Is It Okay For Store Owners To Call Out Bad Customers By Listing Names On Public Wall Of Shame?

It isn’t just businesses that often need a dose of public shame to stop acting awful — sometimes customers are taken to task when they’re behaving badly, as one video store owner in North Carolina has been doing. She estimates that she’s lost about $26,000 in unpaid late fees and videos that never returned in the last three years and is taking to social media and a Wall of Shame in her store to fight back.

The owner, Christie, has a white board scrawled with about 300 names of people who she says are at least six months behind on paying fines or returning her videos and vide games. She hopes the Wall of Shame will convince those lollygagging customers to do the right thing.

As of a few months ago, she took the wall and its list of names to the Internet, posting it on her store’s Facebook page just in case customers are feeling too guilty to even show their faces in person.

“It’s hard to replace an $80 video game if the first time you rented it, they don’t bring it back,” she told WRAL News. “It probably is harsh, but the way I look at it is – a lot of these people have cussed us. They have told us, ‘Who cares about late fees?'”

Her plan seems to be working, as she says many fines have been paid off as a result of the public shaming. But as one critic of her plan pointed out to the news station, her store is in essence a debt collector, which means posting customer names is a violation of the state law’s debt collection unreasonable publication clause.

However Christie says she made sure to check with her attorney before launching the plan, and claims it’s all on the legal up and up because renters sign a contract when opening their accounts.

“(The contract) specifies what our late fees are and it specifies how much you owe if you don’t bring the movies back,” she said. “(My attorney) says as long as you have an agreement with them, as long you have a signature,” posting the names is legal.

Her customers have a different view, however, including one woman who says she was never told that she had outstanding fines.

“It made me angry because that’s nobody’s business. It’s nobody’s business, and I’m sure a lot of people are embarrassed by it,” she said. “That’s why we’re trying to get it taken down.”

*Thanks for the tip, Richard!

Coats video store owner uses shame, Facebook to recoup late fees [WRAL.com]

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  1. Lyn Torden says:

    The “debt collector” issue can be a nasty one here. Maybe as “original creditor” some rules don’t apply. But the parts about not disclosing the debts to others are not among them. She could be facing up to 300 lawsuits.

    • Black Bellamy says:

      Actually that lawyer is full of shit. He’s a debt collector specialist and he doesn’t know the law?

      Now it’s true that the relevant state law prohibits “Unreasonable Publication” – (§ 75‑53. Unreasonable publication.) by “debt collectors”.

      However, the law also very plainly defines who debt collectors are. And if we look up the definition (§ 58‑70‑15. Definition of collection agency and collection agency business.) you will find a section which defines who is NOT a debt collector (§ 58‑70‑15. (c) “Collection agency” does not mean:)

      (11) Any person attempting to collect or collecting claims, in that person’s name, of a business or businesses owned wholly or substantially by that person;

      So video store owner, who owns the business, is attempting to collect debts owed to that business, is NOT A DEBT COLLECTOR.

      • TheRealDeal says:

        In this case, you may have your wires crossed a bit, because as you correctly referenced that Unreasonable Publication is prohibited as an unreasonable debt collection by North Carolina G.S. § 75‑53, Christie IS acting as a debt collector (although not as a debt collection agency).

        North Carolina G.S. § 75‑50 states that “‘Debt collector’ means any person engaging, directly or indirectly, in debt collection from a consumer except those persons subject to the provisions of Article 70, Chapter 58 of the General Statutes”. Article 70, Chapter 58 of the statues is referring to collection agencies. So basically, the statute is saying that collection agencies have other statues they are subject to, but these provisions apply to ALL debt collection, including if you are the original creditor.

        http://www.ncga.state.nc.us/EnactedLegislation/Statutes/HTML/ByArticle/Chapter_75/Article_2.html

        • TheRealDeal says:

          To provide an additional reference, here is an analysis done by an attorney at the North Carolina Justice Center on debt collection laws in North Carolina:

          http://www.ncatl.org/file_depot/0-10000000/0-10000/9208/folder/91325/debt+collection+manuscript–ncaj+cle.pdf

          Her statement in III. A. 3: Creditors (those collecting their own debts) are specifically covered.

          Thus, those collecting their own debts (such as this video store owner) are likewise prohibited from engaging in unfair debt collection practices such as unreasonable publication.

          Interestingly, the statute provides for civil penalties of “not less than five hundred dollars ($500.00) nor greater than four thousand dollars ($4,000) for each violation.”

          • Rhinoguy says:

            Creditors (and their employees) collecting their own debts are not covered under this act.” FTFY.
            It’s a document covering a law, it’s confusing, but not too bad.

            • TheRealDeal says:

              Again, you are making the same mistake that Black Bellamy made. There are two statutes that discuss unfair debt collection practices in the state of North Carolina (as discussed in the document I referenced):

              N.C. Gen. Stat. § 58-70-90, which specifically covers debt collection agencies and debt buyers, which is where the exemption you’re citing is.

              AND

              N.C. Gen. Stat. § 75-50, which covers all other forms of debt collection, including those collecting their own debts (which is where the video store owner falls).

              Both statutes prohibit unreasonable publication, one just applies to collection agencies and one applies to everyone else.

    • Shadowman615 says:

      Even if the debt collector thing is bogus, somebody certainly can sue her. Not that they would necessarily win, but could create a major hassle for her.

      I’m not sure how her lawyer says their rental agreement comes into play here, because it doesn’t sound like there’s anything in the agreement regarding posting their account information for all to see. I guess he means it helps to prove that she is not libeling them — that they really did agree to pay those fees and have not.

  2. Angel says:

    Don’t we do this here?!

    • Press1forDialTone says:

      Yes, I have already been labelled a troll by Consumerist posters. Sniff.
      I can’t help if I go all Tourette’s when I see stupidity, it a lifelong curse.

  3. humphrmi says:

    “It made me angry because that’s nobody’s business. It’s nobody’s business, and I’m sure a lot of people are embarrassed by it,” she said. “That’s why we’re trying to get it taken down.”

    I suppose just paying the late fee is out of the question…

    • SavijMuhdrox says:

      maybe they also posted the video she rented that caused all the ruckus.. and it was one of those dirty movies.. the ones from that section “behind the curtain”

      maybe it was Lucky Louie’s Loveboat of Love (and Lube?)

      • sorta savvy consumer says:

        Actually that one IS against the law. Netflix is trying to work that one out so they can post what people are “watching” on social media.

      • El_Fez says:

        Ah yes – the good ol’ days of video stores. My favorite one down the street always had those saloon wild west swinging doors to the Blue Section.

        • AtlantaCPA says:

          My childhood one had that section adjacent to the horror movies. The racks were all wire so when you were browsing the horror movies you could see all the backs of the boxes from the ‘other’ section. I ended up watching a lot of horror movies as a teenager, go figure!

  4. chefboyardee says:

    “It made me angry because that’s nobody’s business. It’s nobody’s business, and I’m sure a lot of people are embarrassed by it,” she said.

    Sucks to be you, embarrassment is no fun. Pay your bill and you won’t have this problem. Don’t rent if you can’t return on time, or pay the late fees – pretty simple.

    You know what else is no fun? Having to close your store because the people you trust to only rent what they can afford (and be kind and intelligent enough to return things in a timely manner) are not.

    • BrownLeopard says:

      We really need a built-in Like system. No, not Facebook’s…just a generic one.

      Just for comments like the above.

      • spartan says:

        I don’t like that comment at all. I pay my valid bills; but if i don’t get the service I promised I withhold payment.

        What would happen if I was in a dispute with the video-b!tch? I suspect I would wind up on her wall of shame.

        • frankrizzo:You're locked up in here with me. says:

          Yep. Customer service is so bad these days that it may be your only form of recourse.

        • Jawaka says:

          “but if i don’t get the service I promised I withhold payment.”

          You’re renting a movie. What kind of “service” can you possibly not get?

          • erinpac says:

            Put a movie in the drop off box, they don’t find it for a week and you get late fees.

            Happened all the time with Blockbuster and Hollywood Video; so I could imagine it happening with this one too. It’s at least possible.

            • Jawaka says:

              I doubt that this is an epidemic.

              It doesn’t look like this is a nation-wide chain store that this is happening at. Go into the store and talk to the manager and get things straightened out. If you can’t work things out then play their game if you must and put up a sign on your front lawn saying that this store operates poorly.

              Or just ignore it.

        • nishioka says:

          > I pay my valid bills; but if i don’t get the service I promised I withhold payment.

          Your argument is invalid. When you rent a movie you walk out of the video store with the movie in hand. There’s no service that you aren’t receiving, unless you’re expecting the store owner to come home with you and stick the movie into your DVD player for you.

        • You Can Call Me Al(isa) says:

          You pay to rent a movie or game for a specified time period. You take the movie home and watch it or not. You take it back before the specified time period.

          If the movie or game doesn’t work, you take it back for a refund or exchange.

          How would holding on to a movie and racking up late fees solve anything? What kind of issue could someone possibly have that holding a game or movie indefinitely would solve?

    • ScandalMgr says:

      +1,000,000

      There, fixed the “Like” system for you.

      • BrownLeopard says:

        Thank you. You should get a job with Consumerist and whenever somebody just posts “LIKE” you should come along behind them and add that!

    • theamazingyeah says:

      Agreed. Repo companies will roll out and zip your car right up onto a flatbed in front of all of your friends and neighbors and laugh while they drive away. A dry erase board for a few video late fees seems ridiculous in comparison to sucking up your pride and taking the bus.

  5. deathbecomesme says:

    “It made me angry because that’s nobody’s business. It’s nobody’s business, and I’m sure a lot of people are embarrassed by it,” she said. “That’s why we’re trying to get it taken down.”

    This total lack of personal responsibility is what pisses me off. I work in support. So we get customers every day who have suspended accounts who can’t seem to grasp why their service is turned off. Just yesterday I had a woman yell at me “IVE ONLY BEEN WORKING 3 DAYS A WEEK!” Like if we were suppose to adjust her bill because she can’t afford it anymore. I told her to rethink her priorities and she hung up. The truth hurts I guess..

    • lovemypets00 - You'll need to forgive me, my social filter has cracked. says:

      My husband has no personal responsibility. Whatsover. Verizon just contacted him via text because he didn’t pay the bill due August 5, and now the new billing cycle for Sept 5 has started, so they said he’s late. So, he called me, bitching up a storm, asking me why I didn’t pay his bill that was due Aug 5. Me – because you didn’t give me the money (his stupid smart phone huge data plan, HIS BILL). And I won’t pay it for him, even though I have the money, because he’ll just squander the cash on something else, like a little kid.

      I am so outta here when I can find a place to rent that will accept me and my pets.

      • Not Given says:

        If you have any joint accounts, close them.

        • lovemypets00 - You'll need to forgive me, my social filter has cracked. says:

          Already done. One small loan left in both our names, but if he doesn’t pony up the $85, that’s not such a big deal. Oh, and his credit union account is closed for 1 year. He overdrew it by more than $500 and couldn’t figure out why 2 months later they closed the account. He was gonna pay it back, he swears!

          OMG what an asshat. And I’m a double Asshat for still being married to him.

          **keeping fingers crossed to find rental that will accept 3 pets**

      • hymie! says:

        because he’ll just squander the cash on something else, like a little kid.

        If my wife came home having just bought a little kid, I’d be pretty annoyed too.

        • lovemypets00 - You'll need to forgive me, my social filter has cracked. says:

          Too funny :) My grammar is lacking today, that’s for sure.

      • KnightCrusader says:

        Yikes. I am glad I am married to someone that shares and communicates any and all financial responsibilities and issues instead of being immature and irresponsible about it.

        I will admit that I squander money to buy useless crap all the time, but that is money left over after the bills are paid but before put into any savings. Got to work on that hurdle next…

        Good luck to ya.

  6. lovemypets00 - You'll need to forgive me, my social filter has cracked. says:

    There’s a little Amish store in my area that tapes actual bounced/non-sufficient funds checks to the wall behind the register. Name, address, phone number all in plain view for all to see, with the big “NSF” stamped on them. If people stiff the store, and don’t pay up, that’s what happens.

    I have no problems with this. As chefboyardee said above, pay your bill. Be fair to the shop owner. Games aren’t free.

    • Sorta Kinda Lucky Soul says:

      That’s done around here too, and has been for as long as I can remember. Since we live in a small semi-rural area, believe me word gets around about whose names are on that list. Personally, I see nothing wrong with it, especially since everyone on the list has been contacted multiple times and given lots of chances to make good before their name goes up behind the checkout counters.

    • MarkFL says:

      I hope they are cutting off the routing and account numbers at the bottom of the check.

  7. benminer says:

    Kinda hard to call people about their late fees if they don’t give you a working phone number.

  8. tidomonkey says:

    I think amendment one to the United States Constitution supercedes any laws requiring this information be kept private. As long as the information posted is factual and no legal agreement was signed requiring nondisclosure, then I believe they are within their rights. Then again, IANAL and whether this should be done is a different matter.

    • benminer says:

      You are unequivocally wrong. There are a multitude of laws covering disclosure of financial records. (not saying any of them apply here however). For example, there doesn’t have to be an agreement between you and Bank of America saying they will not give any random Joe who calls up the details of all your transactions because there is already a law that says they may not.

      • tidomonkey says:

        So, when Bank of America decides it decides to sell a debt, to a random Joe bank or collection agency, they are not allowed to relay the amount owed and their name?

    • AtlantaCPA says:

      …because posting names is the same as not making a law respecting an establishment of religion, impeding the free exercise of religion, abridging the freedom of speech, infringing on the freedom of the press, interfering with the right to peaceably assemble or prohibiting the petitioning for a governmental redress of grievances?

      Under which part of the first amendment do you think this falls? Freedom of speech (which only applies to the gov’t), a free press (which again only applies to the gov’t)? You’d be wrong.

      • tidomonkey says:

        Passing a law (the gov’t) that prohibits an individual from speaking or printing a truthful piece of information is exactly what Freedom of Speech protects against.

        • AtlantaCPA says:

          There are times when free speech can be limited even if it’s true, it must be weighed against the right to privacy. The FDCPA has gone to the supreme court and been upheld. Your assertion that the first amendment automatically trumps other laws is wrong.

          • tidomonkey says:

            If you can find a single reference to right to privacy in the Constitution, I’ll agree with you. The Constitution is supreme to ALL laws.
            I never implied there were no laws that say you can’t reveal private information, only that if there are, it’s unconstitutional. The Supreme Court may disagree with me, but if they do, I disagree with them.

    • RedOryx says:

      Uhhh, you don’t really get the First Amendment, do you?

  9. zz9 says:

    I’m okay with this. We as consumers can publicly complain about stores and businesses. Why can’t they complain about customers?

    • kenj0418 says:

      Complain about customers:
      – “kenj0418 is a crappy tipper”
      – “zz9 made reservations for 8 at our busiest time of the day, and then was a no show”
      – “Mary Beth didn’t remember to rewind her video tapes 5 times last month”
      Sure, they can. Whether it is good business decision to do this is a different issue.

      Disclose details of debts, possibly not. It sounds like a legal minefield to me – and it seems even less likely to be a good business decision.

      • Jawaka says:

        “and it seems even less likely to be a good business decision.”

        Lol so basically the business will lose all of their bad customers because of this policy. Win win..

        • kenj0418 says:

          Except doing that sort of thing doesn’t necessarily alienate only the bad customer.

          I don’t plan on not returning any rentals or otherwise being a bad customer, But if I had two businesses to pick from, and they were otherwise equal, and I knew one would just call or send a letter if I owed them money/etc., and the other would do that and tell all my friends about my hypothetical deadbeatedness – I’d obviously pick the one that would keep my problem just between us.

          • bbb111 says:

            When the bad checks are posted (or a “deadbeat” list) there should be a good faith effort to contact the customer and give them time to respond. Mistakes happen (banks have been known to bounce checks that should be good – an acquaintance had a bank put a “out of state check” hold on a cash deposit made with a teller. I had a bank deposit a check to the wrong account even though I used a pre-printed deposit slip and my deposit receipt had the correct account number.)

            A friend who had a small store would call people when a check bounced – almost every time the person would come in to apologize and make good. Most remained regular customers.

      • StarKillerX says:

        Well I’d actually say they aren’t disclosing details of your debt, simply it’s existance, because the list doesn’t include amounts or what the debt is from.

    • sendbillmoney says:

      They’d have to call the place [Redacted] like we do here.

  10. Jeff asks: "WTF could you possibly have been thinking? says:

    A local muffler shop does the same thing. If you write a bad check or, worse, owe them money on a delivered repair (yes, they would let cars go with an outstanding balance), your name went on the wall of shame. Amazing how many names were familiar on that wall………Ah, well, it’s a small town, everybody knows everybody.

  11. sqeelar says:

    In the olden days, when you rode your dinosaur to the only video store to rent on Betamax, you made a deposit of say $20 – $60 (a week’s wages). Basically, you bought the product and returned it for a restocking fee which otherwise looked just like a rental.

    This business model may work, unless you’re dealing with customers too poor to handle this. It must be a small community for people to know each other enough to recognize names on a wall.

    Actually, you could make up 200 names and still threaten to do this to the first (real) customer who manages to run up $25,000 in charges for a movie or video game.

  12. superml says:

    Where do video games cost $80?

    • SerenityDan says:

      In 1980’s and 90’s land? Maybe they only buy Collector’s editions? More likely she just pulled a number out of her posterior.

    • dolemite says:

      I wondered that too. Max retail is about $49-$59.

    • sorta savvy consumer says:

      It could be some special product that allows it to be rented. There are a few high priced games that come with some extras too. She was just trying to make a point, cut her some slack.

    • dru_zod says:

      Don’t these businesses have to pay higher prices for movies and games that are intended for rental?

      • SerenityDan says:

        Well that would certainly explain why the Blockbuster near me has nothing buy antique games and shovelware.

      • AtlantaCPA says:

        I’ve heard that too. If you are the publisher, you are substituting potentially 20+ customers with that one rental sale so you are going to charge more.

      • jebarringer says:

        Ding ding ding! We have a winner!

        I remember back in the day of 8 bit systems, a local video store had a game I particularly enjoyed, but couldn’t find at retail anywhere. I asked about purchasing it, they said the average game costs them ~$100 a title. When you see the “games for sale” bin with titles for $5-10 (or less), those are ones that have either A) been rented enough to recoup the initial fees, or B) no one rents, so the store is willing to take a loss to clear the inventory.

      • bbb111 says:

        “… higher prices for movies and games that are intended for rental…”

        In the old days, the first release of a video would be at $80 or so. The rental places had to buy them when they first came out (and a few fanatical viewers that couldn’t wait.)
        After the sales slowed down, the “home edition” would be released at $15 to $20.
        [often these first releases were on better quality tape and SP mode. The home edition was often on cheaper tape and sometimes in LP mode (EP for the cheap "budget" releases.]

        Sometimes the independent releases and foreign films would never come out in a home edition. [I remember in the 90s buying a lot of used rental copies of foreign movies when the retail price remained $80 two years after the release.]

        —-

        The business model changed over time until the strategy became mass marketing of the home edition as soon as the movie left the theaters while the publicity and hype was still fresh.

    • AzCatz07 says:

      Licensing fees. How do they work?

  13. keith4298 says:
  14. dolemite says:

    I’m always curious about the phenomenon of those “arrested” newspapers you see that have mugshots and crimes people have been arrested for. None of them have been convicted, but the purpose seems to be to generate revenue and shame these people as well, whether they are guilty or not. I do not believe that if these people are found innocent there is anything ever posted about that.

    • Applekid says:

      I completely agree. Those things are absolutely the work of dickheads that don’t understand the difference between “arrest” and “conviction”.

      I’m sure they’re legally allowed, but the public at large just loves scandal and rights of the accused just plain don’t exist anymore.

    • crispyduck13 says:

      I dispise those things. We had one around here, the only thing they reported on were arrests concerning sexual crime (which could be peeing in public or mooning someone) or murder, but the sexual crimes were center stage. They also posted mugshots of registered offenders. I just found it extremely odd and invasive and had potential lawsuit written all over it. Apparently I was right because they were shut down a few months after they started.

  15. kittenpaw says:

    People still go to video stores?

    I live in NC and there was a video store next to Cat’s Cradle, a pretty popular music venue. The video store had all this reserved parking which was so unnecessary. And they apparently towed too. Thankfully, the store went out of business and a really nice, independent sneaker store moved in. No more reserved spots <3

  16. Abradax says:

    Fine.

    Don’t distribute the lunches, invite the kids over for a picnic.
    Every day.

  17. crispyduck13 says:

    If I were the store owner, I would have drafted a stock letter, inserted each overdue balance/item, and mailed it to all 300 people at the last known address on their account. In the letter, it would give a certain period of time to pay/return and then list this public shaming as the result if the debt were not satisfied. Write off the $135 in postage as a business expense.

    After stated period of time hang that shit up without shame (edited of course with the handful of people who respond by paying their damn bill). That way stupid customers like the woman who “didn’t know” she had late fees have no recourse.

  18. Suburban Idiot says:

    I recall the two-week long argument with my local video store over whether I had returned a movie. The clerk apparently never checked it back in when I returned it (on time), so the store came after me to pay for the video and late fees.

    Ultimately, they found the movie on their shelf and “waived” any late fees. Even though they found the movie, saving me the cost of replacing it, I had to rely solely on their goodwill over the late fees themselves since I had no way to prove that I had returned the video on time.

    But had they insisted on trying to collect the late fees, I would have refused to pay them since I had returned the movie on time.

    • RandomHookup says:

      You’re lucky. When I was in high school, I borrowed a book and the library lost it when I returned it. They eventually figured it out after I had paid for it, but charged me a late fee for the time it took them to find it on the shelf. Guess they figured I would just put it on the shelf and go “see, here it is” rather than just return it to them directly.

      • erinpac says:

        That’s exactly the sort of scenarios that make this seem really distasteful. It’s not like there’s an easy way to really undo something she says on Facebook, once it’s been tagged and relinked to a bunch of people.

  19. spartan says:

    I want to publicly shame Christie Ross, the owner of the Video Cafe of Coats, NC because she chose not to send me money she didn’t owe me when someone else rented something and used her name.

    Shame on you Christie Ross shame! shame! shame!

    see how easy it is to smear someones name, when they may or may not actually owe anything. If she feels she is due money, take it to small claims court. That’s why it is there.

  20. Jawaka says:

    Sure. If we can call out bad companies then companies can call out bad customers. Why should it only go one way?

  21. BeelzeBob says:

    I have not rented video games, but isn’t it the same model as Blockbuster? Don’t they take a credit card swipe to guarantee payment? Don’t they bill the card if the item is not returned? Maybe videogamers don’t have credit cards.

  22. There's room to move as a fry cook says:

    I don’t see the problem as long as it’s the owner posting the list and not a third party debt collector. Our city posts a list once a year (many pages long in small print in the local newspaper) of people who have outstanding fines with the city. They also post the names and addresses of bad check writers (another long list).

  23. Jane_Gage says:

    Here in le gutter it would just give you additional street cred. . .

  24. Press1forDialTone says:

    A little Windex and some paper towels will take care of that
    real fast. A-hole.

    • Jawaka says:

      Meanwhile I feel that the person who selfishly kept his video or game later than he was supposed to and never paid his late fees is the A-hole in this story.

  25. Krazed says:

    ‘But as one critic of her plan pointed out to the news station, her store is in essence a debt collector…’

    I’m confused by this sentence. How does posting this information make the business a debt collector?

    • spartan says:

      collecting debts is what makes them a debt collector.

      • AtlantaCPA says:

        The thing I don’t like is that makes 90 something percent of businesses debt collectors. Any business with accounts receivable (most) would qualify? Seems a little broad.

      • dolemite says:

        Seems like any company that sends a bill is a debt collector then.

        • spartan says:

          Yep and thats why most companies don’t publicly post the names of those who they claim owe them money.

          • AtlantaCPA says:

            Actually see Black Bellamy’s post at the top of the page; collecting debts does not make you a debt collector under this law.

  26. Andy S. says:

    That customer needs to be less embarrassed by the fact that she’s on the Wall of Shame, and more embarrassed that she’s still renting physical media from a brick-and-mortar store. Come join us in the 21st century, lady. It’s pretty nice here.

  27. talanisen says:

    So let’s see… people can now get movies and games through several different flat rate kiosk services, through the mail, from a variety of different streaming services, via download, and even through relatively easy to use pirate sources.
    And the owner of a video store, facing all that massive competition, is choosing to differentiate herself by publicly shaming her customers.
    That sounds like a solid business plan to me.

  28. Aliciaz777 says:

    The quotes customer stated she didn’t know she had late fees? Um, if you don’t return the video or game on the date you’re supposed to, YOU START GETTING CHARGED LATE FEES. Good on the business owner for doing this. Of course the late fee customers will be embarrassed, that’s the whole point! In this day and age, a lot of people don’t give a rat’s a** about anyone or anything but themselves, so unfortunately, sometimes you have to shame people into doing what they’re supposed to do. Embarassment and shame can work wonders. It’s not like the business owner is displaying people’s address, phone number, social security number or other info that should remain private. It’s just their name. Return items that don’t belong to you on time and you have nothing to worry about. Not returning the items is threatening someone else’s livlihood (but of course these people don’t care about that because it doesn’t affect them…not until their name goes up on that wall, that is). Shame away, business owner, shame away.

  29. idx says:

    Even if all 300 of those people on the wall of shame owed her an $80 video game it wouldn’t be as much money as she claims she’s missing.

    • erinpac says:

      26000 / 300 = $86.67

      I could see it getting up to that average with tax, the original rental fees, late fees, and some people renting two or three items. If she rented any systems themselves or accessories (like Rock Band + instruments), it could also bump the average up.

  30. erinpac says:

    It is scummy that those customers do not care about what their debt. However, with 300 names on the list I would be surprised if there were not at least a few that were genuine mistakes, disputed debts, or miscommunications, and once you try to ‘shame’ someone on the internet, it doesn’t really vanish again after you realize your error. It seems like it wouldn’t be all that productive on those who really care nothing about a debt they owe; and the others could have been handled a better way. I’m surprised with all the Hollywood Video mystery debt articles here that so few of the comments consider that some of those names may be mistakes.

  31. quail20 says:

    This is no different than the local Chinese restaurant or the pizza place that tacks bounced checks up next to the register for all of their customers to see who the dead beats are. Funny but those restaurants never have more than two checks up at a time and they seem to rotate in and out.

    Except for you Mr. Martin who lives at South. . . Pay up you BUM!

    • TheCorporateGeek Says Common Sense Is The Key says:

      Except for the fact that basically it is theft so the debt collection thing doesn’t apply. No different than the North Texas Tollway Authority posting the names of the biggest toll violators.

      Don’t be a douchebag and just pay your shit or return the item.

    • Badger Tale says:

      In total agreement. Gee, I’m very sorry your embarrassed but that, too, is not the OP’s problem. That’s just a consequence of not paying off the late fee you owe, i.e., debt to the OP for the extra time you keep the vids/games, etc…

      I admit that I’ve been late on a few rentals though I thought I got in on time…but, hey, no one’s perfect…I pay and move on with tail tucked between legs.

      Also, it sounds to me that the complainers are among the more egregious offenders and probably live life owing something to someone and never getting ahead…a personal problem and haphazard way of life too many Americans live. My cousin lives like this jumping from one pile of crap to the next, day in, day out, day in, day out, and then blames the other person for their problems…if you ask me.

    • dgking80 says:

      Yeah and I like how the one lady says “I didn’t even know I had late fees” Who doesn’t know they returned something late? You know, don’t play dumb you stupid………

      My family used to own a video store, the worst one I ever had was a guy begged and begged for me to let him rent at our store, but he had an out of state license and it was against policy. However, I made the policies and he was a pretty nice guy so I let him rent some movies, but I said DO NOT leave the state with these movies. I get a call 4 days later, man I’m on my way back to Alabama and I got these movies I’m sorry I’ll mail em to you. Are you going to charge me late fees? I was like, are they going to be late? His response… come on man these are extenuating circumstances… what?!?! NO!

      The bottom line is people don’t want to take accountability for their actions anymore. Most customer service places cater to any customer that causes a bit of a scene so they think it’s their god given right to be treated like royalty, and they really believe they’re always right. They never think about anyone else but themselves and should be punched in their fat faces

  32. Rhinoguy says:

    I once had a TV show on local cable that “outed” local criminals. With my team we would look up wanted people, dead beat parents owing back child support, and especially bad check passers. We were threatened with lawsuits after every show but the one person who actually followed through got thrown out of court. In fact, he sued for defamation, we were in court, and he got himself arrested in front of the judge on yet another outstanding bad check charge. Dismissed!
    This is absolutely legal, at least North Carolina.

  33. Cor Aquilonis says:

    If my library does this I’m screwed.

    In my defense, I never let the charges accumulate to over $5, but it’s still a lot of ten cent fines.

  34. Kuri says:

    I wish some stores would do this.

    And honestly, I do agree with the idea. If you refuse to pay late fees, are a complete ass at the register, or otherwise make the atmosphere miserable for the employees or other shoppers, then yes, I do believe you deserve a little shaming.

  35. JJFIII says:

    It is an attempt to collect a debt. If she really feels it is theft., she needs to press charges against her customers. She can not claim it is owed then say, they stole it. She MUST follow debt collection law if she believes it is a valid debt. I would bet there are MANY times that video store operators do not properly check in videos and they are WRONG about who owes what. I also wonder what kind of half ass store did not get a credit card PRIOR to renting and telling people after X number of days, you bought the video and will be charged retail price.
    It’s ok though, video stores are about as useful as birth control pills are to Queen Elizabeth. They are still available, but really are not needed.

    • Badger Tale says:

      There seems to be a couple of separate issues here:
      1. Unpaid late fees,
      2. Unpaid late fees and un-returned rented merchandise.

      The latter is a fee/debt owed to the OP but not theft and she could sue in small claims court. The former is fee/debt owed and theft of property and she could and should sue in small claims court for damages. In either case she could put a lean on former customer’s home, car, etc., until cost of item plus interest (if allowed) is paid or, public humiliation, which seems to be working for the time being. Humiliation seems like a cheap way out as court costs might get to be too much.

      • bbb111 says:

        The un-returned merchandise is not a straightforward “theft” because it was originally given freely to the renter and not taken. This would be considered “Theft by Conversion” and/or “Theft of Services” (or whatever the local law calls it). ["Conversion" if it is being considered taken or "Services" when the rental clock is still ticking.]

    • Trick says:

      The owner of the debt would be considered a Original Creditor, not a debt collector. She would not be subject to the FDCPA. State laws perhaps.

      Now if she gave her outstanding debt to a collection agency such as CACH LLC and they posted the debtors info, the 3rd party disclosure would be subject to the FDCPA.

    • RvLeshrac says:

      Except these aren’t debts. They’re unpaid fees.

  36. samjung23 says:

    People still go to video stores?

  37. GrandizerGo says:

    Her customers have a different view, however, including one woman who says she was never told that she had outstanding fines.

    “It made me angry because that’s nobody’s business. It’s nobody’s business, and I’m sure a lot of people are embarrassed by it,” she said. “That’s why we’re trying to get it taken down.”

    So, I would agree with you if you were not notified that you owed them late fees. HOWEVER I BET that you were notified in writing by mail that you in fact did owe late fees.

    If you moved and changed your address without notifying them, that is your fault not theirs.

    Pay up and shut up.

  38. mcgyver210 says:

    She may get away with this for a while but from experience businesses make mistakes on billing & she will post the wrong persons info at some point. This person she intentionally causes harm to will have a nice lawsuit against her with lots of evidence as to her intention to cause embarrassment & irreversible harm to their reputation.

    If you play with Internet as a tool for collections you can never take it back so not if but when she makes a mistake she will pay more than she collected with this approach. Also just because one Attorney says it is OK doesn’t mean it is.

    • bar_foo says:

      Exactly. You open yourself up to a libel suit.

      But more seriously, I would think a video store, in this day and age, would do everything it could to keep the customers it has–maybe an amnesty (50% off late fees this week only…) would win it more goodwill.

  39. Obtusegoose says:

    Don’t the customers have to sign up using a credit card? If so, charge their card for the video. If not, why are you letting people leave your store with an $80 item when you have no way of getting reimbursed for it?

    • RenegadePlatypus says:

      The type of deadbeat that doesn’t return videos and screws over stores that provide borrowing privileges is the same deadbeat whose credit card accounts get closed for delinquency. They will continue to rent without updating the collateral (credit card). I say that when someone is signing up for any type of account or being extended any type of credit by a store, if that customer opens his / her wallet and you can see an EBT card… do not trust. Require a ‘deadbeat deposit’.

  40. Rhinoguy says:

    FTFY again: http://law.onecle.com/north-carolina/75-monopolies-trusts-and-consumer-protection/75-50.html
    I cited the part you object to, the state does also.

    • Rhinoguy says:

      This is in the wrong place again. The new website decides rather randomly whether or not it will treat a reply as a reply or a new post.

  41. Maticula says:

    In China, some stores have come up with a similar system for shoplifters – caught shoplifters have to pay a hefty “fee” to avoid being publicly outed as a shoplifter on a similar “wall of shame.”

    Obviously, extortion isn’t a good thing, but I kinda like the idea of the “wall of shame.”

  42. Inglix_the_Mad says:

    I bounced a check once, just once. A local Chinese restaurant, the owner called me and I felt terrible. I drove over immediately, with extra cash and asked him how much the fee he incurred at my mistake was. He thanked me, and said it wasn’t necessary as he could tell (by my speed and demeanor at the incident) it wasn’t on purpose. He only asked for the original amount.

  43. NC COASTIE MOM says:

    I think a wall of shame is a great idea… can we do that in the food industry too… how many people out there stiff their waitresses feeling ‘they make enough money’? Or that jerk you have to stand behind at Wal-Mart customer service as he berates the cashier then demands to see a CSM all the while the employee is smiling and doing his or her best but also has a set of rules they must follow?

    But better yet… why not we tell them ourselves? “Hey idiot, that might be my grandmother your yelling at!”

  44. Christa says:

    I know Christie personally and I can say she has had overwhelming support from the community. The naysayers are a minute percentage of people and they called the attention on themselves by taking this to the press. I just want to address some of the finer points of contention or question. She does not post people until they are at lease six months delinquent. She did hire a collections agency and they made very little progress. Most accounts are not worth their time if they are not large amounts. She has documentation on every person on the list-signed contracts and receipts. She also has documentation from her collections attempts. These deadbeats say nobody called them or tried to contact them…FALSE. They simply don’t answer the phone, or have numbers they changed, or move without providing forwarding addresses, etc. Then they pretend they don’t know. She has made every attempt she can think of to contact them. They knew they had the debt. They are simply lying and denying. She has expenses out of her pocket in trying to recoup these fees. She does take credit cards but most can’t be charged because they are invalid. She never required a deposit or placed a hold on the cards because she wanted to respect the customers. They have also stooped so low as to question her military background. If you go to their boycotttthevideocafe facebook page you can read it for yourself and see the pictures they posted of her with silly military hats on and insulting lies posted about her. She is retired military after 16 years of service and she has more metal in her body than most people have in their vehicles. She will not fire back because she is humble about her service to our country. She has received personal threats, death threats, harassing phone calls, and attempted vandalism on her home while her child and mother were there. All of this because these lowlifes owe money they don’t want to pay.Thank you all for your positive posts on here. I am encouraged to hear that people still have common sense and see through the lies of people who are dishonest. You can also post on The Video Cafe Coats NC facebook page if you feel strongly enough about this debate.