$1 DVD Movie Rentals
This past weekend I had a few extra hours to kill so I thought I would catch up on some movies. At the suggestion of a wise and frugal friend I decided to try one of the $1 rental machines you can find at McDonalds or your local super market.
Only Bad Movies?
I’ve seen these machines for a few years now, but wasn’t interested because of what I thought was a limited selection of bad movies. Am I wrong in thinking that in the past these machines only offered up failed box offered efforts (i.e. movies with a fresh-o-meter below 50%)? Can you say Daddy Day Camp?
Blockbuster In-Store and Online (I’m done-zo!)
In the past I’ve used Blockbuster to rent movies because of their proximity to my house and large selection. I even tried their online version, Blockbuster Online. However, life has slowly crept into my quality movie watching time and so I don’t watch as many movies in the theater as I used to. Therefore, there are now plenty of movies in the generic new release sections that have their appeal. This is why I thought the $1 machines might now apply to me. Another way of saying “this movie snob isn’t ‘above’ the $1 machines anymore.”
The New Release: My Experience
So, I ended up going to Kroger (my local supermarket) and using a machine labeled “The New Release!” (also known as Moviecube). I was honestly impressed by the selection and quality of the movies inside. There were several Oscar winners within a collection of about 100 titles. About half of the movies were unavailable though. I suspect this was due to the holiday weekend. I rented two movies: Good Luck Chuck and Eastern Promises.
These machines only take credit card, so I swiped my Capital One 360 Checking debit/credit card, grabbed the DVDs, and headed home to “watch them up”. The machine informs you that your card will be billed $1+tax for each movie when you return the movies.
The next day I returned the movies to the same machine at Kroger. I had to swipe my credit card again and follow the prompts to complete the return. The machine doesn’t issue you a receipt which I thought was strange. Also, it didn’t charge me for one of the movies (my total charge was $1.08). I guess they figured Good Luck Chuck wasn’t worth a dollar anyway.
Some questions I had after my experience I was able to answer by checking out thenewrelease.com FAQ:
Q: Does the kiosk issue receipts?
A: At this time, the kiosk does not issue receipts. If you have a dispute, would like to review your account or if you would simply like a receipt issued to you, please contact customer service at 800-518-1574.
Q. What is the deadline for returns?
A: You have up to 14 days to return your movie. If you do not return the movie, the credit card that you rented the movie with will be automatically charged a “no return fee” of $21 plus the 14 days of rental and tax.
Q: How many movies can I have out at the same time?
A: You can rent up to 3 DVDs at the same time on one credit card.
I called the customer service line and (after a 20 min hold) they said that on some kiosks you get your first rental for free. Nice. If the machine does not automatically give you a free rental use this code: USFNF
Redbox: A Better Option?
A similar product is Redbox. I’ve seen these outside of most McDonalds for the past few years. They look about the same as The New Release machines in terms of quality and selection. However, I haven’t used one so don’t hold me to that.
A few unique features of redbox according to the website:
1. Rent Online and Pick Up is Guaranteed at the Kiosk. …that’s cool.
2. Return to any Red Box. …very convenient.
3. Multiple FREE Coupon Codes to Use. I found this site: insideredbox.com, which appears to have plenty of codes to use for free rentals. My friend Peter at Bible Money Matters uses these all the time apparently. Additionally, Sean from FreeSnatcher.com keeps an updated list of the active codes that you can check out.
From the redbox.com FAQ:
Q: What if I lose the DVD or DVD case?
A: Oh boy. Now you’ve done it. Just call our Customer Service Group at 1.866.REDBOX3 for instructions to return DVD’s without a case. For lost DVDs, your credit or debit card will automatically be charged $25.00 + tax after 25 days. We’re all adults here.
Used properly, these machines look to be a legit way to save some time and money on your normal movie renting routine. I’m sure they are taking a big bite out of Blockbuster and Netflix profits. Just be sure you are the type that is disciplined enough to bring the movies back within a day or two.
Also, Redbox appears to have some features that give it the edge. However, I haven’t checked the selection at the actual machines, so that may be the difference keeping The New Release machines in business.
Have you used these machines? What are your thoughts?