Long gone are the days when a part-time Blockbuster employee sick with power was tasked with hounding delinquent movie renters who, for one reason or another, just couldn’t bring themselves to return that VHS on time. Who among us didn’t pay a late fee for keeping the 1998 masterpiece Armageddon an extra week or two?! The ending! The ending alone!
The consequences of failing to return a rented movie, however, are anything but in the past for one Texas woman. When Caron McBride tried to change her name after getting married, she was notified of an “issue” she had in Cleveland County, OK: felony charges for not returning Sabrina the Teenage Witch to a movie rental store in the town of Norman in 1999.
“They told me that I had an issue in Oklahoma and this was the reference number for me to call this number and I did. Meanwhile, I’m a wanted felon,” McBride told CBS Dallas/Fort Worth. “I thought I was gonna have a heart attack.”
McBride was charged for felony embezzlement of rented property in March 2000, according to the local news channel. She had been unaware of the charges, however, or that the movie had even been rented in her name. She thinks her at-the-time roommate must have rented the movie and failed to return it, but didn't even mention it.
“He had two kids, daughters that were 8, 10, or 11 years old, and I’m thinking he went and got it and didn’t take it back or something,” McBride said. “I have never watched that show in my entire life. Just not my cup of tea.” (Not sure what our Lord and Savior Melissa Joan Hart did to deserve that, but I digress.)
The rental store, Movie Place, went out of business in 2008 (thanks, Netflix), so whoever is in possession of the 1996 coming-of-age movie can certainly keep it now. But McBride says that over the past two decades, she thinks she may have been terminated from various jobs due to the felony charges showing up on background checks.
The Cleveland County District Attorney reportedly dropped the charges once McBride’s story aired on local television. Her record, however, still reflects the charges, and the DA said that McBride would have to get her case expunged in order to clear her record entirely. Refinery29 reached out to Cleveland County DA Greg Mashburn for comment, but did not hear back at the time of publication.
Sure, Netflix might be the ruthless streaming service that had the audacity to put movie rental shops like Blockbuster and Movie Place out of business, only to promote a documentary about it. But would Netflix hold a 20-year grudge against an absent-minded customer to the tune of federal charges? Honestly, probably. Did you see that Blockbuster documentary? Talk about cold-blooded.