Video Store Guy Calls Me 8 Times About Overdue Movies

Jon neglected to return a couple DVDs to the rental store on time and had to suffer the telephonic wrath of someone who bombarded him with 8 consecutive calls from both the store phone and his personal cell.

He reported the problem to corporate and was told it was, at times, company policy for workers to call customers from private phones.

He writes:

I recently had two overdue movies at a Family Video here in [redacted], MO. At 10:20 this morning, I received a call from the video store. 10 seconds later, I received another call. And another. And another. And another. After eight consecutive calls, I received a call which showed up on caller ID as “Jake P.” (name changed to protect the guilty), followed by another call from Family Video, this time with a voice mail message from “Jake”. I immediately went to the store and returned the movies, asking whether or not “Jake” had used his personal cell phone to make a call to a customer. Jake, who seemed to think the whole ordeal was pretty funny, confirmed that he had used his cell to call me, and removed my number from his phone at my request. I contacted Jake’s district manager, who claimed that in certain cases (although not mine) it is actually Family video policy to attempt to contact customers on personal phones.

It seems unethical at best and dangerous at worst. Is it legal for a company’s employee to load my information onto his personal cell phone? I would be equally mad if I were an employee instructed to make collections calls on a personal phone. I now have this guy’s full name and phone number, after all.

In case you haven’t heard of Family Video, its site says it’s a large chain, with 625 stores in 18 states, making it the second largest video store company in the U.S., presumably after Blockbuster.

What’s the greatest length a video store dude has gone to spur you to return your DVDs?


Edit Your Comment

  1. JMILLER says:


  2. koalabare says:

    I used to work at a family-owed video store and had to make those calls. I would never call from a personal phone, and we wouldn’t call more than one time a week. The purpose of us calling was to let the person know their movies were overdue in case they forgot, not to harrass them.

  3. JMILLER says:


    • Rectilinear Propagation says:

      Man, I thought I was having trouble with the comment system today. You clearly have me beat.

  4. pecan 3.14159265 says:

    I don’t understand why it would be Family Video’s policy to have employees call someone from their personal phones. If you’re trying to get a guy who has overdue DVDs and is ignoring your phone calls to listen to you, having an employee call someone incessantly is just bound to make them upset, and guess what – now that upset person has the employee’s personal phone number!

    Maybe the policy says that employees should call from their personal numbers, and Jake was just an idiot employee who took it too far and thought it was funny to harass people. I’ve found that most video store employees are fairly apathetic, and get bored.

    • raydee wandered off on a tangent and got lost says:

      When I worked video rental, our phone system died for a week or so; the manager got a cheap pay-as-you-go phone for making “your movie is late” phone calls.

      But we’d do it like, once a day, sometimes once every other day.

  5. pantheonoutcast says:

    What’s a “video store”?

    • oldwiz65 says:

      I believe it is a holdover from the far distant past where people would go into a store and rent “movies” on some strange media known as “videotape”. There used to be some in our area but they disappeared years ago.

    • Sword_Chucks says:

      A video store is like netflix except you actually have to go further than the closest mailbox to send and receive movies. I think it was assumed to be a convenience at one time, till Netflix proved to single-handedly keep the USPS alive.

    • Conformist138 says:

      My grandparents owned a chain of them in our local area.

      Grandparents. Owned.

      Damn, what a dead business model.

  6. Platypi {Redacted} says:

    Perhaps Jake really wanted to watch the overdue movies, and REALLY wanted the OP to get it back on time! By all means, harass them until the movie comes back! That will teach then to call screen and to return movies ON TIME!

  7. notovny says:

    Silently charging my credit card once a month without notification.

    While it is, admittedly, standard procedure for Netflix, it’s the only service I subscribe to that doesn’t, (and according to their customer service department, can’t), send me a monthly statement email

  8. GreatWhiteNorth says:

    Just after buying my first house I was hauling crap out of the basement through the basement door and up a set of stairs. Just as I got part was up with the broken water softener my way was blocked by a guy who was trying to put on his best intimidation face and he demanded his “F’ing” movies. I looked past him and saw his gang of backup thugs who I suspect were less imposing than a box of puppies.

    I asked him to get out of my way. He moved and I finished climbing the steps. Then asked him what he was talking about. Apparently the previous tenants of the house had rented movies and buggered off without returning them. Seemed in character with the damage they had done to the house prior to vacating it.

    I explained to the movie guy what had happened with the house and of course he didn’t believe me at first. Following a little more discussion he and his posse left unsatisfied.

    Later, I would see him in the video store and I always wondered if he felt he and his posse should have beat me up for the movies.

    Very odd collection tactic as I may well have damaged him and his puppies if they had pressed the issue. Not an outcome I would relish.

  9. Liam Kinkaid says:

    “Is it legal for a company’s employee to load my information onto his personal cell phone?”

    I doubt he “loaded” it on to his phone. Unless you count dialing a number as “loading”. But, then, he’s “loaded” your number onto his cell phone bill as well. What’s the problem with him calling from his personal phone? (Other than the harassment part, I mean). He has access to a lot more information than your phone number during the day to day duties of his job. He shouldn’t write down your home address either, but are you going to make sure that there are no scraps of paper in the store with which he might do that? This guy certainly does sound like a creeper with the multiple back-to-back phone calls.

    • mistersmith says:

      I was a video store manager for a few years when I was 18-19 years old. There’s a pretty strict Federal privacy statute that protects the renters — for example, you can’t tell a spouse what the other has rented, you can’t use any personal information or rental history for any reason — and all employees had to sign a statement when hired stating they’d read and understood it. There’s a chance that the clerk putting this guy’s number into his cell constituted a breach of that. I doubt it, but a small chance.

  10. Destron says:

    Enter text…Wow, with most companies I have worked for it would be heavily frowned upon to use your personal phone to conduct business if you are hourly, because technically they should pay for that phone if they want you to use it for business.

    I have never had this happen with an overdue DVD, but of course I have not rented a DVD in probably 10 years – i generally just buy them. I had a nasty run in with Capital One once though when I was late on a car payment because I had to arrange my mothers funeral and forgot to make the payment – this first late payment in 3 years – and the day after it was due they repeatedly called both my cell and my wife’s cell one after another – back and forth for like 20 minutes straight while we was trying to talk to the guy making arrangements – we had to turn our phones off. I was pissed – when I did call them I spoke directly to a supervisor – I was outraged – especially since a year in to the loan they sent us a letter saying that we would have a 10 day grace period from that point on if we needed it since we made all our payments on time.

  11. ret3 says:

    This immediately brought to mind that cinematic gem, The Big Hit.

  12. Skipweasel says:

    Get your own back – don’t rewind the DVDs before returning them.

  13. COBBCITY says:

    “Is it legal for a company’s employee to load my information onto his personal cell phone?”

    Did you just ask if it’s legal for someone to dial your phone number when you didn’t happen to give it directly to said person. Really??

    That said, I NEVER answer any calls from numbers I do not know and, even then, most calls from businesses are screened in voice mail to get rid of any sales calls.

    So not only would Family Video have gotten my voice mail, Jake would have also… over and over and over.

    I suspect the store has found people with late rentals won’t answer the phone when they see “Family Video” on the caller ID, but are foolish enough to answer any old call from a stranger so they reach more people that way. Unprofessional at best.

  14. swearint says:

    Was the movie Better Off Dead?

    “I want my two dollars!!”

  15. JoeTheDragon says:

    There was this old add for WOW cable VOD makeing fun of the video store calling and saying that moives where over due and I also think there ones with adult videos names being said.

  16. smo0 says:

    Family Video… hmm….

    When I lived in Chicago in 2002-2004 I rented from them… at least my bf’s mother did… every tuesday, they’d have a stack of movies waiting for her – of all the new releases…

    Best personal customer service… maybe they were taking this “personalization” to a whole new level?

  17. wonderkitty now has two dogs says:

    Where is the “1998” tag?

  18. dvdchris says:

    Calling more than once per day for collections purposes is illegal if contact is made. If there is no answer, a collector may call multiple times a day as long as it is between 8am and 9pm for the person being called.
    I can only imagine that guy had a really short call list that day. Back in the day I can remember collection calls taking up a third of my workday as a video store manager.

    • tbax929 says:

      The caller wasn’t a debt collector. I think the rules you’re referring to apply to third-party collectors.

  19. Mcshonky says:

    Block your number and use those free night and weekend minutes to annoy the oxide out of Jake.
    Use his number when you need a fake number for a form.

    Ask your friends to each make 2 calls to Jake late at night asking about movie reviews.

  20. anonemouse says:

    Best option: call his cell phone repeatedly and leave loud obnoxious voicemails.

  21. EcPercy says:

    Hopefully you told them that there is something out there called Netflix that you will be using from now on.

  22. JANSCHOLL says:

    My son used to be a store manager at Family Video (and he was sent halfway across the country then left stranded and fired) and they are one of the most unscrupulous entities out there. They pretend to be so family oriented yet rent porn to so many wahoos. The company is so bad, I chose never to rent another video in my life. They are the only option in my area for rentals and I warn people not to go there, instead directing them into the big city which is cheaper as a rule. Stay away from Family Video….I wish I could tell you a couple of stories, but I dont want to get anyone fired as jobs are scarce for the little guy locally. But some regional managers deserve to spend some time in jail from this company. Sadly, the company covers for them.

  23. dg says:

    Back when I was in college, Family Video always had the best porn section!

    That said, if they’d called me for an overdue anything, I’d have said “yeah, it’s on the way – chill out”, then I’d get it back to them when I had time and just pay whatever the late fees were. If they called me a 2nd time, I’d tell them never to call me again.

    Third time? I’d sue them. They’d get their whatever back, but they’d get a lawsuit with it.

    And sharing my personal information with your half-wit employee? Sorry – probably violates the federal law that protects video store rental information…

    • coren says:

      Yeah, you owe them money, you have their property, you don’t get to tell them not to call again, that isn’t how it works.

  24. Takoma says:

    Hm. Full disclosure: I worked at a Fam Vid for about 2 years and really liked it–I might even try and work there again if I ever live somewhere that has them.

    When I was employed there was a routine of calling people once a day for late movies (and we only called after the movies were more than a week late or if the account was quickly racking up huge late fees). If schedules allowed it, we would sometimes call again later if we’d only gotten a machine or the person didn’t have a voicemail.

    At my store we had a pretty good system of keeping notes on each call, and we would usually respect the requests of people who actually talked to us. I find it very surprising that the OP got so many calls (and, no, I’m not accusing him of lying–not at all). The only time I’m aware of employees using cell phones was when a large amount of product (like, over $100 worth of video games) would go unreturned for weeks and we would escalate to the next level of management.

    Here’s the thing: at the end of the day our main raison d’etre was to make the customer happy. Period. My co-workers and I went out of our way to be curteous and helpful, and that especially extended to interactions on the phone.

  25. HammRadio says:

    How long has this email been sitting in your inbox?? 12-15 years?

  26. GodsBurden says:

    Here’s the thing most people don’t understand about movie rentals (and this is from working for one of the oldest movie rental stores in the US for the past few years), those movies aren’t yours. You’re borrowing them from someone for a fee. Now what happens is when you borrow something, agree to bring it back 3-5 days later, and don’t do that, you’re basically telling the store “Hey, i’m going to keep your movies for an unspecified time, and you’ll never know when you’re going to get it back nor will you be able to rent it out again to make more money on the title. You may never know when you will get your money for this rental whether you like it or not.” So once again, it’s not the video store “ripping you off” or “harassing you repeatedly for no reason.” It’s the store’s property you are borrowing for a fee. It’s the store/company’s property you have in your possession. They have a right to know when it’s coming back, if it’s coming back, or if they have to replace it and charge you accordingly.

    Naturally, the store will call you asking where the movies are or if you’ll be returning them any time soon. It’s their right to do so, it’s their property. They will also usually tell them the rate in which keeping the movie out will be charged daily. That’s normally what happens. What’s happened here isn’t really clear. Did the guy threaten the emailer in any way? Did he just call and get a voice mail and just keep calling to get a hold of the person? How long was the movie out? None of this is specified, just an irate customer who may or may not have had a few phone calls in a single day from the store.

    Here’s another thought, maybe the lines were down? Perhaps the store had been trying to call the person for weeks on end, and not had any luck reaching them (aka phone screening to avoid the store) and had to ask an employee to call with his cell phone as a last resort? There are tons of reasons why he may have called the emailer from his personal phone. It clearly wasn’t to just harass the emailer or he/she would have gone to the police, not just a manager, right? The guy has the emailer’s phone number, home address, and at times, credit card number. If he were the type who were going to harass the emailer, he/she really would be in serious trouble. Obviously this wasn’t the case as the emailer went to the manager instead of the police.

    In the end, what do we have? A story about a person who got a few too many calls for holding someone else’s property a little too long and really not much else. Nobody was hurt. Nobody had anything stolen (that we know of), and a person who attempted to retaliate by emailing consumerist about the “nasty video store employee” who called the emailer attempting to figure out what the deal was with a movie they had held for a little longer than they were supposed to.

  27. j_rose says:

    I used to work at a store where we provided a service (let’s call it storage), and the customer paid after. At one point, we had a customer who kept promising to come in and pick up their personal belongs and pay. Each day they didn’t, they racked up another $40 or so. After 3 weeks, we realized they weren’t coming in, and they were no longer answering our store phone. Because of the delicate nature of their belongings, we had to report them abandoning it to authorities. So before we did that, an employee offered to call from her personal phone in a last-ditch attempt to get them to answer. (They never did pay, and we turned over their property to the authorities. They owed like $600 by the end)

    Now, that’s in no way the same as the video store, but there are cases when I can see someone doing this. We knew by that time they were avoiding the specific number.