Movie Rental Experience Improves with Redbox
The past couple years, I've not had much time to watch movies, due to having a full-time job and being involved in the People of Praise, among other things. Three or four years ago, I was a Blockbuster member and rented a couple movies every week. I spent about the same amount using Netflix the year after, and it was great to not have to stop at the local Blockbuster to pick up movies. Now that I don't watch movies, though, it's painful to rent movies. I can count on my right hand how many times I've rented movies this year, and that's mostly because I don't want to pay $4.50 to rent a movie. It's just not worth it, plus the last time I rented a movie, the DVD was almost broken and only worked in my computer and not a friend's.
Over Thanksgiving break, I was introduced to Redbox. My dad and I walked into McDonald's and requested a copy of Live Free or Die Hard, one of my favorite movies of the year that I definitely don't want to own but liked. To rent it, I just swiped my credit card and gave them my zipcode and e-mail address. The Redbox clearly stated that it was due tomorrow by 9pm. It only charges us $1 per day. And, I could bring it back to any Redbox anywhere if I wanted.
When I got home after renting, I was very glad I gave Redbox my e-mail address. They sent me a nice confirmation e-mail of my purchase and reiterated the information about the rental. The next afternoon, an e-mail reminding me to return it found its way to my inbox as well. And that evening, I asked a friend to return it for me, and later that evening I got a final e-mail saying that it was successfully returned. Oh yeah, and I enjoyed watching Die Hard 4 for the third time as well. (I think my parents enjoyed it too.)
At this point, I was very impressed with the slick service and, of course, the price. But what remained to be seen was their website. If Redbox was going to be cool, it needs a good, functional website. And, yes, the Redbox delivers there too.
Back when I used Blockbuster, you used to be able to look a movie up online and see if it was at your local Blockbuster location. Redbox does one better than this: you pay for the movie online, and it stays reserved in the Redbox. For popular movies, you could get to your local Redbox and find it's all out of Pirates of the Carribean: At World's End. But if you check online, you can find out if it's available and reserve it, so even if those who walk up to the Redbox can't get a copy, there's one hiding inside the machine with your name on it. (If you don't pick it up within a day, it automatically gets "returned".) Now that's the functionality you need on a slick-looking movie rental website. I also love that Rebox's site has attitude, saying "Yes" in about 10 different languages in their FAQ and advising you to "Lean over the keyboard whilst entering your password to foil spies" during login.
There are a few drawbacks, though. Of course, unlike Blockbuster, they only have space for a couple hundred movies in the Redbox, not thousands like at Blockbuster. For this reason, it seems, they limit themselves to fairly new releases. I saw a couple releases from up to a year and a half ago in my local Redbox, but don't expect it to be there if it didn't come out recently. Also, when searching online, it seems that one of the nearby Redboxes is "unavailable" at any given time. I don't know if that means that the local McDonald's don't have a good internet connection or if they bring the online features down when someone is requesting a movie, but it's pretty annoying to not always have it available. (One time last night it went offline while browsing the title selection on their website and the website just stalled for a couple minutes instead of giving me an error.)
My local Redbox is just as close as the local Hollywood Video dive, but for the price and the convenience, I'm going to check Redbox.com first if I want to rent a movie.