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This week Penny blows the cobwebs way on Film Rental.  So started the header back in April 2011. We leave this article in for historic reasons showing that the world definite;y moves on (If we can get Penny to come out of retirement one of these days, we’ll get her to do an update on the rental war that is now going on.

3. Film Rental
   How should we do it and is it actually worth doing?
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This week I have been pondering rental and the closing of local independent rental shops – some of which you may know about.

Is it still something we should bother doing?
Is online rental actually better than going into a store and picking something out with your own two hands?

The answer to the first question in my opinion is ‘yes’. Renting films is still quite a fun and relatively cheap way to have some fun in your own living room with the latest films available on the market. Although you can’t keep a film, it is still an excellent way to add to your mental film library in a rather rapid fashion. If you want to see something that has just come out, and you don’t have much money rattling around in your purse – films like this can be yours for the night.

The second question is a little more difficult to answer in one sentence. I will however attempt to answer it more clearly below.

Online Rental vs. In-Store Rental

We all know that online rental can confuse some people – myself included. I generally am confused most of the time, so this comes as no shock to me.

Rental stores like Blockbuster Video Ltd. have always been pretty good for choice and service but travelling there will unfortunately use up your petrol money or make you wait an hour for the bus to Rayleigh. So, with these changes, let us suggest that using online rental companies to deliver films to our front door via the post is a more convenient method for us.

Recently, online rental companies such as or Netflix ( have become a massive global network of film rental distribution, which is amazing considering that most have only been operating within the last decade. Now they are connected with the top film distributors in the UK and have customer subscriptions in the millions.

Blockbuster does have its own online rental website, but what we're looking for here are primarily the positives and the negatives of using either service. Drawing on my own experience working in a rental store, I can confidently say that around a third of my customers wanted me to tell them about either how online rental works or what Blu-ray actually is or what it can offer.

If you are someone who isn't comfortable using a computer to order things online and are overwhelmed by all the new choices out there - I'd like to now come forward and give you all the answers that you want and I won’t use technical jargon just for filler.

I hope to give everyone a universally comfortable method to stay in and enjoy your films by using your own free will and this information to make the choice a little easier.

Online rental - positive points:

- It's cheaper. One of the cheapest deals at the moment is for us to pay £4.99 per month for an unlimited one disc at a time service, so through your letterbox will come one film as many times as you can fit into a month. If you are an avid film watcher you will easily make this service worth your while.
- There are available services that will increase how many discs you can have at a time or a variation on the unlimited set plan, but even if you're not a regular film watcher and order two a month - you still get your money’s worth.
- The service is regular as long as your mail service is reliable. When I was a customer with an online rental company a few years ago, I had no problems with any of the deliveries and was quite content with the service. They do however continue to try and seduce me back by sending me lots of vouchers for free stuff. I must be strong.....
- There are no late fees. Films can usually be posted back at your own leisure without any other money to be paid per month unless a disc is broken, damaged or inexplicably part of your dog's weekly diet. It's better than having someone like me bring up your account, look solemn and tell you that you have to pay some late fees for something embarrassing before you rent back out, which can make all the difference in the world.
- Most online rental companies offer free trials i.e. free films for a certain length of time. Enough said!
- It requires no effort on our part, as you can just log onto the Internet and rent films from a comfy armchair - if you know what you're doing. Actually I'm kidding. It is pretty easy to sign up, and most of them do have an excellent customer services telephone number who will tell you exactly what you'll need to do. The only other thing that needs to happen is for you to re-seal the disc envelope and pop it back into a nearby post-box.
Online Rental - Negative Points:
- All of this depends on your postal system. If anything happens in the chain of delivery - your films may not arrive on the day that you want them. If you've ordered something great for that special Saturday night, its arrival has a small chance of not being guaranteed.
- Online rental companies operate a priority list system, i.e. you are encouraged to create a list of your most wanted films and to prioritise them according to what you want the most. You can't for example have just one title in your list, even if that is the only one you want. It is about availability and is meant to make sure that each delivery you receive entitles you to a film, but the bad side is that you are never really sure what film you'll next be given - especially if you are renting one disc at a time. Usually your most wanted film will arrive when you want it, if you've prioritised the list as best you can. However, if that special Saturday night comes and you don't get the one you want - the difference between a mood enhancer or an unconventional, juvenile comedy will reveal itself.
- Unlimited doesn't necessarily mean unlimited. Based on first class delivery time and the one disc per order system - my estimations calculate the maximum number of discs you can order will be between six to eight a month, depending on how fast you watch the film. Many of us are at work when they get delivered and may not get to watch a film until the next day.
- If you receive a faulty disc (which the companies are normally quite good at stopping), you can't get into your car and quickly exchange it for a new one, no matter how hard you try!
- If this does happen, companies are quite good at allowing you more discs in your next delivery or compensating you in some other way.
Whether you do or don't wish to rent any films, there will be a regular amount of money coming out of your bank account every month like clockwork. Which is why Internet renting companies will ensure that you will always get a delivery to get your moneys worth.

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Penny Glen Investigates