19 Aug 2007
Those of you still paying five dollars to rent a movie from Blockbuster need to find the nearest Red Box. Usually found in grocery stores, Red Boxes are kiosks that allow you to swipe your credit card and rent a movie for only one dollar. All you have to do is return it to any Red Box location by 9 pm the next day. You can even create an account with them online and reserve movies at your chosen location so that you don't show up only to find the latest release unavailable.
Red Box has also recently added "older" movies for the many of us who are catching up on our movie watching. These are movies which some rental places still like to call "new releases" even though they're two years old.
As Red Box becomes more popular, the need also grows for some "Red Box etiquette". Here are some things to consider:
1. Still need to read through 50 plot summaries in order to settle on your movie? Before you start, check with the person immediately behind you to see if all he's doing is returning. Offer to return it for him or let him jump ahead of you. He doesn't get annoyed while waiting, plus his return may be the only available copy of the movie you've been dying to see.
If you're the one trying to return a movie and the person ahead of you is being "that guy", you could always ask if they'd mind returning the movie for you. Chances are they won't make off with it (leaving you to foot the replacement costs), so you'll be able to go on your merry way. One possible downside - once I volunteered to return a movie for someone even though I was still waiting in line. When the person in front of me somehow broke the machine, I had to drive 20 minutes to get to the next nearest Red Box in order to meet the return deadline. The person you ask may not be as eager to deliver when trouble arises.
2. Entirely new to Red Box? You'll probably want to actually read the disclaimers and whatnot as you click around. That means taking lots of time. But if there are a lot of people already in line, you should first consider taking a walk around the store. When you return and the line is gone, you'll be able to get used to the kiosk on your own schedule.
3. Get all the movies from Red Box that you want when there's no one in line. But if an eager crowd has already gathered and you're not sure of what you're getting, stick to one movie. I was behind someone the other day when there were about seven of us waiting. The perpetrator saw all of us, yet continued to browse the selections. When she finally checked out, three movies came out of the machine. I couldn't believe it. I thought she was taking her sweet time (and ours) searching for just one movie. I was double-whammied because she also ended up getting the one movie I wanted.
4. Reserve your movie online. You don't waste a trip for a movie that's not there, you spend very little time at the kiosk, and everyone spends less time in line. If only I could follow my own advice. For one dollar per rental it's just too tempting to pick up a movie spontaneously when I'm just passing by.