Broken DVD Rental Machine Charges You $75 for 2 DVDs

Reader Jamie used to enjoy the convenience of those DVD rental vending machines you see in supermarkets, but that quickly changed when she was mistakenly billed $74.90 on her debit card for 2 DVDs. One would think a few calls to customer service would fix this mess but “The New Release” has left Jamie twisting in the wind. Her letter and our advice, inside…

I am submitting this complaint to you because I think that consumers should know what type of company they are dealing with when they choose to swipe their debit/credit card at one of these machines. These machines are not the property of Harris Teeter, Kroger, Food Lion, or any other grocery store that decides to offer this service to its customers. The machines are owned by a company called “The New Release.”

My experience with “The New Release”:
On 4/13/08 I went to the movie box located inside a Kroger grocery store. I was going to return 3 movies, however the movie box was out of order. I was instructed to call customer service, which I did. I spoke with a CSR who told me to place the movies inside the box on the right of the machine with the incident number she provided. I did so and kept a record of the conversation.

When I checked my bank statement on 4/28/08 I realized I had been charged $1.07 for one movie (the correct price) and then charged $74.90 for the other two(obviously incorrect). At this time I called customer service for the second time and spoke with another customer service rep. who told me that this would be corrected and that I would be charged $2.14 for the two movies (the correct price) and that I would receive a refund for the $72.76 overcharge.

04/29/08, I look at my bank account and I have been charged $74.90 with no refund and my bank account has incurred overdraft charges in the amount of $65.00. I called “The New Release” customer service center for again and Chris Borner is the supervisor that I spoke to in trying to correct this. He asked me to fax a bank statement and a written statement and he would get back to me in 24-48 hours. I disagree with the time-frame Chris gave me but I decided to fax the information and check back with him later in the day to confirm receipt. (when I called back, Chris was “in a meeting”)

After sending this fax and receiving no phone calls from Chris or any other supervisor I called back to the customer service department where I was hung up on and then when I called back I was lied to and then hung up on (I obviously have a super power that allows me to call whenever the “supervisor handling my complaint” is out to lunch, in a meeting, or out of the office). I called several more times and after escalating slowly up the ranks in the company I came to speak to Nathan Gilbert (“the supervisor handling my complaint”) who, by the way, should be fired. Nathan was supposed to have called me on several occasions and each time I ended up having to call him because he apparently does not have time in his busy schedule to make the phone calls he has promised to make.

When I FINALLY spoke to Nathan on 5/2/08 I was informed that the “New Release” had issued a credit to me in the amount of $65 and that it would take 2-5 business days to process. So, I confirmed that I should receive my refund by Wednesday 05/07/08 and Nathan said yes.

Today is Friday 05/09/08 I still have received no credit to my account and upon calling the customer service department AGAIN I was told that the credit was issued on 05/06/08. I supposed I should be shocked but since I have not encountered anyone with this company who can be honest I expected this to happen. Now, one would beg the question ‘why would Nathan tell me something had been processed on Friday that was not yet processed until Tuesday?’ I however can answer that question myself….Nathan thought he would get rid of me and have me stop calling by lying, but when I am trying to recover money that was essentially STOLEN from me I am not going to trust someone who has repeatedly lied to me. At this point I am so angry that I want to tell everyone NOT to use these boxes. I want to warn consumers about giving their personal information to a company who has no regard for their customers and their money. It is much cheaper to visit a local video store or digitally rent a move…..these movies cost much more than ONE DOLLAR….BEWARE!!!

We’re sorry to hear about this frustrating situation, Jamie. If you haven’t done so already, make sure you explain to the bank exactly what is happening with “The New Release” so that they can reverse your overdraft fee and deauthorize this company from taking any more money out of your account. We imagine your bank will work with you until “The New Release” comes through with the refund. This company may just be dragging its feet, and not necessarily running away with your money just yet, so keep the pressure on them. We do realize not everybody has one, but loyal readers know to use a credit card whenever possible since they are much better able to protect you against billing errors and fraud.

(Photo: Getty)