Buffalo Trace

Buffalo Trace
From a few years ago, me mugging with the bronze buffalo sculpture at Buffalo Trace Distillery in Kentucky.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

The Red Box Incident of 2012: Where's My Money?

I'm currently in the midst of a little snit with Red Box.

Yes, I know it sounds as though I have too much time on my hands, but two bucks is two bucks.

Usually on Saturday nights I hunker down at home with a couple of movies, a bottle of wine and some Italian food. This time of year I also get a little fire going in the fireplace. It's all good.

I used to buy a lot of DVDs and probably have more than 250 movies in my collection. That doesn't include box sets of TV shows I also own. But these are my go-to movies when I need something at the last minute. I realize there is nothing on TV on a given night and I don't have anything recorded on my DVR, I head to the shelves and my DVDs.

On Saturday nights, however, I want something I haven't seen before.

Red Box is a great invention because, for a buck and a few pennies tax, you can rent a movie. So far, so good.

I've been renting from Red Box for about 18 months. I reserve the movies online and then swipe my debit car at the machine when I pick them up. That way I don't have to stand at the machine for 5 minutes scrolling through all of the titles available and reading the summaries. I do that at home on my trusty PC.

Because the rental cost is so low, I'll take a chance on renting a movie that I suspect is a stinker, but figure that for $1, you can't really get burned. This isn't entirely true, but the couple of times I've gotten stuck with a movie that was a real turkey, I've sucked up the monetary loss and moved on with my life.

Until last weekend I had had only one customer service complaint. I had gotten a DVD home that was so badly scratched, it was unwatchable. Red Box has a customer service contact for such issues and I fired off an e-mail. I received a reply in about 24 hours apologizing for the problem and giving me a code number for a free rental. I was satisfied with that remedy.

Here's my current customer service problem: I reserved two movies online last Saturday, and when I arrived at the machine, it was out of order. When reserving online, the consumer is charged for the rental whether it is picked up or not. Through no fault of mine, I couldn't pick up the movies; yet, I was charged for them.

The machine I'd been using since I began renting from Red Box was inside a Food Lion grocery store just around the corner from my house. It is in the process of closing and Red Box removed the machine. There is a machine at a Walgreen's drug store very close to my gym. I've rented there a couple of times in the past and figured that was the most convenient machine to use. I go to the gym every day that I'm in town.

But that it's close to my gym doesn't mean it's close to my house. My gym is 15 minutes away. I wasn't going to waste another 30 minutes or more driving back to the machine an hour or two later in the hope that it was fixed.

I pulled a couple of movies out of my collection and that was that.

Despite the machine being out of order and unable to cough up the DVDs people had reserved, Red Box charged me for the two DVDs I had on hold.

I've now sent Red Box two e-mails complaining about the charge with no response.

Granted, the $2 Red Box sucked out of me won't break the bank, but its the principle. In the meantime, I've got my eye on a Blockbuster machine that does the same thing. If Red Box doesn't address this travesty of justice by Saturday morning, I'll become a Blockbuster machine customer.

Red Box will no longer have my two bucks a week to throw around.

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