Slowly but surely, Rebox is gaining traction

I have rented VHS videos and DVDs for at least ten years so far, and have carefully watched the changes made to how we are able to rent and acquire new movies. Even though we're all used to seeing promotional advertisements for DVD rental services such as Blockbuster and Netflix, I have only recently started to use the Redbox DVD rental service found in grocery stores and restaurants.

Some of you will recognize the Redbox as a big, squarish red box that likely is located near one of the entrances of your local grocery or McDonald's fast food restaurant.

Customers pay $1.00 plus tax per DVD for a 24-hour period, and it costs $1 per day you don't return the DVD back to a Redbox machine.

Interested movie renters simply go to a local Redbox vending machine, select a movie, add it to your shopping cart, checkout and pay using a credit or debit card. If you have a promotional code, you can also enter the code to receive one free movie rental. Redbox e-mails or text messages promo codes to its customers several times per week, and a quick Google search will reveal even more promo codes.

Each vending machine should have at least 50 new movie titles for you to browse, with most of the titles recent releases to DVD or cable on demand services.

Majority owned by Coinstar with significant shares owned by McDonald's, the vending machines can be found in more than 8,000 grocery stores and McDonald's locations across the United States. A search function on the Redbox web site lets you find the machine nearest you. 

Assuming you know which DVD you want to rent from the machine, it's possible to have a single transaction completed in less than a minute. Customers who want to simplify the process further can reserve DVDs online and pick them up from the machine, which cuts down time at the Red Box further. Using the online service also lets you figure out which DVDs have already been rented, so you know which movies to select when you go the Redbox.

The Redbox vending machines obviously have a smaller selection of movies compared to Blockbuster, but I believe the lower rental cost plus the ease of renting movies makes up for the smaller selection. I will keep using Netflix to borrow movies I can't get at my local Redbox, but will use the vending machines whenever I go to the store to pick up some groceries.

Redbox warns customers that even though credit card safety is taken very seriously, criminals are still attempting to skim credit and debit card information on some Redbox vending machines. The multiple layers of data encryption offer a lending hand, but the company has posted several tips for customers to be aware of when they use their credit card.

A Redbox employee manually investigates the credit card reader each time he or she visits a Redbox, but the company still warns customers to be on the lookout for anything out of the ordinary.

After announcing it has hired former JetBlue EVP CFO John Harvey to be the company's CFO, financial reports also indicate the company will file for IPO sometime during the third financial quarter. I hope to see more stores and restaurants deploy the rental vending machines, and also hope Redbox finds a way to expand the movie catalog; maybe add an occasional classic movie, or even add a couple of Blu-ray titles to each machine.

Those of you interested in trying out the service can go to a local Redbox vending machine and use the promotional code "REDBOX" to get one free rental.

"Google fired a shot heard 'round the world, and now a second American company has answered the call to defend the rights of the Chinese people." -- Rep. Christopher H. Smith (R-N.J.)

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