DALLAS -- Many super-markets are missing out on additional video revenue by not collecting late fees, said Tim Harrison, video supervisor at Food Giant Supermarkets, Sikeston, Mo. Food Giant operates five freestanding video specialty stores in addition to its 75 rental departments in supermarkets. Its freestanding stores are generally more successful in collecting late fees than the supermarket departments, said Harrison, who spoke at a seminar during the Video Software Dealers Association convention here May 21 to 24. According to Harrison, supermarket managers sometimes drop late fees to keep customers happy. The store managers do not want to offend regular grocery customers over a relatively small late fee, he noted. "It shouldn't become a case where the tail is wagging the dog -- where video is dictating grocery policy -- but if the store manager stands his ground, he will realize that people will pay their late fees without too many qualms," he said. There are some customers who repeatedly get out of paying late fees by appealing to the store manager, he noted. "They've learned which buttons to push," said Harrison. Another obstacle that keeps supermarkets from collecting video rental late fees is that there is not enough time for the scheduled employees to do it, he added. "There is so much work to do that contacting everybody with a $2 late fee would just double the work load. So a lot of that is written off," he said. Unreturned tapes are another matter, Harrison noted. These customers are pursued and prosecuted if efforts to retrieve the tape fail, he said. "If a $63 title is not returned, that's money that goes against the store's [profit and loss statement]. The product has to be in the store and making money," he said. In the freestanding stores, Food Giant generates a list twice a year of outstanding late fees and tries to contact these people by phone. "It helps to get the money back when you remind customers that they have outstanding balances. It also helps to clean up the membership files" by updating addresses and phone numbers, he said. The retailer has tried contacting people by mail, but found the postage exceeded the late fees collected, he said. To encourage customers to bring the tapes back, the retailer sometimes will try to negotiate a lower late fee, he said. But it is important to confine this offer to a narrow time period, such as one day, Harrison said. Video games represent a new challenge, he said. "The big problem with games is getting the instruction books back. We've even gone to the extent of bar-coding these books. Although the customers are not charged to rent an instruction book, it is on their account and will show up as a late piece of product," he said. The problems of dealing with late fees and unreturned tapes are always going to exist, Harrison said. "It is just a question of minimizing the loss. Those who pay the most attention to it are going to suffer the least from movies that aren't returned and rental shrinkage," he said.