Late DVD penalties up to $50,000

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In one case a customer had to pay back $1000 in fines for DVDs which were never returned. Photo / Thinkstock
In one case a customer had to pay back $1000 in fines for DVDs which were never returned. Photo / Thinkstock

Overdue fines at DVD rental stores are stacking up, with one owner reporting at least $50,000 in fines still owing.

Owner of Rotorua's two Video Ezy stores Glenn Elliot said one in every three customers returned their DVDs late, and some did not return them at all.

"Each month it would be in the thousands of dollars of lost revenue for people returning [DVDs] late."

He said for the most part customers were very good when paying fines. However, in other cases, depending on the amount owing, debt collection agencies would have to be involved to track down unreturned fines and videos.

"It is a misconception that you can claim insurance on stolen DVDs. There is no way the insurance company would ever cover our DVDs when they're in someone else's house," he said.

"It does cost us. Between our two stores there would be at least $50,000 owing in fines, and that is a conservative estimate."

Rotorua's Civic Video owner, who did not want to be named, said quite often when someone knew they had incurred a late fee of $10 or more they would not return.

"Some will try to change their name to get around paying fines but after a while you wake up to that sort of stuff."

These kind of customers ultimately run out of places to rent DVDs, he said.

The owner said in cases where large fines were not paid debt collectors were used to retrieve the money.

In one case a customer had to pay back $1000 in fines for DVDs which were never returned. In other cases overdue fines were never paid.

Video Westbrook manager Shanley Pepper said it was quite common for customers, once they had fines at one video store, to simply go and sign up at another.

Strangely enough it was also quite common for children to hide DVDs, which caused huge issues for parents and video stores.

"We had one case a while back where a young child wrapped up some of our DVDs for a Christmas present for their parents.

"Of course it wasn't until after Christmas that we got them back," she said.

Ms Pepper said it was surprising that customers found it so outrageous that fines would stack up when they took extended periods of time to return DVDs.

Staff often had to explain about lost revenue and the investment they had in each video.

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