This past weekend I was in Hollywood video and overheard the cashier telling a customer that the store would be closing. I didn’t surprise me, as competition from Netflix and online streaming movies must be pretty stiff. The main problem with the old-fasioned movie rental stores is that people have busy lives and avoiding late fees is next to impossible. And people hate paying late fees.
A couple of weeks ago my dog chewed up the box for a Hollywood rental DVD I left sitting on the coffee table. The DVD was fine and the cover paper was ok, so I figured I’d return it, they could pop it in a new box, and bill me for the box if they felt like it. That day I received a call on my cell phone from Hollywood video while I was shopping at Safeway. The employee informed me that I would be charged for the DVD I “destroyed.” I asked if they couldn’t just put it in another box since the DVD was ok. He said, no, I would have to pay for the whole thing. No big deal I said, but told him in that case I’d like to keep the DVD, and asked how much it would be. He replied that I could have the DVD after I paid for it, and couldn’t look up the price until I came into the store.
About a week later my wife went info the store and tried to pay for the DVD. Instead, the cashier put the DVD and cover paper in another box and returned it to the shelf.
The moral of the story could be that in these economic times inconsistent customer service won’t cut it. However I see Holywood Video as more of a company struggling just to keep it’s head above water, and they probably did the best they could with what they had. Sure, they could have addressed the “late fee” issue more proactively. Netflix has been around for a long time, and other companies, like Blockbuster, were able to do a better job of coming up with similar programs. In the end, it’s not really a surprise though. I just wonder what business will take it’s place in the shopping center? Any ideas?