Fool's Gold and 27 Dresses

The Madison County Record Nov. 1, 2009, 10:24am

Renting a newly-released or classic film DVD for a dollar a day seems like a good deal. Watch it the same night, return it the next day, and you're out a dollar.

Keep it longer and pay a dollar more for each additional day. Two days, two dollars. Three days, three dollars. If you keep it more than 24 days, you're charged $25 and the DVD is yours.

Of course, if you wanted to purchase a DVD instead of renting it, you probably could get it for less. But, if you don't want to buy it, then don't keep it so long. Simple and fair, right?

That's the deal Redbox offers customers who rent DVDs from vending machines at 21,000 retail shopping outlets across the nation. It's an alternative to Blockbuster and Netflix that's proving popular with movie lovers.

Laurie Piechur of St. Clair County was one of those movie lovers – and a satisfied Redbox customer, apparently, until she didn't return two DVDs in 24 days: Fool's Gold and 27 Dresses.

Redbox charged her $50 for the two DVDs, just as they said they would, and now she's mad.

Led by the infamous jackpot justice hunter Thomas Maag, Laurie has filed suit, accusing Redbox of statutory fraud, unfair practice, unlawful penalties, unjust enrichment, violation of the Illinois Rental-Purchase Agreement, violation of the Automatic Contract Renewal Act, and violation of the Deceptive Business Practices Act. Alleging that Redbox illegally charges excessive late fees despite claims to the contrary, she is asking the court to certify the case as a class action and to award a judgment of more than $350,000, plus attorneys' fees, etc.

What Laurie calls "excessive late fees" are Redbox's clearly stated dollar-a-day rental charges.

Assisting Laurie in her quest for gold are Maag and his brother, Peter, James Kelly and Jeffrey Millar of Brent Coon & Associates in St. Louis.

Let's hope they get fool's gold. That's what they deserve.

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