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One Year Later, USPS Looks Into Gamefly Complaint

Soulskill posted more than 4 years ago | from the good-luck-answering-in-less-than-a-year dept.

United States 183

Last April, we discussed news that video game rental service GameFly had complained to the USPS that a large quantity of their game discs were broken in transit, accusing the postal service of giving preferential treatment to more traditional DVD rental companies like Netflix. Now, just over a year later, an anonymous reader sends word that the USPS has responded with a detailed inquiry into GameFly's situation (PDF). The inquiry's 46 questions (many of which are multi-part) cover just about everything you could imagine concerning GameFly's distribution methods. Most of them are simple, yet painstaking, in a way only government agencies can manage. Here are a few of them: "What threshold does GameFly consider to be an acceptable loss/theft rate? Please provide the research that determined this rate. ... What is the transportation cost incurred by GameFly to transport its mail from each GameFly distribution center to the postal facility used by that distribution center? ... Please describe the total cost that GameFly would incur if it expanded its distribution network to sixty or one hundred twenty locations. In your answer, please itemize costs separately. ... Does the age of a gaming DVD or the number of times played have more effect on the average life cycle of a gaming DVD?"

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Goats alive! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32094410)

First? (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32094416)

It's me!

I have a complaint... (-1, Flamebait)

love2putmypenisthere (1804486) | more than 4 years ago | (#32094420)

my penis to wayyyy to big for your mouth!

Re:I have a complaint... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32094672)

No one wants to hear you complain about your elephantiasis or other medical problems.

Crashes Foxit (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32094426)

Am I the only one that's seeing the PDF crash Foxit Reader somehow?

Is it me? (4, Insightful)

topham (32406) | more than 4 years ago | (#32094440)

Is it me, or is GameFly being dicked around?

Some of the questions look valid, but others are completely obtuse and look like they are designed to waste GameFly's time and resources, not resolve the problem.

Re:Is it me? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32094490)

It's a court filing. Of course it will consume time and resources.

Re:Is it me? (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32094512)

Is it me, or is GameFly being dicked around?

The USPS is a for-profit company backed by the federal government. They don't dick around; they find people in the Alps.

Re:Is it me? (1)

JustOK (667959) | more than 4 years ago | (#32094594)

rockies, mebbe, but not the alps.

Re:Is it me? (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32094708)

find a stranger in the Alps [urbandictionary.com]

Re:Is it me? (1)

batrick (1274632) | more than 4 years ago | (#32096304)

Wrong, the USPS is "independent establishment of the executive branch of the Government of the United States" [1]. Although my wallet disagrees, the government is definitely non-profit. [1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_Postal_Service [wikipedia.org]

Re:Is it me? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32096796)

Sorry buddy, I've been (reluctantly) with the post office for more than a decade and, sadly, I'm not wrong. No, the US Gov. does not make a profit; they have not directly run the USPS for some time now.

he USPS is "independent establishment of the executive branch of the Government of the United States"

Yep. Established by the government yet independent of them. The fact remains; there is a company behind the USPS and they DO take a profit.

Re:Is it me? (1)

Shakrai (717556) | more than 4 years ago | (#32097056)

Although my wallet disagrees, the government is definitely non-profit.

I guess that depends on which shareholder you are. Middle class citizen? Non-profit. Defense contractor or person who gets the EITC? Profit!

Re:Is it me? (1)

Dragonslicer (991472) | more than 4 years ago | (#32096936)

The USPS is a for-profit company backed by the federal government.

Does the USPS have shareholders? Is there a CEO and a board of directors who get bonuses at the end of the year based on how many stamps the USPS sells? If the answer is no, then they are, by definition, not a "for-profit company".

Re:Is it me? (1)

cyberzephyr (705742) | more than 4 years ago | (#32094526)

Yes.

Re:Is it me? (1)

Lord Byron II (671689) | more than 4 years ago | (#32096122)

Just because you're asked a bunch of questions, doesn't mean that you have to waste time answer each and every one. Just answer the relevant ones and for the irrelevant ones, provide a short explanation why it is irrelevant.

I find it hard to believe that USPS has a "be gentle" policy with Netflix and a "crush 'em" policy with GameFly.

Re:Is it me? (4, Interesting)

stephanruby (542433) | more than 4 years ago | (#32094582)

Some of the questions look valid, but others are completely obtuse and look like they are designed to waste GameFly's time and resources, not resolve the problem.

I agree. That being said, as a Netflix customer, I can pretty much testify to the fact that my mail man used to break an awful lot of DVDs trying to shove them in my mailbox and then try to close it (so he could get back his keys, I live in a four apartment building so it's a set of four mailboxes he opens together). It became such a problem, I took down my subscription from 4 DVDs to only 1 DVD at-a-time. Usually, it's when there was more than one DVD in there, that at least one of them would break (or at least warp so badly, that it became completely unplayable).

One fix would have been to ask my landlord that he install a bigger set of mailboxes, but the space in the brick wall is so limited, that any change would become a major construction project to replace anything (so I didn't even ask). Another fix is to try to talk to the mail man, but for some reason, my route is not considered a good one (although, it's still a good neighborhood), so it's nearly a different person delivering the mail every week. Another fix would be to have an additional mailbox made especially for DVDs (that, assuming there was an easy way to attach it to my existing mailbox, I would buy in a jiffy).

Re:Is it me? (-1, Troll)

pcolaman (1208838) | more than 4 years ago | (#32095272)

Or get your lazy ass out of the house and use a USPS drop box. Just sayin'

Re:Is it me? (1)

lorenzo.boccaccia (1263310) | more than 4 years ago | (#32095724)

how come it's his fault that the delivery guy broke the dvd (assuming that the story it's true)?

there already is a perfectly functional way of handling larger-than-mailboxes packages.

Re:Is it me? (2, Informative)

stephanruby (542433) | more than 4 years ago | (#32095778)

Or get your lazy ass out of the house and use a USPS drop box. Just sayin'

a drop box? I think you misunderstood. It gets broken when I receive it, not when I send it back.

Re:Is it me? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32096150)

He means a P.O. box that you can rent. You can get one that's about 8" high and a foot wide if you need it.

Re:Is it me? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32096156)

No, you misunderstood. A dropbox is a PO box where the mail is dropped off instead of being delivered. You then have to visit the post office to collect the mail.

Re:Is it me? (4, Insightful)

Dishevel (1105119) | more than 4 years ago | (#32097556)

why the fuck would you suggest a solution that requires one to go out and get something out of a PO box when the service he is using is there so he doesn't have to go out and rent a DVD?

Re:Is it me? (1)

Chris Mattern (191822) | more than 4 years ago | (#32097352)

A fourth fix would be to rent a PO box of appropriate size and have your DVDs mailed there.

Re:Is it me? (1)

slyrat (1143997) | more than 4 years ago | (#32097604)

I had some very similar things happen to some of my mail / netflix. I solved it by going to the post office and talking to the management about it. After it happened again I went again and that finally got the message through. Everything has been fine for the past 5+ months now since I did that.

Re:Is it me? (3, Insightful)

91degrees (207121) | more than 4 years ago | (#32094608)

Given that Gamefly is losing millions here, relatively speaking, it's not going to be a major pain for them to answer these questions. It makes sense to be thorough.

Re:Is it me? (5, Insightful)

iamhassi (659463) | more than 4 years ago | (#32094620)

"Is it me, or is GameFly being dicked around?"

Without a doubt. GameFly basically said last year "Look dude, you keep breaking my shit and you handle my competitors shit with silk gloves. WTF?"

USPS responses a year later with "We don't know what you're talking about. We want copies of all research on all mailer designs you've tested, including the results of each test and what advantages or disadvantages were found and the research used to determine these advantages or disadvantages."

USPS even accused GameFly of stealing their own games:
"Please describe any measures GameFly undertakes to manage or limit theft. In your answer please include the anti-theft procedures utilized in GameFly’s own plants and during transit of GameFly mail to and from postal facilities."

W...T....F.... USPS are you serious? So, if I call you and say "hey my mail keeps disappearing" are you going to tell me "what are YOU doing to stop it?"

And like the article says, some of these questions are just ridiculous, like: "USPS/GFL-28. Please describe the total cost that GameFly would incur if it expanded its distribution network to sixty or one hundred twenty locations. In your answer, please itemize costs separately."

So USPS wants them to just figure out how much it would cost to expand to 60 or 120 locations, and then give them a itemized cost of doing so? That alone could, if done realistically, take hundreds of man hours, to determine where these 60 or 120 locations would be best located and the cost opening up a new facility in each of those areas.

USPS even wants GameFly to analyze the material DVDs are made of:
"USPS/GFL-30. Has GameFly conducted any testing related to materials used in the DVDs it distributes or that it is aware respective manufacturers have undertaken? In your answer please describe the tests and any results from the tests, including breakage rates for the materials tested."

This is a giant middle finger from USPS to GameFly if I've ever seen one.

USPS, you didn't have to be such an ass, a simple "Ok we'll give you the same treatment as Netflix and Blockbuster" would have been the right thing to do.

Re:Is it me? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32094684)

There's only one solution to this bullshit.
From now on we kill a postal worker every time they fuck up our mail.

Going postal (1)

Dthief (1700318) | more than 4 years ago | (#32094916)

Dont worry, USPS is already on top of that

Re:Is it me? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32095266)

That alone could, if done realistically, take hundreds of man hours, to determine where these 60 or 120 locations would be best located and the cost opening up a new facility in each of those areas.

This could cost thousands. Since that's a few hours worth of losses due to theft/breakages it's not too huge a demand.

Re:Is it me? (1)

shoebucket (196059) | more than 4 years ago | (#32096438)

Seeing as how Netflix offers DVD and Blu-Ray movies, and Gamefly offers video games... I fail to see how they are competitors, rather than offering complementary services? I've actually been surprised that they haven't yet joined forces.

Re:Is it me? (3, Interesting)

tophermeyer (1573841) | more than 4 years ago | (#32096628)

W...T....F.... USPS are you serious? So, if I call you and say "hey my mail keeps disappearing" are you going to tell me "what are YOU doing to stop it?"

Regarding this point, I think this is pretty much a USPS standard policy. I have had two separate instances where packages delivered through USPS have gone missing. USPS claims they were delivered, I never received them. On both instances, I had the same kind of response from them, and it didn't really surprise me. After all, they are leaving video game disks in mailboxes that are frequently not secured. It seems logical that there are people in the world that will steal those disks, and it also seems logical that USPS would not feel inclined to take responsibility for that. Its crappy customer service for sure, but I can understand the thinking.

GameFly disks come in a largish stiff cardboard packet that does not bend. Netflix disks come in similarly sized paper envelopes that do bend around the corners. Netflix mailings are relatively easy to stuff into a small mailbox because they literally have a footprint the size of a DVD (small). GameFly's mailings are not nearly as flexible, so again it does not surprise me that USPS is questioning why kind of research GameFly conducted to determine that this package was the most appropriate.

Re:Is it me? (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32096974)

Ones personal unfamiliarity with the issues, or with the methodology of litigation, does not necessarily invalidate the line of questioning. Since Gamefly has initiated litigation based on allegedly disparate treatment between itself and Netflix, it is entirely reasonable to include the density of their respective delivery networks in the discussion. Not doing so would be an unforgivable omission of analysis.

Regarding USPS/GFL-30, since the underlying issue is the breakage rate (and breakage during shipping is a known risk factor in both the disk rental and fulfillment industries), why would there not be an examination of the engineering studies that must surely have been performed in designing packaging to, presumably, minimize the breakage rate? Keep in mind that all disks are not created equal - breakage rates are known to vary based on factors including thickness and the elasticity of the compounds used in manufacturing them. Not examining this data would be tantamount to conceding that any packaging is sufficient and a disk is a disk is a disk, even though it is well known, by both parties in the litigation, that this is not the case!

Since USPS seems to be giving special handling to the Netflix disks, apparently due to the employees' reluctance to perform processing that results in damage to the goods, and the costs of withdrawing the pieces and handling them separately is almost certainly not included in the USPS pricing for handling them, it seems that the outcome will likely not be to extend this special handling to more mailers, but to standardize the handling of all mail containing disks, with, most likely, a higher price for doing so.

Re:Is it me? (1)

DriedClexler (814907) | more than 4 years ago | (#32097206)

USPS, you didn't have to be such an ass, a simple "Ok we'll give you the same treatment as Netflix and Blockbuster" would have been the right thing to do.

Even better: "Oh, saw your email yesterday. Let's take a look. Hey Gamefly: what fraction of your shipped discs are damaged in transit? Hey Netflix and other competitors: same question."

And then either:

a) "Holy-shi-ite! We *are* mishandling yours worse than the others! Sorry! We'll instruct our employees not to treat packages differently!"

b) "See, we f*** up everyone's shipments this much. No bias here!"

Re:Is it me? (2, Insightful)

Hurricane78 (562437) | more than 4 years ago | (#32094976)

Sounds like the definition of a government agency to me. ;)

Re:Is it me? (0, Offtopic)

xaxa (988988) | more than 4 years ago | (#32095592)

Sounds like the definition of an American government agency to me. ;)

FTFY ;-)

Re:Is it me? (1)

Yamata no Orochi (1626135) | more than 4 years ago | (#32096422)

Sounds like a post written in English to me. ;)

You see? It's goofy to bring up something that's already implied and understood by everyone reading it.

Re:Is it me? (1)

ktappe (747125) | more than 4 years ago | (#32096940)

Sounds like the definition of a government agency to me. ;)

If portrayed that way (as the summary was) and/or as viewed that way (as you seemed inclined to do). But other posters have points: GameFly's mailers are NOT the same as NetFlix's, and I've seen documentaries showing that a lot of R&D went into NetFlix' mailers. Anyone receving a complaint such as GameFly's would be quite prudent to question if they researched other mailer designs. While their questions did go too far, I feel you were a bit too eager to perpetuate the stereotype that all government agencies are bad all the time.

Re:Is it me? (2, Interesting)

Myopic (18616) | more than 4 years ago | (#32097356)

Yeah, it definitely fits the stereotype of a government agency.

But, to be clear, the USPS is not a government agency. Like Major League Baseball or Fannie Mae, it is a private agency which has a special relationship with the government.

Re:Is it me? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32097242)

Some of the questions look valid, but others are completely obtuse and look like they are designed to waste GameFly's time and resources, not resolve the problem.

As a person who used to do technical support for such dubious companies like Sony (Vaio computers, et al), I will tell you that those are the type of questions that are designed to get the customer off the phone and never to call again.

netflix vs gamefly (4, Insightful)

steppin_razor_LA (236684) | more than 4 years ago | (#32094506)

funny since gamefly's disks are wrapped in rigid cardboard and much more secure than netflix...

Re:netflix vs gamefly (2, Interesting)

blackraven14250 (902843) | more than 4 years ago | (#32094568)

I don't know about Gamefly, but if they're in cardboard, they should be much better off than Netflix. Netflix's shipping method involves about 4 sheets of paper, not even glued together.

Re:netflix vs gamefly (1)

show me altoids (1183399) | more than 4 years ago | (#32094612)

Not necessarily better. If the cardboard is of a thickness that doesn't travel well through a given machine, it could increase the breakage or jam the machine.

Re:netflix vs gamefly (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 4 years ago | (#32096536)

Conceivably. But, Netflix DVD envelopes don't comply with postal regulations. As a result they don't go through the same machines because they don't fit. The USPS has to hand process them at points because of that.

I think the bigger issue for Gamefly is why it takes the USPS a full week to ship things from southern California or Texas to Washington. I'd almost certainly still be a subscriber if it didn't take them so long to ship things here. Surprisingly it seemed to take a lot less time shipping it back.

Re:netflix vs gamefly (4, Interesting)

Sycraft-fu (314770) | more than 4 years ago | (#32094610)

Well couple things may be in play, other than the USPS being meanies:

1) Netflix may well consider a fairly high rate of loss acceptable. Depending on the prices they have to pay for the discs, it might not matter to them. Remember that the media itself is cheap. In large runs I'd be surprised if you could get a disc to cost $0.10. So if they have a situation with the studios where they can buy the discs cheap, separate of the rental rights, it might not matter to them.

2) Video discs may be able to take more damage. If there's an error on a video disc, it isn't necessarily a show stopper. Could manifest as a minor visual glitch, maybe a couple frames get dropped. Whatever, movie still works, most people won't bitch. With data DVDs, doesn't work like that. Either everything reads 100% and passes the verification or it says "Shit is broke, we can't install."

Not saying the post office might not be causing problems, but there are plenty of other possibilities. Netflix may have accounted for breakage in their business model and Gamefly may not have

Re:netflix vs gamefly (1)

jecowa (1152159) | more than 4 years ago | (#32094794)

Excellent theories. Much more believable than GameFly's conspiracy theory.

Re:netflix vs gamefly (3, Informative)

Dthief (1700318) | more than 4 years ago | (#32094954)

35. GameFly is not the only mailer to experience significant DVD breakage rates on automated mail processing equipment. In response to this phenomenon, the Postal Service has adopted a practice of manually culling out the DVD mailers of two high-volume shippers of DVDs, Netflix and Blockbuster, for special processing.

Re:netflix vs gamefly (1)

buckeyeguy (525140) | more than 4 years ago | (#32096294)

From what I was told by a USPS carrier back in about 2004-2005 (knew her socially, she wasn't the one delivering my mail), the carriers got more money from manually sorting more pieces of mail, and because of that moving the Netflix stuff off the sorters was a win/win for them because the disk mailers were leaving trash behind when they got shredded. Not sure how the piecework for pay thing works, may be part of their union contract or something.

Re:netflix vs gamefly (4, Informative)

Artifex (18308) | more than 4 years ago | (#32095292)

Well couple things may be in play, other than the USPS being meanies:

1) Netflix may well consider a fairly high rate of loss acceptable. Depending on the prices they have to pay for the discs, it might not matter to them. Remember that the media itself is cheap. In large runs I'd be surprised if you could get a disc to cost $0.10. So if they have a situation with the studios where they can buy the discs cheap, separate of the rental rights, it might not matter to them.

They also have arrangements (or have had in the past) where they ship DVDs they printed themselves. In situations like that, they could be even cheaper, because there's no delay in waiting for replacements from the vendors, and they could be printed at the distribution centers nearest the subscribers asking for them.

Re:netflix vs gamefly (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32095358)

I think you have to rule out #1. Netflix has to buy the discs retail from the studios, just like Blockbuster and others must. They do not get anywhere near a $0.10/disc cost. Think closer to $25. You can thank the death grip of old media for that.

Netflix has 89,000,000 discs in inventory and had revenues of $1.67 billion in 2009, so each disc could be seen as producing $18 in revenue, statistically (more on that below). Given that most Netflix customers have the "3 at a time" plan (at $17/month), and that they hold onto discs for an average of 10 days, that means a disc must be rented roughly 4-5 times for the disc to earn enough "allocation" of customers' plan revenue to break even, and that for the average disc this may take a year and a half.

Even if studios gave Netflix a sweetheart deal, I think they'd still need a minimum of 6 months of circulation to break even on your "average" disc.

But there is no "average" disc. What really happens is that there is a long tail of low popularity titles, with accordingly low inventories, and the newest titles are most popular/profitable and pay for the carrying costs of the remainder of their 100,000+ movie library.

But this is all for naught if the disc can't make it through the mail (and customers' homes) at least 5 times without being stolen or damaged, no matter how long that takes.

So Netflix would seem to care about mail damage, too.

Sources: Wikipedia, Feedflix

Re:netflix vs gamefly (0)

stephanruby (542433) | more than 4 years ago | (#32094676)

A disk wrapped in a rigid card box would probably break in my mailbox. In my mailbox (which is an apartment mailbox), if I receive more than one DVD at a time from Netflix -- one of them will at least break (or warp so badly, that it will be completely unplayable). If I receive just one Netflix DVD thought, and I don't have too much bulky mail, it will bend slightly, but no permanent damage will be done.

May be, GameFly should just try Netflix's packaging, and do a test run with it. Sometimes, common sense can lead you astray.

Re:netflix vs gamefly (1)

JaZz0r (612364) | more than 4 years ago | (#32095018)

I wonder how USPS CDs [usps.com] are packaged and how many are delivered intact compared to the others.

Re:netflix vs gamefly (1)

moortak (1273582) | more than 4 years ago | (#32096146)

Standard thin cardboard sleeve with a small silver adhesive strip. I've never seen one broken, but our stuff is delivered competently.

Re:netflix vs gamefly (2, Interesting)

ktappe (747125) | more than 4 years ago | (#32096960)

funny since gamefly's disks are wrapped in rigid cardboard and much more secure than netflix...

Which makes them larger and therefore more likely to be difficult to fit into some mailboxes. That makes them more likely to be bent by mailcarriers, leading to damage. This is something GameFly probably needed to put more R&D into and on that point, score one for the USPS.

predictable (5, Informative)

Goldsmith (561202) | more than 4 years ago | (#32094516)

Welcome to the world of lawyers, where it doesn't matter who is right and who is wrong, but who is in a position to be a bigger pain in the neck. This is a discovery document for the defense of USPS, not a response to an inquiry. They probably won't be issuing a response.

The USPS lawyers (in the odd world of legal ethics) probably concluded that the "right" thing to do is to pressure Gamefly to settle and admit no wrongdoing by USPS. I'm sure there are good reasons for USPS to not actually put out a public report detailing what their definition of acceptable mail handling is or how poor mail handling happens, but those are good reasons only for people who work for USPS.

Re:predictable (5, Informative)

mpoulton (689851) | more than 4 years ago | (#32094664)

Welcome to the world of lawyers, where it doesn't matter who is right and who is wrong, but who is in a position to be a bigger pain in the neck. This is a discovery document for the defense of USPS, not a response to an inquiry. They probably won't be issuing a response.

The USPS lawyers (in the odd world of legal ethics) probably concluded that the "right" thing to do is to pressure Gamefly to settle and admit no wrongdoing by USPS. I'm sure there are good reasons for USPS to not actually put out a public report detailing what their definition of acceptable mail handling is or how poor mail handling happens, but those are good reasons only for people who work for USPS.

The original "inquiry" was not a polite request for the USPS to investigate. It was a formal complaint filed with the Postal Regulatory Commission. This is functionally a lawsuit, in the "court" of the Postal Regulatory Commission. GameFly sued the USPS demanding that they provide the same treatment to GameFly DVDs that is provided for Netflix and Blockbuster DVDs. The Postal service's response here is a discovery request, which is to be expected. However, if you read the original complaint it becomes apparent that the postal service probably already has much of this information, since the USPS and GameFly worked together for quite a long time to resolve the problem (to no avail).

Re:predictable (1)

mrmeval (662166) | more than 4 years ago | (#32095004)

Get rid of the postal goons and go private where they have less of the impenetrable legal wall than the archaic postal service.

I've lived in crime ridden neighborhoods where the postal goons loved to dump packages outside my door. That sort of welfare is unappreciated.

I now live in a better area where the postal goon loves to break the mail box regularly or just leave it unlocked and open.

To hell with them. Take away their monopoly.

Re:predictable (1)

LostInTaiwan (837924) | more than 4 years ago | (#32095250)

I was on the privatization wagon until GWB started to "privatize" our armed forces and now BHO wants to "privatize" our space exploration. I love the USPS/FedEx/UPS comparison. The good thing about USPS is that they usually don't care who you are or how much you ship, you pretty much get the same overall treatment depending on the mood of their staff. FedEx/UPS on the other hand discriminate base on your shipping volume and profitability.

There is a reason why USPS looses money year after year, beside the typical government bureaucracy. However, where else can you mail something for $0.44 to anywhere in the US with no additional charge for Saturday delivery.

Re:predictable (1)

mrmeval (662166) | more than 4 years ago | (#32096236)

Government can't privatize shit. There is too much cronyism in it so they will make rules so that only a few can play.

We can however force them to remove the USPS monopoly and let private business take over where it can. USPS already uses a larger number of private businesses in that cronyism scheme already mentioned.

BTW, we had privatized defense when the country was new. Since we don't need to be the Whirled police anymore I say we go back to it.

Re:predictable (1)

Shakrai (717556) | more than 4 years ago | (#32097178)

I was on the privatization wagon until GWB started to "privatize" our armed forces

GWB didn't privatize the armed forces. Contractors were used to fill the roles that DoD lacked the manpower to fill because of the post Cold War draw down of the American military. The proper thing to do would have been to institute a military draft to provide DoD with the required manpower. The downside to this is that we'd have to justify our foreign policy to the American people and nobody on either side of the aisle wants to do that....

FedEx/UPS on the other hand discriminate base on your shipping volume and profitability.

Why is this a bad thing? If you mail one package a year and ask them to come to your location to pick it up it doubtless costs them more than someone who regularly mails packages.

There is a reason why USPS looses money year after year

Above market wages?

However, where else can you mail something for $0.44 to anywhere in the US

Why is that a good thing? If I walk into my post office and "mail" something to a PO box contained within that same post office it ought to cost less than mailing something to Alaska or Hawaii.

smell (1)

For a Free Internet (1594621) | more than 4 years ago | (#32094522)

It smells like old cat stink and X-rays. It does smell like that, and if you believe me you should praise GOD because it smells like old cat X-ray stink and you are a SINNER for saying that you evil old elf.

Did they try to work it out or just FILE FILE FILE (3, Insightful)

Alpha232 (922118) | more than 4 years ago | (#32094556)

Alot of the questions go to what effort did GameFly invest into research, planning and execution, of the shipping and return process.
Things from the material the mailer is produced from to simply how the dvd is secured inside the envelope to prevent shifting through the sorting process.

And the really big question, are you sure they really were "stolen" and not just kept.

I think pretty much all of the questions are valid and while written in legaleze, quite understandable given the severity of the complaint. If GameFly worked with the USPS in planning the mailing portion of their service and co-operated in tracking down these "thefts" before filing this case, then they should have no problems answering every one of them honestly and fully.

Re:Did they try to work it out or just FILE FILE F (1)

macshit (157376) | more than 4 years ago | (#32094640)

The original complaint by gamefly seems kind of bizarre though. Why on earth would the USPS care who's sending the packages, much less "preferentially" treat "traditional DVD distribution companies"?

It sounds like if there is any issue, it's a technical one (since the problem seems to be with the interaction between the DVD packages and the USPS sorting machines), and thus detailed questions about how gamefly packages their DVDs, etc, are quite apropos.

Re:Did they try to work it out or just FILE FILE F (2, Interesting)

Alpha232 (922118) | more than 4 years ago | (#32094766)

From the original complaint, the USPS apparently does treat them differently as far as machine handling... it would be interesting to see what happens.

The issue here is why does GameFly have to jump through hoops and spend alot more on packaging to survive automation even when the class of service they used allows for non-machine sorts, while the other companies get separated for special treatment.

Re:Did they try to work it out or just FILE FILE F (1)

mattack2 (1165421) | more than 4 years ago | (#32094798)

Why on earth would the USPS care who's sending the packages

I can't provide a citation, but I thought that Netflix had various special arrangements with the USPS due to their huge mail volume. Yes, I'm being vague because I don't remember specifics, but things like discounted rates and even possibly specialized delivery/pickup schedules from the Netflix distribution centers.

Re:Did they try to work it out or just FILE FILE F (1)

Skater (41976) | more than 4 years ago | (#32096286)

Why on earth would the USPS care who's sending the packages

I can't provide a citation, but I thought that Netflix had various special arrangements with the USPS due to their huge mail volume. Yes, I'm being vague because I don't remember specifics, but things like discounted rates and even possibly specialized delivery/pickup schedules from the Netflix distribution centers.

Any business can get arrangement that if they have a high enough volume and meet certain addressing criteria on the envelopes. Unfortunately I can't find it on their website, but I know it's there somewhere.

Re:Did they try to work it out or just FILE FILE F (1)

AndersOSU (873247) | more than 4 years ago | (#32096656)

IIRC netflix doesn't get a volume discount, they may even pay a premium for hand sorting of their mail. I think the calculation was that it's cheaper to pay the USPS to hand sort DVDs shipped in paper than spend the money on packaging that can handle the standard automated process.

Aussie Post Works Their Magic Too (2, Interesting)

GumphMaster (772693) | more than 4 years ago | (#32094642)

I am amazed at the sheer skill displayed by postal services in breaking CDROMs. Australia Post has broken the last couple I have mailed. The disc is in a paper sleeve glued to the inside of a 10mm thick A4 paper manual inside a heavy paper "Toughbag" envelope. The envelopes and manual arrive with no outward signs of distress but the CDROM has been broken cleanly in two. One went to the far side of the country, but the other only a few suburbs away.

You can grab a bare CD and bend it in half without physically breaking it... it takes compressive force on the fold before the CD shatters. How this happens in transit without damaging the containing envelopes beats me.

Re:Aussie Post Works Their Magic Too (1)

WiPEOUT (20036) | more than 4 years ago | (#32094716)

Alternative breaking options:

* falling on its edge and cracking
* repeated extreme heating/cooling cycles causing the disk to crack

Re:Aussie Post Works Their Magic Too (2, Informative)

GumphMaster (772693) | more than 4 years ago | (#32094848)

CDs survive summertime closed car temperatures (i.e. 60+ Celsius) repeatedly without breaking. Repeated dropping on an edge could do it but the impact would have to smash through the surrounding manual first, retain sufficient energy to break the CDROM, and not damage either the manual or envelope. Both options seem unlikely.

Re:Aussie Post Works Their Magic Too (1)

lorenzo.boccaccia (1263310) | more than 4 years ago | (#32095732)

are cargo bay used for air delivery heated/pressurized? high altitude temperature may well be outside the cd storage range.

Re:Aussie Post Works Their Magic Too (2, Informative)

pimpsoftcom (877143) | more than 4 years ago | (#32094724)

Because mail is sorted through machines that bend all mail.. its industry standard and part of the automated sorting racks that read the digital stamp placed over the actual stamp, based on the USPS employee I talked to.

Re:Aussie Post Works Their Magic Too (1)

muphin (842524) | more than 4 years ago | (#32094726)

that's why they have CD packaging specifically for this (that little box a tiny big bigger than a jewel case).
write fragile on it, as you cant expect the post to know what's in the packaging.

Re:Aussie Post Works Their Magic Too (1)

GumphMaster (772693) | more than 4 years ago | (#32094866)

When I'm just mailing a CD alone that is what I use. Never had these broken.

Re:Aussie Post Works Their Magic Too (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32094778)

This is why (at least in the states), I always use an actual cardboard box, of at least 5cm thickness, lined with large cell bubble wrap. By listing the contents as "Media", a special shipping rate is given. ("Media" covers anything from printed books and photographs such as posters and what-not, to audio and video recordings. Digital data devices can also qualify as 'Media'. "Media" type packages usually ship FAR cheaper for their weight than traditional packages. USPS on Media Mail [usps.com] )

By using the "Large" box, the package gets sorted manually instead of through the envelope sorting machine. This can be further enhanced by stamping the box "Do not bend or fold."

Granted, this doesn't look nearly as "Sexy" as a thin, cardboard sleeve does when it arrives in the mail, but the disc is much more likely to arrive in a use-able condition.

(I have sent a disk from the Midwestern US *TO* Australia this way, and had it arrive safely.)

Re:Aussie Post Works Their Magic Too (1)

GumphMaster (772693) | more than 4 years ago | (#32094930)

Once you get out of the "envelope" category (less than 500g and 20mm thick) postage rates take a hike. No concessions from Aust Post based on the type of content, just a weight/package volume/distance formula. Taking the same content with the smallest, suitable, readily available PostPak box the postage goes from $2.75 to $11.80 packaging excluded. A smaller box might reduce this a little but I haven't found a ready supply in small volumes.

Don't get me wrong, the majority of our mail arrives intact and we accept a few losses. I just wonder at the mechanics of breaking the disc.

Re:Aussie Post Works Their Magic Too (1)

JazzXP (770338) | more than 4 years ago | (#32095868)

I recently sent some DVD's and I bought some boxes for $1.40 each and then $1.10 in postage (So $2.50 in total). That was just from an Australia Post Shop.

Re:Aussie Post Works Their Magic Too (1)

AndersOSU (873247) | more than 4 years ago | (#32096732)

Doesn't media mail take eons to be delivered?

Re:Aussie Post Works Their Magic Too (2, Informative)

ffflala (793437) | more than 4 years ago | (#32095102)

It's the difference in the elastic modulus among materials. The envelopes, manual, and cardboard packaging have different properties from the encased plastic discs. Opposing shear forces with small enough clearance could easily snap a CD/DVD in the middle, without leaving any particularly unusual bend or mark on the external plant-pulp packaging. If the tire and road surfaces were flat and clean enough, a loaded semi could drive over a piece of mail without harming it; not so for the disc.

Re:Aussie Post Works Their Magic Too (1)

fourdc (226283) | more than 4 years ago | (#32095232)

I work on the machines that process mail for the USPS. Letters start at the feeder and within 1 foot of travel are moving at 20 mph, there is stress on the envelope. The mailpiece is routed around a series of turns to kill time while the optics read the mailpiece and determine sortation.

The mailpiece is then routed to a pocket where it goes from 20mph to zero with a quarter inch foam bumper to stop it. This machine processes at about 40,000 pieces an hour.

Writing "fragile" on an envelope is a false hope. Mailpieces go through the system without the human eye even looking at them until the carrier puts it in your mailbox.

If you want a fragile piece to go manual, then box it and pay the extra postage. The video and game rental industry companies need to build a better mailpiece to protect their content.

Re:Aussie Post Works Their Magic Too (1)

AndersOSU (873247) | more than 4 years ago | (#32096696)

best guess:

They run it through a machine with a pinch feed system. Works fine for flat pieces of paper, but when you put something rigid through you get wierd forces. Putting the CD inside the manual might paradoxically make things worse - the machine has to apply more force to move a book than an envelope - force with a large downward component. It hits the CD and then ... crack.

Real Reason is Game Disks Are More Valuable (1)

Ron Bennett (14590) | more than 4 years ago | (#32094650)

As was pointed out in the older, related Slashdot article, the value of the game disks is most likely the primary reason Gamefly is experiencing so many "losses".

In regards to the USPS being "private", that's only partially true. I don't recall the USPS paying property tax, income tax, etc. Or do they?

On a related topic, UPS and FedEx delivery vehicles get ticketed all the time. Can USPS delivery vehicles be ticketed? -some people have told me that they can't, since they're exempt.

In regards to mail theft - that's an issue at all the major services, including USPS despite strict federal laws. Supposedly, some companies are so concerned theft by postal workers, they will purposely send much of their mail in such a way to avoid "problematic" USPS sorting centers.

Ron

Re:Real Reason is Game Disks Are More Valuable (1)

Spazmania (174582) | more than 4 years ago | (#32094674)

Can USPS delivery vehicles be ticketed?

Lately I've noticed that the USPS vehicles in my area don't even have license plates...

Re:Real Reason is Game Disks Are More Valuable (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32094698)

they do have a USPS sign (and possibly an ID) on them though

Re:Real Reason is Game Disks Are More Valuable (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32094760)

What ? Hhm I'm going to have to buy me a USPS vehicle on eBay.

Re:Real Reason is Game Disks Are More Valuable (2, Informative)

lindoran (1190189) | more than 4 years ago | (#32094982)

USPS is a government run company (for all intents an purposes). As such they do not need licence plates. They do however have (quite large) identifying numbers on the outside of the truck/vehicle. if it is a small post office they may do mail delivery from the post masters own personal vehicle but in that case there would be some identifying marks on the vehicle. most post offices too small to have fleet vehicles are pick up only however... and in that case there is no vehicle.

Re:Real Reason is Game Disks Are More Valuable (1)

ArsenneLupin (766289) | more than 4 years ago | (#32095378)

Lately I've noticed that the USPS vehicles in my area don't even have license plates...

Neither do they here.

... but then push carts and bicycles usually don't have license plates, even if they are not owned by the postal service....

Re:Real Reason is Game Disks Are More Valuable (1)

Sharkyfour (14327) | more than 4 years ago | (#32096064)

On a related topic, UPS and FedEx delivery vehicles get ticketed all the time. Can USPS delivery vehicles be ticketed? -some people have told me that they can't, since they're exempt.

My wife is a school bus driver and she's told me before the only vehicle who is not required to stop for the flashing red lights is a postal truck. They're federal government vehicles and as such they're exempt from state traffic laws, including stopping for a school bus loading/unloading children.

Re:Real Reason is Game Disks Are More Valuable (1)

Shakrai (717556) | more than 4 years ago | (#32097244)

They're federal government vehicles and as such they're exempt from state traffic laws, including stopping for a school bus loading/unloading children.

I call bullshit. Federal employees aren't exempt from the laws of the state that they happen to be working in. I think your wife is misinformed.

..."Each" includes the term "every" (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32094678)

..."Each" includes the term "every" and "every" includes the term
"each." "Any" includes the term "all" and "all" includes the term "any." "And"
includes the term "or" and "or" includes the term "and."

Maybe it's time to stop buying stamps... (1)

JaZz0r (612364) | more than 4 years ago | (#32094994)

...and start looking into what UPS/FedEx/DHL can offer.

Re:Maybe it's time to stop buying stamps... (1)

Shakrai (717556) | more than 4 years ago | (#32097256)

DHL pulled out of the American market. UPS and Fedex are prohibited by Federal law from delivering "non-urgent" parcels.

Well, I can attest to the losses (4, Interesting)

AnswerIs42 (622520) | more than 4 years ago | (#32095248)

When I use to have a gamefly account, I would loose 3 out of every 5 disks in transit (had something like 30 games not show up over the 5 years I had an account). I would get ripped open envelopes that were taped shut.. I had cut open ones show up. I had one envelope show up so badly mangled they put it inside another envelope. ALL of them had the disks missing.. sometimes I would get the empty game holding envelope.

I looked into the transfer route after the first few are missing.. Gamefly center -> receiving office -> transfer location 1 -> transfer location 2 -> local post office

The post office tried to tell me that is was AFTER the mail was delivered that the thefts happened. I had a PO Box... so that still tells me it is within the system they went missing.

When gamefly went to the current packaging, the missing disk numbers did drop back to 1 in 10 or so. but when they did go missing, I would not even get an envelope in the mail.

"Destinating" (1)

mike260 (224212) | more than 4 years ago | (#32095280)

...is a word now?

I also enjoyed this gem:

(a) The present tense includes the past tense and the past tense includes the present tense; and

(b) The singular includes the plural and the plural includes the
singular.

I unconsciously started humming the theme from 'Brazil' as I was reading this little masterpiece.

Re:"Destinating" (1)

mike260 (224212) | more than 4 years ago | (#32095318)

And I nearly overlooked this one:

“Each” includes the term “every” and “every” includes the term “each.” “Any” includes the term “all” and “all” includes the term “any.” “And” includes the term “or” and “or” includes the term “and.”

Genius.

Such high quality service! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32096062)

With something as high quality as this sort of thing, I simply can't imagine why FedEx, UPS, and a ton of other delivery service are pounding the USPS into the ground.

sick the dogs on em (1)

hemlock00 (1499033) | more than 4 years ago | (#32096632)

INAL, but I think it could be a start of a legal issue in that, when the USPS is accepting a package to deliver and fails to do so in a magnitude of millions in "lost" mail and offering an extremely slow response. Beyond that, I would bet that if/when the question list is answered, no change will occur. Another point I hope either UPS or Fedex see is that there is a market for cheap "it-gets-there-when-it-gets-there" delivery which only the post office really offers now. I believe that if the people could send little packages like dvds/games for 2 bucks using fedex or UPS, the post office would go under since it's already so far in the red.

Re:sick the dogs on em (1)

SpeZek (970136) | more than 4 years ago | (#32097454)

Except UPS and FedEx arguable suck just as much.

I had a birthday present sent to me twice via UPS (Premium even!). The first time, they delivered it to the wrong house and someone signed for it. I complained but they basically said "You signed for it. Tough luck." Second time? Same thing. After the shipper and I specifically told them to double-check the address and the signature.

Hell, that's even worse than my xmas present, which was through USPS/CPS. That one got stuck in customs for 4 months, then shipped back with no explanation.

At least it's not as bad as when I had a (very sentimental) ring sent to me via USPS and somebody pried off the gemstone and stole the chain.

Thing is, the employees are all minimally paid and unaccountable. UPS, FedEx, Purolator, or gov't. They don't give a shit how many Christmasses or birthdays they fuck up.

Poor way to run a business (1)

Duane13 (1340371) | more than 4 years ago | (#32096742)

So let me get this straight, a struggling company, on the verge of being bankrupt is asking a huge customer, to evaluate the cost model of using other delivery methods other than themselves? Don't you think that a failing company would be bending over backwards to ensure high value clients have their high value parcels protected? Seems like these kind of letters and responses to big clients are the reasons why the USPS is failing.

It's not our fault (1)

brand13 (1804892) | more than 4 years ago | (#32097610)

The PO is its own worst enemy. From the $1.2B FSS debacle, (which the OIG said was a waste of time and the PO should scrap), to the processing machines that bend every piece of mail which goes thru them. Some mail is not made to be machineable in the manner of letters and postcards. Keys,license plates, pens, CDs, DVDs, 1/2 inch thick payment books, all come to mind. Sure, these should never be in letter sorting machines in the first place. But the PO in its zeal to make itself look good, will cram anything it can thru these machines to keep it's piece count high. The PO mismanagement is too stupid to consider that these things cause jams, stopping the machine, and lowering the piece count. I see broken dvds every day that go thru letter sorting machines at the PO. The feeders sometimes strip the dvd out of the envelope, sorting the empty envelope, leaving the dvd scratched, broken, or on the floor. CDs & DVDs are not made to be bent, but somehow this is Gamefly's fault. They should never be sorted as regular mail, but as packages. http://www.teterboro-online.com/news/news03/usps/dbcs.shtml [teterboro-online.com]
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