View Full Version : legal Q: exchanging purchased DVD & extent of license

17th June 2004, 22:46
Alright, so here's one for y'all.

Bit of background first:
I'm in the US. If you purchase a DVD, often you may return it (according to retailer's return policy, usually up to 30 days) as long as it's still wrapped. But if you break the cellophane then of course you may only exchange it for the same title. In fact, the retailer is supposed to provide the replacement in the same state. That is: if you return a disc with the seal broken, the retailer must break the seal on the replacement copy (so you can't take the new, sealed copy back _again_ and exchange that).

So here's the question:
My girlfriend just purchased Lost in Translation. We put it in the player and saw the dreaded sign of impending doom (aka "...has been modified to fit your screen") before realizing that she'd purchased the wrong version. I want to take it back and exchange it for the widescreen version. I can't decide which prevails in this case: 1) the title, content and intent are the same, and packaged in such a way as to make it difficult for the casual consumer to grab the right one, therefore i should be able to exchange it; 2) the exact data provided on the disc is different, and in fact its a different version of the movie, therefore i cannot.

I've had difficulty exchanging at this particular retailer in the past, and would like to go prepared. Does anyone have any knowledge or experience with this situation?


18th June 2004, 05:45
I don't think it depends so much on U.S. law; it mainly depends on the store's written exchange policy, and to what extent the person behind the counter intends to enforce it.

I worked in a DVD store for many years. My suggestion is to approach the associate(s) in a calm, relaxed manner, explain your mistake, and politely ask if they will exchange it for the WS version. If they decline to do so, gently show your disappointment, but keep asking (beg and plead if necessary). Try to evoke guilty feelings in the other person. Apologize for not reading the label.

If the sorrowful approach doesn't work, become forceful and ask to speak to the store manager. Explain your problem clearly to him/her. If he/she declines, you can become irate, but there are several things you must NOT do:

1) Use profanity
2) Raise your voice to shouting
3) Declare that you will go to the manager's boss
4) Threaten any employee (or the company) with a lawsuit

You must avoid behavior which is belligerent or threatening, because at this point the staff will likely turn a deaf ear to your rants. You can try to lay guilt on them or persuade them to your cause, but if you try to make them fear you, you'll lose. (Even worse, they'll laugh at you after you leave the store.)

If none of the above works, I really don't know if you can pursue legal action, or if it's worth your trouble for one DVD. Instead, I would swallow the loss and start shopping for a different retailer.

Good luck. :)

18th June 2004, 14:44
I'm taking it back today. let ya know how it goes!

18th June 2004, 16:39
They let me exhange a Fullscreen for a Widescreen at Wal-Mart a couple of months ago.

20th June 2004, 04:25
Well good and bad news. They agreed to let me exchange it, but then the didn't carry the widescreen version. DOH!!!

20th June 2004, 06:06
Scold them for even stocking the foolscreen pan-and-scam version in the first place. Point them to the statistics that show widescreen outselling fullscreen in almost every case now (except for some children's titles).

For example:

LiT Widescreen: Amazon.com Sales Rank (DVD): 34
LiT Fullscreen: Amazon.com Sales Rank (DVD): 1,214

Or this:


And the increasingly common practice of making it difficult to discover which version you're about to buy is despicable.

20th June 2004, 07:00
Originally posted by manono
And the increasingly common practice of making it difficult to discover which version you're about to buy is despicable.
I agree.
I _have_ to believe that its a graphic design choice, or just ignorance, because i can't find any business-oriented reason to purposely sell someone the wrong product when one has both to offer and at the same cost.