No late fees remain at N.H. Blockbusters

Late fees for past-due video rentals won’t be returning to Blockbuster stores in New Hampshire anytime soon, according to company officials.

“Our company stores remain committed to never reinstating late-fees again,” Blockbuster spokesperson Randy Hargrove told NHBR Daily. “We believe our no-late-fee policy is working.”

Blockbuster instituted a widely publicized no-late-fee program in January, practice agreed to by all 500 franchised stores, including the five in New Hampshire. But one of those franchisors, Capitol Entertainment, owner of 17 Blockbuster franchises in Arkansas, West Virginia, Maryland and Virginia, recently decided to reinstate a 99-cent late fee to encourage more timely returns of DVDs, videotapes and video games and eliminate reported “tape hogging.”

“It is important to note that we’re talking about only 17 out of nearly 500 franchises,” said Hargrove, adding that privately owned franchises can opt not to participate in the no-late-fee program,

Blockbuster Inc., the largest home-video rental company in the country has 4,700 corporate-owned locations and another 1,100 franchises nationwide. The company announced the decision to abolish late fees in January in response to on-demand television channels and mail-order competition.

Under the no-late-fee policy, Blockbuster customers rent DVDs and videos for a week at a time. If the rental is out longer than an additional week the customer is charged for the cost of the DVD or video, minus the rental fee. This amount is charged to a credit card number or the customer’s Blockbuster account.

If the movie is returned within 30 days, the charge is reversed and a restocking fee of $1.25 is charged.

Despite scrutiny of the new policy, company officials believe the decision has been a good one.

“Our third-quarter domestic same-store rental revenues were down 1 percent,” Hargrove said. “But the industry was down 11 percent. This is working” – TRACIE STONE

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