Redbox, How I Yearn for Blockbuster

Redbox, you owe me $1.20. Make it easy on yourself and pay up. Now.

Credit my Visa, ceremoniously present me with an oversized cardboard check or instruct a UPS driver to toss 120 pennies on my front lawn. I rented a movie from your kiosk but left empty-handed. Ever purchased a Snickers from a vending machine and watched as the semicircular plastic coil begins unlocking the candy from its perch -- and then stops? Your money doesn't come back, does it? Your only option is to go totally Alec Baldwin on the machine, punching and kicking it in frustration while calling it politically incorrect names. Just curious: Has anybody ever successfully tipped over a Redbox kiosk?

The source of my ire began on a recent Friday when I was charged with renting a movie suitable for 11-year-old viewing. Translation? Something void of gratuitous sex, nonstop profanity or Jason Statham. Monsters University fit the bill. I was almost out the door when my wife intervened.

"Reserve it online," she said. "Then you don't have to drive over there wondering if somebody beat you to it."

Video rentals should not be so competitive. Then again, I live in a suburb where the most powerful person in town is the Olive Garden hostess. Taking my wife's advice, I logged onto your site. Good move; the three closest Redbox outlets lacked Monsters University. But your movie GPS found one. I felt like a shepherd who had just seen an angel on Christmas Eve.

Fear not, oh dutiful Dad, for behold, I bring you great joy. A copy exists a mere 3.76 miles from your home, slightly longer if you avoid tolls. Offer your gift of $1.20 now and then click here for directions.

After completing the online transaction, I pulled up to Walgreens Kiosk A, home of the alleged disc, and stood behind a man and his son who were completing their purchase. Kiosk B stood idle until a gaggle of teenage girls approached.

"Something wrong with this one?" one asked.

"No, my movie's in THAT one. I RESERVED it," I smugly replied.

I continued standing in the frigid environs as dad and son collected one, then two, then three, and finally FOUR movies from the slot. Hey, Redbox: Consider placing a two-rental limit on your product, as it will encourage families to do something other than stare at a flat screen all weekend.

And then it happened: The kiosk's computer froze. Or the little people who live inside the kiosk and sort movies took a dinner break. Either way, I was left staring at a red box within the Redbox proclaiming, "Your rentals are on the way," a message that should have disappeared with the previous customers.

By now, Kiosk B was doing brisk business. I jealously watched and waited, my verbal wrath at Kiosk A becoming PG, R and finally NC-17 rated.

"This one's working," a mom said, stating the incredibly obvious.

"No kidding, carpool queen," I nearly replied. Instead, realizing that Redbox does not offer onsite technical support, I gave up. Returning home, I neglected to even remove my coat before clicking "report a problem" on your website and dialing your Customer Care Team. I had ample time to rehearse my diatribe as it was 20 something minutes before a rep answered.

"Just credit my account," I angrily instructed after explaining the machine's shortcomings.

"I'm sorry sir, but we can't reverse the transaction," your rep replied. "But I can email you a code for two free rentals."

"Are they good anywhere or only at Walgreens Kiosk A?"


"The last time I purchased a Big Mac at McDonald's, they gave me the burger," I said. "They didn't take my money, hand me a paper and say, 'We don't have any Big Macs here but we have many other locations.' I didn't leave hungry. Get my drift?"

"I'm sorry sir."

Unwilling to return to the Redbox abyss, father and daughter rented an on-demand movie. The title escapes me but it starred a bunch of dogs who spoke in complete sentences. This incident made me yearn for the recently defunct Blockbuster chain, where yellow-clad humans, not a large red machine, would have cheerfully handed me Monsters University, a movie I still haven't seen.

Alec Baldwin, if you're reading this, can you accompany me to Redbox tonight? Just in case?