How business is done

I’ll take a break from politics and write about business practices this time. I couldn’t help it.

I don’t think I know anybody who, during the course of his/her life, didn’t spend at least an hour on the phone with some credit card company disputing some unknown charges. It’s almost a hazing ritual into the adulthood. I’ve done that a few times but shit just keeps coming up, this time from Blockbuster.

Recently I have cancelled my membership in Blockbuster store across the street from where I live, because they were closing and moving to a different location. I cancelled and forgot about it until I found not one, but two monthly Blockbuster charges on my Amex card. Puzzled, I called the listed phone # for one charge and turns out they indeed cancelled my membership in the store across the street but, and I love this, “for my convenience” transferred the membership to the other two nearest stores. Now, I don’t even know where to begin to dissect this bullshit. Notwithstanding the fact that each one of those new stores is about 20 minutes walk from where I live, and it would never occur to me to become a member in any of those, especially in the age of Netflix, I would have probably forgiven this ineptitude if they just transferred my membership to ONE store. I’d be annoyed, but it is pretty much expected that any business, if they make a mistake, it’s never in your favor. But, come on, guys! TWO stores? Each one charging me separately? For something I have cancelled? If you’re trying to swindle someone out of their freaking $30 at least do it with some subtlety. Don’t be so blatant in your greed. Perhaps, I would just let it slide if I was too lazy, isn’t that what they were counting on? That people will either ignore it or will be too busy to dispute that? But what if there were not 2 but 5 other stores in my area, does that mean you would charge me $30 5 times in 5 different locations?

Having said all of the above to the unfortunate clerk on the phone, I asked him to cancel my membership immediately in the two stores and get me a refund. But it’s not that simple. You see, to get a refund you have go to each one of those stores personally and get your credit card credited. They can’t do it over the phone. As you can imagine, at this point I got so agitated that I WANTED to personally go to each one of those stores and speak to somebody face to face. So I did, but again, you can’t just show up there at your own convenience. You have to come in when the manager who does refunds is there. So I had to go to one store 2 times, but at that point I was so immersed in the chase I almost started to enjoy it. It’s too bad that I only ended up giving shit to poor customer service people, but not to the executives who think that shit up! They probably sit there in their boardroom and think – times are tough, Netflix is knocking at the door, movies suck, how do we make money? Let’s try this trick and hope no one will notice. But think about an average customer who doesn’t have all the time in world and would just say, Fuck it! See, that’s the kind of shit that pisses me off about businesses – they really just count on you to give up and it’s only $30 and who cares anyway?

I’m increasingly under the impression that businesses, especially large businesses forgot how to compete for customers with good service. They always try to trick you out of your money with fine print or small charges that are easier to ignore for you than to dispute, or they charge you $25 fee for $5 overdraft, or they continue charging you after you cancelled, hoping you wouldn’t notice. And if you complain, on a large scale, you’re anti-business or, worse, a Commie. Well, if that’s what capitalism is all about – swindlers protected by the government, then call me a Commie. That’s not capitalism – it’s a rip-off.

P.S. BTW, isn’t Blockbuster near bankruptcy? No wonder.

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