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Consumer affairs blog The Consumerist has published a letter from an angry reader about Redbox’s cancellation policy (or lack thereof) for online reservations. Once made, Redbox online reservations cannot be canceled for any reason. The company claims it does this to protect itself from a “lost” rental during the reservation period.

Here is an excerpt from the letter:

“Once on the phone with the CSR [customer service rep], 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.
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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?”

Which side of this issue do you stand on, Insiders? Is Redbox right to protect itself by refusing to refund reservations?
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Or should it try harder to earn customer goodwill by adopting a more lenient stance on reservation cancellations? Is this a draconian policy or just good business?

(via The Consumerist)

132 Responses to “Redbox Reservation Cancellation Policy: Where Do You Stand?”

  1. Visitor [Join Now]
    Aaron [visitor]

    I once reserved 5 movies and I couldn’t make it to the redbox for personal reasons and they were kind enough to give me codes which they give codes out like candy if you call in with any issue at all. They can tell I have rented a lot of dvds from my history on the email. They also do refunds if the machine is out of order that you reserved from. There was another time I had ten minutes to return a movie before 9 pm and the redbox I went to was not working right and I couldn’t return a few of them, so I went to the closest one and it was full and couldn’t return there either, by that time 9 pm had come and gone so I called and they said return the rest tomorrow and we will reverse the charges. So I am overall very happy with redbox and their customer service. Its actually a good sign if the machine is full at 9pm it means a lot of people are using the service. The only issue I have is that some of the machines have issues with the credit card reader, unresponsive system or touch screen, and some redboxes in my area are just generally down a lot, but I figure even that is a sign of the kiosk getting used a lot which is a good thing.

  2. Visitor [Join Now]
    Ken [visitor]

    It is better if RB called it “Rent Online” instead of Reservation, either way if a person decided to rented it is non-refundable…maybe with an exception if you accidently rent two or more of the same title.

  3. Visitor [Join Now]
    Aaron [visitor]

    Yeah rent online doses explain it clearer but I think they are looking into a streaming service in the future and what would you call that new service if rent online is for getting dvds but online?

  4. Visitor [Join Now]
    Jack [visitor]

    RB should ONLY have to offer a refund if the machine is down. I know things come up, but that’s life. IF you don’t want the movie, don’t reserve it.

    How about this? If the machine is down, give customer service the ability to shift your reservation to a different machine? (obviously it would need to be available).

    Also, isn’t the movie held for you to pickup until it’s due? Wouldn’t that be the next day at 9:00? If you reserved the movie on Sunday morning it’s due Monday at 9PM. Wouldn’t you technically have until 5PM or so on MONDAY to pick it up, watch it quickly and return it by Monday at 9pm to be only charged the one day rental???

    P.S. RB is up to $1.25 in Orlando FL, while the Blue kiosks are still at $1.00 – AND blue allows codes to be used online. redbox.

  5. Member [Join Now]

    The policy is clearly stated before check out. So, I would side with RB on this one. The “lock in” is a premium for the customer too, to insure that someone does not rent it before you get to the machine. If you don’t want to rent the title then don’t “reserve” it.

    That being said, I reserved a title last week, but when I arrived the machine was down. After a 5 min phone call– all was made well.

  6. Visitor [Join Now]
    Todd [visitor]

    Really, this is what it’s come to? Complaining that you lost a dollar because you were too busy to go to a machine that is probably less than a block from your house. Come on lady. This is a service that allows you to rent 4 movies for what you would spend on one at a regular video store. If you don’t think you can make it to the machine, then don’t reserve it. Some people are never happy I guess.

  7. Visitor [Join Now]
    Dave [visitor]

    Come on people, you’re renting movies for a buck, if you rent one, and change ur mind, or for some reason like a family emergency, you can’t pick it up, so

  8. Visitor [Join Now]
    John [visitor]

    Just another example of the Walmartization of consumers, the expectation that anything and everything is returnable if they simply change their minds. Give me a break, you reserve the title online, it will be held for you until you get your happy butt down there to pick it up which means nobody else can rent it, and you want the company, with a smile, to just let you out of your part of the commitment? Folks, learn that when you transact business, you are entering a contract, you provide compensation and you receive a service or product. Doesn’t mean you should have the right to reverse the contract just because it suits you. If the item is defective or unusable, that’s a different story, but otherwise when you enter a transaction, learn, review, evaluate then decide, and most of all, accept the consequences of your decision.

  9. Member [Join Now]
    First [rnbj]

    To make their policy clearer, Redbox could, at the end of the reservation process, state that a “cancellation fee” equal to a one-day rental fee will be charged for each DVD reservation cancelled more that five minutes after the reservation was made. This fee could be waived if someone rented the previously reserved DVD that day at the Redbox where it was being held. The customer would just have to trust that Redbox’s software was accurate in keeping track of this particular DVD transaction. (Like that would ever happen.) This is could be done, but really, we’re only talking about a buck here!

  10. Visitor [Join Now]
    Cynthia [visitor]

    Once I placed an on-line reservation and the machine was broken when I got there. I was able to find the same movie at another machine, but I wasn’t able to cancel the previous reservation. I had to call redbox customer service for that. But when I called, they did give me two codes, which more than made up for any inconvenience.

    I think you should be able to cancel a reservation if you do it before 9 p.m. But then you shouldn’t be allowed to reserve the same movie for 24 hours. That would seem fair, but is probably beyond their programming skills to implement.
    tee hee.

  11. Visitor [Join Now]
    Steve [visitor]

    My complaint is of a slightly different nature regarding refunds. I rent multiple movies a month from Redbox…many are online before hand. My biggest complaint is not with the general non-refund policy, its renting it, getting out of the house, driving to the kiosk…only to find the machine down. Out of the last 5 movies I have rented online…4 have been unable to be picked up for one reason or another…rain, out of order for “maintenance”, cracked screen (dang vandals) and probably a total of 7 times in the alst 6 months, the website SAYS its available, only to get there to find that the machine is down…something as simple as its raining out and the screen is wet…either the card reader doesnt read my card or the screen is unresponsive.

    Ok, so you are saying, how does RB know if their machine is down…well, last Tuesday, I rented a movie and went to pick it up and a tech was there at 10pm, door open, working on the machine. Said the machine wouldnt reboot and the pick up arm was unresponsive. She couldnt manually reset the machine…so she called tech support. The guy on the other end logged into the machine remotely and was reprogramming it…AND THEN, on the front screen, brings up am internal camera to see the inner workings of the machine. SO…if they can visually see inside the machine, if they can remote into the machines to fix them…I KNOW they have to have the ability to know when a machine goes down…or something as simple as if a machine isnt activated within an hour or two, know that something is wrong and have it trip on an alert list for someone to verify its online. If it goes down, then they need to update their website real time that the location is unavailable.
    I love RB…but the unreliability of their machines is unprecedented…so if they are telling us they dont know when their equipment is offline and just let us freely rent online only to find out its offline…then yes, maybe some of their OTHER refund policies should be edited to be a bit more customer friendly.

    Dont get me wrong…anytime this has happened to me, I have called…spent 10 min on hold waiting for a CSR and they have refunded my money or provided me usage codes…but realistically, how many people are REALLY going to call in and waste 10 min or more for a buck. They are banking on the fact that a majority of people arent going to waste their time and will just go to another location and rent another movie.

  12. Member [Join Now]
    ChadCronin [chadcronin]

    I take Redbox’s side. I see an online reservation that you don’t pick up the same as a movie you do pick up then you can’t watch it and want your money back. Too bad. Like it’s been posted, it’s true you can call them and perhaps get a code, but before you go off squawking about everything, realize that the more you complain about a luxury such as renting online the less incentive it gives companies to do such things.

  13. Visitor [Join Now]
    Taz [visitor]

    Come on folks we are talking about ONE dollar. Gee most of you probably blow more then that on a cup of starbucks your lazy bunns can make at home for pennies. Give me a break, sheesh I could see it if it were $5 but dang. Heck fire I probably have that much in loose change in my cup holder in my truck !!! The nerve of some folks, these RB folks bend over backwards to make customers happy with there code giveaways and your griping !! Get a LIFE !!!

  14. Visitor [Join Now]
    thoward37 [visitor]

    Seems like this might be a cost effective way for Blockbuster to combat Redbox. Simply write a program that automatically reserves all the movies in all the Redboxes in a given market, repeatedly, effectively locking up all the service. It would cost them a dollar a day, times however many movies are in each kiosk times however many kiosks are in the market area… They could even have their local employees go get the movies, and rent them out through their retail stores, supplementing their on-hand supply, and depleting the kiosks at the same time. It would be a initial expenditure, but could kill RB pretty quickly.. and might even be somewhat legal? RB would be getting paid, but customer dissatisfaction would shoot through the roof, so as soon as Blockbuster stopped doing this, RB sales would be gone. Hmm…

    • Visitor [Join Now]
      Firstlawofnature [visitor]

      Credit card needed to reserve movies. Don’t see how Blockbuster could get their hands on that many cards to do the dirty deed. Besides it would cost Blockbuster ~$14mm per day to do what you suggest. Not a prudent use of cash for them.