Over the past few months we have run a few stories regarding VBG – the Video Buyers Group – and their opposition to Redbox. (See recent VBG coverage here, here, here and here.) For a blog like this, all news is good news, so we gladly run their stories and viewpoints here, even if we don’t agree. But, come to find out, VBG has been naughty. More on that in a minute…
First, let’s take a look at some of VBG’s claims they make against Redbox:
- Redbox is destroying the DVD industry with $1 rentals
- Redbox allows children easy access to R-rated movies
While there are more, these 2 are by far the most common, and will suffice. Let’s look at them in detail.
Claim #1: Redbox is destroying the DVD industry with $1 rentals
As you all know, this claim has been beat into the ground lately by the studios’ and VBG alike. While there is no actual evidence that Redbox has had a negative effect on the movie industry, this is certainly their favorite talking point.
As you probably know, it is my belief (as well as that of many of our readers) that Redbox actually has a positive effect on the industry, by exposing people to movies that they would never have seen were it not for the $1 price point. But, that is not what this post is about…
The real issue here comes from the fact that Ted Engen – President of VBG – also owns quite a large chain of video stores (the 70+* store “Total Entertainment Center” chain) that have likely seen dwindling revenues due to the expansion of Redbox. That, in addition to the fact that VBG makes its money off of independent video stores (1,800* stores are a part of its group), really speaks volumes to what VBG’s (and Ted’s) real complaints are. Redbox is hurting their business. (*figures as of 3/2008)
What is that saying about not being able to “take the heat” again? I think that applies nicely here…
Claim #2: Redbox allows children easy access to R-rated movies
This one has actually been beat at a bit longer by VBG, starting in March of 2008.
As mentioned by many readers in the comments of the above post, I am pretty sure you need to be 18 years old to own a credit card. And, if parents are just giving their kids’ their credit cards, that is another problem entirely.
Of course, the most interesting part of all of this, is that VBG represents many stores (including Ted’s own Total Entertainment Center chain) that rents “adult films” (more commonly known as porn). How many of those stores gladly turn a blind eye to the age of the renters of those films, which have long been the bread-and-butter of many independent video stores? Exactly.
So, if VBG really wanted to do something about keeping the wrong kinds of movies out of the hands of our kids, may I recommend dropping all adult titles from TEC and VBG stores. What do you say, Ted?
VBG GOES TOO FAR…
Now that we have that out of the way, lets get to the point of this particular post, and let you know why I am using such a strong title…
VBG owners and employees, as well as some of their friends with another known company in the industry, have been using Inside Redbox to try and deceive you, and have been lying about who they are in the process.
I uncovered this about a week or so ago, and have been tracking it since then to confirm my suspicions. I now have indisputable proof that this has been going on for at least the past few months, and possibly longer.
Some of the names of commenters who are part of this include those using the following names: Joey, Linda, redman, Jim, Iwantitnow, igloo, wendy, jerry, Tony, Todd, filmflam, Tim, Louie, and Jon. And, even in the last few days they have been stealing others’ users name to try and confuse, like “moviecrazy” and “rb”.
All-in-all, the folks at VBG have made 240+ comments since August of this year, and one other back in April of 2008 (where I called him out). And, this doesn’t even include the other comments from friends who I believe to be working at Ingram Entertainment in alliance with VBG, using names such as: Greg, Sony?, hipocrite, taxman, middleman, TexasRebel, and Radman.
In order to make it clear for Inside Redbox members, I have now “branded” all comments made by these folks, with a link back to this post. Feel free to look around at some of the recent comments made on the site and find your favorite comments from these jokers. It’s a lot like a treasure hunt, but instead of treasure you are looking for shills, astroturf and FUD!
More on VBG
You can find VBG’s website here (http://www.vbg-tec.com), including contact information for Ted, Linda, Jon and others. If you would like to voice your support or opposition for what they are doing, feel free to contact them. I am sure they will be glad to hear from you!
As always Insiders, we are interested in what YOU have to say. Feel free to leave a comment and share your thoughts. And, if any of the VBG folks have something to share, or just want to come clean, feel free. We are listening…