I can be a boycotting son of a beeyotch when crossed.

I went years without watching a Texas Rangers game after the team unceremoniously turned its back on Pudge Rodriguez after his many years of loyal service. 

So I relish the troubles at Dallas-based Blockbuster, the once impenetrable video rental chain that’s fallen on hard times since the advent of Netflix. Blockbuster did me dirty long ago and I boycotted them. Now they are bankrupt. That’s the power my boycotts carry.


See, movies are my favorite thing, and so naturally I was a regular at Blockbuster back in the 1990s when that company was about the only game in town.

Our love affair had bumps and bruises. Once I misplaced a rented video and didn’t realize it for weeks. When I finally returned it, my late fee was something like $50.

The incident that led me to boycott Blockbuster was much less of a financial burden, but even more frustrating.

One night I rented one of the dust-covered B-movies in Blockbuster’s cheap section — I can’t recall the name of the movie but it starred Wings Hauser, so it obviously hadn’t been rented in years.

The movie was due back before the store opened on Thursday. I planned to return it Wednesday night, but when I got home from work I was tired and figured I’d return the video in the drop-box the next morning before the store opened. However, I showed up at the store a minute after it opened. I carried my video inside and said, “I meant to get this in the drop-box before you opened so it wouldn’t be late, but you beat me by a minute.”


That’s when the manager told me I owed a late fee.

“You’re telling me if I had returned this to the drop box before you opened it would be okay, but because I brought it inside a minute after you opened I have to pay a late fee?”

“It’s late, that’s why they call it late fees,” the manager said. (The dude was as flexible as a titanium rod).

“Has a customer been in here in the past 60 seconds demanding to rent this horrible movie that’s six years old?”

The only reason I’d rented that movie is because I’d already seen everything else in the store.  The manager wouldn’t budge.

So I refused to pay the late fee and told him I wouldn’t come back. He shrugged. He didn’t care. Blockbuster dominated the video rental scene back then.

Ah, how the mighty have fallen.

It’s not a spiritual thing to relish the misfortune of others, and so now, with the publishing of this Blotch post, I officially end my boycott and offer complete forgiveness to the bastards…(oops, old habits die hard)…I mean the good folks at Blockbuster.


  1. So let me get this straight – you lost a movie for weeks and are upset that you got charged for it? And you had ample opportunity to return the Wings Hauser Experience, but were too tired to do so and are therefor cranky that you had to shell out another $1.99… Seriously? Have you ever rented a hotel room or a car? Try holding onto one of those for a couple of weeks and see what happens. Or return the car an hour late and see how flexible they are…

    Here’s the key point however – the people working at Blockbuster in 1990 are not the same ones there today. The people there today work their a$$es off and are about to lose their jobs. So if you are correct and your boycott is the cause of the bankrupcy, I salute you… for causing a couple of thousand of DFW residents to lose their jobs and for cost the local municipalities millions in lost tax revenue… BTW- love your industry – print publications, good luck with that….

  2. I work for Blockbuster, Inc offices in Dallas. I have never been so proud, or so pleased to say I work here. This is an amazing company, and it’s sad to see it dissolve. I know it’s best and in the best interest of the company but at the same time I’m sadden in the fact that a few months from now if not sooner, I will not have a job, and I will never work for such an amazing company as this one.

    Your happy about BBI troubles, because you didn’t want to follow rules, you consinted to these rules, so not sure why it’s an issue.

    I agree that things could have gone very differently, but you can’t change things now…..

  3. On behalf of the 50k employees, the 500 local vendors, the thousand of deliver drivers, sales reps, candy companies I wanted to say THANK YOU for wishing us out of a job. Remember this Karma is a B%^&.

    Take a car back a month late and see what they do. Could we have been more nice in the store? Sure, but something tells me you were a jerk.

    BTW.. you are not telling the truth. Due time was 12 noon and we had an unkown window that would not charge a LATE fee until 3 PM. Of course I am sure you returned at 3:01.

    Movies that describe this guy
    1. Jackass (2002)
    2. Lazy (2008)
    3. My Lazy White Friends (1998)
    4. Tomorrow Is Too Late (1950)
    5. Late Fee (2009)

    Bet you have only seen one of these movies. See if you can get any of them from Redbox or stream them from Netflix.

    Thanks again for being so joyous to put a 25 year old Dallas based out of busineess.

  4. Blockbuster is in trouble because it failed to incorporate modern technology into its business model even though that was the obvious and logical way to go. Blockbuster stuck to its own outdated business model that capitalized on late fees. It’s not good customer service when fines and fees become a major part of a company’s income. Company greed made it stick to its method. That allowed Netflix and others to steal the business because they came up with a plan that allowed people to rent movies without getting hit by constant late fees. Humans lead busy and hectic lives and it’s hard to get videos back sometimes. Blockbuster didn’t want to alter its business plan to help customers until it was way too late. Too bad.

  5. Wonder if the outraged Blockbuster employees ever worried about all the mom and pop video stores they put out of business over the years?

  6. @Bill No, I didn’t. If you shop at Wal-Mart, Lowes, Home Depot, and other Big Box Retailers I wonder if you thought about how many Mom and Pop shops you continue to help put out of business.

    Outraged? No..just makes me sick when someone says he is glad we are gone because he got a movie back late.

  7. My boycott of Blockbuster puts Jeff Prince’s to shame. Mine dates to 1985. That year, Martin Scorcese made a beautiful, reverent, stunning movie called The Last Temptation of Christ, based upon the acclaimed 1960’s novel by Nobel Award winning Greek author Nikos Kazantzakis.
    Blockbuster was a Dallas-based chain owned by some right-wing types who, when the movie was attacked by the usual right-wing religious yahoos, immediately rolled over and removed this incredible work of cinematic art from their shelves. That’s right: you couldn’t rent one of the best movies of the decade at the country’s largest chain of movie rentals.
    I never set foot in a Blockbuster again.
    Good riddance to them. It’s been a long wait.

  8. @ Roy.

    Now that is a good reason, though we long went away from the censor the movies thing, even carry that movie in the store.

  9. Wow…aren’t you proud of yourself? And for what? Because you were too lazy to follow the rules and got charged a late fee?

    Have you even stopped to think about all the hardworking employees that will be affected by Blockbuster’s demise? Many of those employees were in diapers when you had your “bad experience”.

    What a selfish jerk you are.

  10. My “boycott” of Blockbuster in the late 1990s simply meant I quit going to my corner store after the dispute over a late fee. I didn’t write about the boycott back then. I didn’t talk about it to anybody other than maybe bitching to a friend over a beer one night. I didn’t recruit anybody else in my boycott. I just quit going. End of story. My claim that my singular boycott led to Blockbuster’s downfall was tongue in cheek.

    The incident that precipitated my boycott wasn’t the $1.99 late fee in itself, it was the fact that after many years of renting movies from my corner store I was charged a late fee for returning a movie one minute late. The fact I was down to a dust-covered Wings Hauser movie proves I had already rented everything else in the store. I’d spent a lot of money there. If Blockbuster was so gung-ho and unbending about its late fees, even for a longtime customer over a dusty Wings Hauser movie, then I was no longer interested in spending my money there.

    But this all happened a dozen years ago and I haven’t thought about Blockbuster since — until yesterday when I read about the bankruptcy news, which prompted me to recall my old dispute.

    I understand how tongue-in-cheek humor might get lost on people facing a loss of wages and benefits, and I bid good luck to all BBV employees in your future endeavors.

  11. Jeff you were right for your boycott I’m a Store Manager for Blockbuster and I understand in this you were not targeting the employees. That store manager should have understood that you would spend more money in the store and be a happy continuing customer had he just budged $2. Even with this sale to Dish Network Blockbuster continues to attack it’s self from the inside out. It is the poor customers I feel for that have to deal with the crap that comes from the corporate offices. If corporate could see the annoyed faces the customers have from their crap and understand that 99% of the their surveys are bribed for or because the customer is amused by their antics. Sorry off on a tangent so anyways good for you Jeff!