Blockbuster Quietly Reinstates Late Fees

For almost two years now I’ve had a Blockbuster.com account for renting movies.  The main reason I’ve had a Blockbuster.com account as opposed to Netflix is my ability to use the movies from Blockbuster.com for free in-store rentals.  Additionally, for some time, Blockbuster has had a no-late-fee policy on movies rented in the store. While you may eventually be charged the cost of the movie if you don’t return it within a certain amount of time, you were not dinged for bringing something back a couple days late.

Monday night however, with great surprise, I found that this is no longer the case.   I was informed that I had an ~ $8 balance on my account.   I asked for what, and they said it was for a movie and a game that I had returned four days late.   I again asked what she was talking about, and she explained that there was a new .99 cent per day late for for any movies or games. Despite my better judgment I proceeded to pay the fine, stating that I was never told of the policy change when I had rented the movies.  In hindsight I’ve decided that this was a bad move and I’m going to return to the store and talk to a manager regarding the charges.  It wouldn’t bother me so much if I had been informed of these new fees when I had rented the movies.

That being said, I would highly recommend that all Blockbuster customers verify their stores late fee policy before grabbing that next movie.  Especially if you’ve gotten a little used to not racing to the store a 11:50p.m. for that forgotten movie.

I’ve done a little bit of searching online to see if anyone has written an article about this, since I very well could be the last Blockbuster customer to know about this, however I have yet fo find anything.  If your a regular customer of Blockbuster, I’m interested in hearing from you about this since I live in a small town that only has one store.

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33 thoughts on “Blockbuster Quietly Reinstates Late Fees

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  2. I just got slammed with a 60 late fee because of this stupid late fee policy change. I had checked out 3 blu-ray w/ online trade in’s and 2 games with coupons. I had never been told that things were changing so when I took these back within the old 1 week grace period I was surprised to see this bill when there used to be nothing owed. Thankfully the manager waved the fee but said she could only do it once. This is the only place on the net I found where someone else was in the same situation and it makes me wonder why no one is in an uproar. I loved the way it was now I have to be sure to get everything back by the due date or you end up owing more in fee than the movies are worth.

  3. I just called my local Blockbuster and they hadn’t heard anything about late fees coming back. It’s possible that the Blockbuster you went to is owned by someone other then Blockbuster. A lot of the franchises still charge late fee, but if it was a franchise they probably wouldn’t have eliminated the late fees in the first place. When you go back and talk to the manager try to find out whether or not this is coming from Blockbuster HQ or from a franchise owner.

  4. I was charged $16 for late fees. I returned the movies 5 days late. I was under the impression that if you returned the rentals within 7 days after the due date no action would be taken. So when I seen the charge on my bank statement I went in and talked to the manager. The manager told me that they reinstated the late fee policy and that the clerk scanned a bar code saying they explained it to me. Scanning a bar code does not mean I was told about the late fees. If they want to reinstate the late fee they should have me sign something saying it was explained to me,not just have a bar code scanned.

  5. I did eventually find the receipt for the movies that were late. There was a small section at the bottom that mentions that there may be additional rental fees that override any policies stated on the back of the receipt. The part that I really find interesting about that, is that the receipt mentions nothing about the actual values. So not only are they not telling people about it, but even the receipts do not indicate how much.

    While they are struggling to keep their relevance compared to the likes of Netflix and online media, however this just seems to be another reason to see their stock continue to tank…

  6. yeah, we got hit with a $32 late fee for two movies and we didn’t know about the policy change either. we were so aggravated that we actually canceled our account with them. we had netflix for 2 years and are now going to resubscribe. down with blockbuster! i hope netflix puts them out of business.

  7. I recently found a EngadgetHD article about how the whole premise of Netflix was started because of a $40 VHS late fee from Blockbuster. This, to me, only re-iterates my comments to Blockbuster in regards to the effects this has upon customer loyalty. Some may simply pay the fee and continue on (unfortunately I am one to say that I have because I like having the free game every month), and then there are others that completely drop there account and walk away forever. Then again, it has already had the power to cause one person to create a company that presents a crushing amount of competition for Blockbuster.

    Maybe they need to think about their customer relationship policies again…

    Article: http://www.engadgethd.com/2009/01/29/netflix-concept-spurred-by-40-vhs-late-fee-who-knew?icid=sphere_blogsmith_inpage_engadgethd

  8. What’s even worse is when Blockbuster decides to go into your checking account and deduct the late fee’s without your authorization.

    I check my bank account daily for any transactions and was surprised to see a charge for 16.96 on my account as a recent charge. Knowing I haven’t been to this Blockbuster in over 6 months I called them up to find out what the hell the reason was for charging this without my authorization.

    Some wannabee kid manager gets on the phone and tells me that the policy has recently changed and that the policy is written on the posters in the store…I again tell him I haven’t been in that store for over 6 months and he insistently tells me that the policy has changed and that that’s the way it is.

    It’s one thing to charge for late fee’s without telling the customers…it’s another to take money out of my checking account without my authorization.

    Hello Redbox/Netflix, goodbye Blockbuster…you just lost a loyal 20 year customer.

  9. I like blockbuster. I think its reasonable to bring back some sort of late fees. You could pay the $5 and keep whatever you rented for about 40 days! Or $8 for a game and beat it 5 times and get so tired of it you’ll never want to play it again, instead of paying the $60 to get it new. Thats basiclly $52 the customer is saving and $52 blockbuster is losing. Same with the movie rentals that people keep for a month and others aren’t renting because its sitting in the back seat of a car.

    I would like to see them get their act straight and stick around. I’ve been a customer for a few years and almost never have dvds that don’t work. I heard they might bring back late fees but it hasn’t happened at any of the stores around me.

    I like the idea of red box but I am def. someone not to use it. Most the new movies are all hype and suck and thats pretty much all redbox offers. The $1 a day is nice but I couldn’t pciture myself ever returning the movies within 1 day and on avg would probably end up spending about $4 a rental anyways.

  10. The same thing happen to me! 20 dollars in late fee’s,. i took them back 6 days alte but before the old restocking fee rule. I told the manager what happen to no llate fees. Asked him if he worked there long and he said 3 years and then I said then you remember how you use to cram it down our thooats no late fee,,, welcome to blockbuster no late fees .. do you rember this mr manager he said yes.. told him then when you changed your policy you should of said when i walked in the door welcome to blockbuster we have late fee’s now! he credited my account 20 dollars.

  11. I recently visited my local Blockbuster — the last time I was in ANY Blockbuster, they told me with my Rewards Card, I got to keep movies for 5 days instead of 1 day at the daily rate, etc. This was about three months ago, while I was moving to this town.
    They did away with that at my new local Blockbuster, and don’t give me those rewards perks. $2 a day for video games, really? It’s not just the late fees, but the daily rate that bothers me. My rentals cost more than they used to now, bottom line, and I have a subscription to a service that doesn’t do me any good because I rarely, if ever, rent 5 films in one month. I suppose if I chose to rent a film/game for one day and return it immediately, this would be OK. I wasn’t prepared for this, though, and the daily rate for games is just impossible to fathom — no one plays for just one day.
    I’ll keep Blockbuster in mind if I need a film for no more than 24 hours. Right? Or I’ll just do Netflix and watch films at my leisure and stream instantly through the Xbox, and quit whining. :-)

  12. WoW! I have been with Blockbuster for over 5 years, after leaving NetFlix. I also have a mail in membership, and a reward member, well you get the picture. NO WHERE was I told about the .99 cents a day rental charge?? I immediately went to there website which says NOTHING about it???? As a matter a fact it has the $1.25 restocking fee policy still up?? When I called store? Not much of an answer except, hey we started it back 3 weeks ago. When asked to talk to management the gentleman said he was the manager, and was quite rude! I made a comment like wow that is going to hurt your business? He was quite rude and said no actually it has picked up! Sorry there is nothing I can do about it. I told him well you just lost one Member and he told me to do what I want and hung up! :( Needless to say I am extremely disappointed. I was going to order thier new online set top box gimmick for the kids. NO WAY NOW! :(

  13. I would like to say that I have been trying to get my credit in order and I ahve been doing a good job of it… until I get a call today from a collection agency telling me that I owe $27 to Blockbuster for a movie I had misplaced while moving,found a month later and turnedback in (reassured it would be credited back to my account by the teenager behind the counter), the movie was reintroduced into inventory, rented a few times, then sold for the hot price of $9.99. So while all this is going on, my “debt” to blockbuster was sold to a collection agency who called me today, I called blockbuster who still showed the balance on my account… how many negatives have we counted here? first off, BB requires SSN’s to be provided to open an account! so the collection is being placed on my credit! This sounds a little illegal to me doesn’t it? I want to make sure Blockbuster doesn’t do this again… I want to gather people together to sue them for ruining credit! NON PAYMENT is not funny and if I as needing to get loan I would have been turned down, FOR A $27 “DEBT”? email me! khrystallina@hotmail.com

  14. I believe this is a new thing. Supposedly they can give you a one time refund if it is your first offense. In other words, its your grandfather clause for not being told. I think you have to ask for it tho, which makes it slimey. The other slime? The fact that they have quietly changed their policy and are either not telling all their employees, or worse, they are telling their employees not to tell US. I just rented a game I had traded in a while back and started investigating current late policy and discovered a couple of these threads. Glad I checked and nothing seems to appear before July 2010, so it must be a brand new switch. Or…as someone else mentioned, the chain has given the individual franchise owners the right to start charging people so they can get their supply back any way they see fit. Either charging a late fee or the value of the movie/game right away to your card. Be careful everybody.

  15. I am calling for a boycott of blockbuster and its owner viacom!!! I was late a couple weeks and now i own the spirit on blue ray for 40$. I am pissed. What happened to no late fees and a restocking fee? I am switching to netflix on the xbox 360 and pulling my cable on top of that. Screw Block Busters, I hope their stock dives and they go out of business.

    Good bye blockbuster, hello netflix. Goodbye shady business scams that make me want to throw a brick through their window.

  16. November 17,2009.I was reading about all the complaints about the late fees so I called my store.I asked if there were late fees and the man replied yes.A .49 cent charge every day a movie is late.I asked why were custumers not informed,the man stated he did not know,he is suppose to tell custumers about the late fee.The policy started on the 12 of November.I said that I will no longer get movies from there.I was not told any thing about late fees when I rented a movie.Oh well,they are expensive any way!

  17. The same thing happened to us thsi month. Rented a game, kept it out a month, which used to cost very ltitle extra to do and was a hell of a deal IMO. Took game back adn two days later went back to rent another one and was told I had $54.00 balance on my accnt! I nearly FREAKED! There were at least 12 people in line behind me who got a good show for sure…I didnt take this news very well and let the clerk aka assistant manager know how i felt about it. She said it changed RIGHT before we rented that game and the info was on our receipt and that we should have read that reciept. BS! How many people read their reciept when they walk out of BB?! I told her when you change a policy THAT much after it had been SO different for SO long, you should TELL people verbally or even in the mail not “look at your receipt” crap. They went ahead and deducted the $54.00 from my bank accnt too before i could even get in touch with the “real” manager who is NEVER there when I call. Im calling him again tomorrow and demanded a 1 time courtesy late fee refund…I could have bought the game for $54.00 and was even told by the assistant manager that after a month youre entitled to keep the game. SO at very least they had better give me that damn game. This is crap…I will never do business there again…nothing but a bunch of crooks….

  18. The new (hidden ) policy sucks… i agree completely. But another point I’d like to point out is the scratches on some of the games. I don’t know how many times I’ve had to go back to the store’s i frequent to exchange the game i rented, and for me its a 30 min drive at least(live in tha stix..lol). Once i had a game that constantly froze and glitched due to scratches.. so i called… and there wasn’t another copy.. so i opted to keep it and just save frequently. Wouldn’t you know it.. after i returned it.. i was contacted by the store.. telling me I damaged it..lmao. I told them the name of the kid that answered the phone that day.. (of course wasn’t at work then.. so they acted like it didn’t matter) then i proceeded to get pissed!. Needless to say.. after i visited that store.. and the manager in person… the issue was dropped… but it cost me a cpl trips trying to catch the manager.. and the gas to get me there. My point is.. BLOCKBUSTER sucks in many ways…. and they will try to screw the public out of every dime and minute of your time that they can. I don’t think refunds(of bogus charges).. or exchanges are enuff in my opinion.Like when they refund your account or wave the fee.. that they secretly reinstated.. that is an admission of guilt.. so THEY ARE WRONG… do they offer to compensate you for your time, aggravation , (or gas.. in my case) NO. Businesses in today’s world have the attitude that you are lucky to be using their service.. it is supposed to be the other way around…. but unfortunately we as a public are to blame.. either from not wanting to take a stand.. or just laziness :(. Iv canceled my account… and have filed complaints … and have made calls.. etc. unfortunately it hasn’t made a big difference.

  19. Hello,
    I am an attorney in Los Angeles that represents consumers in Class Actions. Presently we are pursuing a case against Blockbuster. If anyone who posts a complaint on this board concerning Blockbuster would be interested in participating in a Class Action or providing me with more information regarding your experience, give me a call at 310.461.1210 or send me an email at mitch@kallawgroup.com. I look forward to hearing from you.
    Regards,
    Mitch Kalcheim
    Disclaimer
    Your receipt of the information contained in this letter is not intended to create, and receipt thereof, does not constitute a contract for representation by Kalcheim Law Group. By responding to this letter, you are not entering into an attorney/client relationship with Kalcheim Law Group, P.C. We agree to protect your name and all confidential information you submit against disclosure, publication or unauthorized use to the full extent under the law. Consulting our attorneys in response to this letter does not contractually obligate us to represent you. We can only serve as your attorney if we agree in writing that we will serve as your counsel. This letter is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice.

  20. I took my movies back but 2 movies were not in the case. I had no clue nor did my wife to i found one movies i thought was back at the store on top of the dvd player. Weeks went by and blockbuster never called and told me. My wife took them back and the lady took them back and said it was fine. My wife said she saw a yellow post it on the cases the women placed the dvds in but the women said nothing. I didnt even get so much as a call or voice mail. Next month i get a bill from Creditor for $48.82. I called the creditor and they didnt pick up and the messages are full so i cant leave info. So i called to have Blockbuster say that the movies are now my movies and they will give them back when i pay. I dont want them back!! I didnt get any calls or messages from blockbuster about late movies or a bill to i got the creditor bill. My wife and i go really up set since times are hard and im going to be going over sea’s soon. She wants to pay it and walk away. I want to sue them and walk away for good. The thing that bugs me was I told them what happen and they said that was fine. As you can see its not fine.

  21. Fortunately, we live in a country where have the choice to take our business elsewhere, and have the ability to voice our concern to others so that hopefully they realize what companies are up to. Now, I for one do not believe that every single company is out there to get everyone, however some companies tend to forget that it’s their customers that define their existence. If you begin to alienate the same people who are doing business with you, then the eventual path and perception of that company or brand is obvious.

    Does that mean I’m going to go to the extreme of suing Blockbuster over this? No. Because if I had simply read the receipt, I would have noticed that rental fee’s had been re-instated. Does this excuse the fact that the associates could have been directed to give more notice to this? Definitely. Could their customer service handled my case a little better, based on the lack of communication? Absolutely…

  22. Pingback: Goodbye Blockbuster, and Good Riddance | Jason's Place

  23. my family uses the blockbuster mailing things and with that we get a free rental every month. im an avid gamer so i go rent a game every month and bring it back 7 days overdue every month for like a year (no late fees allowed me to do so). 5 days is not long enough to enjoy game rentals! so when i go to rent a game this month i get hit with a $5.25 fee for it being late… gamefly here i come!

  24. I just dealt with this today. We got a 48 dollar charge and a letter from a debt collector without ever hearing from BB. BB said they changed their policy but they did not tell me this. They charged the full dvd price although we had returned them. I emphatically stated I disputed the debt bc of no notice about the policy change and the store clerk after making a phone call was able to reduce the fee to 5 dollars. Don’t let giant corporations take advantage of you! I anticipate someone will eventually sue them over this practice.

  25. I had the same experience as Dave ^. I got calls and a notice from a debt collector for $21.19. BB didn’t contact me or notify me of the policy changes and I was going to go dispute the charges and hang someone’s tail out to dry but figured it wasn’t worth it and just paid them the money to get them to stop bugging me. I’m shredding my BB card and will have no more business with them.

  26. Hi,
    Just discovered a $10.84 charge on my bank account from Blockbuster. The policy of “no more late fees” was the only one I was aware of. The only policy I knew about and exercised it a few times was that if you were late the item would be charged to your credit/debit card, but you could bring item back and have a credit restored to you card less a small stocking fee.
    Why was Blockbuster so secretive about this change in policy? Was it a “Gotcha” opportunity for them? I remember the hoopla in the media regarding their new “no more late fees” policy and all the signs in the store. So I believe this was done purposely to extract money from unsuspecting customers and in contrast to their shouting about their old policy the stealth transition should be examined closely and without a doubt it is underhanded and just wrong. How much longer will the public allow this extortion in all facets of business operation? I believe transparency-loud as the ads for the favorable policies to be exercised. Is this going to harm the trust the public has with business owners? I believe so. I truly believe mandatory transparency of business practices be implemented all the way from Blockbuster to these pirhanas who take advantage of the underprivileged in the guise of “easy finance” “credit card acceptance” etc. The business owners should be accountable and held to a higher standard. Desperate people seem to be the victims of most of they predators. When will it end?

  27. @Vela: That’s my biggest point out of all of this, is when will the company realize that such negativity is something they don’t want attached to their brand. I know a great deal of people, no matter the service, would much rather pay more for a service if they know they will get better customer service. One could probably parallel the cell phone companies and some of their practices (Non-pro-rated termination fee’s is one of my biggest gripes). The one big different here though, is that in many cases they have been very clear and up-front about the existence of such things. However, in the case of the Blockbuster that wasn’t the case.

    Again, hopefully you read every single receipt thoroughly, otherwise you came to a great surprise.

  28. I was considering switching back to BB for $30/mo – 2+Unlimited in Store, but after reading this thread I think I’ll pass. Besides, better options like Red Box and VUDU are now available. Looks like BB is going to ride the late fee gravy train right off the cliff.

  29. As a part-time blockbuster manager, here some helpful information:

    Late fees are being reinstated Nationwide at most Blockbuster locations starting March 1st. Basically, they are eliminating the 2-day rental & making all DVD/Blu-Ray/Game rentals 5 days. Everyday beyond that will be an additional .99 cent fee (which calculates at noon by our computers) until on the 10th day the product is converted to its sale value (which may be its new or pre-owned value depending on the product). After that point you have 10 days to get this product back into the store for a refund of the purchase price (but not the fees) or the product is yours to keep. THE FEES WILL AUTOMATICALLY CHARGE TO ANY CREDIT CARD LISTED IN OUR SYSTEM ONCE WE SCAN THAT PRODUCT IN.

    Some stores have already had part (or all) of this policy in place as part of a testing phase to see how best to introduce this back to consumers (as far as I know). Every customer should be informed of any type of change such as this regarding the main terms & agreements of your membership. If for any reason you were not that is the fault of that stores manager and/or staff, and shouldn’t be held accountable (I would never expect one of my customers at my location to pay for a fee on a brand new policy they didn’t know about). Of course, each location and staff is different but all of these decisions are made by the managers on duty, but corperate offices send out emails WEEKLY informing management of all changes and this knowledge is expected to be passed out to our consumers.

    You have to understand, this had to be done. With the “no late fees” policy, Blockbuster sank its own ship. With customers knowing they could keep a 2-day rental for 31 days (31 days?!?!) and only pay an extra 1.25, the new release wall would stay stripped of titles. This would only add to frustrations of many of our customers. I’ve watched 3 stores in my district close down and some of my friends lose their jobs because this policy.

    With ANY retail business, that store is a reflection of its STAFF>MANAGEMENT>DISTRICT MANAGEMENT<CORP. The decisions flow down in that order to our floor employees who have to make decisions on the spot to satisfy every customers needs. Realisticly, every business wants the best customer service it can achieve but that is just not going to happen everywhere. Almost all of the problems I have read about here deal precisely with your stores staff not doing their jobs correctly, or the customer not knowing the terms and conditions of their membership agreement (in which case an employee at your location SHOULD be happy to explain to you).

    I can't blame anyone for not wanting to visit a Blockbuster after some of the horror stories I've seen here. Shit like this would not fly at my location.

    Helpful tips for the fees : Blockbuster MOVIE PASS customers will not be subject to the fees as well as Blockbuster Online Total access customers who trade in their sleeves for a free rental (it has to be a fully free trade it, not a 1.99 trade in).

    -Lowly Part-Time Blockbuster Manager Scott

  30. We agree with Tyler. On April 2, we rented Blu-ray movies and I asked the young college age attendant if we could ask her a question about why our bank account had been charged the $1.09. Her reply as she proceeds to mark the notice on our receipt of the March 1st late fees reinstated was It was actually on your receipt “in plain english” if you will notice.
    To which my husaband told her that was not necessary and give us the movies, but we’re DONE! Good-bye Blockbuster’s POOR CUSTOMER SERVICE and return of Late Fees and we intend to return to the store and ask for our membership agreement with our personal information back!
    They treat OUR bank account as if it is theres! Have only used the debit card to pay for rentals and they got our info.

  31. @Oklahoma, you’ve pretty much hit it right on the head there. Now I completely understand Blockbuster making the choice to re-instate the late fee’s. I owned some Blockbuster stock there for a while, and followed their financial records, and I’d probably make the same decision if I were them. However, the task of properly informing their customers is something to be desired. I personally really don’t care what approach they use to push these changes down to the stores, beyond the ability to say: It’s not working. I just hope that they see what their doing to their customers before it’s too late…

    Here’s an additional couple, off subject, recommendations I think Blockbuster needs:
    1. Do not charge online account holders more to watch a video online. From that respect I’m very glad I switched back to Netflix.
    2. The company as a whole needs to sign up for ‘Undercover Boss’.

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