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Late fees can have lasting effects, says store owner

PLATTSBURGH - Although not returning a rented DVD or game may not seem like a big deal to some, it is actually punishable by law. It's also costing one local video store owner a lot of money.

Becky Leonard has been the owner of Under One Roof in three different locations for the last 21 years. Owning a West Chazy branch from 1990 to 2002, Leonard estimates she lost about $102,000 worth of unreturned inventory. In the Morrisonville location, which she owned from 1993 to 2008, she estimates she lost another $127,500. Finally, at her Plattsburgh location, which opened in 1996 and remains open, she estimates she has lost another $119,000, for a grand total of $348,500.

She feels lack of unreturned property was one of the reasons for the closure of the West Chazy and Morrisonville locations.

"I think there's a mentality," said Leonard. "One person may think, 'Oh, it's just a DVD, I'll bring it tomorrow.' They don't realize that it's a lot of people doing the same thing, thinking the same way. Of course, it adds up."

In 2010 alone, Leonard believes she lost about $8,000. However there are ways for her to get back what she has lost.

If a person has failed to return a rental after three days, someone from Under One Roof will give a courtesy call.

"We don't want their balance to get too high," explained Leonard, who added every day a rental is past due, there is a $1 "additional day rental fee."

If a customer is unable to be reached by phone, she'll attempt e-mail. If there is still no response, Leonard has two options.

"Depending on the value of the property, I send them two types of letters," she explained. "One, a certified letter if the value is $100 or more. Because that is a misdemeanor."

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