Coercion in the Video Game Store

Posted by David Deutsch on the TCS list on Thu, 29 May 1997 23:58:05 +0100

A poster wrote:

[Lots of stuff about returning videos on time, all of which I agree with, including:]

Parents have asked storeowner not to make statements like “late again? Mommy and Daddy going to bail you out again? How many times before you get it right?”, etc. Storeowner has not complied or done so with air of disapproval. When parents return with child, storeowner smirks when making change for overdue fines.

Yes. This often happens to me when I return a video late. It often goes like this:

Assistant: There's a one-pound fine for that one.

David: You mean a late charge.

Assistant: Wha?

David: It's a late charge, not a fine. You're a shop. You can't levy fines.

Assistant: Wha?

David: Never mind. Here's the pound.

Assistant: Thank you sir.

And so I maintain my dignity as a customer, a consumer, a citizen and a human being. If I were a child, I might not be able to do this sort of thing without help. Hence something horrible like this might happen:

Assistant: Late again, eh? There's a one-pound fine for that one.

Child: Sorry — I meant to bring it yesterday, but...

Assistant: Just don't do it again!

Child: No — sorry.

Assistant: [Looks round at the other customers, and they all share the sinister “adult-solidarity” look.]

Child: [Slinks out, humiliated.]