Despite rental giant Blockbuster Video’s introduction of a “no late fee” policy earlier this month, Isla Vista’s only video store is still reeling in plenty of customers.
On Jan. 1, Blockbuster launched a new policy that eliminates late fees on all movie and video game rentals from the store. Josh Carrieri, manager of Emerald Video, located at 6547 Pardall Rd., said that Blockbuster’s new policy has not yet affected the business at his store, which charges $2 for every day a rental is late.
However, Amanda Chaddock, manager of Blockbuster Video on Calle Real in Goleta, said business has drastically increased since Blockbuster has eliminated their late fees. Chaddock said she thinks the new policy could potentially pull customers away from smaller video rental stores.
“I’m sure that the people who accumulate late fees at other, smaller, rental stores are going to be discouraged from continuing to rent there and perhaps look to Blockbuster as an alternative,” Chaddock said.
Carrieri said he attributes the continued success of Emerald Video to the quality of the store’s customer service, even though it does not have as large a stock or selection as bigger rental chains like Blockbuster.
“The reason we still do good business is because we have a personal atmosphere,” Carrieri said. “You just don’t get that same kind of vibe in Blockbuster.”
There is some fine print, however, that suggests that Blockbuster’s new policy is not as cut and dry as it may seem.
According to the Blockbuster corporate Web site, all movie and game rentals are still due back on the date indicated on the receipt, but the customer can keep the rental for up to seven days after the due date. If the rental is not returned after seven days, it is treated as a sale and the customer will be charged for the full cost of the movie or video game.
After that point, the customer can either keep the rented item as if he or she had purchased it, or return it within 30 days for a full refund, minus a $1.25 restocking fee.
Carrieri said he thinks the Blockbuster policy is misleading.
“If I was the consumer, I would be pissed off if they just sold me the movie after a week,” Carrieri said. “I don’t know what the response to this is going to be.”
Although it is not feasible for Emerald Video to stop charging late fees, Carrieri said, the store tries to offer its customers competitive rental prices and friendly service, including the store’s employee picks campaign, where customers can rent movies that employees recommend for $1.50.
“People like to talk to other people about what is good and what is not, and that’s why I think our business hasn’t declined that much,” Carrieri said.
Although the Blockbuster Video in Goleta has seen an increase in business, Carrieri said that he and his staff are skeptical about the long-term result of Blockbuster’s new policy.
“We are adopting a wait and see approach to see how it goes,” Carrieri said. “We are waiting to see if people are stoked, or if this is going to bite Blockbuster in the ass.”