May 03, 2004

Movie Rentals

Rental Kiosk Provides Movies To Students Around The Clock

CCSU Vending Machine 1 Of 6 On East Coast Campuses

May 3, 2004

NEW BRITAIN -- Last year, a small island in a college parking lot sprouted a vending machine that dispenses candy for the eyes - movies.

It's the business idea of Yoni Hornik, who is betting that the simple machine that transformed the snack food industry can do the same for movie rentals.

His MovieBox kiosk in the Willard-Diloreto parking lot of Central Connecticut State University is one of a half-dozen that Hornik has at East Coast colleges, including Cornell and Rutgers universities.

Hornik, who owns New York-based Movies Around the Clock, says his vending machines carry dozens of DVDs and VHS videotapes of newly released films and older movies.

He said the rental costs compare with those in chain movie rental stores. His machines require credit or debit cards - no cash.

Rentals are for 24 hours. The user's credit or debit card must be swiped both to get a film and return it. The card is charged for the rental when the movie is returned.

Ashley Rake, a CCSU freshman, used the stand to rent the movie "Legally Blonde 2" in November.

"There's a pretty good movie selection," Rake said, "The prices are around the same as movie stores such as Blockbuster."

Frank Resnick, chief CCSU financial officer, whose department negotiated the lease agreement with Hornik, said the machine offers a service to students.

"I'm very pleased with its implementation and how it looks," Resnick said.

The CCSU kiosk is on a little island in the center of the parking lot between the Carroll and Barrow residence halls and the Willard and Diloreto academic buildings.

Mandi Scala, resident director of Carroll Hall, said she has seen many students using the kiosk, even over winter break, when most students are home.

"I used it because it was convenient," said Samantha Ware, a CCSU student who lives on campus and has rented at least five VHS tapes from the machine.

Hornik said there is no way that credit card numbers could be stolen from the machine.

"Pure steel, no one can go into the machine," he said.

Credit card numbers are "firewalled" - protected by a computer security system - and not stored in the machine. Transaction records are taken from the machine every day, he said.

Students are not the only ones at Central using the kiosk.

"I have used the kiosk once when a movie I wanted to watch was checked out at all the area video stores, even the local public libraries," said Loucindy Raymond, who works at the CCSU library.

The Rutgers kiosk has been up and running for eight months and is popular with students, school officials say.

"I think they liked it, because the student government requested more of them," said George Hefelle, associate director of the Student Center. Hefelle said the Rutgers machine averages 50 to 100 rentals a week and has functioned perfectly.

Cornell has two kiosks, one for each of its community centers.

The students have embraced them and use them every day, said John Riva, Cornell's special contracts manager. "Generally, I'd say the machines are acceptable."

For the moment, Hornik is keeping Movies Around the Clock in New York, New Jersey and Connecticut, but he doesn't rule out expansion.

"We believe in this business," he said. "There's a huge niche for this.",1,1890366.story?coll=hc-headlines-local

Posted by Craig at May 3, 2004 02:18 PM