Saturday, December 3, 2016

The Nerve of them

Might as well go for a second straight day of rental-dispensing mechanisms not working properly.

I was planning to go out drinking with three work friends on Friday night, only one of whom still works with me. I'm 43, so nowadays that's more likely to mean getting home around 10, rather than after midnight as it might once have meant. After 10 with anywhere from a few to a half-dozen drinks in me ... that might leave me in shape to watch a movie when I get home, but it couldn't be anything too demanding. And as the year is drawing to its close, I probably need to be filling these available time slots with movies whether I'm in shape for them or not.

Nerve has recently arrived on video here, and that seemed to fit the bill perfectly. Under 100 minutes, probably best viewed late at night, and kinetic enough that I won't fall asleep.

So I planned it out on Friday morning. I was going to go out on my bike at lunch to run a couple errands, once of which would be stopping by the IGA in East Melbourne to pick up the movie. In order to give myself the greatest chance of my errands being completed successfully, I went on the Hoyts Kiosk website and reserved Nerve. A few minutes later I got the email confirming that they had checked the inventory of the machine in question and confirmed that the title would be waiting for me for the next six hours.

Well, it wasn't. However many copies they had of that movie, they were checked out when I got there.

This might not have been quite as annoying except that the first errand I had attempted, buying new sunglasses at a nearby 7-11, was also a failure, due to their total lack of sunglasses.

Refusing to come home empty-handed, I did my best to find a suitable substitute and ended up with The Purge: Election Year. I hated the original Purge and did not even see the second one, so I was never planning to see this for a number of reasons. You might say there's an additional reason not to watch it in that our real election year has gone so badly. But it did fit the bill for the type of content I could handle at that hour and in that state, and the minutes in my allotted lunch hour were rapidly ticking away, so I snatched it up and went on my way.

Back in the office and checking out my emailed receipt, I've discovered another annoying surprise: They've increased the rental price. Whereas rentals have previously been $3.50, now they are up to $3.99. Still a savings from an iTunes new release, I suppose, but creeping further and further away from the dollar and change I used to enjoy spending at Redbox kiosks in the U.S. Then again, with the rate set at $3.50 for the entire time I've been in Australia, they were due for a price hike.

Trying to figure out why they told me I had a movie reserved and then didn't have it for me is probably not worth the effort, though it does inspire me to quote Jerry Seinfeld: "You know how to take the reservation. You just don't know how to hold the reservation. And that's really the most important part of the reservation: the holding."

What very likely happened was that someone was standing in front of that kiosk, renting the final Nerve, at the exact moment the system was trying to confirm that a copy was available. Due to a lag in updating cached information, I imagine, the system was not aware of the movie's sudden lack of availability, nor could a prior claim by me deny an ongoing transaction in which someone already had the movie in their shopping cart but had not officially rented it yet. Anyway, doesn't matter.

I do have a joke explanation. The last time I used the Hoyts Kiosk website was to reserve a copy of Bad Moms last Saturday night. We were over at a friend's house for dinner, and stayed a lot later than we expected to. Having a car full of kids who were a good 90 minutes past their bedtimes, we skipped renting Bad Moms, so the reservation went unclaimed. Which also meant that it could not be rented to anyone else during those six hours I had it reserved -- a possible loss in revenue of $3.99. I figure this is Hoyts' way of giving me a dose of my own medicine.

By the time I post this, I will already know whether I liked The Purge: Election Year or not. But since I'm writing this a day ahead of time, I'll save any thoughts I may have on it for a subsequent post.

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