The Nefarious Redbox

by Shawanda Greene

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Last weekend, I was looking forward to relaxing and watching a couple movies. So off to Redbox I went. If you’re not familiar with Redbox, here are some of the basics:

  • Avoid late fees. Rent a DVD for just $1 (plus sales tax) per night.
  • Obtain a movie from over 15,000 locations.
  • Reserve movies on-line.
  • Receive a coupon code via text from Redbox the first Monday of every month.
  • Get a coupon code from Inside Redbox for a free movie rental at anytime.
  • Drop off at any Redbox location.

For the most part, I have no complaints with the service. There were only two occasions where I didn’t return my DVD rental prior to incurring charges in excess of $1. Unlike when I check out movies through Netflix, I’m actually motivated to return the rental the next day instead of holding on to it for two months. Oh, it’s happened. Plus, I don’t have to wait for my movie to arrive in the mail.

One of the major downsides of Redbox is their limited selection. You can only fit so many movies in a kiosk, i.e., vending machine. So, they usually offer films that are fairly recent. If you want to rent Flashdance, you’re going to have to take it to Blockbuster or Netflix.

But Redbox’s narrow DVD selection isn’t what makes them evil. It’s their easily accessible locations. They’re located in or directly outside of fine restaurants, grocers, and convenience stores like McDonald’s, Wal-Mart, and 7-Eleven. In my neck of the woods, they’re also located inside of Harris Teeter – a deliciously overpriced supermarket.

There are times when I go into Harris Teeter, get my DVD, and get out. Other times, the temptation is too great. That money rule about not going to the grocery store hungry applies here too.

Last Friday, I succumbed to the irresistible call of “dangerously cheesy” Cheetos® Twisted Puffs along with a six count box of Good Humor® Strawberry Shortcake bars. In addition to paying $1 to rent my movie, I spent another $6.54 on snacks. Last month, the same thing happened. I picked up $16.81 worth of groceries I hadn’t planned for. Perhaps I really needed this stuff. But, being that I stumbled through the aisles of the supermarket unprepared and unarmed with a well thought out list, I doubt I did much more than waste my money.

I didn’t think it could happen to me, but here I am writing this blog post to detract my attention away from the three surviving ice cream bars that are taunting me in the fridge.

So, what do you do? Just being aware of Redbox and their wicked cohorts’ plans might be enough to make you stay focused on the mission: get in and get out. You could also try patronizing Redboxes that are located outside of the store. I find I’m much less likely to make impulse purchases when I do this since there’s a barrier – basically a door – between me and all that processed goodness.  Maybe planning movie rentals around your grocery shopping schedule could help.

Whatever you do, don’t let your guard down. They’re plotting on us.

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{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Torrey July 23, 2009 at 3:31 PM

I see so many people standing in line using this service no matter whether it’s inside or outside of a store. It’s genius for retail businesses to partner with them because they know patrons will most likely purchase something from them as well. Although I’ve never used this, if I do, I’ll have to be careful not to spend just for the sake of spending!


Tia July 23, 2009 at 4:53 PM

I had to give up Redbox. I am the person that always kept the movie for more than a day.


hustler July 24, 2009 at 2:06 AM

I’ve really been trying to be good with my netflix movies, but I keep them too long! I’m going to have to look into Redbox. I’ve seen one in the Wal-mart lobby. Thanks for pointing out that I can get coupon codes!


Pete August 8, 2009 at 9:59 PM

I love redbox movies, but like you say – it can be a temptation to buy things when you go to the redbox. Ours are all located at mcdonald’s, grocery stores and gas stations – all perfect places to be spending money you don’t need to be.

Still – i love the redbox – cheap movie rentals. I’m sure we can all remember the days of the video store – $5-6 rentals, and late fees..?


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