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Blockbuster "No Overdue Fees" & NJ Laws

Old 02-18-05, 09:33 PM
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There is just no pleasing any customer on the face of the earth! First people bitch about late fees because THEY themselves CAN'T remember when to return their movies. So BBV takes the late fees away and then they complain and now are suing.

To bring this to light, I work at a BBV in Illinois, at my store and the store's in my district, we all tell everyone the whole thing about the no more late fees policy. I understand it is complicated and many people have gotten confused. But do people really think that "no more late fees" means, "yes, take our movies for $2-$5 and you can keep them forever with NO PENALTIES? I'm not calling you guys stupid, just the whole thing to begin with. When I was told about this in December I thought it was a bad idea to begin with. Blockbusters were supposed to be getting 200-300 copies of one single movie. Then that happened for one week when we got 112 copies of Anacondas (why?) and then it stopped. When Ray came out we got something like 60 copies and it's never in. People are going to start going to other video stores. BBV has dug a huge hole and I don't know if they can get out of it.

But the whole thing of suing Blockbuster because YOU thought you could KEEP THE MOVIE FOREVER and you have a whole $1.25 restocking fee....oh God forbid! Like I've told my friends, people complain about a $1.25 restocking fee...well would you like a $1.25 fee or $70 in late fees?
Old 02-19-05, 12:24 AM
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So I guess customers want Blockbuster to go back to charging the full rental price for an additional rental term?

Before:

Keeping a one week rental for ten days: $9 or so plus tax.

Now:

Keeping a one week rental for ten days: $4.50 or so plus tax.

Not entirely sure where the damages are (It can't be because they're charged for the movie after keeping too long since that's always been the case and is, very likely, in everyone's membership agreement).

My problem with renting was always that I would quite often forget to return the movie when it was due. Giving me essentially a week's leeway to remember is a tremendous benefit to me. It's disappointing people want the very rigid deadlines returned and a return to the potentially higher fees. What an odd country that sues for the right to pay more for something.

I'm actually surprised Netflix hasn't been sued. Their ads say you can keep a disc as long as you like, but you're actually required to pay a membership fee every month to continue to hold onto that disc without being charged for it. So, technically, you can't hold on to it "as long as you like".. not without paying additional fees anyway. You'd think common sense and a little listening would cover both things, but I guess not.
Old 02-19-05, 08:40 AM
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Originally Posted by daddydaryl
The only people who don't understand the policy are the ones who haven't tried to understand it. As a friendly police officer once told me, "Ignorance of the law is no excuse". I'd rather pay $1.50 for being a week later than what they used to charge......
I caught the last part of an interview on the Today show between a Blockbuster rep and a rep from the office of New Jersey's AG (never caught who he was).

Anyway, the BBV rep explained how you will get 2 phone calls and a post card before they charge you for the full price. At this point you have already had the item for 9 days or so. She said you will then have 30 days to return the item and, if you return it within 30 days, you'll only be charged $1.25. She even said you would've had the item for roughly 39 days at this point.

My jaw dropped when the interviewer, Campbell Brown, said "Well, it's still confusing to me". WHAT THE HELL IS CONFUSING?? Geeeeeze!

I'm not a fan of BBV (stopped going over 3 years ago), but this sounds like a great deal. Unfortunately, if enough people take advantage of this, it will kill BBV. I think the BBV-haters are hoping for this and believe this stupid lawsuit is valid.
Old 02-19-05, 12:58 PM
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I believe it is confusing to people who are only trying to hear what they want to hear.
Old 02-19-05, 01:02 PM
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did anyone see the interview on msnbc with the blockbuster rep? she had the craziest eyes I've ever seen!
Old 02-19-05, 01:47 PM
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Hmmm. . . I actually like the change and have started using Blockbuster again. I like the policy because I've had to pay multiple rental fees AND buy the movie before-- buying the movie minus any rental fees seems like a bargain to me.
Old 02-19-05, 01:50 PM
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Originally Posted by tasha99
Hmmm. . . I actually like the change and have started using Blockbuster again. I like the policy because I've had to pay multiple rental fees AND buy the movie before-- buying the movie minus any rental fees seems like a bargain to me.
I prefer the new policy over the other one. people are just upset claiming "false advertising" which I'm sick of companies getting away with.

All these hidden fees, catches and shit that car dealers use, cell phone companies, and banks use should be regulated or at least made so that busy people don't have to read a 20 page booklet combing through to find out what hidden fees lie therein.
Old 02-19-05, 02:39 PM
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It can be confusing if you think all Blockbusters are following the same policy, but after you get your bill find out that you rent at one that doesn't. That's the only part I thought was shady of them. For a store to put up the "no late fees" sign and then not be a participating Blockbuster.
Old 02-19-05, 08:41 PM
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Originally Posted by spainlinx0
For a store to put up the "no late fees" sign and then not be a participating Blockbuster.
That is shady, though that wouldn't be Blockbuster's fault necessarily. The owner of those locations would likely be the guilty party.
Old 02-20-05, 01:42 PM
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What I don't like about this new policy is that you are essentially buying a movie and paying a small deposit up front. People can jerk off Blockbuster all they want for making such a change, but the simple fact is that you are no longer renting movies from Blockbuster, you are purchasing them with a $3.25 (or whatever it costs to rent) up front and the rest later on.

The advertising campaign basically misleads you into thinking you can rent and not pay late fees. The truth is that you are purchasing the item now at Blockbuster.
Old 02-20-05, 02:17 PM
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You're purchasing it if you keep it well beyond the due date (the due date that's still printed on the receipt), but that was always the case, so how is it different now, exactly? The fact that you don't get charged an additional fee for that time between the time when the movie is due and when they always assumed you were never bringing it back and charged you for it is the only difference that I know of.

The campaign is not misleading at all unless you choose to misunderstand.
Old 02-20-05, 02:35 PM
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but that was always the case, so how is it different now, exactly?
No that was not always the case. You could purchase the movie if you lost it. The late rental fee was capped by the retail cost of the movie however In actuality, that latter exception was a by-product of the time when VHS tapes cost $100 to purchase because they were priced for the rental market. It is hard to me remember, but in cases where you just turned in a movie way way way late, you had to pay the full retail price and still return the movie. Basically, the late fee was capped at the retail price. Of course, with the low MSRP on DVDs, that exception no longer really helped Blockbuster that much. It did help when they could collect a $100 for a VHS tape, but no longer.

In case of lost movies, it was of course, presumabably lost. That is why, in the past, if you had a movie way overdo, it was best to fib and say the movie was lost and just pay for it, and keep it. So basically, there really was one exception - which was the "lost" exceptioon.

By "renting" now at Blockbuster, you agree to the new terms, which is basically you buy the movie up front, with a small deposit up front. That is how they can legitimately charge a restocking fee now. Before, the Blockbuster policy was to convert a rental into a sale for, as mentioned above, a lost tape.

Last edited by chanster; 02-20-05 at 02:40 PM.
Old 02-20-05, 05:35 PM
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Originally Posted by chanster
What I don't like about this new policy is that you are essentially buying a movie and paying a small deposit up front. People can jerk off Blockbuster all they want for making such a change, but the simple fact is that you are no longer renting movies from Blockbuster, you are purchasing them with a $3.25 (or whatever it costs to rent) up front and the rest later on.

The advertising campaign basically misleads you into thinking you can rent and not pay late fees. The truth is that you are purchasing the item now at Blockbuster.
Chanster, as has been explained, you were ALWAYS charged for a movie after 9 or 10 days before if you didn't return it. And if you rent from them, you did sign a membership application where you agreed to those terms. The only thing I know that they do now that they didn't do before is automatically have the computer add the price of the movie to your account. Before, the employees would have to manually check in the movie as a lost rental on your account for you to pay for it, and the price of the movie would be added to your late fees, even back in the day when they charged 2.99 per day for new releases (and you'd have to pay 29.99 in 10 days of late fees then plus the 101.99 plus tax for the movie. And people are griping about 1.25! HA!)

You can rent and not pay late fees. How is buying the movie if you don't return it a late fee? Especially when they never advertised they got rid of that policy?
Old 02-20-05, 05:46 PM
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Thanks for proving my point. They are now adding the cost of the movie to you account when you check out. That is a sale. Not a rental.

Sure, no more late rental fees, because basically got out of the rental market by instituting this new policy. Its a buy, with a grace period for no restocking fee returns.
Old 02-20-05, 05:51 PM
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Originally Posted by chanster
Thanks for proving my point. They are now adding the cost of the movie to you account when you check out. That is a sale. Not a rental.

Sure, no more late rental fees, because basically got out of the rental market by instituting this new policy. Its a buy, with a grace period for no restocking fee returns.
So do we agree or am I missing something? I thought you thought them charging you for the movie if you didn't return it was something new, but in fact it isn't, they have always done that.
Old 02-20-05, 05:54 PM
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So do we agree or am I missing something? I thought you thought them charging you for the movie if you didn't return it was something new
I didn't say that at all. What Blockbuster is doing now, is charging you full price for the rental at the time of the rental, instead of waiting until whatever time period they had before was up.
Old 02-20-05, 06:11 PM
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Originally Posted by chanster
I didn't say that at all. What Blockbuster is doing now, is charging you full price for the rental at the time of the rental, instead of waiting until whatever time period they had before was up.
They have always charged you for your rental at the time of your rental.

Unless you are talking about the charging for the non returned movie? That time period is still 10 days, even though I believe they tell you it is after 7 in the store. The computer just automatically puts the charge on your account now, where as before the charge went through their collections dept in Dallas and you had to go to your store to clear it up. The way they charge it to you is the only difference I know of, but the late fee policy has changed significantly.
Old 02-21-05, 05:51 PM
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There's no difference from the viewpoint of the renter. The fact that, behind the scenes, they had to manually change the rental into a sale after the same period of time that they do now doesn't affect me as a renter at all.

I pay a fee to rent the movie. After roughly 10 days, they charge me for the movie. The fact that's automated rather than needing an employee to physically make the change (though I don't know if that's the case since I was charged for a movie several months ago that I had returned. I called prior to being charged. A few days later, I was charged for the movie. When I called again, I was told the computer automatically charged the customer after a period of time if the movie wasn't returned. The difference being that I was charged an additional late fee beyond the price of the movie, as well. Thankfully, they removed both charges).

Your example of late fees piling up until the cost of the tape is covered couldn't happen under the immediately previous policy. You keep the rental for roughly ten days, they charged you for the retail price of the tape. The most your total fees (original rental plus late fee) could've been at that point would've been roughly $9 at my Blockbusters.

So, if it's all an argument of semantics, then that hardly seems worth arguing about. If it's a sale from the get-go because that's the only way they can charge a restocking fee (though by the time they charge the restocking fee, it has been converted to a sale, just like it would've been under the immediately previous policy), then fine. But from the point of view of the customer, the only difference I see if that I don't get charged an additional rental fee for that period of time between the due date and the time they charge me for the tape.

They may well be internally charging the full price of the DVD to my account as soon as I rent, though I don't see that and it doesn't actually get charged until the roughly ten day period is up, which is absolutely no different, on my end, to what it was before (and I've not seen anything that leads me to believe that my account is charged the full price of the movie upfront with that amount refunded to my account, internally, when I return the movie prior to the date they actually charge my credit card the full amount of the movie).

And if the problem is the restocking fee, then I guess they could just say once the DVD is turned into a sale, you can't return it at all. Would that make people happier? For all I know, that was the policy before.

Sad thing is that if they went back to their previous policies and started charging late fees again, they'd probably be sued by all those people who didn't realize the olicy had changed back and incurred late fees.
Old 02-21-05, 10:13 PM
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Having worked for them under the old system, I can guarantee you the cost of the movie was not automatically charged to a person's account after 10 days. It was automatically written off to collections, which meant a collectiosn company BBV owned (or whatever, I am not sure if it was part of BBV or a collections dept they paid to use) down in Dallas would send you a bill for the cost of the movie. You could remit the bill at your local BBV. If a person came into our store to remit the bill or to return the charged off tape, we had to manually restore the written off balance to the account, which was the late fee ONLY. If we checked in the movie, that was it, the customer was only charged the fee of the late fee, and the collections department would show the video had been returned and that would be the end of that.

If they did not return the item and the clerk only charged them for the late fee (which would happen if somebody wasn't trained in dealing with situations like that, because it required a manager to resolve the situation) then the collections department would continue to bill them for the video.

If they did not return the video, the manager would have to do what is called a "LOST CHECKIN" and they would have to manually type in "LOSTCKIN" in the computer on the customer's account, then that would prompt a manager password and then they would enter in the part number and copy number of the video and they would be charged the price of the video. The price charged when I worked there was the price of the video previously viewed, but the collections dept would bill them for the full cost brand new, so it was always better to go into the store and deal with them there. And I usually would see managers split the fees in half or take them off if the customer was paying for the movie out right. It was all part of a program we were running internally called "Customer Love," and they would do it hoping the customer would come back more often if we took care of their fee when they paid for the movie.

So, BigDan, if they told you, under the old system, that the computer automatically charged you the price of the movie, that was correct in part, as it automatically went to collections. But if they indicated the current balance due was all that was required to be paid, they were mistaken, as that was just the late fee and they would have to go in and do a "LOSTCKIN" command in the computer to charge you for the video.

And to your other question, that was not the policy before that you could not return the movie. They WANTED you to return it. Hell, they could rent it out for four bucks a pop again and eventually sell it as previously viewed. That's profit, of course they wanted it back. You cost them by keeping it, both by keeping them from making any further pofit on the product and in the costs of the collections process.

The $1.25 restocking fee, as it was explained to me, only covers their COST in you keeping the movie. I assume that means the collections cost, the price of sending out reminder post cards and what not. And I know that from when I worked there we were told to watch our credits, as even voids cost the store money, so I can also assume the $1.25 goes to cover the cost of the credit back to your account. You already ate into their profits by keeping it, so that is the least they can do.

I doubt they will go back to their previous policies. The no late fees is here to stay, at least for a long while. This is one of the biggest things they have gone to do in trying to get lost customers back into the store, and changing the policy again after so few many months of having it wouldn't do anybody any good. The best thing they can do is just make sure people understand why the restocking fee exists, and it does not cover their loss profits on what you kept out, but just the cost of the collections process and having to literally restock it.

Originally Posted by BigDan
I pay a fee to rent the movie. After roughly 10 days, they charge me for the movie. The fact that's automated rather than needing an employee to physically make the change (though I don't know if that's the case since I was charged for a movie several months ago that I had returned. I called prior to being charged. A few days later, I was charged for the movie. When I called again, I was told the computer automatically charged the customer after a period of time if the movie wasn't returned. The difference being that I was charged an additional late fee beyond the price of the movie, as well. Thankfully, they removed both charges).

....

And if the problem is the restocking fee, then I guess they could just say once the DVD is turned into a sale, you can't return it at all. Would that make people happier? For all I know, that was the policy before.

Sad thing is that if they went back to their previous policies and started charging late fees again, they'd probably be sued by all those people who didn't realize the olicy had changed back and incurred late fees.
Old 02-21-05, 11:14 PM
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That was not my experience at all. I got a card from Blockbuster a few days after the rental was due that said my credit card on file would be charged for the price of the movie plus any late fees if the movie wasn't returned by a date printed on the card. After about 10 days total, I got another card that detailed how a late fee had been charged to my credit card AND the price of the movie that hadn't been returned had been charged to my credit card. If all it had been was a late fee, then they're late fees were outrageous.

You say it was different, but all I can say is that, in October, my credit card was charged for the late fee and the cost of the movie after roughly ten days. When they finally found the movie on their shelves (I had returned it already), I went to the store and I was refunded the cost of the late fee and the cost of the movie (and the sales tax), which was roughly $33 altogether.

If Blockbuster was really sending out false bills that said I was charged for the movie when, in reality, they were charging me a $33 fee for the movie being 10 days late, then they really had a screwed up system.

Maybe the system changed somewhere along the line before this. Maybe some stores do things differently than the ones down here. All I know is what happened to me and what the store manager and the regional manager said to me and that differs from the current policy only in the fact that if the same thing happened today, I wouldn't be charged a late fee for the time between the due date and the time they charged my credit card for the cost of the movie.

All my correspondence had a return address from the store I rented the movie from and the postmark was from the same ZIP as the store. If it came from a collection department, they disguised that quite well. But, the fact is, they charged my credit card for the movie and the outstanding late fee after roughly ten days. Whether that happened at the store itself or at a collections department in Dallas proper doesn't change anything on my end and the same situation today would appear exactly the same from my end (other than not having a late fee also charged to my credit card now).

Last edited by BigDan; 02-21-05 at 11:16 PM.
Old 02-22-05, 12:13 AM
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Originally Posted by BigDan
That was not my experience at all. I got a card from Blockbuster a few days after the rental was due that said my credit card on file would be charged for the price of the movie plus any late fees if the movie wasn't returned by a date printed on the card. After about 10 days total, I got another card that detailed how a late fee had been charged to my credit card AND the price of the movie that hadn't been returned had been charged to my credit card. If all it had been was a late fee, then they're late fees were outrageous.

You say it was different, but all I can say is that, in October, my credit card was charged for the late fee and the cost of the movie after roughly ten days.
What happened to you is EXACTLY how I described it. The movie you rented went to collections, and since you had a credit card on file, they were obviously able to write it off (more often than not, the customers we would have to do the LOSTCKIN for were the ones without a credit card.) I assure you, 100%, that if you had not returned that movie (and I understand it was their fault in the end, but I am saying IF) and you had gone into the store before your card was charged, the price of the movie would not have shown up on your account, just the late fee. When I say your "account" I mean just your BBV account, not your credit card on file. If you had not returned it, and were in the store to take care of it, and they just charged you for the movie, and you kept the movie (or it stayed on their shelf not checked in, in your case) you would have continued to receive notices from collections for the cost of the movie (assuming they were not able to charge it to your card on file). But what happened to you is the way I was trying to describe. I did forget about the auto charge offs with people with credit cards on file, though, because as a CSR, I didn't see the paperwork on that like the managers did.

In their new system, the movie price is automatically charged to the account after 10 days then credited off, minus the $1.25 of the restocking fee.

And I assure you, it DOES come from a collections department. They don't "disguise" it. They simply refer you back to the store you rented it from. The store you rent from has nothing, and I can't stress that enough, they have NOTHING to do with those postcards sent out. It's an automatic system. They have an in store phone number to call them as well (in the event somebody disputes a large bill and it has been so long since they rented and they want to know what they rented, we can always call the collections dept and see what it was they had rented). It would be impossible for the stores individually to be responsible for all those postcards, they wouldn't have time to get anything done of the store staff had to send those out to customers all the time. And yes, the bad debt on customer's accounts can be quite high. When I worked there, our store averaged about $13,000.00 in bad debts. If we were responsible for sending out post cards all the time on all those fees, we'd have to had hire another crew.
Old 02-22-05, 12:53 AM
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I see what you're saying now, but again (and I was attempting to argue with two different, conflicting people at the same time, confusing parts of chanster's posts with parts of what you were saying, which colored my responses),it's a difference, but not one that I would ever see differently (aside from the $1.25 fee if they didn't charge that before after you'd returned a movie once you'd been charged for it).

Just to make sure I'm clear, you're saying that, in the past had I not had a credit card they could've charged, when I went to rent my next movie, my late fees would've popped up on the computer to be paid at the store, but not necessarily the cost of the movie replacement itself which was handled essentially separately through a collection's department (which, I assume, is Blockbuster owned rather than outsourced, though I don't know that for a fact).

And now all of that is automated and included within the person's BBV account, if there's no credit card on file, the person's account in-store will show the due amount including the price of the movie itself (whereas before, it would only have shown the late fees).

So, in the past if there was no credit card on file, the late fees could continue to accrue as long as the movie was out (even as collections was sending you bills for the price of the movie), whereas now, the cost of the movie will be charged to the account (whether there is a credit card or not) immediately after the grace period.

You know, this is far more than I ever wanted to know about how Blockbuster rentals worked.

In short (too late), I like the new policy and will likely not notice a real difference in how things are processed (beyond having an extra few days to remember to return the movie).
Old 02-22-05, 01:25 AM
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Originally Posted by BigDan
Just to make sure I'm clear, you're saying that, in the past had I not had a credit card they could've charged, when I went to rent my next movie, my late fees would've popped up on the computer to be paid at the store, but not necessarily the cost of the movie replacement itself which was handled essentially separately through a collection's department (which, I assume, is Blockbuster owned rather than outsourced, though I don't know that for a fact).

Exactly. And the CSR would have to actually look at your history to see if it had been returned or not, and I can tell you from first hand experience, there were CSRs who didn't know to do that and only charged the customer the late fee, and invariably they would come back a few weeks later with the post card for the charge of the movie still showing up.

Of course, making it a manger only function to charge the customer the price of the movie didn't make things any easier, esepcially on a busy Saturday night.

I wish they had this kind of automated system when I worked there charging the customer for the movie if they just don't return it, and putting it on their actual account. The way I see it now, what they are doing is a pretty good thing, covering their asses both ways. On one hand, they hope you return the movie so they can continue to make profit off of it, but if you don't and you are charged for it, they get money there. If you still return it, they cover their bottom line costs with the restocking fee.
Old 02-22-05, 10:55 PM
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Im still surprised how stupid some people are.
Shall we try this STEP BY STEP?

OLD WAY
Rent Movie (Lets say its a 2 day release) - $4
10 days late = $20
11 days late = $20 (From previus day) + selling you the movie at PV Price $15 (lets say)
TOTAL = $39

NEW WAY
Rent Movie (Lets say its a 2 day release) - $4
7 DAYS LATE = Sell movie $15 (Not sure if they MINUS the rental fee or now from Movies)
30 days later BRING MOVIE back. You get charged a $1.25 restocking fee. You now get $13.75 credited to your card

So, technichly, paying the $4 + $1.25 fee = $4.25 to have movie for 30 days.
If you were going by the OLD plan, you would owe $39 and only have the movie for 10 days (Some BBV use to let you return the DVD after the 10th day and receive a credit on THAT, but not on the late fees). Did I help some of the mildly retarded people here? (Not you Jack, I know you really want that Donnie Darko Tin,lol)
Old 02-23-05, 12:39 AM
  #50  
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Originally Posted by GizmoDVD
Im still surprised how stupid some people are.
Shall we try this STEP BY STEP?

OLD WAY
Rent Movie (Lets say its a 2 day release) - $4
10 days late = $20
11 days late = $20 (From previus day) + selling you the movie at PV Price $15 (lets say)
TOTAL = $39

NEW WAY
Rent Movie (Lets say its a 2 day release) - $4
7 DAYS LATE = Sell movie $15 (Not sure if they MINUS the rental fee or now from Movies)
30 days later BRING MOVIE back. You get charged a $1.25 restocking fee. You now get $13.75 credited to your card

So, technichly, paying the $4 + $1.25 fee = $4.25 to have movie for 30 days.
If you were going by the OLD plan, you would owe $39 and only have the movie for 10 days (Some BBV use to let you return the DVD after the 10th day and receive a credit on THAT, but not on the late fees). Did I help some of the mildly retarded people here? (Not you Jack, I know you really want that Donnie Darko Tin,lol)

Not to nit pick, but 4+1.25 is 5.25.

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