In what seems like an odd move, Blockbuster has changed their policy on overdue movie and game rentals. They have scrapped their late fees for what I would call, THE ULTIMATE LATE FEE. Just another example of Read the Fine Print!

Previously, any movie kept past 12pm of the due date would be charged a set fee (the price of a rental, I believe) but now Blockbuster has decided that instead of charging an overdue fee, they will give each rental a five day grace period, in addition to the normal due date. If a movie or game is not returned by the end of the fifth day, the customer’s account will be charged for the price of the movie and the customer can then keep the movie. The full text of the Blockbuster Policy can be found here or below, but here are the highlights.

  • Any movie kept after the 5 day grace period will be charged either the retail price (shelf price) or the previously rented price (provided that particular movie is available for sale as a previously rented.)
    • The selling price (price charged the overdue account) will be discounted by the amount of the initial rental fee paid at the time of rental.
      • If returned within 30 days of the sale date, Blockbuster will credit back the amount paid to your account minus a restocking fee. </ul> What I find interesting about this is the fact that they have decided to advertise this as “No In-Store Late Fees” when actually, they’ve just increased the price of the late fee and given you a mulligan (minus the restocking fee, of course).

        I can just see the lines and the confusion on Friday night. Oh well, happy new year!

        Blockbuster Policy Text

        “In-store movie and game rental terms. As of Jan. 1, 2005, movie and game rentals are due back at the date and time stated on the transaction receipt. There is no additional rental charge if a member keeps a rental item beyond the pre-paid rental period. However, if a member chooses to keep a rental item more than a week after the end of the rental period, Blockbuster will automatically convert the rental to a sale on the eighth day after the end of the rental period. Blockbuster will charge the membership account the selling price for the item in effect at the time of the rental, which is either (1) the retail price charged by that BLOCKBUSTER store for the product if sold as new, if the product is not available for sale as previously rented product at that BLOCKBUSTER store at the time of rental, or (2) the selling price charged by that BLOCKBUSTER store for the product if sold as previously rented product, if the product is available for sale as previously rented product at that BLOCKBUSTER store at the time of rental. The selling price will be discounted by the amount of the initial rental fee paid by the member at the time of rental. If the member returns the item within 30 days of the sale date, Blockbuster will credit back to the membership account the amount previously charged to the member’s account or the member’s credit card, as applicable, for the selling price of the item, but the member will be charged a restocking fee. All rental items must be returned to the proper BLOCKBUSTER store. These rental terms are subject to change without notice at any time. Rental terms and policies may vary in franchised locations. Additional membership rules apply for rentals. See store for full details.

        What do you think about this new policy? Better, Worse? Let’s hear it! My own anecdotal evidence - which consists of me standing in a line 10 deep listening to phone conversations between the Blockbuster employees and customers - shows that there are a lot of question about what No Late Fees really means.

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