I timidly climbed up on the Hastings counter with an intercomin my hand and Smash Mouth’s “All Star” lyrics running through myhead. I could see the confusion and the communal embarrassmentin this meager crowd of nine or ten, and at 10:45 p.m., what moviepatron wants an American Idol audition style performance to roundout their night? This crowd didn’t. But finally, the music went away,along with the color in my face and it was agreed that it would covermy $6.60.

Hastings not only offers a sing away your late fees opportunity,but boasts the largest selection of new releases, older movies, andtelevision shows in Tyler. The prices are also competitive at just under$4 for a new release, and that is for a seven-day period. Nowhereelse in the area aside from Hastings carries a larger selection of justuseless stuff like fart in a can, Bart Simpson figures and a Family Guykey chain. The down-side is an admitted lack in customer service, andoften times the most watched movies are repeatedly sold out.

Blockbuster also has a wide customer base, but for different reasons.

“I don’t like the prices or selection, but blockbuster is just downthe street from where I live, and I can usually find something I want towatch,” said sophomore Ashley Runnels.

A quick price comparison will show that Blockbuster is more expensivethan anywhere with rentals starting at over $5 for movies,and over $8 for video games. The selection is sometimes half that ofother movie chains, and almost no customer service to speak of.

“When I rent, I rent from Blockbuster just because sometimesI’m too busy to return a movie, and they don’t charge for that,” saidAndrew O’Brian, sophomore pharmacy major.

The advantage to renting with Blockbuster is they do not requiretheir patrons to sing a song to cancel penalties with it’s no late feepolicy. Although it is a little misleading in that it is not completely feefree, most agree that it is very lenient with a seven day grace periodto return the movie. After that, a restocking fee or purchase of themovie is required.

Many stores like Wal-mart and Albertsons are now offering a movierental machine called Red Box. There is no membership required,no late fee is ever charged, and every movie is only a dollar a day.After 25 days the movie is the renters to keep. The only complaintstudents had was that at a given location there are only about 25 moviesavailable for rent and many times they are checked out.

Netflix is in a different category of on-line renting. On the website, a renter would pick one of many monthly plans from one movie ata time delivered in the mail for only $4.99, to four movies at $23.99.

There is no restriction on how long a movie can be kept, and theyusually arrive in one business day. Most plans also allow unlimited,instant online downloads for watching movies on a computer.

The selection is considerably larger than all other mediums withover 100,000 different titles available for delivery, and 8,000 titlesfor online viewing. Most of the newer movies are available with BlueRay quality as well. Netflix’s customer service has won the “numberone retail website for customer service” award six consecutivetimes according to Foresee results.The only complaints students hadwere sometimes a movie could not be enjoyed exactly how the renterwanted.

“When I rent a movie I want to watch it that night, not on my computerat my desk, but in my living room on my couch,” said sophomorenursing major Heath Sessions.

So I climbed down that Hastings counter, and despite being morbidlyembarrassed, there was a hint of satisfaction in my step as Iexited the store, mostly due to the fact that I was almost $7.00 richer,kind-of. Do I regret it? Well, on a college budget, a few extra dollarsgoes a long way, and I plan on going a long way. Just not with my singing career.

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