Back when I used to work for Coinstar, no one would have any idea what they were. However, if I were to say:
"They are those tall green machines with the TV screen inside them. You can take a jar of coins (at this point mime tilting the jar of coins) and dump them in to be counted"
Their faces would light up with an 'Ah-Ha!' response.

Working at Coinstar was great, but I just didn't see the value to our service. I mean, it was like taking reverse interest. (Since the user has to pay between 8-10%)

The Coinstar machines are just part of the overall business plan though...

See, each of the machines is connected via a phone line (and I'm sure eventually a DSL line) to Seattle, Washington, where they dump their data for the day. So, what Coinstar has built is a network in supermarkets across the country that has 6000+ nodes and is capable of distributing all kinds of information, or even consumer goods, since the machines are modular, and new services can be added... like, selling pre-paid debit cards, for example.

They could have used this network in really cool ways. Instead they've chosen a rather boring plan of setting up affinity programs within the chains they are located.

The first step in this is to use some small .com called to make recipes available to shoppers via the Coinstar Machines. They're also trying to sell some nonsense about giving supermarket customers Internet access through the Kiosk as well.

I don't know what the CEO's been smoking over there... but I want some!

The CoinStar hidden profit conspiracy:

I don't know how many people out there have actually used CoinStar, but be careful if you do. Because the machine will rip you out of some good cold cash (that you found on the ground). Here's how a CoinStar machine works...

You dump all your coins in it. (I saw a guy dump over $80 worth of coins in the thing once) It counts them all up, and within a few minutes, you get a little paper "voucher" that you can turn in at the cash register and get actual cash (as in bills). However, the CoinStar machines charge from 7 to 10 cents per dollar! That's worse than most state taxes. A 10% loss does not sound like a good investment to me, but still, it's a service charge.

Sometimes, if you aren't careful, you will pay for a service you never got. Ponder the following scenario. I go in and dump $10.96 into the machine. It charges 8.9 cents per dollar. The voucher comes out and says that I recieve $9.99 and that it charged 97 cents for counting my change. Not only do I lose almost a dollar, but I lost almost 5 cents over loose change that I still have as loose change! What do I mean? I turn in the voucher, and get a $5, four $1, and $0.99 in loose change, $0.99 of loose change that the machine still charged me for!

However, if I had just taken out a measly 4 cents before dumping everything in the machine, I get a nice new crisp $10, and a little extra number of cents even! I start of with the same amount ($10.96), and I end up with more than before($10.04 compared to $9.99). I still lose at the end, but just not as much.

How I get "free" suff from Amazon

I end up with a lot of change in my pockets each day, and it all gets dumped into a jar that I take down to my local supermarket's Coinstar machine every few weeks to turn into spendable value. The previous writeups talk about the fee that Coinstar charges, but fail to mention that if you choose to turn your cash into vouchers for many gift cards, there is no commission taken from you–presumably they take it from the retailer whose gift cards you choose. This means that I can dump my jar containing sometimes over a hundred dollars, and get that same value in Amazon gift card value. I take the receipt home, input the code into Amazon and it tops up my gift card balance by that much. Over the past couple of years I've amassed at least $300, which I occasionally use to treat myself to something I wouldn't ordinarily buy. It doesn't cost me any extra, may even cost Amazon a little, and I get nice things! It's the only way I shop; at Amazon as I'm normally not given to shopping at the megagiant data-stealer.

There is some variation from one location to another, but I've seen Apple, Google Store, Starbucks, various fast-food places and Lowes in their lists.

In a very, very small way, I feel like I'm sticking it to The Man, even if it's just pennies; it's just a great shame I can't apply for gift vouchers to help cover my medical bills, that would solve a lot of problems just now.

xclip -o | wc -w

For Terse Quest 2024

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