Coinstar is offering a promotion through the end of the year where you can cash in $40 worth of coins, receive a gift card or e-certificate from specific retailers, and get a bonus $10 gift card for free. You can read the details here. A 25% ROI seemed pretty good to me, and since one of the participating retailers was Lowes (and I know I can easily spend $50 there in the Spring on plants, mulch, etc.) I decided to try this promotion out.
Let me first say that I have never used Coinstar before. I saw no point in using them to cash in coins at a nearly 10% commission when I could take them to my bank for free. That said, Coinstar waves the fee when you chose to have your funds made available to you in gift card form so the service seemed promising to me.
Today I went to a Coinstar location near my home and brought along a bag of already wrapped and counted coins. When it was time to start putting in the coins I started with $5 in dines. So far so good - it counted them all. Then I added $6 in nickles. Again, things were working great! Next, I went to add the pennies and this is where things turned sour. As I was putting the pennies into the little basket the machine timed out on me and spit out a receipt/e-certificate to Lowes for $11 and then dumped all my pennies ($8.00 worth) into the return tray! Needless to say, I was pissed! Now I was stuck with a stupid $11 Lowes credit and no free $10. I am not a slow person by any means, and my delay in getting my pennies ready was less than a minute.
Therefore, I do not recommend Coinstar for anyone who:
* is elderly
* has small children who might distract them
* has a husband/wife who may distract them
* has arthritis in their hands and may not be able to dispense the money quickly
* is leery about dumping money into a soulless machine and wants to take the process slowly and carefully
At this point I refused to let the machine win. So I went home, grabbed more money, and headed back to the Coinstar location. This time I moved with gazelle speed and did not give the machine a chance to time out on me. I also brought extra money with me. Well, it was a good thing I did because the machine tried to short me $0.15! I have since read that this is a common problem with Coinstar machines. Jerks!
Do I recommend Coinstar? Nope! But I am happy for the free $10 I received from them and would use them again if - and only if - they run a similar promotion in the future.
Have you used Coinstar? Have you taken advantage of this current promotion? What kind of experience did you have?