Way back in 2000, I remember our local McDonald's getting a Redbox display. The concept intrigued me back then. You could peruse movies, select one and for a small fee, a machine would dispense a movie for you. At the time, I never had occasion to use it, but the concept was a cool one. Especially if you wanted to grab dinner and a movie all at the same time.
Say it's 2am, you can't sleep, there's nothing on Direct TV and Blockbuster is closed. You could just hop in your car, roll up to the Mickey D's and be on your way in minutes with a movie or three to get you through your sleep deprived night.
Now, nine years later, Redbox appears to have made it big. Our local WalMart and two Walgreens have Redbox vending units. Back in 2000, I recall a rate of 2.50 or 3.00 per movie-now it's an extremely enticing ONE dollar. For the price of a candy bar, you can rent a movie for a night. Who can pass up a deal like that?
Well, for a long time, I passed it over. We have an extensive collection of DVDs, and my 9 and 12 year old sons watch about three dozen of those in rotation over and over. Our habit in the past was to buy a desired movie as it came out, because it was a better deal to spend $15 or $20 on the movie than for our family of four to see it in the theatre. Our local rental places charge $8.00 per rental, so buying didn't seem that bad a deal.
However, I lost my job last August and watch my pennies far more carefully. We haven't purchased or seen a new movie since then. The kids, however, would still ask to go to the local theatre or buy whatever movie we happened to see while out and about. The thought of checking out what the Redbox had to offer always came too late on a weekend or on a weeknight, when schoolwork would prevent the kids from watching the chosen movie.
Yesterday, the idea to try Redbox hit me about 4pm-still early enough that the kids can watch the movie. What's cool is that technology helped me out. I asked the kids "Is there a movie you'd like to rent?" and both said "Clone Wars." Hey, we're in agreement here.
Next, I went to the Redbox website to see if we could check if that was one of the choices. Not only could we check to see where the nearest Redboxes are, we could check to see what movies were in each one. If a movie was part of that location's inventory, but already rented out, the website told you-saving you from making an unnecessary trip. Even better, we could RESERVE a movie if it was listed as available. This is a lifesaver for a mom with a kid who does not do well with changes in routine.
To reserve a movie, all I had to do was register at Redbox (it was super simple-put in an email address and a password and you're done!), then choose the movie you want and pay via credit card right there on the website. To pick it up, all you have to do is run your credit card through the card swipe on the Redbox location you selected and lickety split, you've got your movie and can head home to enjoy it!
My kids enjoyed the movie last night, and then this morning with several of their friends from our neighborhood. Two viewings of a movie for a buck can't be beat. But wait, there's more!
You can purchase previously viewed movies from that same Redbox for $7 bucks. So, for the cost of a rental at any of those other movie chains, I can own one? Seriously?
Tonight, when I dropped off Clone Wars, I decided to check out the titles available for purchase. Surprising to me was that the same Clone Wars we'd just watched was also available to own. As my boys both enjoyed it a lot, I figured that it was worth it to own. If you can get over not having the original DVD box, just the clear plastic Redbox case, then you can have a great value, too.
All in all, this one rental and subsequent purchase have won me over to Redbox. It would have been easy enough to drive up to the one I knew was inside my nearest WalMart, but to go to the website and find a box locator, reserve a movie and scan the titles IN each box? They've made an already great value a timesaver, too.
Thanks, Redbox. In the immortal words of the Terminator "I'll be back!"