I just returned the last movie I will ever rent from Blockbuster Video.
Perhaps you recall that back in 2005 Blockbuster made a big deal out of their new “No Late Fees” policy. They had to do something; even at that point Netflix was already eating their lunch with a business model that included the ability to hang on to a movie for as long as you wanted to, but no new movies for you until you return it. Of course, despite Blockbuster’s flashy ads, “No Late Fees” didn’t REALLY mean “NO late fees”. It actually meant something more like “a ten day grace period before we start dinging your credit card and/or simply charge you the full retail price of the movie.”
If you recall that, do you remember the big campaign that they rolled out to let you know that they decided to start charging late fees again?
No? That’s probably because there was no such campaign.
In fact, if my experience is any guide, not only did they start charging late fees again, but they decided to do so without telling anybody about it.
We rented a couple of movies on New Year’s Eve. For reasons that don’t need to be detailed here (suffice it to say that my attention has been focused elsewhere for good reason), I didn’t return the movie until tonight. “No problem,” thought I, “they don’t charge a late fee unless it’s crazy late, so we should be fine.”
Not so much.
Six days late times two movies plus tax equals $12.60 (on top of the $7 or so we had paid for the original rental). That’s about FOUR MONTHS of my Netflix service, which allows me to have one movie at a time, no more than two in a month, and keep them as long as I want to.
“Yeah, we started charging late fees again. Nobody was bringing back their movies,” said the guy behind the counter.
“Too bad for you,” I replied. “From now on, I’ll just get my movies from Netflix.”
“Oh, you should use our online service.”
Yeah, right. You already poked me in the eye over the movie I rented in the store. Like I’m going to give you an opportunity to do it online, too.
No wonder Blockbuster is in bankruptcy. I can pretty much guarantee that treating customers like this won’t help their situation even a little bit.