Your Redbox Reservation Is A Sacred, Unbreakable Covenant

We touched on this topic last week in a post about a broken Redbox machine, but reader Nick wants Consumerist readers to know something important about Redbox. Whether your local kiosk has been smashed in or you just plain change your mind, there is no power on earth that can cancel your reservation and give you a refund. None.

This morning I placed an online reservation for a movie for my kid to watch this evening at a location I drive by every afternoon when picking him up from daycare. I soon realized that my wife would be picking him up, making the Redbox location I chose 5 miles out of the way. I quickly placed a second reservation for the same film at a location a little bit closer to my house and less out of my way. Once I got both the confirmation emails from Redbox, I started to read all the fine print. Apparently, Redbox relates their $1 DVD rentals to $300+ Airline e-tickets, and cannot be canceled. To make matters worse, even if you don’t pick up your reservation, you are still charged. Also, they can’t even get someone to proof-read their boiler-plate confirmation email b/c here is what it says verbatim:

“After 9:00 PM tomorrow night, all disc(s) reserved under your account will be made available for other customers to rent, and your account with be charged $1 + tax for each disc.”

Shocked that I couldn’t cancel a reservation I made a mere hour ago, I called up customer service immediately. I have never backed out of a Redbox reservation I had made, so I never really bothered to read the FAQ or all the details. I was pretty certain that in the event I didn’t pick up my reservation, ‘no harm, no foul’ would come into play and I wouldn’t be charged. Well, while on hold, I read the FAQ, but I still wasn’t happy. Why would I reserve a movie at one location, only to realize I made an error and reserve the exact same movie at another location a few miles away? Was I trying to scam the system or do something fraudulent? I don’t think so. Why on earth would I want to be charged twice for the same movie?? Once on the phone with the CSR, she stood her ground and said there is no way to cancel an online reservation, which just sounds like an awful business practice. She said that once you reserve something, it takes away future rentals for the day if someone else wanted that movie, which translates to lost revenue for Redbox. I just don’t understand, if you can reserve with the click of a button, surely you can un-reserve with maybe two clicks of a button (?)

After I told her I would be doing a charge back for the $1.06 that I didn’t pick up and basically complained how this practice is ‘shady’ and asked for a supervisor, she put me on hold. When she came back, she said they would issue me a one-time refund for my error and not to make it again. Well, now I understand, I just hope all Redbox users understand this before changing their minds about online reservations.

A $1.06 chargeback is over the top, but we understand the principle. There you have it: don’t make Redbox reservations unless you can keep your sacred promises.