Why I Started This Site...
This is my story...
This letter is an attempt to convey my complete and total disgust at the level of service and professionalism that my wife and I have received from individuals at Blockbuster Corporation.
On Sunday May 23rd 1999, we rented American History X on DVD, from the Lxxxxx Nxxxxl location # 0xxxx on Axxxx Street. We watched it that night. My wife and I both work full time 8am-5pm Monday through Friday jobs. I also work a second job Monday and Tuesday nights as well as Saturday days. My wife brought the movie to work with her on Monday May 24th 1999 and after work she pulled into our garage and realized that she needed to return it. She returned the movie approximately at 5:30pm. My wife remembers all the details, what parking space, 2 employees standing near the drop box, etc.… On Wednesday June 2nd 1999, we went into the same location to rent Simon Birch on VHS. We went to check it out and the employee told us we have a balance of $3.22. I at first thought we had a credit for something as I use gift cards often because my work gives out $5.00 and $10.00 cards as prizes. He informed us that we had a late charge on American History X and we owned the $3.22 for an additional day. We let him know that this was incorrect as we returned the movie on time and could we speak to the manager. He called over to the manager saying "this-customer-says-they-returned-
their-movie-on-time-and-don't-wanna-pay-the-late-charge". Not very professional at all.
The manager (Nxxxxx) came up and looked in the computer and said the movie was rented on May 23rd 1999 and checked back in on May 25th 1999. We told him that had returned the movie the next day. He informed us that the movie was checked in on May 25th at 2:00pm. I asked to see a calendar because I knew we returned it on time but couldn't remember what day of the week it was. I was told he didn't have a calendar. After I figured out what day of the week that was, (a Monday) I told him that we both have full time jobs and we could not have returned the movie in the middle of the day. At this point he insisted that the movie was checked in, there for returned on Tuesday. He was basically calling us liars. My wife asked if it was possible that they missed the movie and not checked it in until Tuesday, and was told no, that's impossible. At his point my wife asked if he would waive the late charge and was told "I'm not going to waive it because it was returned late" Once again calling us liars and not even considering the fact that a mistake could have been made. I told him that if he didn't want to believe us I should cancel our membership and cut up my card. HE OFFERED TO DO IT FOR ME! I asked for the corporate address, to which Nxxxxx told me he did not know the corporate address. I asked for a corporate phone number, to which he gave an 800 number. As I was attempting to call this number, my wife and Nxxxxx started arguing. My wife said that it was "bullshit" that a manager would believe a computer over a long time customer and he asked my wife to leave and he would call the police. I was outside and as my wife was leaving the store, I saw that Nxxxxx was laughing with some other employees. Once again, not very professional at all. I went in the store and told him "It was one thing to make a decision but I don't need you to be laughing about it later with your buddies"
I waited on hold for approximately 20 minutes for someone to answer your customer service phone number. A customer service representative named Mxxx answered and I informed him of the level of poor service I feel my wife and I received. He agreed with me that Nxxxxx should have just removed the charge. He even said "We don't want to lose long time customers over $3.22. I told Mxxx that Nxxxxx could have looked in the computer system and found out how many videos I have rented and saw the fact that I have never had a late charge nor has a manager ever had to remove a late charge for me. I also let Mxxx know that I drive past a Hollywood Video Store in order to go to Blockbuster. He informed me that they are your biggest competitor. I asked that this issue be brought to the attention of the District Manager and he asked for my name, phone number and address. I told him that I would like some response (written, or phone call) from the District Manager. He asked if I had an answering machine and I told him yes.
Since my wife and I still wanted to see Simon Birch we went to the Hollywood Video Store. I was explaining my frustration at Blockbuster to the young man behind the counter and he apologized for the behavior at your store. I could not believe that Hollywood Video was apologizing for someone at Blockbuster. The next day I called the store manager, Axxx Rxxx. She was nice and informed me that Nxxxxx had mentioned a problem the night before. She told me she would remove the late charge. I asked that a copy of my zero balance be sent to my address. I also asked why the District Manager had not called my house yet and she replied that it might take a few days. After a week went by, I did not receive my copy. I called Axxx back and she remembered me right away and said she had sent it out and would re-send it out. I did receive it a few days later. I have not however ever received a call from any District Manager as I asked for twice.
Having worked in retail for over 20 years, including 5 of which were as a manager, I often had to give people information they did not want to hear. I would however always take all the information in to consideration. What kind of history does this customer have with us? Has he done this before? (computers are very helpful; I could see every transaction a customer has with us) If Nxxxx had bothered to look at our history, he might have made a decision to just remove the charge, as we have never been late. Above all, I would never ignore a customer like I feel I have been by the upper management at Blockbuster. A simple phone call would have been adequate. My wife and I started to discuss this issue with friends and family and we found out that several people had this same problem. Some people went in the store to find out they were "late" on videos that they dropped in the night box. Two people were sent bills for videos returned "late" as well. A customer I talked to in my second job (I sell consumer electronics, including video cassette recorders) mentioned he just paid it, even though he knew it was wrong. None of these people had returned the videos late. I know a large percent of a stores income is derived from late charges. In the early days of renting videos you would always receive a "return" receipt when you bring a video back, now I will insist on one whenever I rent anything again. It's my word against a computer. This seems to be a common problem in talking to others and I feel that something should be done regarding this policy. To use a quote from your own bio at Viacom.com "The company's stores serve neighborhoods across 26 international markets, providing a variety of world-class entertainment goods and services, and localized products intended to exceed the expectations of its customers." I certainly feel my expectations were not even met let alone exceeded.
Flash forward to July 25, 2000. I have not set foot in a Blockbuster Video Store since this incident. I have moved from my old apartment into a house. On July 25, 2000 I received a "notice" from the above Blockbuster indicating I "owe" $5.22 in late charges for a Playstation game. I have never rented a Playstation game, never gave Blockbuster my new address and was pissed. I called and spoke with the same Store Manager as a year ago. She said Nxxxxx "gave us a lot of problems" and "it's no excuse, but an employee must have used your name for someone else's rental." ("There's over 50 people with your last name in our computer") WELL ISN'T THAT WHAT THOSE DAMN MEMBERSHIP CARDS ARE FOR! I'm still waiting for confirmation of my account being closed and a receipt of a ZERO BALANCE.
In discussing the idea of this website with others, I found many other people that have either been scammed by Blockbuster Video or have a similar distaste of this poor company as I do. I spent money to do this site right, and felt it was money well spent. If you have any comments please send them to firstname.lastname@example.org Thanks!
Edited to add (June 26, 2006):
Every so often I get emails with the "brilliant" thought that I did return the video late because they are due at 12 noon. Back in 1999, videos were due at Midnight.
In the early days of this website, (before they changed it to movies due at 12 noon) several HELPFUL folks figured out what most likely happened.
My video was not checked in, and simply put back on the shelf. They used to run a F.O.S. report every day at 2:00pm. They found my video on the shelf, scanned it back in, (it then showed up 14 hours overdue) and never removed the late fee on my account, even though it WAS returned the previous day.
Now, I never have worked at BBI, so I don't know all the in's and out's but it sounded very reasonable to me, as that's what happened, and lots of employees verified it as the "most likely" reason why I was charged, when I brought it back on time. (Yes, I DID bring it back on time, and YES, a BBI employee made a mistake. That is possible isn't it?)
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