Last weeks discussion about movie piracy makes my experience at Target in Culver City yesterday that much more interesting. Now at this point I’m still pretty skeptical of the whole situation because it was so weird, but this is exactly what happened. My birthday is this week and Caryn bought me a copy of The Departed on DVD. By accident she grabbed the full screen version, but thanks to the gift receipt I assumed exchanging it for the wide screen would be a simple swap. Not exactly. I took it back to the same store she purchased it at, still shrink wrapped and with all security seals in place. I explained the mix up and asked the woman if I could exchange it for the wide screen version. She explained to me that she would need to open the movie to verify that the DVD was still in the case and that I’d only be allowed to swap it out for the same film (wide screen was not a problem). I suppose it’s not entirely unthinkable that someone would buy a movie, swipe the actual movie, then go through the trouble of faking all the security seals and return the empty case to try and get their $15 back, but it seemed like a lot of work to me. However, once she got it open she only looked to see if there was a disk in there. If I’d gone through the trouble of faking all the security seals, I probably would have a DVD printer as well. Anyway… She told me to go get the other one and come back to her.
I walked over to the movie section, grabbed the wide screen version, and was back at the desk in under 60 seconds. The same woman I’d just spoken with took the new DVD from me and explained that she would need to open it to verify that I hadn’t swapped the DVD with another movie. That’s right, I was being suspected of running over to the movie section, grabbing two movies, opening them both, swapping the disks, faking all the security seals and re-shrink wrapping a box to bring up to her, in under 60 seconds. I asked if they’d ever caught someone trying to make that kind of a swap and she said no. Since this whole thing had really sparked my attention I asked if this was official Target policy or just something they did at this store and she told me that it’s just an LA thing. Because, and I’ll try and quote her on this “so many people pirate movies so much here because of Hollywood we have to be extra careful.” Ah. Right. Because of Hollywood. Since she’d just told me they’d never caught anyone trying to pull this specific switch out she was working so hard to protect against I pressed a little further.
“Really? Lots of pirates buy movies at stores here in LA?”
“But you’ve never caught any of them?”
“well, no, because we’re so careful about it”
“So this is more of a preemptive measure?”
“We don’t support piracy”
“ok, thanks, bye”