Several months ago while at Wegmans I noticed a big red kiosk at the exit offering DVD rentals for $1 per night. They are being offered by Redbox, a company that is owned by McDonalds apparently. Iâ€™ve heard of the service but never put much thought into actually using it until last night. The concept is, a self service DVD renting kiosk, much like a soda vending machine. Put money in, product comes out, only difference is that you must return the product when you are done with it. In my part of town, they only have kiosk in two grocery stores, but the offical website seems to mostly list kiosk locations inside McDonald restaurants across the country, which makes a lot of sense.
While leaving Wegmans around midnight with some sushi and granola in hand I stopped at the kiosk and looked at the titles. For a buck, why not give it a whirl. If I didnâ€™t make it back by 7pm the next night it would cost me another $1. The system works by a touch screen monitor, you select the title you want, it gives you a brief description of the movie, mostly what you would find on the back of the actual box had one been there and you can add it to the shopping cart. Checkout by swiping your credit card and agreeing to the terms of service, followed by the movie coming out of a slot on the side of the machine about 30 seconds later. Grab the movie and leave. There is an option to enter your email address for a receipt; I opted not to, mainly because I figured they would just end up spamming me. Because of this, I made sure to use my American Express card, not a debit card. If there are overdraft charges or anything funky, American Express will cover my ass.
There are about 50 titles to choose from and a sign said that they get new titles in every Tuesday. After looking at the titles on signage to the right of the machine, the entire ordering process took no more than about two minutes. The simplicity of this service makes me more apt to use it on a regular basis, especially since I had to talk to not a soul to complete my purchase.
What I did notice when I first started the ordering process was a button on the touch screen that said, Enter promo code. This had me thinking. When I got home I did a quick Google search led me to InsideRedbox.com and all of their glorious promo codes for free movie rentals, broken down by state! The site lists out promo codes and if they have worked recently or not by percentage, driven by a userbase. You need not be a user to get the codes, a part I really like about the site. They also offer up RSS feeds for your state search results. I found my state, got about a half dozen codes and wrote them down for when I had to return the movie I had just rented, and try to get a free one.
This evening I returned the movie, this time to a different, closer grocery store that has a kiosk. The beauty in the system is that it doesnâ€™t matter where you return the movie to. You could rent a movie on Monday before hopping on a plane, get off the plane and provided there was a Redbox in that area, return it and do the same for the return flight. No more being stuck with just one local rental store or having to wait for an online company like Netflix to send you something.
The return process was just as painless as the buying processes. Touch a button on the screen that says you are returning a movie, insert the movie into a slot on the side of the machine and you are done.
With promo codes in hand, I tried one out, no good. Second one worked and I was given access to a free movie rental! After picking out the movie I wanted, checkout was the same, indicating a zero dollar balance, but I needed to swipe a credit card anyway, in case I didnâ€™t bring back by the 7pm following day deadline.
Since the selection is somewhat limited to about fifty movies, I canâ€™t see doing this every day, but they do offer some uniqueness to them, like recent UFC fights. The concept is there, so much so that Iâ€™m tempted to buy stock in McDonalds just because I think this will bring them in some serious money.
If you are into movies, find a Redbox near you, get a promo code for a free movie and let me know what your experience is like. Itâ€™s free, why the hell not give it a try!