Redbox Bad User Interface

We got a promotion code for a Redbox movie rental somewhere, and I went to use it.
Evidently, the machine was not on its home screen when I got there, but on the search screen instead.  Consequently, the “rent with a promotion code” button was not visible.  I followed the only path available, which was swiping my credit card.  I expected a “promotion code” box on the checkout screen, but there wasn’t one.  Instead I got the dvd out of the slot.  Alice in Wonderland, if you want to know. <After this> the home screen came up, showing the “rent with promo code” option, but it was too late.
Well this is bad, I thought.  My first instinct was to just put the disk back in, but I decided to call customer service first.  They said you have to be on the home screen and I would be charged, but on the bright side, my promo code was still good.
This sort of thing enrages me, and I didn’t want to waste any more time on them, but Cathy said to call back and ask for a supervisor.
The new agent, (Hi Jessica!), gave me the same story, but kindly went off to fetch a supervisor.  I never got to talk to him or her, but they say they are fixing it for me, and will refund the dollar when I return the disk, and have cancelled the code.
Good – Redbox seems to be doing the right thing here, but it cost me a lot of time calling them, and it is costing them two expensive customer service calls.
Bad – The UI design seems wrong.  It shouldn’t be modal, with the customer having to choose between pay or promo before starting!  In my case, I never even saw the choice because when I got to the machine it was already on a search screen down the “pay” path.  It is possible some previous person left it that way.  I don’t know if there is a timeout back to the home screen, but adding one is the wrong fix!  A better design is to have the promo code screen as part of the checkout flow, where the “what is your email” already is.  Doesn’t even add a screen that way.
I’ll let you know if the credit doesn’t appear.  Netflix is starting to look better already, although we don’t watch many movies.

2 thoughts on “Redbox Bad User Interface”

  1. just had this argument with a co-worker. Why is it Redbox’s fault that you failed to see the option. Their flow is basic. It’s slightly different that they set a payment method on the first step but it is very basic. This flow also provides them the flexibility to filter the available movies based on the code entered…. Just some thoughts…

  2. Well if a clueless user (me in this case) misunderstands the user interface in a way that costs the company two customer service calls then isn’t in the company’s interest to make the UI more clear? Of course Redbox has the data to show how often this happens, and if it is very unlikely perhaps they are doing the right thing. But I haven’t used Redbox since, and am unlikely to do so.

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