Tuesday, November 30, 2010

GG, Family Video

Once in a while, as has been related in the past, people return Family Video's movies to Fernando at his Dominion. Fernando is a gentleman and calls up the store and usually arranges for someone to come pick it up, or for Fernando to go out of his way to return the films should he be heading thattaway in the nearish future.

One of Fernando's regular customers rented a movie from him and failed to return it; quite bizarre, since this person had generally been punctual in returning his rentals and paid off any of the small late fees he'd accrue immediately. So, after the third day of absence, Fernando calls him up to investigate the matter.


Hi, this is Fernando from the Dominion of Movies. I'm just calling about the movie you rented a few days back. It hasn't been returned, and I just wanted to remind you.”

I returned it on Monday.” (It was now Wednesday by this point).

Well, I still have the slip in my late pile. Let me double-check to make sure I didn't shelve it and accidentally forgot to mark it as returned.” This sort of thing happens to Fernando once in a while, unfortunately, for he is only human and if he is being swamped by customers things can fall through the cracks. However, upon checking his database and the shelf, the movie in question is absent and labeled as still in the customer's possession. Fernando informs him of this fact.

Well, I don't know what happened. Let me check around the house here and I'll get back to you.” Fernando agrees and the conversation ends.

An hour or so later, the man comes into the store looking quite distressed. “Yeah, um. I'm sorry.” He places a case down on the counter—one of Fernando's cases, but inside of it is a movie from Family Video. “I accidentally returned your movie to Family Video. I'll go up there tomorrow and see about getting it back.”

Fernando pish-pishes that suggestion. “I'll just call them up right now and explain what happened. It's happened that I've gotten their videos a bunch of times before.” So Fernando digs out the phone book and calls up the Family Video in question.

Family Video.”

Yes, hi. This is Fernando from the Dominion of Movies in the small town twenty-three miles to the west. One of my movies was accidentally returned to your store a few days ago.”

Which one?” Fernando gives the title and the man excuses himself for a moment. A few minutes later, he returns. “Yeah, we've had it here since Monday. We tried giving you a call but the person who answered the phone said not to worry and that you'd be in to pick it up.”

Now this is quite odd. Fernando is the sole employee at the Dominion of Movies, and he would certainly recall Family Video calling him about possessing one of his films; he would never have had to call up his customer in that case because he would have seen that it was returned. When Fernando expressed his misgivings regarding the tale's veracity, the man on the other end became indignant.

Look, I'm telling you what really happened. We called the number on the tag and somebody answered.”

Like who?” It is a fact that Fernando enjoys messing with people who spin bullshit, like telemarketers and liars.

Oh, just a guy. You know.”

Well, I mean, I don't know. I don't know at all because I don't have any 'guys' working here.”

A girl, then.”

Did this man think Fernando was in some way deficient? “Listen. There's nobody else here. There's just me, Fernando. I never got this phone call.” The man tries interrupting but Fernando will have none of it. “Here's what going to happen. I've worked with you guys to go out of my way to return movies of yours before that have been dropped off here and I'm frankly pissed at the crap you're trying to pull on me. So I expect my movie to be back in my possession by Friday. If it is not, then we shall dance a legal dance in which you explain why you have unlawfully had some of my property in your possession for almost a week.” And Fernando hangs up.

The movie was in his drop box the following morning, but Fernando is done being nice with Family Video. As for the customer, he paid off his late fees without issue and all became right between Fernando and him because Fernando follows the Golden Rule, and does unto others as is done unto him.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

∃a(NoRent(a) -> NoRent(a))

Fernando sees a man in his mid-20s come in with his girlfriend. Fernando recognizes this Girlfriend Man because of a past incident involving an unreturned movie, despite him not having come to the store in quite a long time. Fernando's memory is quite good when it comes to people owing him money. Anyhow, Girlfriend Man plucks and brings up a couple of rental tags and Fernando says to him, “You have $56 in late fees. You can’t rent until you pay that off.”

Girlfriend Man decides to get belligerent, as people always do. “From what?”

“Well, you rented a movie over two years ago and failed to return it.”

“And I got $56 in late fees from one movie how?”

“By renting it and not returning it, as I just said. Late fees add up and then it’s about twenty dollars for a replacement. It could have been a lot more, but they were stopped after less than two weeks.”

“I’m not paying $56 in late fees. Tell me what movie it is and I’ll buy a new copy, but that's it.”

“That doesn’t matter because a new copy was already bought. You still owe $56 in late fees.”

“I’m not paying $56.”

“That’s fine. Then you won't be renting.”

“I just won’t rent here anymore.”

Fernando responds, suddenly channeling The Gord, “I believe I said that just now. Door’s to my left.”

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Call of Duty

Fernando is at the store, preparing for a Friday opening by rearranging the week's top ten rentals when the phone rings. It's not out of the ordinary for people to call the store before opening time. Some of the time it's the distributor calling Fernando to usually give him bad news about how the next week's releases will be a day or two late and if that “would be a problem”; some of the time it's people who misremember the fact that Fernando opens at 12 PM on Saturday and Sunday and 2 PM otherwise; and some of the time it's telemarketers come out to play so Fernando can try out new characters.

Today it was a semi-regular customer, so technically Option 2. “Hi. I'm just calling to let you know I'll be out of town for the next few days and I have one of your movies. I was wondering what kind of late fees I'll be looking at.”

Peculiar. Customers usually don't keep Fernando in the loop of why his property is (sometimes ridiculously) tardy. “Um...well, since you called it'd be an extra $1.50 per day, instead of the usual rate. But, I mean, you could probably swing by the store before you go to save yourself the hassle.”

Oh. Um, yeah. I'm already out of town, though. So I can't really do that.”

Ok. Well, maybe you could have one of your friends bring it in?”

I don't really know anybody around here.”

Now Fernando is a trifle perplexed, because this young man is dating a girl whose brother is in the store probably every other day, and unless there's some really bad blood between the two siblings, it shouldn't be at all an issue to have the brother return it. At most, it'd be one, two days late.

Fernando was just about to point this out to the young man when he continued, “What if I had it mailed it to you?”

Fernando's jaw drops. “W-well I guess if you wanted to do that that would be an option. I'd have to charge you until I received it, of course. The address is on the labels on the case and disc, if you want to go that route, but--”

Ok, I'll go ahead and do that. Just wanted to let you know why it'll be a few days late and that I'm not trying to run off with it.”

This impossibly positive customer interaction has now officially boggled Fernando's mind. “Um, that works for me then. Thank you very much for calling to let me know.”

No problem. Talk to you later.” Click.




UPDATE: The movie arrived via priority mail the following Monday.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

First Time's Charms

A hot young twenty-something woman rents a movie. The hot young twenty-something woman fails to return it and Fernando winces in folly because she lacked a formal account at the store because...well, embarrassingly, her voluminous assets distracted Fernando from ensuring he had contact information in the case exactly this would happen. Fernando uses his savvy talents to track her down via a book of faces and, fortunately, she returns the movie. Unfortunately, the late fees are not taken care of when the movie resurfaces in the drop box.

About a month later the hot young twenty-something woman returns to the store and Fernando informs her on the status (or lack thereof) of her account and late fees, and that she would not be renting unless they were paid off in full and she filled out an account application.

On this particular day, she was wearing a rather low-cut shirt and a fairly gravity-defying bra, and she made it a point of order to lean over the counter most alluringly. “Are you sure you can't let me rent?” At this point she hunches her forearms and makes vast troughs of flesh bulge explosively.

Fernando takes in the view for a moment before returning his gaze to her eyes. “I'm sure. Thanks, though.”

A flicker of confusion crosses her countenance before Fernando continues, “You still have to pay your late fees before you can rent again.”

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Class Act

An unfamiliar man enters the Dominion one overcast Saturday afternoon in mid-November. "Yeah, I was wondering if you had a movie I've been wanting to watch, The Hills Have Eyes."

Fernando nods and rises from his chair. "Absolutely I do. Let me go and get that for you." So Fernando hunts down the tag and brings it up to the counter to begin filling out the rental slip. "Can I get your name?"

"Newguy McHunterton."

Fernando pauses in his filling out of the rental slip. "Do you have an account here?"

"Uh, no. I'm only up here for about a week every year."

Fernando shrugs. "That's no problem. I've got a paper clipped bundle about yea thick of hunters who come up here this time of year." He holds his thumb and forefinger about an inch apart.

"I'd just like it for one night."

Fernando, meanwhile, has retrieved a membership application. "I just need you to fill this out for me. It's a quick and painless process."

The man looks down suspiciously. "I don't want to be a member. I'm just up here for a week each year. I just want to rent this movie."

"I understand that. But I need for you to fill this out before I'll rent to you."


Oh boy oh boy oh boy, that's just begging for a frank response. But, tempting as it is for Fernando to be impossibly forthright, he instead says, "It's a standard membership application that is store policy, like what you'd need to fill out to rent anything anywhere else. Name, address, phone number, driver's license or credit card number."

"You want my driver's license number?" At this point, the man's eyebrows knit in the way that happens when people who usually get their way...don't.

"Or credit card information, that's correct."

"Fuck you. Keep your fucking movie." And the man shoves the rental tag and membership application-card-thing to the floor from the glass countertop. "Asking me for my driver's license, un-fucking-believable...." he mutters as he storms out.

Fernando now wishes he'd given the forthright response, which is, "I've never seen you before, you don't live around here, and I'd like some information that helps ensure that my property will be returned."

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Success in Haggling is Tied to One's Charisma Stat

A man who infrequently comes to the store and even more infrequently rents enters the Dominion one October evening with two big boxes. “Hey, uh, yeah, I was wonderin' if you wanted to buy some old VHS tapes offa me. I need some quick cash. Thirty bucks for the whole bunch.”

Fernando is mildly intrigued, since he does sell used VHS tapes and people occasionally buy them to bring them to their hunting camps and other wilderness hidey holes. So he meanders over and takes a look at what the man's got. Lots of James Bond. Some were movies that the man had purchased from the Dominion at a nebulous point in the past, for they still bore the Dominion's stickers. Others were things Fernando would probably never be able to sell because everyone already owned the film in question, like the two copies of What's Love Got to Do With It cluttering his sales rack (He has even more in the back room. What the deal is with people and having owned that movie is a mystery for the ages). The cases are for the most part decent-looking, but a few have obvious water damage to them. All in all, maybe fifty, sixty movies total.

Fernando rubs his forehead and does some quick business math aerobics and says, “I can give you twenty dollars in credit for them.”

Well, I was hopin' to get some cash. There are a lot of them in there. You could resell 'em for over a hundred dollars.”

Sorry, I only give credit for trade-ins. And the unfortunate fact is that there are a lot of crap commons that everybody already has two or three copies of.” Fernando points to the first Austin Powers movie leering up at him from one of the boxes as an example. “And some of the cases are a little dingy and beat up so they don't look nearly as nice on the rack. And you have maybe fifty movies here, and I don't sell used VHS tapes for nearly enough to make a hundred bucks off that number.”

Well, how's the credit work?”

Fernando is a little stunned at this question. “It's pretty much a credit account and if you rent or buy stuff it gets used up.”

Oh. Well, can ya make an exception? I really need the cash right now.”

Fernando spreads his hands. “I'd love to help you, but it's store policy. It makes the accounting much less messy for me on this end. If you really, really wanted cash for them, though, I can give you ten.”

Well, I say they're worth at least thirty bucks.”

Twenty in credit or ten in cash is the best I can do.”

Oh, ok. I'll check up at the Sound Shelf and see if they can do me a better deal. I really need the cash right now.” Yes, yes, Fernando gets it. You need the cash right now. But regurgitating the same tired plea for the fourth time after the first time didn't work is an exercise in irritation.

Yeah. Sorry.” Fernando goes back to his desk, for he has had enough of this.

The man then proceeds to fill out a slip for Fernando's weekly gift certificate drawing (without renting anything, of course) and leaves.

UPDATE: The individual in question returns to the Dominion about a week later and informs Fernando that he sold his boxes of tapes for $16 at the Sound Shelf. So good for him? He also didn't rent. Again.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Advice Givers

Around these parts, the time of the year in which it is legal to hunt deer is impossibly serious business, to the point that schools and businesses close. A great many people come from out of town and Fernando sees them for only about one week a year, but he nevertheless considers them to be regular customers; he recognizes their names and faces and these people make it a point to stop in nearly every day during the season. Fernando enjoys their business and they, if their actions are any indication, enjoy Fernando's businessmanship.

In this case, a person Fernando has never seen before enters the store about half an hour before closing. He is wearing hunting camo gear and has in tow a teenage son also wearing hunting camo. He saunters up to the counter and slams his hands down upon it and asks, “D’ya have any huntin’ videos?”

Fernando pauses at his work (he’s currently updating the late list) and says, “No, I’m afraid we don’t.”

“Well, why not?”

Fernando now needs to come up with a good reason, since no hunter has ever asked this question of him at any point in recorded history. So he falls back on the old standby he uses whenever anyone asks why he doesn't have Movie X: “Because they wouldn’t rent very well.”

“It’s stupid that you don’t have them. If you had some here I would be renting them, but now you just lost a customer.” The person Fernando has never seen before then exits the store. Fernando goes back to updating the late list.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

If Only It Worked This Well With the Ladies

An elderly gentleman comes into the store to drop off some movies for someone else. As he turns to leave, Nature decides to do Fernando a huge favor and it begins to downpour something fiercely. The man scratches his cheek before turning to Fernando and saying, “Well, this weather's no good for anything. What kinds o' action flicks ya got?”

So Fernando comes out from behind the counter and begins leading the man on a perusal of the store, pointing out this and that new release that falls under the category. The man finds three or four titles that interest him but he eventually settles on the Clash of the Titans remake, mentioning the fact that he's heard good things but isn't sure that he'd like it because it's not the “right kind” of action.

Well,” says Fernando, “it's crappy weather, and I've heard it's going to be crap tomorrow, so you may as well pick out something else in case this one's not up to snuff. What kind of action were you going for?”

Fernando quizzes the man on his movie likes and the man mentions having enjoyed the Matrix movies and is a fan of Nicolas Cage. And the perusal of the store continues, and the man has a number of other, different-action, titles pointed out to him.

I've got something by the guys who did The Matrix here—Ninja Assassin. It's not The Matrix, obviously, but it's a very similar style of action filming.”

Lots of this, then?” The man pantomimes bullet time asskickery.


Sounds good.” And the man selected that movie as well.

As for Nic Cage....” Fernando says, guiding the man to the older releases, “He hasn't really had anything brand-new come out based on what you like recently. But this one, Bangkok Dangerous, came out about, eh, two, two and a half years ago. He's a hitman. Solid and action-packed.”

Never heard of it, but I've been to Thailand a couple times, back in 'Nam,” the gentleman replies, but Nicolas Cage is on the cover and any arguments he may have wanted to put forth are invalid. He selects that one too.

As Fernando begins filling out the rental slip, the man asks Fernando his name and Fernando gladly gives it to him along with a business card, and the man says he'll probably be in tomorrow to rent again for he found Fernando to be quite personable and informative. Thus did Fernando add another regular customer to his fold and receive warm fuzzies for the day.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Big Brother

Teenage girl comes in and rents a stack of movies, one of which is Toy Story 2 on BluRay. Fernando points out to her that she has the BluRay copy and that the DVD is available if she likes, but she assures him that she has a player at home. So the transaction goes through and Fernando is made merry.

The following day, her father returns the movies and says to Fernando, “Yeah, this one movie we rented last night wouldn't work. It's BluRay and we don't have a player.”

That's odd. Because last night when your daughter was in I pointed out that A) she has the BluRay copy and the DVD was available but that B) you guys have a player for BluRays.”

Well, what do you want to do about it?”

Fernando had not been having a great day up to that point because his distributor had been a pain about getting his releases for next week to him in a timely manner; an unnecessarily belligerent customer was the last thing he wanted to deal with. “What do you want me to do about it?”


Fernando ponders for a moment. “Ok. For starters, I'll need a list of every piece of electronic equipment in your house. Everything, from tvs to dvd players to microwaves to back massagers. Brand, model, and year.”


Because,” Fernando interrupted, now that his ire had been roused, “if you expect me to be aware of what electronics you do and do not have in your household, I'll need that information, in advance, in order to stop you from renting items that I don't know don't work with the electronics you do or do not have, so we can prevent this from ever happening again.”

The father left.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Time Assuredly Does Not Heal All Wounds

A man Fernando has never seen enters the store and selects four cases from the rack, bringing them to the counter. This obviates that he has rented here at most one time previously, as any remotely regular customer knows to select the rental tags, so Fernando sets the customer to filling out a membership application while Fernando takes a peek at the ancient-aaaaancient late lists, just to be sure.

It turned out that Mr. Cases had late fees going back over four years, from before Fernando ever set foot in Someone Else's Dominion as the humblest of cashier jockeys. But, as he inherited all accounts payable and receivable when he took over, the fee was his to collect. It was not an extensively, amazingly large one ($26), but one that had lingered for quite a long span of time and that Fernando thought should need to be paid off fully before the individual in question could rent again. When Fernando informed him of this, the man feigned obsequiousness and pleaded to rent his flotilla of movies anyway, promising to bring money to pay off the late fees the next day. Fernando suggested the man bring the money tomorrow to pay off the late fees, and then he could rent.

Unsurprisingly, he never returned.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Parental Responsibility

Fernando must sadly deal with people who are, for want of a better term, irresponsible, and it is no surprise at all that their children adopt such mannerisms as well. It should also come as no surprise that the parents go into angry rant mode when they attempt to rent and are informed their offspring racked up late and replacement fees. One such conversation went as follows:

I can't rent to you until these late fees are paid off.”

What? How did I get $61 in late fees?”

Your daughter was in a few weeks back and rented two movies, neither of which was ever returned, despite my numerous calls. I even sent a letter certified mail. These fees add up.”

You can't charge me for that!”

Actually, I can. She rented under your account.”

I'll tell her to pay them off.”

That's very nice of you. If and when that happens, you can rent again.”

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Trust Issues

Fernando leases a $2.50 rental to an irregular customer one rainy Saturday evening and he departs. The next day, at around 3 PM, he returns with the movie in tow.

Yeah, this movie didn't work in my player. Can I get a refund?”

Fernando, not being an idiot, proceeds to determine the veracity of this claim by placing the disc in his own player. As he's firing up the TV, he asks, “So, any particular part that caused it to not work?” Fernando also notes that the inner jewel case is shattered straight down the middle when previously it had been intact.

Oh, y'know, it didn't load at all.”

That's the favorite type of thing for Fernando to check, because it takes so little time and effort. And, lo and behold, it works. Not only do the previews and FBI warnings load flawlessly, but so, too, does the title screen and even the first scene of the movie when Fernando selects the Play Movie option.

But Fernando is not totally heartless when it comes to operating his Dominion. “It's working fine for me here. Maybe your DVD player is just a little musty on the inside or something. I can let you have this for another night on the house, if you like.” The man agrees to this plan and departs.

Around 6.30 that evening, he returns again. “Yeah. It still didn't work. Can I get my money back now?”

Well then,” says Fernando. “It worked fine for me, and I've never had anyone else complaining about it. I can give you credit towards another rental.”

So a free rental?”

No. Credit towards a rental. $2.50.”

You sure you won't get my money back?”

Listen. You were standing right there earlier when you saw it worked just fine. I'm already doing far more than I ought to because this disc is in no way dysfunctional and I am trying to scratch out a living. You can take credit, or nothing.”

Fine. I'll take the credit.”

Fernando then proceeds to make an entry on his credit table for him when the man interrupts. “Yeah, I'd like to have you fill out something I can hold onto, so I can trust you not to forget.” This, of course, is translated from the language of poor customers as “I don't think you're going to give me that credit, you cheap bastard.”

But Fernando humors the man and, taking one of his free rental stampcards, scrawls “$2.50 credit” in nice, black ink upon it. The man, now apparently satisfied, proceeds to fill out a slip for Fernando's drawing despite having been nothing but annoying and not renting a goddamn thing.

The joys of working with the public.