December 09, 2009

Blockbuster Express Consumer Review

Consumer reviews Blockbuster DVD rental kiosk in Duane Reade.

My First Experience With Blockbuster Express – It’s the Future
by Allen Stern on December 7th, 2009

While I live in NYC and can touch the Empire State Building from my window, sadly there are only small mom & pop shops near my apartment. There are no Starbucks, McDonalds, Borders, etc. There are also no movie rental shops anywhere in the vicinity. But on a trip to the local Duane Reade, I noticed something new in the store — a Blockbuster Express video rental machine.

RedBox provides movie rental machines around the U.S. and is about to start trials of video game rentals. My sister seems to love RedBox — I have not had a chance to try the service as there are no RedBox machines near my apartment. It looks like Blockbuster Express is similar to RedBox. I gave the Blockbuster Express machine a try and here are my thoughts on the experience.

The Blockbuster Express website allows you to register to create a list of movies you would like to rent. I found this to be a worthless feature because you can’t actually see real-time inventory or even reserve a movie for a later rental. You can view the total inventory in the machine and it appears all of the machines have the same inventory. My sister tells me that with RedBox you can reserve a movie at a specific RedBox location.

The machine itself was easy to use although there appears to be some issues with the search functionality. For example, I entered “Mall” in the hopes of renting Mall Cop. No results were found. I began to browse and on the first page the movie “Frat Party” appeared. I then tested the search by typing in “Frat” but that search also returned no results. So my suggestion is if you plan to use the machine, just use the browse button. It looks like there are about 200 movies in the machine with 28 pages of 8-10 movies on each. You can also view movies that will be added to the machine soon.

I selected Transformers 2 and used the free rental code posted below. The machine asked me to swipe my credit card and asked for my email address to send me a receipt. You can also signup for promotions on the same screen. After that the movie popped out and when I arrived back home the receipt was in my email.

Movies cost $1/day to rent and the rental period ends at 9pm the following day so you could wind up with more than 24 hours for the $1. There is a long screen with terms that you need to agree to each time you rent. It looks like something about when you actually own the movie if you don’t return it.

Overall I was very pleased with the experience. While it would be great if there were more movies in the machine, for $1 I can’t complain. Now if they could just add one of those hot drink dispensing machines and a snack/popcorn machine too we’d be all set.

Are quick-service rental and purchase machines the future of retail shopping? Macy’s installed vending machines to sell electronics. Best Buy has vending machines in airports around the U.S. When I look at how much real estate a Blockbuster store occupies and how small these new Blockbuster Express machines take up, I wonder if we will soon be buying everything from a vending machine. On the other hand, people said ATM machines would end the bank teller position and that hasn’t happened as of yet.

As an aside, if you do try the Blockbuster Express video rental machine, enter the code KIOSK for a free rental. I rented Transformers 2 and as a huge Transformers fan, I can say that I am very glad I got the rental for free.

Posted by staff at December 9, 2009 09:28 AM