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Monday, 1 October 2012

I noticed something awhile ago that bugs me about Redbox machines. Thought I'd write about it.

When you return your movie to a Redbox kiosk -- assuming you have the correct side flipped out so the machine can scan your return -- the kiosk thanks you and tells you that your movie has been returned successfully.

Below that, there is a button that says I'M DONE.

It's the only button on the screen.

And it's entirely superfluous.

Whether or not you push that button, the machine considers you to be done. A moment or two later, it will revert to the home screen, with the scrolling filmstrip of titles now available and the buttons below with such options as RENT, RETURN and ALL MOVIES.

What you actually need in that situation is a button that says RENT ANOTHER MOVIE.

Not only would this take you to your rental options more quickly, without having to wait for the machine to time out, but it would be smart from a marketing perspective. It would give you that subtle hint: "Come on, rent something else. You know you want to." And in fact, many people probably do.

The I'M DONE button is basically suggesting that you walk away, friend. Just walk away.

Originally, I thought that maybe the I'M DONE button wants you to indicate whether you have any more discs to return. Since I rarely rent two movies from Redbox at once, I had never previously tested it. I figured that the return slot puts itself into a receiving state when you return your movie. The receiving teeth that grab your movie and drag it into the bowels of the machine put themselves into a state of readiness when you tap that RETURN button on the home screen. Unless you press the I'M DONE button, do the teeth just wait there, ready for you to feed them an undetermined quantity of additional movies? This was the only plausible explanation for the I'M DONE button, so the machine would know you didn't have any more to return.

Having finally rented two movies last night, I finally tested it today. And stood there like an idiot trying to jam my second movie into the machine, without having the machine's explicit permission to do so. Sorry, Redbox kiosk, it was not my intention to try to violate you.

In the end, I had to start over. Meaning the I'M DONE button is just a flaw that has somehow persisted in the design of the Redbox kiosk for as long as I've been renting movies from them.

If this post had an I'M DONE button, I'd be pressing it right now. 


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