Video Vending

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It caught my eye like a red bag of Skittles in the checkout aisle of the supermarket. Only this was a DVD vending machine located outside the new Walgreens in a Covina redeveloped shopping center (at Azusa Avenue and San Bernardino Road).
For a buck, customers can rent a movie using an ATM debit card or a credit card. Some reports say the Illinois-based Redbox, which is owned by Coinstar, the folks that put the coin changing machines at the end of the checkout aisle at my local Ralphs, is thriving. According to a report in the Los Angeles Times, an expert on video kiosks says the vending machine movie business reached $519 million last year and could more than double in five years.
I started thinking — as a lot of you I imagine — whether this vending machine DVD rental would save me money. I currently pay about $18 a month for Netflix, the mail-in DVD service that provides three movie at a time and like Redbox says, there is no late charges with Netflix. Let’s see, if I rent eight movies a month (that’s two a week) I’d only pay $8 with the machine. I’d save about $10 as compared to Netflix. But would they have those obscure documentaries that my wife, Karen, loves to rent?
I doubt it.
Still, it seems like a cheap way to rent movies. Again, according to the L.A. Times, Blockbuster seems worried.
I’m curious if any of you have used Redbox or its cousin, DVDXpress? If so, drop me a comment as to how you like the service. As long as it doesn’t spit out Susan B. Anthony dollars, I’m down. Of course, the state Legislature already likes it because they charge a sales tax on each rental; something that will go up 1 percentage point tomorrow.