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Blockbuster Educates Customers on ‘No Late Fees’ Program

BY CSA STAFF

Dallas, Blockbuster will respond to criticisms surrounding its “No Late Fees” program by “augmenting customer communications,” the retailer says.

Blockbuster’s No Late Fees program allows consumers to keep movies for more than a week without late fees, but charges the rental as a purchase if the item isn’t returned within a designated time frame. Critics have charged that the name of the No Late Fees program is misleading, and that the automatic purchase is itself a hidden late fee.

Blockbuster cataloged the additional measures it would take to describe the program to customers. Among them are:

• More in-store signage explaining the No Late Fees program

• Information centers equipped with brochures explaining the policy

• Redesigned receipts that include the details of the program, including the sales price and date on which the customer will purchase the rental if it is not returned

• Highlighting of program details on Blockbuster’s Web site

• Reinforced employee training regarding the policy

Blockbuster added that the details of the program already were displayed prominently in locations participating in the No Late Fees program. The program, introduced Jan. 1, is in effect at all of Blockbuster’s U.S. corporate-owned locations and half of its franchised stores, plus its more than 425 stores in Canada.

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Walgreen 2Q Profits Up

BY CSA STAFF

Deerfield, Ill., Walgreen Co. reported second-quarter profit of $490.9 million, or 48? per share, up from $431.6 million, or 42? per share, a year earlier. Sales increased 12.3% to $11 billion from $9.78 billion a year ago, while comp-store sales rose 7.7% for the quarter.

“Our results benefited from continued solid execution at our stores, especially during the important holiday selling season,” said chairman and CEO Dave Bernauer in a statement. “Although the cold and flu season peaked later this year than the previous year, the overall effect on the quarter was fairly comparable.”

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Former Penney Exec to Lead Mervyn’s

BY CSA STAFF

Dallas, Former J.C. Penney Co. executive Vanessa Castagna has joined private-equity firm Cerberus Capital Management, the New York-based company that is part of the investment group that acquired Mervyn’s Department Stores from Target Corp. last year. As a senior member of the Cerberus operations team, Castagna will take the helm of the Mervyn’s chain and will be charged with engineering the same turnaround for Mervyn’s as she did with J.C. Penney.

Castagna resigned from Plano, Texas-based J.C. Penney last November when she was passed over for the top job in the company in favor of Mike Ullman, who replaced retiring CEO and chairman Allen Questrom.

Castagna was credited with helping turn J.C. Penney around by bringing in new brands and leading marketing campaigns that helped the chain win back customers from rival chains.

Castagna has held senior executive positions with Wal-Mart Stores, Target Corp. and Federated Department Stores.

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