ve no idea if it’s nationwide (yet), but the BB near me just recently started a “NetFlix competition kind of a deal” where you pay $25.00 a month, can have two movies out at a time, and no late fees. Well, why in the name of Og would I pay $3.00 more per month than I pay NetFlix to have out two BB movies (as opposed to three NetFlix movies), and BB’s crappy selection as opposed to NetFlix’ excellent selection? The counter monkey at BB told me that plan is selling quite well, to people who don’t want to wait for their movies. Well, that is an advantage, but it’s the only advantage I can see. I mean, how hard is it to line up a NetFlix rental early in the week so you’ll have it for Saturday night or whatever?