NJ lawsuit accuses Blockbuster of fraud in its late-fees initiative

NEWARK, NJ: A lawsuit filed by New Jersey Attorney General Peter Harvey's office charging Blockbuster with fraud for its "No More Late Fees" campaign has not caused the movie chain to alter its program - yet.

NEWARK, NJ: A lawsuit filed by New Jersey Attorney General Peter Harvey's office charging Blockbuster with fraud for its "No More Late Fees" campaign has not caused the movie chain to alter its program - yet.

On February 18, Harvey filed a suit alleging Blockbuster pulled a bait-and-switch on consumers by "failing to clearly and conspicuously disclose" that the stores charge a "restocking fee" when movies are returned more than a week late, and the full purchase price for late videos is charged to customers' accounts after about 40 days.

"We wanted to ensure that the company's claims weren't too good to be true," said Genene Morris, a public information officer in the attorney general's office. "The impetus was not based on consumer complaints, but our own proactive investigation."

Morris said that media interest in the case has been "very extensive," including an appearance on the Today show by Harvey.

Blockbuster is defending its program, but is leaving wiggle room in case of an unfavorable outcome. "Any tweaks that we might need to make, we'll consider it," said Randy Hargrove, Blockbuster's senior director of corporate communications. "We've taken steps to explain how the program works," including staff training and in-store brochures.

Blockbuster has worked with Paine PR on its "No More Late Fees" program, but Hargrove said that it is handling communications regarding the lawsuit internally.

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