Blockbuster brings back late fees on video games

For years now, Blockbuster has boasted that it doesn't charge late fees for movie and video game rentals by telling its customers to "Celebrate the end of late fees." But starting this week, it appears the celebration will be over as Blockbuster begins to reinstate late fees for video games at select stores. The practice, which a reader of consumer blog Consumerist discovered through a notice on his receipt and confirmed with store employees, removes the 10-day grace period that Blockbuster formerly allowed for game rentals.

Now, instead of getting a 15-day game rental for the price of 5 days, renters will face a 99 cent per day fee for each additional day and, on the 15th day, the rental will be converted to a sale just like it did under the old policy. Renters can still return the game, minus a $1.25 restocking fee, to reverse the sale but the 99 cent a day late fee will still be charged. What's not immediately clear is if the $9.99 in late fees apply to the purchase price of the game or if they are above and beyond the price.
Without a doubt the change in policy will irk customers, but overall it could mean better gaming for them.

Before our local Blockbuster store closed down it was nearly impossible to find any game worth renting because everyone paid for a five-day rental knowing they could get an extra 10 days free. For just $1.25 more they could hang onto the game for a total of 30 days. So many renters kept games long past their due dates. The practice was so common that the employees openly pitched the five-day rental as lasting 15 days; likely because it made the $9 rental fee seem more reasonable.

Renters need to realize that's there's no such thing as a free lunch. Keeping a game an extra 10 days just passes the cost onto other consumers in the form of high game prices -- and, eventually, the return of rental fees. Thankfully, the late fee is only 99 cents a day, which won't make being one day late too painful. And, so far, the late fee policy doesn't apply to movies.

This new plan will bring more games back to Blockbuster which will make for happier customers and perhaps the company can even make enough money to keep the lights on at a few more locations. If you want to keep games for extended periods of time Blockbuster does offer an unlimited Game Pass starting at $21.99 a month or you could sign up for a membership from GameFly.com and avoid a trip to the store all together.
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