Wednesday, January 5, 2005

The Start of More?

The "new" Blockbuster has riddled us with promises of abandoning late fees. The slogan says, "The end of late fees.  The start of more."  Good enough.  We rent movies from Blockbuster, and we have returned them to the store late, paid the fees, felt stupid, absolved our delinquency.

So when a postcard showed up in the mail the other day telling me we owed twelve bucks in late fees to Blockbuster, you can imagine my surprise.  I was stunned.  But your ad campaign, I thought, it promises the end of fees.  Is this the start of more?  According to the notice, we'd returned The Day After Tomorrow five days late when we picked it up in mid-November.  And my memory isn't the sharpest (still working on getting the new phone number right every time), but I'm sure The Day After Tomorrow was a week-long rental.  We only rent movies one or two times each month; the infelicity of a late return is generally fresh with us.  We usually expect the late charge. But not this time.  "The end of late fees.  The start of more."

When we rented Hero and I, Robot the other day, D. and Ph. went to the new release wall while I wandered up to the counter (at the store on Erie Blvd. here in Syracuse). 

"Can I talk with somebody about this late fee notice?  It's for a movie we rented in November.  Says we returned it five days late, but I'm almost certain it was a week-long rental."

Clerk looks at the note card, eyebrows furrowed accusatorily.  "Yeah, The Day After Tomorrow was returned five days late. It's [something incoherent involving long division] per day."

"We're generally good about returning movies on time [granted, a fuzzy assertion].  Is it possible that the DVD case said 'one week rental'?  When we were in here a few weeks ago renting Supersize Me, I saw that several of your new releases were shelved in mixed cases.  Some of the cases said 'two day rental,' others 'one week rental.'" 

Clerk: We run out of cases, but all the new releases are two-day rentals.  If it's in the wrong case, you have to read the slip inside.

"The slip?  Is that the same as the receipt?"

Clerk: Yeah.  You should read the receipt to be sure you're getting it for a full week instead of two days.

Friends, read your Blockbuster receipts. 


Denouement: To delay the charges, sleep on it, etc., we rented on my card rather than D.'s.  Then, to clear our names, salvage our fragile credit ratings, and restore decency to our lives, D. slinked back to the store a few days later and coughed up the twelve bucks.  But insult to injury, those goldang ads.  "The end of fees.  The start of more."

Bookmark and Share Posted by at January 5, 2005 8:55 AM to Slouching Toward

Ummm...technically, isn't the Day After Tomorrow always a 2-day rental? Okay, bad joke. But you're lucky it wasn't The Day Before Yesterday, which incurs late fees the instant you check it out. And oh! the dangers of The Land Before Time--Blockbuster's still deciding whether that means that late fees are non-existent, infinite, or both...

Posted by: collin at January 5, 2005 1:34 PM

Good one. Just to complicate matters, I found through a Google search that Land Before Time 11: The Invasion of the Tinysauruses will be released next week, meeting demand for all the post-holiday gift-card rush. But I'm sure the other ten in the series aren't as timeless as the first. In fact, Blockbuster should be paying folks to rent those, since they pre-date ordinal modernity and all. Might be a way I could get that twelve bucks back using such logic.

Posted by: Derek at January 5, 2005 4:05 PM

Oh, but the other *9* are as timeless as the first, as my dear Jack will certainly attest, especially the one that Donnie (Donny?) Osmond sings on (Journey to Big Water, I think). Thanks for the heads up on the new release; Jack will be tickled!!

Posted by: madeline at January 5, 2005 4:14 PM

Ms J still laughs about the first time she saw my wrath directed at a video store clerk. A locally owned shop in our podunk Washington State town accused us of damaging a video. Never mind that we were unable to watch the video because it was already damaged; never mind that we had returned the video the next day with a note explaining the problem. No, it was our fault. I explained (apparently with some hostility) that we would no longer darken their door.

I exhibited the same ferocity a year back at a neighbor who accused us of leaving dog poop on a strip across the street from his house. Yeah. I always bag it in order to leave it there.

Okay, so I'm occasionally prone to overreactions...

Posted by: susansinclair at January 5, 2005 6:41 PM

Netflix, man. Rocks! I've had Diner out for almost three weeks ... there will be no late fees for me.
It's just under $20/month ... a great way to go, if you rent movies a lot. I think Blockbuster has a similar deal, but from what I've heard, Netflix is better (I dunno, I hate Blockbuster) =)

Posted by: sheri at January 6, 2005 12:25 AM

You busted me, Madeline. I haven't actually *seen* any of the LBT flicks--in the rigid, sitting down and watching attentively sense of seen. We actually have a rule (er, decency code) against Osmond-voiced cartoons in our house, and, nonetheless, Ph. seems to be turning out just fine.

And Susan, yeah...I would've burst gasket at the B-Buster store, but I've been working on that. I'm always playing the dissatisfied nasty one, but I often feel guitly after delivering a rhet-lashing to customer support or service clerk. Any more, if it summons the deep rage, I just ask for a boss and do my best to withhold the snarl. Only if it's a phone bot do I sometimes cuss (like fifteen minutes into the phone-bot labrynth of no hanging up).

And Sheri, grateful for the Netflix link. We're || close to ditching Blockbuster, but I don't know if we watch enough movies to warrant the subscription. Could just settle for hearing others talk about movies, reading blogs on movies, so on. 'Course that wouldn't quite be the same.

Posted by: Derek at January 6, 2005 11:02 AM

"Could just settle for hearing others talk about movies, reading blogs on movies, so on. 'Course that wouldn't quite be the same."

A new take on virtual entertainment? Interesting though. Not the same, true, but an interesting aside to rising entertainment costs and fees (everything now a monthly subscription). How would piracy issues apply?

If only there were a pedagogy version...oh wait...I think there is...


Posted by: jeff at January 6, 2005 5:04 PM

With every English teach I ever had as my witness, it wasn't piracy, I swear. Oh weren't accusing me of anything. I'd never thought about it in rel. to changed in the entertainment/media circulation--subscribagogy, eh? For only $19.95 a month...

Posted by: Derek at January 7, 2005 3:37 PM