2004_10_askvideo.jpgI recently went to Video Free Brooklyn for the first time, hoping to get a membership and support my local independent video store. I walked in and politely asked about becoming a member. The guy working at the counter handed me a form and told me to fill it out. I did so, and then picked a movie to rent. First he criticized my movie pick (I had not asked for his opinion). I ignored this, and asked him how much rentals were and when they were due back. “There’s a SIGN on the WALL” he replied huffily. I hadn’t seen the sign since he was blocking it, so I moved to the side and read the sign. When I went to pay for my movie, he said, “New releases are due back in one day. This movie is a new release. Let's see if you can figure it out. So when would this be due back?” I couldn’t believe that he was treating me like a total idiot. I said, “Forget it, I won’t be renting any movies here” and asked for my membership form back. I’ve never called a store to complain about customer service before, but I called the owner of the store the next day, and he didn’t really seem to care much. He said he’d talk to the employee but he didn’t even try to get me to return as a customer. I thought maybe he would offer me at least a free rental or something. Do you think I am overreacting? What course of action would you recommend when dealing with really bad customer service?
- Annoyed in Brooklyn

Although New York City video clerks have been known for their snobbishness, we certainly think this guy crossed the line. It sounds like you were perfectly polite to this video jerk with a chip on his shoulder, and there was no reason for him to be so overtly awful towards you. Maybe he thinks he’s the next Quentin Tarantino, maybe he had a bad day, maybe you looked like his nasty ex-girlfriend... but none of this warranted his extremely hostile behavior. We think you did the right thing - if you are treated badly by a store, you should simply let it go and walk out, not giving the store your business, and call back later to complain to the owner/manager. We also think you should feel free to tell your friends and acquaintances not to patronize the store. Small businesses thrive on good customer service, repeat business, and word-of-mouth.

Gothamist recently reported on the closing of Kim’s Video on Avenue A, a location reknowned for having its employees be mean to the customers. Video store owners take note: You’d better wise up and be nice to the people renting from your store, because TiVo, Video On Demand, cable, and Netflix don’t hassle their customers.