Dear Redbox Promotional e-Mails: We Are Finished.

Exploiting the fine print is something you might expect from a Credit Card company or a Mortgage company.  Apparently the cheap DVD rental company Redbox is getting in on this game.

I’m subscribed to Redbox promotional e-mails because I don’t mind hearing about what new releases they have available each Tuesday.  They also occasionally send out promotions for getting free nights rentals.  I’m a sucker for a promotion, so I’ve been known to attempt to take advantage of these.  However, there exists a big catch:  None of the promotions sent out are valid if you reserve your disc online through or through Redbox’s mobile app.

Here is the fine print from the free disc promotion I got back in May:

Code is valid for a redbox kiosk rental beginning between 12am and 11:59:59pm local time on 05/12/2011. Daily rental fee is $1.50 for Blu-ray™ Discs, $2 for video games and $1 for standard DVDs. Code is valid for a $1 discount on the standard daily rental fee the first night of rental only. Code not valid for items reserved online. Your payment card (necessary for rental) will be charged the balance of the daily rental fee for a Blu-ray Disc® or video game for the first night of rental, if applicable, and will be charged the applicable daily rental fee plus applicable tax for each night you do not return your rental by 9:00 pm local time (at the redbox kiosk) every subsequent night after the first rental night. Valid only at participating locations. Void where prohibited. Codes must not be copied/sold/offered in a manner not approved by redbox. Cannot be redeemed online or combined with other offers. Only 1 code per rental transaction. Code applies to only 1 item per rental transaction.


When I got this promotion, sue me, but I didn’t read the fine print. I just got my code then went online to reserve my disk. The checkout process in Redbox is such that it reserves the disk in a minimum number of clicks, and with minimal confirmation of your intent to reserve a disk. I foolishlythought that Redbox might operate as every other store on the internet does: by offering you the ability to confirm your order and redeem any promo codes before your transaction is completed. But Redbox’s site skips right past that.  Your order will be complete before you have a chance to realize you never had a chance to enter a code.

The math folks at Redbox seem to think that the less people that are able to redeem a promotion, but still end up renting a movie, the more successful that promotion is.  What they fail to take into account is the fact that they loose the good will of their Customers along with this “success”.

I struggle to rationalize why Redbox might be willing to treat their customers in such a way. I’m guess it boils down to the “But it’s only a dollar!” argument. I only lost a dollar because I didn’t read the fine print. That’s not worth spending minutes calling Redbox on the phone to complain, or to write a blog post about it… right? Maybe it was the principle that bothered me, so I rang them up.

The Redbox customer service rep informed me that no promotions are valid online. They offered to refund my rental if I would go back and return the disk to any kiosk, then re-rent the same movie from that kiosk and then I would be able to use my Promo code. This ridiculous proposition made me an even angrier. After the CSR spoke to her supervisor the company decided to do the gracious thing and refund me my $1.08.

Before I hung up the Phone, I asked to “never be sent any of these promotions that don’t work online ever ever ever again”. The CSR said “OK”, but I guess the Redbox newsletter and these promotions are inseparable.

Today I got a McDonalds promotion from Redbox. Aside from the fact that the thought of having to eat McD’s food in order to get a free movie makes me want to vomit, Here is the fine print:

*NO PURCHASE NECESSARY TO PLAY/WIN A PRIZE. Visit for Official Rules and Terms and Conditions. Must be 18 years old to redeem at any Redbox kiosk location. Valid for first night of rental w/valid credit/debit card; daily rental fees apply thereafter. Limit: 1 code per transaction, regardless of # of rentals. Amount not used is lost. Not valid online, via app, or for prior rentals. Your payment card will be charged the daily rental fee plus tax for each day you do not return your rental by 9:00 pm local time (at the kiosk) after first rental night. Void where prohibited by law. Must not be copied/sold/offered. Cannot be combined with other offers. The Golden Arches are a registered trademark of McDonald’s Corporation and its affiliates. All rights reserved.© 2011 McDonald’s. MONOPOLY TM, ® & © 2011 Hasbro. Walmart and Walmart Gift Cards are registered trademarks of Walmart Stores, Inc. and are used with permission. redbox is a registered trademark of Redbox Automated Retail, LLC. All rights reserved.


Dear Redbox: if you want to send me promotions that aren’t valid online, then I insist that you not use any form of online communication in order to communicate that promotion. Digging through your ridiculous fine print is not worth the $1.08.