Home Media Magazine is reporting that the Blockbuster Video movie rental chain will be quietly reinstating late fees in their brick-and-mortar locations, with a capped rate. Members who pay the $4.99 for a new release DVD will have five days to return the movie, instead of seven. A $1-per-day late fee will be assessed for every movie is late, for up to 10 days. This $1 per day charge also applies to Blu-ray rentals as well.
So basically a customer could keep a movie for a year and only be charged $10 in late fees. Of course, if you add the initial $4.99 rental fee onto the late fee, then you have a $14.99 investment, which is higher than the cost of most DVD movies nowadays. Blockbuster use to charge so much for late fees, that it totaled 10 percent of the companies’ revenue. In 2004 the chain got rid of late fees in an effort to try to compete with mail order rental services like Netflix.
A Blockbuster spokesperson explained the change in policy, explaining that 80% of Blockbuster rentals are new releases, with the average customer keeping rentals 4.7 days: “If a customer is keeping a release out past the initial rental agreement, they are keeping that title away from somebody else.” Blockbuster also claims the new charge is not a “late fee”: “This is not a late fee. This is an additional daily rate and if the customer is choosing to keep out a movie past the due date.” Sounds like the definition of late fee to me.