Volume 95, Issue 66

Wednesday, January 30, 2002

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A video renter's revenge

Editorial Cartoon

Editorial Board 2001-2002

A video renter's revenge

For those looking to make a quick buck without having to do anything but rent this weekend's hottest release we present to you the latest reason to launch a lawsuit.

A London lawyer is attempting to bring forward a class action suit against Blockbuster Video alleging their high late charges amount to unfair business practices, violating Ontario's Business Act.

Currently, the video store chain's late charge policy stipulates that penalties are equivalent to the cost the customer paid for one's day rental and are issued for every day the video is overdue.

If the class action suit is successful, Blockbuster will likely have to pay back fines to all customers in the province of Ontario who have kept their movies a little too late over the years.

A similar lawsuit in the United States awarded the complainants a substantial amount of money, while lawsuits of this nature are also currently in the works in both British Columbia and Quebec.

To a certain degree, we can sympathize with the disgruntled home video viewers.

Renting movies at Blockbuster does not make for a cheap evening and yes, their fines do hurt the pocketbook.

However, this lawsuit seems like such small potatoes in the grand scheme of things.

Don't people have anything better to worry about? This suit is not a defense of consumer's rights, but rather, an opportunity to make money from deep corporate pockets.

The one thing we should have learned from the events of Sept. 11 is that we should never sweat trivialities, especially late charges on home videos.

This lawsuit is symptomatic of a whiner culture a society where people sue if the smallest, most intangible detail bothers them.

Blockbuster is free to charge late fines even if they seem like a rip-off. There needs to be an incentive for people to return videos on time and, while we may not like the costly late charges, it is the company's prerogative.

Customers are told up front when a movie is due back and it is their responsibility to return it on time. Although it might be tough to get a movie back in the drop box by midnight sometimes, it shouldn't come as a surprise to people that late fines will be charged to those unable to keep their end of the bargain and return their rentals on time. Any fines resulting from late returns are therefore the duty of the individual and need not concern the corporation.

Flat out if you don't like Blockbuster's protocol, stop renting their videos.

We recommend borrowing from the local independent video store instead, where it won't cost an arm to rent a movie and a leg if it's overdue.

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Copyright The Gazette 2001