February 14, 2001

Did you see or hear the news reports about the movie stores? It is reported that VHS tape rental and video game rental companies attribute 30-40% of their profits to late fees. But they don't call them late fees anymore. Now they are called "extended viewing charges". What a laugh. Most places you rent a movie for 3-5 days and it is due back by noon on the last day. It has a due date, it is right there in the contract. If you don't bring it back by noon on the due date, it is late and you will be assessed an extended viewing charge. When you rent a movie, do you ever wait until the day it is due to start watching it? I would venture a guess, and since 99% of all statistics are made up at the moment they are written, that 99% of the people that rent a movie watch it that same day. I would also guess that no one, and I mean zero out of 100 people watch that same movie a second time during the same rental period. (Unless you are four, and it is a Barney movie, in which case you will watch it 57 times during the 5 day rental period.) I just brought back a movie, one that we didn't even finish watching, and it was late. We weren't sitting there watching it at noon on the due date. We didn't make the conscious decision to keep it for 4 more hours and accept the extended viewing charge, it was late. I was too busy to bring it back, knew I was going to get nailed with a LATE FEE and I accepted it. If the end of the world is signalled by people refusing to call things what they are, then we are there. Now if you'll excuse me, I have to go to the library and pay off my extended reading charge.

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