Killer CUstomer Service

I’m always amazed by companies that offer great customer service, primarily because it is so rare these days. A couple weeks ago, I was returning three Red Box movies and the machine was broken. When the slot opened for he return, the robot arm wasn’t there to take the movie and check it back in. So the DVD’s just fell to the bottom of the vending machine.

I called the 800 number and told them my problem. I’d rented the movies the night before so I owed them three dollars total. If the items weren’t scanned and checked in, the tab would keep running until two weeks expired and my bill would be $45. I told the rep my credit card number and the location of the rental. While I waited for about 60 seconds he fiddled around in the system and then told me, “I’ve checked them back in. Thank you for being a customer, we’ll have someone out to check on the unit right away.”

Red Box is living on borrowed time. Despite making money hand over fist right now, we’re no more then 7 years from DVDs being completely obsolete. NetFlix has wised up and moved to the streaming space and I imagine cable companies and online services will create and refine a market of online, on-demand viewing for movies. I can also imagine studios realizing that online distribution is cheaper then theater distribution and deciding that they’ll offer the same movies that are in theaters for comparable prices ($10 rental the first month its out, $7 the next 2 months, all the way down to $1 when the movie has been out a year). In fact, I wouldn’t be the least bit shocked if mega-movie theaters go the way of the dinosaur and we see a future with fewer screens showing movies as an event (3D films, etc.) while standard viewing is pushed in to the home.

So, even though Red Box is in a race to make as much money before the paradigm changes (and it certainly WILL change soon) they don’t skimp on the present day: the customer service is excellent, the upkeep of the machines is fast, and the titles offered are usually pretty good. Kudos to Red Box for this. They may be out of business soon but I’ll be a customer as long as they are around.

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