Friday, April 25, 2008

Late Fees? We Ain't Payin' No Stinkin' Late Fees!


You may have noticed that I actually go out of my way on this blog to not go off on too many personal rants or diss films or companies (unless they REALLY deserve it). Well, the mini-rant I'm about to embark on is one in which I think the company in question has earned.

"Hate" is a strong and ugly word that should not be used too lightly. So know that I am serious when I say, I hate the Blockbuster video chain and God bless Netflix for revolutionizing the video rental industry and putting a foot in Blockbuster's non-filmmaker-friendly ass.

Without going into all the reasons why I hate Blockbuster, I'll just share with you the very last straw in a long chain of video rental disappointments with the once mighty rental giant...

About two years ago when I last went to my local Blockbuster to rent "Scared Straight" by Arnold Shapiro (one of my all-time favorite docs) I simply couldn't find it anywhere in the store. I asked the clerk where the Documentary section was and she matter-of-factly informed me that they "got rid of" the Documentary section and that the docs they still carried were now mixed in with the other sections. They just eliminated an entire filmmaking genre of their own accord (at a time when the genre was rapidly growing, no less)!

By now you know that I'm no film snob (hell, if anything, I'm the anti-film snob!), but this was complete and total stupidity and disrespect towards an entire film genre, documentary filmmakers, and even film fans. It was yet another ill-conceived business decision on the part of a company that pretty much deserves bankruptcy.

The other big mistake that Blockbuster made in my eyes was excessive Late Fees. (To their credit, they did try to fix this policy after Netflix started cutting into their profits, but ended up botching it so badly that they inspired multiple lawsuits by various States Attorneys which I believe they ultimately lost.) I also have heard that the new CEO is making a sincere effort to try to fix the many bad decisions of his predecessors, but I think it's probably too little, too late. Netflix has already won the hearts and minds of indie filmmakers and we ain't goin' back.

Anyway, if you are one of the people that has not yet turned on to the filmmakers joy known as Netflix, because you prefer immediate access to video rentals, here's a guerrilla tip I stumbled across on the Wired mag website that just might help you avoid an exhorbinant late fee if you do get back from your Spring Break vacation to discover that you have a video that's a week past due. It's truly Down and Dirty- creative, simple and effective...

Read this little Wired How-to Article on how to dodge chain store video late fees and stick it back to the man!

Power to the video people!

-Ant.

1 comment:

Shannon said...

At least I hope people only use that information when going to the larger stores...
Myself and my partner have just purchased an established local video rental store. We are not a franchise, though we are part of a buying group which allows us to buy our dvds at a price a few dollars cheaper. Being a small, rather independant store, I'm quite annoyed that this kind of information is being shared and encouraged.
At our store, late fees only cost as much as it would for the person to hire it again. We still have people stealing our dvds, disputing late fees, not paying late fees... (handing over $50 on a $12 purchase, but can't pay any off their late fee this week)
SO just be aware that we, as a small family business are already competing against franchises like Civic and Blockbuster and then this information is made available to people who really don't deserve it.

(If they were generally good customers, with a good track record and a high % return rate then overdues might be overlooked, but if someone is constantly bringing things back late, it's just plain rude.)