Blockbuster Ads Amount to Big Fat Lie

In another example of a company attempting to compete with a competitors superior business model, Blockbuster has been caught with its pants down regarding its new "No More Late Fees" ad campaign. Unbeknownst to most, the video rental company's largest campaign to date amounts to a lie. New Jersey Attorney General Peter Harvey filed a lawsuit last Friday claiming Blockbuster did not disclose the reality of its new program.

While it's all in the fine print, Blockbuster's program does not do away with late fees. It simply recategorizes them into a "sale" on the eighth day. If, after 30 days, the video is returned, the charge is credited but then the company imposes the well known, "we'll do anything for a buck" trick and charges a restocking fee. Even if all is disclosed, this has to be one of the sleeziest marketing stunts in recent memory. "Blockbuster boldly announced its 'No More Late Fees' policy, but has not told customers about the big fees they are charged if they keep videos or games for more than a week after they are due," Harvey said. "Blockbuster's ads are fraudulent and deceptive. They lead people to believe that an overdue rental will cost them absolutely nothing when, in fact, customers are being ambushed with (a) late fees in some stores, (b) so-called 'restock fees,' and (c) credit card or membership account charges equal to the purchase price of the video."

Blockbuster, of course, in a desperate attempt to cover its ass, issued a statement claiming they were very thorough in explaining to customers how the program works. Even if Blockbuster bought all the time on the Super Bowl to announce this service, it's still a lie. The company not done away with late fees. It's just converted them into something else using deception and creative accounting. NetFlix all the way, baby.

by Steve Hall    Feb-21-05   Click to Comment   

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I have to say... if the choice is getting wailed on for something like twelve bucks for being a couple of days late with a movie, or dealing with a dollar and some change one time fee for being a month late.... I'll take the dollar

Posted by: Lizz on June 23, 2005 6:38 PM

I am a employee for blockbuster, I agree that they are always looking for a buck, and are deceptive in there marketing sometimes, but I hate hearing about the no late fees thing. You can keep a movie for 47 days and return it and all you pay is a $1.25 give me a break stop whinning about it, it cost us more then a $1.25 everything someone does that, alot more. I have to remove that cover art for the movie that is past due, put it in a safe place, then every week i spend about 3 hours restocking them for all the people who returned them, That cost about $35 a week there, and we get charged from veriphone everytime we auto chage an account for someone keeping there movie for a month and half because there to lazy to bring it back, and everyone one knows were out of movies alot of the time, well guess what when you keep that movie for a month we could have rented 4 times, that about $16 you cost us, but hey go ahead and cry about a $1.25 because were big evil blockbuster...get a life.

Posted by: rob on October 12, 2005 1:35 AM

Rob, that does sound like a lot of work. Maybe Blockbuster should talk to Netflix about managing overhead. They don't seem to have trouble handling merchandise which might lead one to conclude that's why they don't have to charge a late fee to cover costs.

Posted by: Steve Hall on October 12, 2005 9:38 AM

i completely agree with rob. come on, if they didn't have SOME sort of backup for the no late fees, people would just take them and keep them indefinitely! and what people don't talk about when comparing them to netflix and all of them, is that you pay a monthly fee, so yeah, keep them forever if you want, as long as u pay ur fees. but i bet that if you had a movie out and cancelled ur membership, then something would happen in order to either get the movie back or get what it's worth.

let's see, who's going for the money more: blockbuster, with it's pretty reasonable campaign, or the lawyer going after them? hmmmmmm.....

Posted by: travis on November 16, 2005 9:54 AM

come on, if they didn't have SOME sort of backup for the no late fees, people would just take them and keep them indefinitely!

Then they shouldn't say there are no late fees. They can say, "Keep the movies as long as you want, make us lose money and only get charged a once time restock fee. We'll charge you an exhorbitant amount on your credit card, but we'll refund you when we figure out you haven't stolen it!"

Not sound as sexy? That's the problem with the truth sometimes...

Posted by: xian on December 6, 2005 1:50 PM

I personally like the Blockbuster program. I am usually a couple of days late returning my videos. This saves me a great deal of money. I think if you keep the movie for a month you should have to pay some kind of fee. Who needs to keep a rented movie for a month any way? However, for those of us who run a little late getting movies back, this program is really convenient.

Posted by: Stacy on June 14, 2006 7:36 PM