I’ve got a bagful of change on top my dresser, and every so often, when that bag gets a little
full, I head on down the street to my local Safeway grocery store. I dump the bag into one of those change machines that accept coins for a voucher I can exchange for the paper form of currency.
There’s one problem with this arrangement: I get charged a fee for converting my coins—almost nine percent. So when I read that
machines would now
let me exchange my loose change for credit on the iTunes Music Store
—all without a service charge—I was pretty excited. (In addition to eCertificates and prepaid Gift Cards for the iTMS, Coinstar machines also offer credit for Amazon.com, Starbucks, Borders, Pier 1 Imports, and other outlets.)
I decided I’d give it a try, but since not all Coinstar machines offer the same options, I typed my address and what I was looking for into
Coinstar’s advanced machine locator
to find the nearest locale. The closest market was about a mile away, so I took my change and headed out for some iTunes walking-around money.
Once the money was all counted, I pushed the button to retrieve my iTunes eCertificate and… got an error. The machine was unable to process my request. I pressed the button again, and the same thing happened. Then I tried canceling the whole thing and starting over (but with my money still inside)—and it worked. It took a few minutes as the Coinstar machine presumably contacted some Apple server somewhere to issue me a redemption code for the amount I’d plopped in the machine, but when it was done, out come a very long receipt (shown on the right) with the 16-digit code I’d need to redeem my money at the iTMS, as well as instructions on how to use it.
So I now had a piece of paper in my hand that promised me around 28 songs (or half as many TV shows or music videos)—but would it work? After I made the journey home, I fired up iTunes, typed in my code, and then watched a box appear to the right of my account name with my $28.73 worth of credit. It felt a bit like the end of John Huston’s 1981 movie
, in which Michael Caine, Sylvester Stallone, Pele, and the rest of an allied soccer team (made up of actual European soccer players) play a German team to a draw (also real footballers) in Nazi-occupied Paris to cheers of “victoire!” from the crowd.
Well, perhaps not that dramatic, but it was still pretty cool.