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Video Stores - Customer Service and Privacy

The following stories are true.  The names have not been changed to reward the deserving and accuse the guilty.

Let me tell you a little about my shopping habits.  I don't like to be hounded by sales people.  I don't like to be ignored, either.  I don't like stores that are disorganized and messy.  Neither do I enjoy shopping where I feel if I don't get the product lined back up just so on the shelf I'll get called hauled out the back door.  Most importantly, I won't complain to the management about any of these issues.  I'll just shop somewhere else.  Unless there is only one place where I can get a particular product (which is extremely rare) I just take my business to a more friendly location, even if it's half way across town.  I'll even pay higher prices.

For instance -  There are lots of places to go get a sub sandwich.  I go to Subway occasionally.  They've never treated me badly.  They just don't remember me from one day to the next.  But my friend Dennis runs a Sub Shop out on the west end of town here.  He knows my name.  The girls behind the counter always remember my regular order.  One day at lunch there was a long line.  My sandwich was ready before I got to the counter to place my order, much to the astonishment of the people ahead of me in line.  A sandwich costs a little more there than Subway, but I'll pay it any time.  But, I digress...

A couple of years ago I rented a video from Safeway.  I watched the movie and returned it - to the Hollywood Video across the street!  Ooops!  My fault, most definitely.  A week later I got a call from Safeway's video department - "where's that video you rented?  The overdue charges are $28!"  Well, I'm sure I returned it, but I'll look around.  A couple of days later it dawned on me what I had done.  I dashed over to Hollywood Video and sure enough, there it was on a counter behind the register.  Clearly identified as a Safeway video, it would have taken 5 minutes for someone to carry it across the street and drop it off.  Instead, I ran up considerable overdue fines at Safeway, and while it was clearly my fault, the ease with which I could have been saved a pile of cash (which, by the way, I could have spent at Hollywood Video) just irritated me.  No, I didn't write to the main office and complain.  I've just never rented another video from Hollywood Video.

Yesterday, I went to an independent video rental store I shop at occasionally.  I got to the checkout stand and gave the clerk my phone number.  "Oh, you're not in our database.  Here's a membership application.  Please move over to this other counter to fill it out."  I looked at the form.  I've seen simpler employment applications.  Not only did they want my name, address, social security number, drivers license number, wife's name, the names of all my children, my last two employers and e-mail address, they wanted TWO credit card numbers WITH EXPIRATION DATES.  I looked at the top of the form - Blockbuster Video - my independent shop had been bought out.  I quietly folded up the form and walked out, leaving the videos on the counter.

So, what have we learned?  Go the extra mile.  Treat customers with respect.  Think about how you'd feel if you were the customer in these situations.  Trust.  If you don't trust me to borrow your video and return it, am I going to trust you with a blank check?  I don't think so.  It's no wonder piracy is running rampant.  Arrogance is the quickest road to extinction in my book.  Insist I can't live without you, and I will!  It's just entertainment, and if I didn't watch another video in the next two years, I probably wouldn't notice.  I watched my venus flytrap eat a fly yesterday.  Now, That's Entertainment!

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