Is Hollywood Video Bringing Back "Silence Is Acceptance" Magazine Subscriptions?

An anonymous disgruntled employee sent us a long list of complaints about Hollywood Video, which can be summed up with “we’re desperate to earn some money, so any tactic is fair game.” Among them is this gem.

The Entertainment Weekly scam is coming back.  Next week, the company is planning to roll out the EW “Free 8 issue, silence is acceptance” trial and force us to ask every guest if they’d like Entertainment Weekly.  This is a practice which requires 100 percent compliance, so they’re firing and writing those people up who aren’t asking, and cutting the hours of those who don’t get people to sign up for it.

Here are more of the tipster’s complaints, which may not upset those of you who haven’t worked in retail—but those who have will feel his pain:

  • Store-level employees are sometimes sent to cover shifts at other stores at the district manager’s request. They’re threatened with write-ups, reduced hours, or termination if they don’t agree. The employees aren’t reimbursed for mileage or gas, however.
  • Quotas are being stringently enforced on upsells including the $10.99 bundle, movie sales, late fees, and Playguards (rental insurance).
  • The Starlight Foundation no longer gets a cut of the Playguard fee (“The Playguards are pure profit to the company,” he writes), but employees aren’t allowed to mention that when pushing Playguard.
  • Late fees are no longer “tracked,” but dollars per ticket are, “so for people low in those numbers, forcing people to pay late fees is very helpful.” Employees can no longer remove late fees.
  • “If a guest returns a movie more than 12 days late, it goes to a separate screen, which serves to frustrate guests who believed that they’d paid all of their fees.  We’re basically allowed to keep them confused to a certain point, as long as they’re not outright lied to.”
  • “They’ve also stopped printing receipts in certain stores for certain purchases, so it’s beneficial for those who choose to shop there to make sure the transaction happens on their account rather than on the Cash Sale account (MR. CASH).”
  • And, finally, the magazine “offer” is supposedly coming back.

We don’t know if these complaints pertain to every store or just the one where our tipster works. For the most part, they sound like the sorts of things a company does when it’s desperately trying to generate revenue, so we’re not really that surprised. But the magazine offer? Really? Has that ever been well-received by a customer who didn’t expect to be signed up for it?

If you’re in Hollywood Video next week, let us know if you get the magazine offer.

(Photo: Sister72)


Edit Your Comment

  1. pigeonpenelope says:

    comcast on demand is the way to go. no late fees.

    i stopped shopping at hollywood video because of the insane prices.. they were more expensive then the locally owned competitors. if they’re not doing well its because they have lost their niche.

  2. B says:

    Perhaps they should follow the Blockbuster model and convert their stores into “living museums”

  3. DavidCopperballs says:

    I stopped going their a few years ago. Their late policy at the time was an automatic renewal for another 5 day period the minute the movie was late. So if you returned a movie one day late, they charged you another $4.99 straightaway. They never announced that to their members, so the first time I was late after the change I was livid. Their arrogant reply was that most customers preferred that method to getting dinged for $1 a day. They refused to give me a credit and I fired off a letter to corporate and got free coupons, which was nice, but I put them on ban after they were gone.

    Anyone know if that’s still their policy?

  4. ARP says:

    I feel worst for the employees who have to endure this. In the late 90’s they could easily up and leave for a new job. Now its much harder and they might have to go down with the ship to keep short term job security.

    Oh and Hollywood will end up like blockbuster, where they have to try to merge their way out of bankruptcy, only to fail in the end. It will be a slow, ugly process. But it will happen.

  5. pigeonpenelope says:

    @ARP: i feel for the employees too.

    i miss back in the good old days when the hollywood video employees were like the kids in “empire records” and gave us all Starbuck baristas free movie rentals and magically erased our late fees.

  6. ironchef says:


    I never looked back. Renting at those stores is like getting a root canal.

  7. juiceboxonfire says:

    Or you could just go to the library and rent for free. They might not have the newest movies, but they’ll definitely have some classics and some more interesting ones. If it’s late, the fees are usually minimal and go toward keeping a typically underfunded public service running. Win all around.

  8. pigeonpenelope says:

    or you can do on demand. save on gas and never have to worry about returning…

  9. Aladdyn says:

    Any employees who are forced or coerced into doing things like driving without mileage reimbursement and unpaid overtime should keep a detailed record of it, then when they leave the job attempt to collect and if denied, sue. When asked why they didn’t quit or report it earlier a defense of I needed the money to support my family/pay medical bills should make a judge/jury happy.

  10. bohemian says:

    After spending two weeks trying to get over $20 in late fees reversed for a movie I returned before the due date I was pretty soured on Hollywood Video. Then gas prices went up. It is a 15 mile round trip to their nearest location. Then all the cable companies started doing movies on demand. It is a few cents cheaper, no late fees and no wasted gas.
    Netflix is the closest thing we will ever come to renting again.

  11. bmwloco says:


    Beyond that, who cares? It’s a Hollywood Video is a business model that has been eclipsed by a better idea.

    Move on, nothing here to see.

  12. B says:

    Or just do what my uncle did, and wait for the movie to come out on basic cable. Why pay to see a movie in the theater, or rent it when it comes out on video? You’ll get most of the movie, sure there are a few commercial interruptions and you might not get to see every movie that comes out, but if it’s not good enough to make it to basic cable, it’s probably not that good anyways. Actually, knowing my uncle, he wouldn’t even spring for basic cable and only watched movies once they made it to broadcast TV.

  13. cmdrsass says:

    video rental stores. how quaint!

  14. pigeonpenelope says:

    @cmdrsass: quaint like roller skating rinks

  15. CaptZ says:

    Not sure if they still do it, but HollywoodVideo also makes you sign up for memebership if you go to just buy movies……I had about 8 DVD one night and walked out and left when they wouldn’t sell them to me without a stupid membership. They can die a slow death like BB.

  16. Joedragon says:

    Does Hollywood Video still have these really bad looking uniforms?

  17. ShadowFalls says:

    Being fired for not perpetrating fraud is something you can easily sue over. Pretty stupid of a company to take such a risk.

  18. parad0x360 says:

    Alot of those things pertain to just that District Manager. Yes there are always quotas but enforcement is handled differently by everyone.

    You cant really force someone to work at a different store. Look up your job description, if it doesnt say that in there then there is nothing they can do about you saying no.

  19. TechnoDestructo says:


    No, if they’re not doing well, it’s because they’ve lost their MINDS.

  20. humphrmi says:

    Between realizing that renting on a per-movie basis is stupid and realizing that the same shitty movies in rental stores are on cable, I haven’t rented a movie in years. So I hope Hollywood Video has lots of luck with that tactic.

  21. delphi_ote says:

    “Renting at those stores is like getting a root canal.”


  22. pecheckler says:

    If you are having your hours cut because you are failing to sell magazine subscriptions as a video store clerk…


    If you are ignored, do not put up with it. Tell your boss you quit, kindly. Make sure he or she understands that you are not going to take a pay cut because of ridiculous seemingly uncontrollable cooperate policies and unreachable sales goals.

    No matter how bad the economy seems, no matter where you live, I assure you that you will be able to find a similarly paying job with an acceptable amount of hours offered for new hires.

  23. azntg says:

    I’m glad that the Hollywood Video store in my neighborhood closed about two years ago after lasting like… what? 3 years or something like that.

    Can’t compete againist Netflix or heck, even against the Queens Borough Public Library, when the two branches in our neighborhood already have newly released DVDs and we can borrow them for free!

  24. oldgraygeek says:

    “No, I do not want a subscription to your crappy magazine… What’s your name? [reads nametag]
    [Nametag], if your company gives my name, address & credit card to Entertainment Weekly, you — you personally — will be arrested for credit card fraud.
    My brother is a state trooper, and I will videotape your arrest & post it on YouTube.”

    That would probably handle it. Of course, we have OnDemand, so the likelihood of us renting anything there is pretty slim.

  25. jnews says:

    The one thing that I really like about Hollywood is buying used movies. I never buy new dvds, but I like to own (as opposed to rent) movies, so having a place that sells lots and lots of just-released-six-weeks-ago dvds for half of the price of a new movie is a great value for me. When these stores do go away, I’ll have the disappointing choice of paying full price or not buying anything. Oh well.

  26. TechnoDestructo says:


    OMG the GOVERNMENT is preventing the functioning of a FREE MARKET with its SOCIALIST public libraries!

  27. TheKingBoar says:

    I used to work at Hollywood Video. I don’t remember the firing for not selling things, but I did quit because it was crap. They would always bitch about play guard, so we would just short our tills by about a dollar or so, which is an equivalent to what they wanted us to sell. I quit before this would have happened, but if they tried to make me do this, I would have told about as many people as I could about it before I quit. Everything about the company is a scam. Just use netflix, or use the free coupons from buying consoles at Game Crazy.

  28. OldHVEmployee says:

    having a different screen for late fees is nothing new. It was 21 days when i left. it was very frustrating. HOWEVER, it is the first screen that pops up when you bring up an account—so there shouldn’t be any confusion. Though I wish they wouldn’t do that way.

    the starlight thing doesn’t surprise me. They got seriously burned (er caught red handed pocketing the money) from Starlight. They WERE NOT happy about that.

    As for the receipts, most stores only printed up for sell-thru purchases (candy, PDVDs, new DVDs, etc—nothing new there).

    I agree about PlayGuard. Some stores cheat. We’d get harassed with the “why can’t you sell 100 like such and such store.”

    Glad I’m gone! I’ve been into a Hollywood ONLY once since I was “laid off” back in March.

  29. Shadowman615 says:

    I don’t know why anyone would put up with that kind of nonsense at a slightly-better-than-minimum-wage retail job. Jobs like that are a dime-a-dozen, and there are plenty of other stores that operate without all of the BS. Or at least without so much of it.

  30. OldHVEmployee says:

    You are exactly right Shadowman. I may about $2 less at my current job, but you know what? I haven’t been this happy in a a couple of years. I refuse to patronize a company that doesn’t care. It took me 2 months to get my back “bonus” pay from these crooks.

  31. OldHVEmployee says:

    Gotta love the silence is acceptance… fraud. :D Yeah, just about the time they’re getting out of bankruptcy, they’ll be getting sued for fraud. Hahaha. Gotta love justice. Though, I highly suspect that “silence is acceptance” is not entirely correct. It’s more than likely some DM who’s getting reamed by corporate for not having better numbers.

  32. Phexerian says:

    girlfriend’s sister worked at a hollywood video that closed down recently. She was told that it was because they weren’t making enough money because netflix was owning them pretty much.

  33. Charred says:
  34. Gladiator11 says:

    Thanks to the Internet and my 3 year stint in Korea as an English teacher, the following things are now obsolete to me.

    1. Landline Phones – skype
    2. Electric Bills – Solar panels
    3. Auto Insurance – Electric scooter
    4. Gas Bills – Electric Scooter
    5. Cable/video rental/ netflix – plenty of sources for streaming tv.
    6. Investment advisors. and

    What do I spend my money on. My highest bills are homeowners insurance, Homeowners tax food and water and garbage.

  35. rsanders27 says:

    It doesn’t surprise me. HV was a “cool” video rental store in the 90’s and earlier this decade, but Blockbuster was just too established and too powerful in suburban markets. So, HV went into bankruptcy. In it’s quest to be the biggest kid on the block, #3 Movie Gallery bought bankrupt #2 HV with the assumed plan that #2 and #3 combined would unseat #1 BB. MG is like the “hospital” of the VRS’s- hardly any aesthetics and rental prices too high to justify their selection (older dvds are the same price as new ones). They are also like Wal-Mart- their core market is primarily in the South and Midwest and they set-up shop in towns of 5000-10,000 (unlike BB and HV which would not go into a market of less than 20,000/store) and then drive the mom-n-pop VRS’s out of business. HV, in line with MG’s business culture, became anal and lacking customer service, and, since MG is now in bankruptcy, had to start generating revenue any way possible for MG. That’s how the great and cool Hollywood Video was “destroyed”.

    MG failed to overtake BB because rurally-focused businesses rarely do well in an urban and suburban model. Just look at Wal-Mart, whose majority of stores in large and major cities do not make as much of cost to profit ratio as its rural stores. Also, if either BB or MG had bought Netflix in its earlier days, nothing could have challenged them…..period.

  36. @B: Your uncle sounds like my uncle…one sad bastard. :)

  37. thalia says:

    I had a friend who worked at Movie Gallery and they threatened to fire all the employees who couldn’t sell their ‘quota’ of that stupid ‘tub of microwave popcorn with a box of candy and two sodas’ deal, I think it was called the Happy Pack or Family Pack or something. Totally lame thing to fire someone over, especially when they require them to ask people even if they’ve already asked them several times before and the answer is always no.

  38. iDuckie says:

    A lot of these policies sound like they came from Best Buy and Blockbuster. Back when Best Buy bought Musicland, we were forced to sign people up for EW or Sports Illustrated with the same threats.

    As for the Blockbuster part of it, I know when I worked for them, I frequently went to help out at a different store, and was given no notice. I’d come in for my shift and they’d tell me they need me to go to a different store as soon as I came in.

    I liked Hollywood Video, they always had harder to find movies to rent. They’ve all been closed down here.

  39. bleigh says:

    yeah i worked at best buy and they made us do this. we had to “coach” each other on how to do better. it’s disgusting. i used to rock at it, scamming 18 year olds and their brand new credit cards/parents cards. i had a lot of hours back then.. hah

  40. Ya can take that magazine subscription and shove it where the sun don’t shine. If I wanted your farking magazine I would have already signed up for the farking magazine.

  41. Lambasted says:

    Wait a minute. Hollywood Video is still up and running? Last last year the Hollywood store near me closed and Verizon moved into its space. I just assumed Hollywood went the way of the dinosaurs and figured Blockbuster would be soon to follow.

    So people still rent movies the old fashioned way, eh? I stopped renting movies years ago. Way too expensive and too much of an inconvenience for the price. If it’s in the video store, it’s available On-Demand too. I like being able to select my movie from my couch without need of driving to the store to pick it up and drop it back off. Otherwise, if it’s a movie I think I’ll want to watch again, I’ll just buy it.

  42. @CaptZ: That’s weird that they make you sign up for a membership to buy movies from there. At blockbuster you don’t need a member ship UNless you’re paying with a check. If it’s with cash, credit, or debit you don’t need a membership.

    And for the amount of “I don’t rent movies anymore” comments I see, there sure are quite a lot of people who rent at blockbuster and hollywood video that I see.

  43. farker says:

    I’m kind of glad the Hollywood Video near me closed. The people who worked there were nice enough, but they never had the selection that Blockbuster (right down the street) had. It’d be extra shiatty to see the nice folks who work there have to push this crap, annoying every customer in the process.

    And you just can’t beat Redbox for new releases ($1/night).

    Interestingly, it seems if I pay for Redbox with my debit card, I don’t get charged tax. Any one else have this experience?

  44. Scooterx56 says:

    First Hollywood Video inside lingo
    They are no late fee’s but extended viewing fee’s
    The reason for this is simple. Some states made late fee’s illegal. To get around this Hollywood would just re-rent the film for 5 more days. It’s buried in the contact(trust me what else can you do on Tuesday night at 11pm when no one is coming in) Most people got burned with the first late fee but soon learn that if it was late they would just keep it for another 5 days.

    Most customers also figured out that if they really didn’t want to pay there late fee’s all they had to do was call the corporate office
    I had people that would be late with their movies every single time the rented and had corp take of 6 months of late fee’s every 6 months.

    Is this good for the consumer? Yes but only in the way of being cheap on the pocket in the short run.
    Every single late fee that was taken off was taken out of the store budget. Less money, less workers. Less workers messy store, longer lines, or videos not returned into the system correctly ie more late fees taken off, repeat cycle until of business.

    Also late fee removal was closely watched by loss prevention. Do it a little too often and they would interview you thinking that you where hooking up your friends or family.

    It was very weird in that they wanted very good customer service but tried there employees like thieves. What’s even funnier about that is that we had free rentals and DVD burners where just getting cheap. Why steal when you can have the store for free. Theft was always looks at as an internal problem.

    I had a loss prevention manager ask we where the closest flea market was I told him about 30 minutes away and then told him that there where 3 pawn shops less than a mile from the store. The manager told me that the pawn shops where not the problem even thought I when up to one of the pawn shops and saw our locked videos on there store selves

    When I “left” I had seen the writing on the wall for some time
    Most of the people I had worked with for the last 2 years in the corp had up and left, or where in the process.

    When I was the store manager I actualy told people not to sell play guard as I and most employees found it a tax on the stupid, since if you broke a DVD or game if you called corp they wouldn’t charge you. Yeah it made your revenue look good but I like sleeping at night, and most people with a brain saw play guard for what is was, 25 cents for nothing. Most of the stores that did well with it pushed it as a Starlight Foundation charity thing.

    Does this new action surprise me at all? No, as a former store manager the company has been going down hill for the last 3 years.

    They had some good plans like extending store hours with a video vending machine, but instead we got play guard and the subscription services.

    Also weird was how they pushed they web site but how technophobic the corp was. The computers ran on DOS up until about 2 years ago.

    It is a matter of time until they are out of business. So look for the closing sales

  45. TechnoDestructo says:

    Are they teaching this shit in business schools or something?

    I’ve forgotten most of my undergraduate business classes, but I don’t recall anyone ever trying to drill “SCREW THE CUSTOMER AT ALL COSTS” into my head. Well, except that one marketing class I took, it popped up a couple times there.

    That’s it, isn’t it?

  46. mrearly2 says:

    Corporate greed knows no bounds…

  47. Lucky225 says:

    Not to mention they scan your DL magnetic stripe which is illegal in TX. Sure they ask for your DL # on the ap, but what about your physical address(which isn’t required), ht, wt, eye color, hair color etc.. all being stored by Hollywood Video, and in Violation of Texas Law to begin with.

  48. elisa says:

    The two Hollywood Videos in my town shut down recently. I’m not even sure there’s a Blockbuster. I have never held a video store membership.

    Public library FTW! They even have newer videos, for a very reasonable rental fee (but usually I just go for the slightly older ones). And at least the fees go to a worthy institution. Judging from the Friday closing time crowd, many of the people in my town do the same thing. Perhaps that’s why the video rental places here aren’t doing too well…

  49. parrotuya says:

    Hollywood Video sucks. And I am sick of stores trying to sell me magazines I don’t want. Who reads Entertainment Weekly anyway? This company needs to be waterboarded.

  50. boomerang86 says:

    The local supermarket just closed their in store DVD rental counter and installed a DVDspress vendor. Sign of the times, considering the success of Redbox here!

  51. Brain.wav says:

    “Store-level employees are sometimes sent to cover shifts at other stores at the district manager’s request. They’re threatened with write-ups, reduced hours, or termination if they don’t agree. The employees aren’t reimbursed for mileage or gas, however.”

    This is SOP at Blockbuster too. Had to work 2 weeks at a store that wasn’t my own, and was 45 minutes away, because the DM had fired 90% of their staff.

  52. Ha, explains why the closest Hollywood Video closed. I don’t think I know 1 person who walks into a movie rental store anymore… Last time I did, I think clear Pepsi was still on the shelf. (MAN, why did they ever let get of such a GEM?)

  53. zibby says:

    Hell, I still use rental stores. Or, I should say, ONE store. There’s a place right on my walk home, run by a couple of Russians. The selection is good, the prices are low, the people are friendly, and nobody tries to sell me squat.

    That, and a lot of people I know have had lousy luck with Netflix movies actually getting to them. Not Netflix’ fault, the problem appears to lie with our area postal service…

  54. *ever let GO of such a gem…. damn, I need more coffee.

  55. rbaldwin says:

    Getting terminated from Hollywood Video would be a blessing…. Let them help you out the door.

  56. Angryrider says:

    Sticks up nose at talk of library to borrow movies.
    Proceeds to walk in nearest branch.

  57. linbey says:

    I didnt even know there were Hollywoods still in business. We lost all of ours about 5 years ago

  58. mattman0726 says:

    @farker: I do get charged tax from Redbox. I live in Massachusetts and the sales tax is only 5% so I don’t mind paying the nickel. However, I do get text messages every Monday from them (and Wednesdays now also) with promo codes for a free night’s rental. It’s really convenient for me, because a Redbox kiosk is about 25 feet away from my desk at work.

    Go Celtics!
    Go Sox!

  59. Scuba Steve says:

    Well I know of people who still think DVDs are too advanced for them and swear by their VHs tapes, so who knows what kind of people still rent movies for half of what they cost to see in the theaters.

  60. Clarkins says:

    Hollywood Video closed here late last year. I’d rented Highlander for 99 cents or something like that becuase the Mrs. had never seen it.
    I turned it in the next day and started getting the prerecorded late fee calls later that week. I called the store and it was on the shelf and they said they’d take care of it. They started to have a going out of business sale.
    Two days later I get a bill for $19.99 for the DVD. I called the store to complain and they told me to call Corporate because they’re closing.
    Corporate verified the store was closing and cleared my account.
    Redbox or Tivo/Amazon downloads for me.

  61. ZekeDMS says:

    @CaptZ: If that’s happening, I say go to a new store. We don’t have to sign anyone up to buy at my store, but we prefer you have a membership in case a return must be made(for that, we’re required to pull up an account besides cash sale. I don’t know why, but I don’t like it either).

  62. @Joedragon: I lasted two weeks there in high school. That was all I could take of the tuxedo shirt, red bow tie, and vest with film reels on it. Also, I was stealing, but who wouldn’t in that getup?

  63. JackWalker says:

    @ARP: Hollywood Video was already bought out by Movie Gallery. The move was made to avoid a hostile takeover bid by Blockbuster.

  64. highmodulus says:

    Another company in the race to Chapter 7. Bad business model, bad leadership, low ethics- say hello to Mr. Liquidator sales guy.

  65. S-the-K says:

    Are you *sure* these claims are true and not imaginary or urban legend like the Best Buy employee’s allegations?

  66. FattyMatty says:

    I worked at Hollywood Video back in high school about 10 years ago…and my local store manager wanted to give me a raise from $6 bucks (!) an hour, to a whopping $6.25 an hour, since I had worked there for a year already and was doing a good job…however, he sent in all the paperwork to “corporate” and they denied it! Bastards.

  67. Hooper says:

    Such a good plan… will definitely attract new customers.

  68. mamacat49 says:

    I tried Hollywood Video years ago. The very first time we returned a movie, their electricity was out (ice storm) but they were still open. Of course the movie never got “returned” into their system and they tried to charge me for it. I pointed out the day I returned it and the problem and they were just stupid about it. So, no more Hollywood for me. Only netflix during the summer and on demand any other time. And it certainly doesn’t hurt that my son works at the local theater and we get in free all of time anyway.

  69. tom2133 says:

    I only rented at Hollywood Video twice. I am so glad that they are gone from my city.

    Wonder if the same thing will happen with Best Buy and their magazine scam as well…

  70. BlackFlag55 says:

    Legal Note – if someone makes a claim against you, and you fail to deny it, or defend against it, the finding will go to the claimant. This is the doctrine they’re operating on. Silence is affirmative.

    For No to mean No, you have to say No. If you need to say it with a cast iron skillet, say it with a cast iron skillet. And a lawyer.

  71. lawnmowerdeth says:

    I’m so tired of always being upsold new crap when I just want to make my purchases and get out. Especially when they push you “come on, it’s free!” and try to make ME feel like the bad guy.

  72. ZekeDMS says:

    Well, when we push a “Come on, it’s free!” it really is at my store, and if we don’t get enough stuff moved, we get in trouble.

    I always point out “You’ll save 30 cents buy grabbing two popcorns and a soda since you’re already buying that candy.” Most people are happy to, the only people that didn’t are people that still don’t have a microwave.

    We popped the popcorn then and there for them, and ended up with some very happy customers.

  73. Woden501 says:

    I work at a Game Crazy (obviously), and they force this crap on us all the time. If we don’t sell enough “indicators” for a number of weeks in a row we get fired. Indicators are the discount cards, warranties, pre-orders, etc. It is quite a stressful job at times, and I never feel good about constantly asking someone over and over if they would like to buy this, or this, or this. Luckily many of the things we have to sell are actually very useful for the customers, but it is still quite annoying.

  74. SayAhh says:

    @Lambasted and linbey: That’s what I thought! The one near my house is gone and I thought that was true everywhere! It’s funny cuz that store bought up all the old VHS tapes from this local video store that I frequented, where my friend worked, and that they basically put out of business with their 99¢ coupons, and then they themselves went bottoms up.

    Do anyone still remember the Music+ stores? Tower Records took over its location, then also croaked, albeit many more years later. Surprisingly, the Wherehouse is still alive, though not at all advertised.

  75. Rusted says:

    @B: Why even have cable?