Safeway Hosts New Dvd Vending Machine

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Amanda Blaylock stepped up to a vending machine that appeared this week in the grocery store where she works. She scanned her credit card and then pushed a few virtual buttons on the computer screen. Out popped a newly released DVD movie -- a rental that she would place in the machine's return slot the next day.

"This is awesome," Blaylock said. "It's so simple. And for me, it was way easier than renting a movie from a store."

The automated DVD rental vending machine, capable of holding 500 movies, is one of the first of its kind in northern Arizona. The kiosk is located inside the Payson Safeway store.

"Every customer trying it out has told me positive things," said Safeway assistant manager Russell Youngcourt. "When they're done using it, they say, ‘Wow. That was easy and great.'"

The machine doesn't take coins or cash -- users must have a credit or debit card to rent a movie. This is also how the rental company can better ensure the movies will be returned, and keep track of who has them.

The kiosk is stocked with new releases every Tuesday. The first movie rental is free. After that, new releases cost $1.49 for a 24-hour rental. On Mondays, the rate is discounted to 99 cents.

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Movies are chosen on a touch screen.

"I think $1.49 for a new release is a good deal," Youngcourt said. "But the movies are due back by the close of business the next day. We close at 11 p.m. on a normal schedule."

Late fees are listed at 99 cents per day. If the DVD is lost or not returned, your credit card is charged $25 and you own the movie.

Youngcourt compared the vending machine to other new alternative movie rental services.

"If you compare it to NetFlix, or any Internet DVD rental company where you order a movie over the Internet and they mail it to your house, I think the vending machine is a lot easier and more convenient," he said.

"We don't own or service the kiosk," said Dan Dillon, Safeway store manager. "We have a contract with the company that does own it, but we're glad to have it. This is just one more convenience for our customers. People can pick up their prescription, grab some flowers, get a coffee at Starbucks, and then a movie -- all in the same ten minutes."

The company that operates the machine, DVD Play, explains their terms of use with information on a touch-screen monitor. The system is set up so users can receive e-mail receipts and promotional codes for future discounts, and also allows a frequent-renter bonus -- rent ten movies and get one free. Providing an e-mail address is optional.

The vending machine is currently stocked with 28 popular new releases, including "Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest," "Cars," "The Da Vinci Code," "Superman Returns," "Over the Hedge" and "Mission Impossible III."

For more information about DVD Play, call (866) 738-3752.

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