Late fee

Today we got a letter from our local grocery store. They say we owe, get this, $68 dollars in late fees for a DVD we rented last year (Star Wars III). WHAT! They claim we didn’t return it. I know I returned it WITHIN the due date. They informed me about this a couple weeks ago when I went to rent a movie – they said I had accrued a huge late fee. I said, that’s not true, and by the way,  how come you have been renting movies to me over the last three months if I had a movie out still?

I was trying to point out that they must have a problem in their system – I mean, if it were true that I hadn’t returned it, then why would this suddenly appear now and not show up the first time I came in to rent a movie when the other was overdue? Their answer: You are only charged a late fee when you turn in the movie that was out late. So, somehow I had misteriously turned in this movie a few weeks ago and only then did their system calculate my fee.

Ok, Number 1, that is pretty bad customer service to never tell someone a movie is overdue until they turn it in no matter how long they have it, and number 2, I TURNED IT IN ON TIME ANYWAY!

I told them that I disagreed with the fine and they said they would look into it and call me the next day. They never called me and I moved on to other busy parts of my life.

So today we get a letter in the mail saying that we better pay the $68 or they are going to turn it in to a collection agency. WHAT! Oh and by the way “you also need to return the movie.” Ok, didn’t they just say they don’t calculate the late fee until the movie gets turned in? So now they are saying we still have it — so how did they calculate the late fee?

What is disturbing right now is that I realize that I don’t have any proof that I am right, and neither does anyone who rents movies if you think about it. I mean, does a video store ever give you a receipt that shows you turned something back in? No. So it is my word against their’s. If a video store employee messes up and doesn’t register something back into the database how can I prove it? You might say, “well, go show them that it is on the shelf.” That was my first thought. BUT this store sells movies once they drop in popularity. So for all I know this DVD is sitting in someone’s collection right now, totally untraceable back to the store or me.

I guess my only hope is that they realize they have just as little evidence to prove they didn’t mess up checking it in. My wife is taking the letter to dispute it tonight, and if they still hang on to their bogus “we’re always right” stance I think I’ll get a lawyer.


4 responses to “Late fee

  1. Yeah, this similar problem occurs with the library. Hope it works out for you!

  2. Had a similar problem a year ago. Luckily enough they believed me that I HAD returned it, though I had no physical proof. Good luck with the case.

  3. We were able to resolve this with the store. My wife went in and talked to them and they couldn’t find the DVD. They had already told us that the fine was calculated when we turned in the DVD. It sounded like they had had a change in staff over the time period as well and so they were relying completely on the computer records (although it would be difficult to stretch your memory that far back I imagine). So they waived the fee in the end.
    Sometimes I wonder how many fees we are being charged these days that we could challenge, but because we don’t want to take the time to investigate, we end up just putting up with them. I can think of some charges I have seen recently on my DSL (phone) bill that seemed higher than what I signed up for.
    And then there is this annoying habit I have of not locking the keypad on my cell phone and then accidentally downloading stupid games from Verizon’s “Get in Now” service because of the way the phone buttons get pressed in my pocket. Would anyone really buy a dorky game of the Incredible Hulk on a miniscule cell phone screen on purpose?

  4. Always, always dispute if you’re in the right. Even if it’s just a couple bucks…because those dollars add up. I had a late fee on my last cell phone bill. It was only 1.25, but I knew it wasn’t late. I called and they ended up giving me a $5.00 credit. I also had a similar problem with a DVD rental…they told me I never returned it. I said “believe me, I returned it…it really stunk and I’m certainly not paying twice for it!” They waived the fee.

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