Consumers leary of self help movie kiosks

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PHOENIX - If you get money from an ATM, the machine automatically dispenses a receipt from your transaction. 

If you get gas, the pump also usually spits out a receipt for your records. However, if you rent movies from a kiosk, consumers complain they don't immediately receive written confirmation indicating they returned a movie. That recently happened to a woman named Teresa Ewell.

Teresa likes to watch movies with her family so, recently, when her kids were sick, it was the perfect time to rent a movie. "I got it because my kids were sick so I wanted them to watch something kid-friendly. Not necessarily cartoons so I could sit and watch it with them."

Teresa went to a movie kiosk inside a local grocery store. It's a Blockbuster Express kiosk and after scanning through several options, she came across the Disney movie Secretariat. "It's $1 so that's pretty good," she says.

The $1 movie rental is what attracts so many consumers to these movie kiosks. Teresa certainly thought it was a great deal, so she put in her debit card and rented it.

After watching the movie with her children, Teresa says she went back to the same Blockbuster Express kiosk the next day and returned the DVD. "It said thank you for returning your movie. It has been successfully returned so I left."

However, a month later, Teresa got an email from Blockbuster saying she was being charged $27 for Secretariat because she reportedly failed to return the DVD to the kiosk. The $27 came straight out of her account because Blockbuster already had her debit card information.

Teresa wonders how often this happens to other consumers. "I feel like there can be a lot of people in the same position I am in because when we return back the movie we don't get a paper right away saying we returned back the movie."

She's right. When you return a movie, the kiosk does not provide consumers with any written receipt or documentation at the time saying the DVD was returned.

Teresa says that makes it impossible for her and other consumers to prove DVD's were returned. She says she's learned a lesson when it comes to renting from kiosks. "Honestly there is no protecting us, the consumers."

3 On Your Side called and emailed Blockbuster several times to see if this is a common problem or frequent consumer complaint and to see if the company was willing to refund Teresa her $27.  However, the company ignored our several requests.

I should point out that Blockbuster usually generates an email to consumers indicating their movie was successfully returned. However, consumers like Teresa complain they don't always check their emails promptly or frequently.