If movie rental stores hadn’t had late fees 12 years ago, we might not still be feeling pangs of resentment about the 1991 British film Truly Madly Deeply.
Not only did we not enjoy this film (the shrill performance of Juliet Stevenson, whose expressions of grief at a suddenly deceased lover, were downright abrasive), but we ended up paying $34.50 in late fees once we remembered to return it. You can imagine our shame-faced revulsion at having to fork over that cash to the local rental store, which didn’t make any attempts at granting amnesty.
This flashback was set in motion by Blockbuster’s announcement to suspend late fees, effective Jan. 1, on rentals as a means to better compete with the likes of Wal-Mart, among others.
According to a report from Reuters, late fees at Blockbuster could have contributed up to $300 million in operating income next year.
Good sports that they are, Blockbuster is giving customers a week to return a movie rental. If cinephiles keep rentals longer, Blockbuster will consider it a purchase. But here’s the biggest, fattest, juiciest loophole in all of this: If customers return a film within 30 days, their account will be credited.
This system makes us feel all the more exploited by our Truly Madly Deeply experience. Alas, our local video store was not then part of a loving, generous clan such as Blockbuster.
But since we’re now too lazy to rent movies much less actually watch them, we won’t be opening an account there anytime soon. Sorry, guys.
—Posted by Kathleen Sampey