September 9th, 2005


DVD rental service

This is for the Blockbuster, Hollywood Video, Netflix, etc. users out there:

If there was a storefront service out there that gave you access to some 16,000 movies, television programs, DIY videos, etc. on DVD (and another 35,000 or so titles on VHS), under these conditions:
  • Signup and membership are free; all rentals are free
  • Their entire list of DVDs is freely accessible online, whether you're a member or not, and when you call up a title, it tells you right there whether a copy is available or whether you'd have to wait, and which of the store's 20-some locations have available copies
  • For DVDs with multiple versions (fullscreen vs. widescreen, standard edition vs. collectors' edition, 1998 release vs. 2003 release, etc.), their online list makes it clear which version(s) they have
  • If all of their copies of the title you want have already been rented, you can put your name on a waiting list when that happens (and for new releases, you can put your name on the waiting list before the release date)
  • If there isn't a copy at the closest location to you, or if you go on a waiting list, you can request which of the chain's locations you would like your DVDs sent to
  • You can return the DVDs at any of the chain's locations
  • If you need to keep some DVDs for longer than the normal period, if you request an extension (which you can do via a page on the store's website), you will often be able to keep them for an extra week (up to two, if you make a second request at the end of that week), as long as there is no one on the waiting list for that title
  • If you're on a waiting list, you can be notified via e-mail when your copy is available for pick-up
  • You have to physically come to the store to pick out/pick up your selections (so you really need to live within the same tri-county area as metro area containing all of the store's locations, but they'll usually rent to anyone who lives within the same state, and may make case-by-case exceptions for out-of-state rentals)
  • You may have to wait a few days or weeks to get some popular titles
  • If you're on a waiting list, there is no way for you to tell how long the list is or whether you're next or a dozen people back. (And because the system tries to match up local requests with local copies for each location before sending copies to other locations, just because you're "next" doesn't mean you're actually next, and you could be a dozen people back on the list but end up getting the next copy, so even if you ask a store clerk to look it up for you, they can only estimate your position.)
  • Unless you can get an extention, you can only keep most DVDs for one week (or three weeks for certain really long movies), or else you'll owe late fees
  • Each franchisee is relatively independent and makes its own decisions on what it will send to other locations and whether or not you can request an extension of the rental period for copies rented from that location. (But if you're willing to travel to that location, you can usually just pick it up there.)

Would you be interested in this service?

How would you recommend that the store go about advertising this service, assuming a near-zero advertising budget?

Feudalism: Serf & Turf
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Hooray beer!

Even if you've seen Red Stripe Beer's commercials, you have to give their webpage a look-see. Even a non-beer-drinker like me has gotta love--in a jaw-dropping, train-wreck-watching sort of way--a company whose basic slogan is

"It's Beer.
Hooray Beer!"

Try all three versions of their website. I found the light switch in the U.S. section much more fun to play with for far longer than it has any right to be (thought that may be due to coming across the site far too late at night), and I found the chicken animation in the "You shouldn't view these sites from any of the following countries" version oddly disturbing, yet mesmerising. And they have their commercials available for viewing/listening, too. Even having seen some of them several times, they still make me laugh every time. ("Reggae and beer: helping our white friends dance for over 70 years!")

I'm finding myself tempted to gank the animated gif of the "ambassador" waving his finger and turn it into an icon...

(And it's imported by Guinness Bass, so it has that association going for it.)