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Interesting piece in the New York Times about a new marketing initiative developed by Coinstar, which has some 19,000 coin counting machines in supermarkets and other venues around the country.

Normally, when people pour their coins into one of the company’s machines, they pay a service fee of 9.8 percent to have the company count the coins and give them a receipt that they can cash in at a checkout lane.

“Now Coinstar — with operations throughout the United States, Canada and Britain — increasingly is teaming up with retailers, who essentially pay that service fee on behalf of consumers, who in turn agree to spend their bounty with them,” the Times writes, adding, “The latest effort by Coinstar, in pilot programs under way at both the Albertsons and Stop & Shop supermarket chains, entails a first for the company: offering no-fee gift cards at the very store where shoppers are exchanging coins.”

For five years, Coinstar has offered no-fee gift cards underwritten by companies such as Starbucks, iTunes and Amazon. But this is the first time that the company has offered the same program to retailers that actually have the coin-counting machines in their lobbies.
KC's View:
While the Times does not venture down this road, this may be a way for Coinstar to get its numbers up, which could help its stock price, which most analysts seem to feel has been performing at “disappointing” levels in recent months.