Beta

Slashdot: News for Nerds

×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

Post Office Proposes Special Rate For Mailing DVDs

timothy posted 1 year,1 day | from the let's-get-the-doj-right-on-this-monopoly dept.

Communications 176

An anonymous reader writes "The United States Postal Service is seeking to implement a special postage rate for companies such as Netflix, GameFly and Blockbuster (PDF), which send DVDs to their customers and then receive them back. This proposal for special rates for two-way mailers of optical disks follows a protracted legal complaint from GameFly, which argued that Netflix was receiving special handling by the Postal Service while paying a cheaper postage rate."

cancel ×

176 comments

How is this news? (2)

Adnonify (2964415) | 1 year,1 day | (#44400555)

You buy volume and pay a different price? Basic economics ... how can a company do business otherwise?

Re:How is this news? (2, Informative)

hairyfeet (841228) | 1 year,1 day | (#44400641)

Because unlike every other business on the planet Dubya passed a law that says the USPS has to have the ENTIRE retirement plan, to the very last penny for every single employee, funded for something like 40 years?

I have to wonder if this law getting passed couldn't be traced back to Fed Ex and UPS wanting the business that USPS was doing so found a way to stick them with a bill that they could never pay while remaining able to compete. After all you don't see Fed Ex and UPS funding 40 years worth of retirement per employee in their retirement accounts do you? It lets them tie a boat anchor to USPS so that USPS ends up in a bind and either has to cut service or raise prices, both of which benefits UPS and Fed Ex.

Re:How is this news? (4, Informative)

Mitreya (579078) | 1 year,1 day | (#44400705)

I have to wonder if this law getting passed couldn't be traced back to Fed Ex and UPS wanting the business that USPS was doing so found a way to stick them with a bill that they could never pay while remaining able to compete.

USPS is also not allowed to raise prices beyond some (official/fudged) price index increase.

It lets them tie a boat anchor to USPS so that USPS ends up in a bind and either has to cut service or raise prices, both of which benefits UPS and Fed Ex.

UPS/FedEx constantly use USPS on "unprofitable" routes, because USPS is also required to keep prices relatively constant. So if the package is going to the middle of nowhere, UPS and FedEx will gladly outsource it to USPS which will deliver it at a loss. USPS cannot actually raise prices, but if they cut services, that may actually harm their competitors.

Re:How is this news? (3, Interesting)

NJRoadfan (1254248) | 1 year,1 day | (#44401289)

Both offer "last mile" USPS delivery to ANY address in the US for reduced costs. FedEx calls is "SmartPost" and UPS calls it "SurePost". Your package is still shipped via the parcel company's network, but instead of being delivered directly to your door, it gets dropped off at the local USPS distribution center where they take care of the rest of the delivery. The trade off is that it usually takes longer for your package to arrive. The only perk is that you get Saturday delivery (for now).

Re:How is this news? (3, Informative)

g1powermac (812562) | 1 year,1 day | (#44401527)

And, as a former rural carrier, I can tell you that arrangement is quite profitable for the post office. The rural carriers have to go their routes anyway, so the extra package load costs quite little. The only costs are some time for the clerks/management to sort the incoming packages in the morning, and the slightly higher evaluations for the routes (which translates to a small bit more money to the carriers).

Re:How is this news? (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,1 day | (#44401583)

UPS/FedEx constantly use USPS on "unprofitable" routes . . .

The routes aren't unprofitable, they just can't compete with the socialized/subsidized USPS rate. Another part of the USPS's charter is uniform prices, which allows cheaper delivery to subsidize more expensive delivery.

. . . because USPS is also required to keep prices relatively constant.

True, but the reason the rural, more expensive, deliveries are able to be offered at a cheap rate by USPS is due to their ability to charge much more for delivery in urban areas than would be necessary. In other words, urban delivery subsidizes rural delivery.

. . . UPS and FedEx will gladly outsource it to USPS which will deliver it at a loss.

Not at a loss, but at a rate subsidized by cheaper, urban delivery.

USPS cannot actually raise prices, but if they cut services, that may actually harm their competitors.

First, the USPS can raise prices any time if the government, through law makers, changes the law. Second, USPS's competitors aren't able to evenly compete with the USPS, since by law, among other things, they are not allowed to provide letter delivery service. If private delivery companies could compete with USPS evenly, they may well be able to provide comparable service to rural areas directly.

Re:How is this news? (1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,1 day | (#44402299)

First, the USPS can raise prices any time if the government, through law makers, changes the law. Second, USPS's competitors aren't able to evenly compete with the USPS, since by law, among other things, they are not allowed to provide letter delivery service. If private delivery companies could compete with USPS evenly, they may well be able to provide comparable service to rural areas directly.

Yeah, it's not like it takes an Act of Congress to change the law...

Even if private companies COULD manage to maintain a profit while serving podunk towns and the red sticks, why the hell would they? Why make a $1 in the city and lose $0.50 in the sticks to net $0.50 when they can just make $1 in the city?

Also, there's nothing prohibiting them from delivering a letter to me. I get stuff overnighted once in a while just fine. They just charge $20+ for the service to leave it on my door instead of in a box (or even fold it and stuff it in there anyway).

Re:How is this news? (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,1 day | (#44400727)

> I have to wonder if this law getting passed couldn't be traced back to Fed Ex and UPS wanting the business that USPS was doing

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Starve_the_beast

Basically, people who want government to fail set them up to fail. Then they say "look look, big government is failing!"

Re:How is this news? (1)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | 1 year,1 day | (#44401139)

...and does not usually refer to spending on military, law enforcement or prisons

Why am I not surprised?

Re:How is this news? (1)

0123456 (636235) | 1 year,1 day | (#44401157)

Basically, people who want government to fail set them up to fail. Then they say "look look, big government is failing!"

Yes, but the OP was blaming Republicans, not Democrats.

Re: How is this news? (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,1 day | (#44401311)

Because almost all Democrats voted against it and it was in the lame duck session at the end of 2006 when the GOP were in control. This thing if always blaming our 50/50 spent always work. It was the GOP so they get blamed. End of story.

Re:How is this news? (5, Informative)

Y-Crate (540566) | 1 year,1 day | (#44400873)

Because unlike every other business on the planet Dubya passed a law that says the USPS has to have the ENTIRE retirement plan, to the very last penny for every single employee, funded for something like 40 years?

It's worse than that. The law gives the USPS 10 years to come up with 100% of the money needed to fund all of its pension requirements for the next 75 years.

It's designed to destroy the USPS so Republican lawmakers can bemoan how government has once again failed to deliver. Except that they're the ones who have failed us.

Re:How is this news? (0, Redundant)

KalvinB (205500) | 1 year,1 day | (#44401115)

Every business should be required to actually fund their pension plans instead of whining to the government for bailouts later. See countless examples of companies going bankrupt over union demands and the unions whining about their pensions they're "owed"

By forcing the USPS to actually be accountable for it's promises to the unions, they can deal with the problem now rather than later.

Re:How is this news? (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,1 day | (#44401167)

That would be fair except 75 years is overfunding the pension plan.

Re:How is this news? (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,1 day | (#44401223)

> Every business should be required to actually fund their pension plans

I'll do you one better: employer pension plans should be outlawed. You want a pension plan? It has to be managed by a outside entity, and the employer is never allowed to touch the money once it goes in.

Re:How is this news? (1)

bill_mcgonigle (4333) | 1 year,1 day | (#44402351)

It has to be managed by a outside entity, and the employer is never allowed to touch the money once it goes in.

I'm confused - how does that help me make promises to an employee that I never intend to keep, while relying on taxpayers to cover my compensation costs?

Re:How is this news? (5, Insightful)

Cardcaptor_RLH85 (891550) | 1 year,1 day | (#44401233)

Yes, it makes sense to pay up your pension fund in advance...not 75 years in advance though! By paying into your pension fund 75 years in advance, you are funding the pensions of employees who haven't even been born yet. I can see requiring that the next 25 years worth of pensions are funded in advance but 75 years is insanity and for most businesses would be completely untenable.

Re:How is this news? (2)

Y-Crate (540566) | 1 year,1 day | (#44401275)

Every business should be required to actually fund their pension plans instead of whining to the government for bailouts later. See countless examples of companies going bankrupt over union demands and the unions whining about their pensions they're "owed"

By forcing the USPS to actually be accountable for it's promises to the unions, they can deal with the problem now rather than later.

I have absolutely zero problem with forcing institutions to pre-fund their pension plans.

But Congress gave the USPS entirely unreasonable demands in an entirely unreasonable timeframe. Even 40 or 50 years in 10 would be far too much.

But all of this is beside the point and not the real issue here, as the whole purpose of the stipulation is to trigger the financial collapse of the USPS.

Re:How is this news? (5, Insightful)

artor3 (1344997) | 1 year,1 day | (#44401511)

Okay, here's the deal. You have until your 30th birthday to fully fund a retirement account that must last until you turn 95. If you can't, you must declare bankruptcy and lose everything. Sound fair?

Re:How is this news? (1)

DFurno2003 (739807) | 1 year,1 day | (#44401625)

I bet there are some people in Detroit that would have a slightly differing opinion.

Re: How is this news? (1)

JWW (79176) | 1 year,1 day | (#44401687)

Yeah, how dare they fully fund the pensions, when they should be funding them like Detroit funded their worker pensions. Oh, wait...

I'm not saying the republicans may not be putting the USPS in a bad spot. But is is really rare for pension funds to be adequately funded and most of those stories end up with the workers promised the pentions being royally screwed..

Re: How is this news? (1)

Y-Crate (540566) | 1 year,1 day | (#44402195)

But this is like telling you: "Since a lot of parents fail to account for the true cost of raising their future children, you have ten years to come up with every penny you'll spend for the first 18 years of their lives, their college tuition and their retirement. Anyway, congratulations on graduating high school!"

Re:How is this news? (2)

arobatino (46791) | 1 year,1 day | (#44401041)

When the PAEA was passed in late 2006, it was at right about the peak in total mail volume (which of course they didn't know at the time) and the recession was still 2 years off. Everyone (Democrats, Republicans, and the postal service and unions) thought the prefunding was easily affordable, so it passed with bipartisan support. For example see this [nalc.org] from the NALC (the main letter carrier's union) giving it high praise. (Although after things went sour, they started insinuating [washingtonpost.com] that it had been shoved down their throats, and pretty much everyone believes that by now.) Prior to 2006 there was no prefunding requirement at all, so it was just bad timing - it would have been fine if done 5 or 10 years earlier.

By the way, the correct prefunding figure is actually 50 years (see this [washingtonexaminer.com] and this [washingtonexaminer.com] which debunk the oft-repeated false value of 75 years).

Re:How is this news? (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,1 day | (#44401073)

i believe it was 75 years, you know, for people not even born yet.

Re:How is this news? (0)

0123456 (636235) | 1 year,1 day | (#44401129)

Because unlike every other business on the planet Dubya passed a law that says the USPS has to have the ENTIRE retirement plan, to the very last penny for every single employee, funded for something like 40 years?

And the USPS still lost billions more dollars on top of that last year.

It's a failing business with a broken business model, and nothing will change that. It's not as though postal organisations in other first-world countries aren't suffering too.

Actually they do, by law (2)

raymorris (2726007) | 1 year,1 day | (#44401293)

Actually private companies DO invest money so the pensions they promised will be paid. Typically, the employer sendd their part to an IRS or 401k account in the employee's name. That way, the money is there 40 years later while the employee is retired.

Occasionally, an employer will get caught screwing around with that and not properly investing that money on behalf of the employees they promised it to. That's called fraud. It's just that federal agencies were allowed to commit this type of fraud. With the internet, USPS may not have the revenue to in 40 years to cover the retirement pay for today's employees. That's why they now have to invest retirement pay for today's employees today, just like private companies do.

Re:Actually they do, by law (1)

TubeSteak (669689) | 1 year,1 day | (#44402189)

With the internet, USPS may not have the revenue to in 40 years to cover the retirement pay for today's employees. That's why they now have to invest retirement pay for today's employees today, just like private companies do.

Except USPS has to prefund for 75 years.
They're literally socking away money for employees that haven't been born yet.

false rumor. Only estimate cost of today's promise (1)

raymorris (2726007) | 1 year,1 day | (#44402411)

That's a rumor put out by the union, and false.
They have to ESTIMATE, not pay, what today's employees might collect 75 years from now.

When they hire a 20 year old worker, they are promising to continue paying that worker when he's 80 - which is 60 years from now. They have to make a written estimate of how much today's promises will cost them in the future.

This is standard stuff, what's called Generally Accepted Accounting Practices (GAAP). Every company that issues stock follows the same rules.

Re:Actually they do, by law (1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,1 day | (#44402253)

Sadly, most of these 401(k) accounts are underfunded, so the employee will end up with nothing like a traditional pension when they reach retirement age. They are a sham where the employee is never educated enough about investment vehicles to properly access their balances and contributions. Worse, beneath the level of outright fraud there is a corrupt practice of offering retirement accounts through providers with absurdly high fees that prevent the employees' accounts from ever experiencing the investment growth that they deserve. This has the same effect as an employer raiding the pension fund, but it happens slowly and continuously rather than with one news-breaking event.

Re:How is this news? (1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,1 day | (#44400721)

How is this news?
You buy volume and pay a different price? Basic economics

Companies already had access to the Post Office's volume discounts. This is about them creating a special lower rate to keep a business (and now an industry) of physically distributed digital information alive.

first (-1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,1 day | (#44400565)

first

Subsidised gov't monopoly (-1, Troll)

roman_mir (125474) | 1 year,1 day | (#44400581)

Mailing, shipping companies should be able to do whatever the hell they want with their postages, etc., of-course USPS is not a company, they are the government and will eventually die off as a species and the sooner the better.

The rest of the story (5, Insightful)

KalvinB (205500) | 1 year,1 day | (#44400649)

http://arstechnica.com/gaming/2011/03/the-cost-difference-in-mailing-netflx-vs-gamefly-all-of-gameflys-profits/ [arstechnica.com]

The reason GameFly pays more is because their mailers weigh more. Netflix keeps the mailer at 1 ounce and pays 44 cents each. GameFly's mailer is 2 ounces and they pay the two ounce price. The big giant clue in the linked article is that the USPS is considering changing the price of the 2 ounce mailer to the price of a 1 ounce mailer.

So the real story is that GameFly wants a discount with zero actual justification.

The packaging for GameFly costs more. Work it into your business model or reduce the packaging weight.

I don't do business with GameFly but if I did, I'd cancel. They actually have the nerve to pretend Netflix is getting some kind of special treatment while they are the ones seeking it.

There is nothing unfair about what the USPS is doing. The rest of us have to pay by the ounce for our mail.

Re: The rest of the story (4, Insightful)

kiddailey (165202) | 1 year,1 day | (#44400751)

Not excusing this, but perhaps they've tried and haven't been able to redesign a mailer that doesn't somehow infringe on Netflix's mailer patent (and any others that likely exist):

http://www.google.com/patents/US6966484 [google.com]

Re: The rest of the story (1)

OzPeter (195038) | 1 year,1 day | (#44400943)

Not excusing this, but perhaps they've tried and haven't been able to redesign a mailer that doesn't somehow infringe on Netflix's mailer patent (and any others that likely exist):

http://www.google.com/patents/US6966484 [google.com]

All they need to do is to license the technology from Netflix. Is that what patents are meant to be all about?

Even I'm not sure if I should be appending that comment with a "</sacasm>" tag or not.

Re: The rest of the story (1)

kiddailey (165202) | 1 year,1 day | (#44401193)

Maybe. Will that end up costing more than 2 cents per mailer?

Re:The rest of the story (3, Interesting)

Kal Zekdor (826142) | 1 year,1 day | (#44400963)

http://arstechnica.com/gaming/2011/03/the-cost-difference-in-mailing-netflx-vs-gamefly-all-of-gameflys-profits/ [arstechnica.com]

The reason GameFly pays more is because their mailers weigh more. Netflix keeps the mailer at 1 ounce and pays 44 cents each. GameFly's mailer is 2 ounces and they pay the two ounce price. The big giant clue in the linked article is that the USPS is considering changing the price of the 2 ounce mailer to the price of a 1 ounce mailer.

So the real story is that GameFly wants a discount with zero actual justification.

The packaging for GameFly costs more. Work it into your business model or reduce the packaging weight.

I don't do business with GameFly but if I did, I'd cancel. They actually have the nerve to pretend Netflix is getting some kind of special treatment while they are the ones seeking it.

There is nothing unfair about what the USPS is doing. The rest of us have to pay by the ounce for our mail.

Just read the article you linked. While interesting, it does kinda support Gamefly's case. A 2-ounce mailer cost $1.05, whereas a 1-ounce mailer cost $0.44. In other words Gamefly pays ~238% of what Netflix pays, 38% above any differences in weight. Further, at these weights, the majority of the cost of delivery is a flat cost, rather than an increase in fuel consumption due to weight. The cost of fuel to transport 1 ounce of additional weight is certainly less than a penny; the vehicle, occupant, and other cargo make up the vast majority of the weight (and the occupant's time is no small factor on the cost). Just basing numbers on the weight of the packages alone, charging ~$0.10 extra for the additional ounce will more than make up for the added costs.

Re:The rest of the story (2)

LordKronos (470910) | 1 year,1 day | (#44401177)

http://arstechnica.com/gaming/2011/03/the-cost-difference-in-mailing-netflx-vs-gamefly-all-of-gameflys-profits/ [arstechnica.com]

The reason GameFly pays more is because their mailers weigh more. Netflix keeps the mailer at 1 ounce and pays 44 cents each. GameFly's mailer is 2 ounces and they pay the two ounce price. The big giant clue in the linked article is that the USPS is considering changing the price of the 2 ounce mailer to the price of a 1 ounce mailer.

So the real story is that GameFly wants a discount with zero actual justification.

The packaging for GameFly costs more. Work it into your business model or reduce the packaging weight.

I don't do business with GameFly but if I did, I'd cancel. They actually have the nerve to pretend Netflix is getting some kind of special treatment while they are the ones seeking it.

There is nothing unfair about what the USPS is doing. The rest of us have to pay by the ounce for our mail.

Just read the article you linked. While interesting, it does kinda support Gamefly's case. A 2-ounce mailer cost $1.05, whereas a 1-ounce mailer cost $0.44. In other words Gamefly pays ~238% of what Netflix pays, 38% above any differences in weight. Further, at these weights, the majority of the cost of delivery is a flat cost, rather than an increase in fuel consumption due to weight. The cost of fuel to transport 1 ounce of additional weight is certainly less than a penny; the vehicle, occupant, and other cargo make up the vast majority of the weight (and the occupant's time is no small factor on the cost). Just basing numbers on the weight of the packages alone, charging ~$0.10 extra for the additional ounce will more than make up for the added costs.

There are other factors you haven't considered. Perhaps larger, thicker, or heavier packages tend to jamb in the automatic processing machines more often, requiring more manual intervention and slowing everything down. And even if that doesn't apply to gamefly's specific case, it may apply to packages greater than 1 ounce in general. And if that's the case, it would justify the post office making a special exception for gamefly since they wouldn't actually be costing more.

Re:The rest of the story (2)

Kal Zekdor (826142) | 1 year,1 day | (#44401777)

There are other factors you haven't considered. Perhaps larger, thicker, or heavier packages tend to jamb in the automatic processing machines more often, requiring more manual intervention and slowing everything down. And even if that doesn't apply to gamefly's specific case, it may apply to packages greater than 1 ounce in general. And if that's the case, it would justify the post office making a special exception for gamefly since they wouldn't actually be costing more.

Haven't claimed to have considered all factors, just refuting one. :-P

For example, the Ars article indicates that because Netflix does ~97% of the DVD mailer volume, and because of that, and the fact that Netflix mailers are easily identifiable due to their red packaging, they are often sorted out from standard mail and handled differently, reducing costs. I'm not sure how I feel about this, as on the one hand, a business has the right to pass costs (or savings) on to the customer, but on the other, a governmental institution should not be favoring or discriminating.

Re:The rest of the story (2)

EmperorArthur (1113223) | 1 year,1 day | (#44401915)

Interesting things about "favoring and discriminating." The cost difference is all because of the way that Gamefly ships vs Netflix. That's discriminating based on package weight.

Everything else the arstechnica article is talking about refers to the likelihood of breakage and the time to deliver. Gamefly uses only a few shipping facilities while Netflix has many. If you don't have to ship cross county then things are going to be faster, and thus have less of a chance of breakage.

The other trick is that Netflix has highly identifiable mailers that are all the same. The post office employees immediately know that the contents of these mailers are fragile. I would expect the post office to group similar items together. Especially if they're breakable. Gamefly decided that it wasn't worth the trouble since most post office employees aren't familiar with them, and they had too many disks stolen.

An option is for the post office to create a special DVD mailer that all companies can use. Allow some customization, but make it immediately apparent to the handlers that what's being shipped is a DVD. By standardizing the packaging they can give everyone the same quality of service while potentially allowing for more mail to be automatically sorted by a machine.

Re:The rest of the story (1)

icebike (68054) | 1 year,1 day | (#44402309)

If special handling is required, and special treatment is offered to NetFlix Red mailers, and all of that for a reduced fee (the same as a first class letter) it sounds to me like Gamefly had a significant case. (And the fact that the Post Office is knuckling under would seem to support that).

If the NetFlix mailer is so inconsequential and light weight and offers so little protection for the contents that it requires special handling, it is clearly rate-abuse. They should have never been given special handling and let the chips fall where they may. Or maybe those "chips" foul the automated sorted machines so badly that the Post Office was forced to hand sort them. (In which case they should have rejected them, but probably didn't feel they had the clout).

Re:The rest of the story (4, Insightful)

bill_mcgonigle (4333) | 1 year,1 day | (#44402399)

I was a Netflix subscriber when they switched over to the current, thin mailers. The story at the time was that the new mailers could be handled by the automated sorting machines at the USPS facilities and that the difference in cost between postage and breakage was strongly on the side of postage - Netflix was willing to absorb the additional breakage, which they expected but at a low level, based on statistical sampling and tests they'd conducted.

One discontinuity is that, I think, the game discs are several multiples more expensive than the DVD's, so GameFly can't absorb as much breakage. That's probably why they've still got the thick mailers and why their subscription prices are 50% higher than Netflix.

It sounds to me like they have a more expensive business model and are asking the USPS to subsidize it.

Re:The rest of the story (1)

GIL_Dude (850471) | 1 year,1 day | (#44400971)

Well, when you are in business you try to stay in business. As more and more content becomes "deliver over network" and more and more is DLC with only one user able to access the required DLC (killing rental and resale), the physical disk business (for both GameFly and Netflix) is drying up. GameFly will go out of business, drastically downsize, or convert to another method of making money within a couple of years. They might as well try to grab as much capital as they can from their declining business so that they can fund new business development efforts and keep their people employed. If getting a lower postal rate helps them do that, then that is what they will try to do.

dumb (1)

RedHackTea (2779623) | 1 year,1 day | (#44400657)

Then Netflix will just start using UPS or Fedex. If it costs the same, why use USPS when the others offer better service?

Re:dumb (1)

Mitreya (579078) | 1 year,1 day | (#44400759)

Then Netflix will just start using UPS or Fedex. If it costs the same, why use USPS

Hehehe, have you tried to send a letter with UPS?
At the current rate that prices are increasing on USPS postage (controlled by Congress), it would be centuries before a USPS letter is as expensive as UPS (I believe FedEx is similar).

Re:dumb (2, Informative)

metiscus (1270822) | 1 year,1 day | (#44401209)

In the USA, it is illegal to deliver first class mail unless you are the USPS, unless it is delivered at a cost of 6x the current USPS delivery rate.

http://about.usps.com/who-we-are/postal-history/universal-service-postal-monopoly-history.pdf [usps.com]

We have laws preventing exercise of free enterprise in the delivery of standard mail. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Private_Express_Statutes [wikipedia.org]

Companies in the past have attempted to circumvent these restrictions and have been run out of business by the government through legal means. The competing company was quite successful financially. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/American_Letter_Mail_Company [wikipedia.org]

Re:dumb (5, Insightful)

PRMan (959735) | 1 year,1 day | (#44400881)

Because then I couldn't send it back just by sticking it in my mailbox at the curb.

Re:dumb (2)

EmperorArthur (1113223) | 1 year,1 day | (#44401281)

The USPS has their own police force. If they think you've been sending non time sensitive things through anyone but USPS then they're legally allowed to fine a company hundreds of thousands of dollars.

In theory the Post Office gets regulated by congress because congress has granted it a monopoly on certain kinds of mail.

Re:dumb (1)

Seumas (6865) | 1 year,1 day | (#44401443)

If you have the cheapest prices, by far, for a service and you still can't compel people to use it without the threat of "law", then you truly operate a shitty service.

Re:dumb (1)

metiscus (1270822) | 1 year,1 day | (#44401629)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/American_Letter_Mail_Company [wikipedia.org] the post office was not always the cheapest. Who is to say that it would be cheapest today if companies were allowed to compete against it freely? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Private_Express_Statutes [wikipedia.org]

Re:dumb (2)

Seumas (6865) | 1 year,1 day | (#44401737)

Oh, I'm sure they wouldn't be. My point is that your service has to generally be shit for people to be willing to pay a lot more to avoid using you. If they were free to compete like any other business, they would both have to raise their prices and improve their service. It's a win-win.

I definitely understand the value of always retaining a very cheap service for delivering letters (though even at double the current price, it'd be ridiculously cheap and reasonable). For anything other than a standard postcard or letter, though, they should be allowed to compete.

Re:dumb (1)

metiscus (1270822) | 1 year,1 day | (#44401775)

Thank you for a very reasonable response. I didn't intend to come off as snarky in my reply. I'm not certain that they would both have to raise their prices, competition generally causes price levels to decrease. The situation I can envision where prices might increase is when due to the halving (let's say that there is only one competitor) of volume, marginal costs might be higher ending up in everyone paying more. I'm not sure if the outcome of the duopoly would result in a price equilibrium situation or if eventually the market would either fragment or revert to a monopoly. Economics is pretty bad at telling us what will happen, but it describes the past quite well :)

Re:dumb (1)

icebike (68054) | 1 year,1 day | (#44402331)

Then Netflix will just start using UPS or Fedex. If it costs the same, why use USPS when the others offer better service?

Maybe the answer to your question is that IT DOES NOT COST THE SAME?

Netflix is getting a 44 cent rate, the same as a letter. Lets see you get that from UPS or FedeX.

US Post Office is messed up big time (2)

NormHome (99305) | 1 year,1 day | (#44400675)

I have Netflix and I'm on one of the bigger plans of 5 at a time and this last week has been a postal service cluster F***. Last Saturday I put 5 DVD's in the mail slot at the post office and on Monday two were received by Netflix and the other three didn't get there until Tuesday. Then on Wednesday I put two back in the mail and one arrived Thursday and the other still didn't arrive on Friday and I had to call and have it declared missing. Now keep in mind that according to the mailers the PO box that it's going to is in the next town over, I can't understand how DVD's that go in the mail at the exact same time some take an extra day to arrive.

Re:US Post Office is messed up big time (2)

PRMan (959735) | 1 year,1 day | (#44400883)

Because the postman liked that movie.

Re:US Post Office is messed up big time (1)

NormHome (99305) | 1 year,1 day | (#44400921)

Don't think that I haven't thought of that, someone could have taken those three discs home Saturday and watched them Saturday night and all day Sunday and then put them back in spare mailers in the mail Monday and so they arrived on Tuesday. The question is how would you ever prove that in any kind of complaint, it's impossible.

Re:US Post Office is messed up big time (3, Interesting)

g1powermac (812562) | 1 year,1 day | (#44401669)

That's pretty difficult, actually, at least if you dropped the dvd's at the post office. The back room of a post office is pretty well secured to protect such things, with cameras everywhere. I've worked at a small/medium sized post office and have toured a processing plant, and there is quite a bit of interesting things going on to prevent stealing of mail. I especially liked the closed in catwalks with one way mirrors for the postal inspectors that go all the way around the processing plant. Even at my post office, there was a separate entrance with its own key going to a secured room for a postal inspector to enter only. The joke of the whole thing is though that outside of the post office/processing plants, there's pretty much no security. Most of the rural carriers drive their own vehicles, and there's no inspections to make sure you cleared out all the mail in your car. And for the postal trucks, there's no cameras or gps to track where you're going, but they at least check the truck to make sure everything is out. So, how difficult is it to take mail while on route? Sadly, incredibly easy. And many carriers have went to prison for it because of doing even more incredibly stupid things, like stealing tracked packages. Now, here is a possible reason why those dvds got there at different times. I was told that I needed to separate all netflix dvd's I picked up from the regular outgoing mail. The clerks then did something different with them compared to the regular outgoing mail, but I'm not sure what. I would happen to guess that they are sent through different channels. So, maybe some of your dvd's were separated, but not all. So some got there faster than others.

Re:US Post Office is messed up big time (1)

icebike (68054) | 1 year,1 day | (#44402391)

Don't think that I haven't thought of that, someone could have taken those three discs home Saturday and watched them Saturday night and all day Sunday and then put them back in spare mailers in the mail Monday and so they arrived on Tuesday.

Someone who actually has a job wouldn't spend that much time watching YOUR movies. If you cam out out your mom's basement once in a while you could have a job too.

(I know, right? What was I thinking...).

Re:US Post Office is messed up big time (1)

artor3 (1344997) | 1 year,1 day | (#44401545)

I've actually got a sneaking suspicion that this is exactly why Netflix uses envelopes that don't let you see the name of the movie without opening them. There's a little window to make the barcode visible, and they could easily make the title visible as well if they wanted. It would even be useful for customers with a multiple DVD plan. But the risk of theft probably goes up if people are able to see what they're stealing.

Re:US Post Office is messed up big time (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,1 day | (#44400997)

The plural of anecdote is not data, but I also do a high volume of Netflix discs (I've returned 589 discs since Feb 2010 according to my Gmail inbox), and I also experienced trouble with Netflix this past week. I have my mailing down to a science, and I've had a few discs ever miss the 1-day turn-around, and I haven't had any problems in more than a year, except this past week.

On Wednesday afternoon I handed the disc to my regular postal carrier, and I watched him put it in his box of outbound letters. The disc should have arrived at Netflix on Thursday morning, but they claimed they received the disc on Friday. Result: I had nothing to watch last night, but I'll get two discs this afternoon.

Re:US Post Office is messed up big time (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,1 day | (#44401171)

The problem here is that your only source of information for whether or not Netflix received the discs is Netflix itself.

Wasn't there a class action suit against Netflix over throttling of discs for heavy users?

Maybe next time you mail five at once, pay for the postage yourself and get delivery confirmation. (That won't necessarily prove anything, since they'll be handled by USPS differently that way, but if they all arrive on the same day and Netflix says otherwise, you'll know.)

Re:US Post Office is messed up big time (1)

Belial6 (794905) | 1 year,1 day | (#44402179)

No, there was never a class action suit against Netflix for throttling. There was a class action suit against Netflix for the manner that they prioritized who got disks first. Everyone always got disks sent out right away as long as they had movies on their list. The media, and some users incorrectly used the word throttling when it had nothing to do throttling.

Gamefly on the other hand. They definitely throttle. If your a heavy users, they will just sit on disks and not send you anything for up to a week.

Re:US Post Office is messed up big time (1)

icebike (68054) | 1 year,1 day | (#44402383)

I put 5 DVD's in the mail slot at the post office and on Monday two were received by Netflix and the other three didn't get there until Tuesday.

Oh, NOes! A whole (half) day for non-timesensitive shipment! Big Post Office problem!! Call your congressman!

You have no idea whether these arrived or not.
Far more likely the netflix low-lifes on the shipping dock were on a smoke break and didn't get that box of returned scanned on that shift.

Mail DVDs? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,1 day | (#44400715)

I don't even install optical drives in machines I build anymore. Mailing DVDs seems like an outdated activity these days.

Re: Mail DVDs? (1)

alen (225700) | 1 year,1 day | (#44400757)

For those of us not living in Molly's basement and paying for electricity, Netflix is cheaper than the power to keep your computer running 24x7 as well as the higher bandwidth costs

Re: Mail DVDs? (1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,1 day | (#44400823)

What basement living? With the smug attitude the GP presents, they're probably just leeching off someone else's wifi and running a barely-hidden extension cord to their house. There's probably also a well-rehearsed speech they downloaded that "proves" why these services should be provided to them for free ("free", in this case, meaning "free of any evil taxes, you freeloading socialist").

Re: Mail DVDs? (1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,1 day | (#44401155)

Actually I own a house, have a job and 3 kids. I pay my own electric, cable, and many other bills. I do have a basement, but I don't live in it. My servers do however.

I suppose that if you download stuff on a metered cell plan then the bandwidth used to download a DVD worth of data could affect your bill. I'm on cable so it would not affect mine. And with 3 kids, the cost of leaving a computer running doesn't make a large enough difference in my electric bill for me to worry about. Mailing DVDs isn't something I'd bother with, but everyone's situation is different I guess.

Re:Mail DVDs? (1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,1 day | (#44400829)

These are Americans... I cannot remember the last time I used a DVD, I do not even have a DVD player. In America the people are owned by companies for whom they work like slaves. They pay all their money to companies that own their rights. One post higher up was talking about a patent on an envelope :-D Monty Python could not write stuff like this. It is way out further than George Orwell.

Re:Mail DVDs? (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | 1 year,1 day | (#44401011)

So what service do you use instead for watching films that works on all operating systems?

Re:Mail DVDs? (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,1 day | (#44401235)

pirate bay

Re:Mail DVDs? (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,1 day | (#44401345)

Netflix works on Windows, OSX, Android, iOS, and WinPhone. I'm sure you can find some obscure devices it won't work on, but those five cover all but a rounding error.

Why would I click on a PDF story link? (2)

93 Escort Wagon (326346) | 1 year,1 day | (#44400719)

PDFs can contain all sorts of crapware, and Slashdot isn't exactly known for vetting its submissions.

Re:Why would I click on a PDF story link? (4, Informative)

SeaFox (739806) | 1 year,1 day | (#44400965)

It's from a government site. NSA paranoia aside, a Postal Regulatory Commission complaint is not going to contain some ridiculous scripts or other executable bits.

You always have the option of opening it with the built-in PDF reader on Firefox, which would only be able to open the plain document portion of it if there is anything else embedded.

Re:Why would I click on a PDF story link? (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,1 day | (#44401055)

Oh the fallacies...

Re:Why would I click on a PDF story link? (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,1 day | (#44401103)

PDF stories don't really bother me because, given the state of the modern web, HTML pages could have all those problems and more.

Renting DVDs by mail. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,1 day | (#44400831)

Why would anyone do that, it's the 21st century.

It's like some older people pasting an image inside MS word to export it as PDF then email it to someone.

Hello there.

Re:Renting DVDs by mail. (1)

Cardcaptor_RLH85 (891550) | 1 year,1 day | (#44401273)

Everything isn't available in the Netflix 'Instant Queue' to be streamed. Therefore, some things require optical disc's by mail.

Re:Renting DVDs by mail. (1)

Seumas (6865) | 1 year,1 day | (#44401521)

Lots of stuff is only available by DVD, but the hassle of saying "I want to watch this in five days", ordering it, waiting for it, hoping it isn't stolen, getting it out of the mail, putting it into a player, watching it and going back through the whole return process just seems like a total hassle. Yeah, first world problems and all, but . . . if I want to watch something, it's something I want to do right away. Not plan for "later in the week or next week".

So . . . I'm just holding out for when someone finally gets their shit together and can offer a "EVERYTHING EVER... on streaming demand" service.

FAGGOTS!!! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,1 day | (#44400877)

Gay men propose a special rate for shitting on CmdrDildo's face!

You have got to be kidding (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,1 day | (#44400895)

"We can't (won't) qualify for the special rate that the post office created for use by other DVD mailers, so we want to force them to give it to us anyway or stop giving it to those that do qualify" What a bunch of crybaby asshats. I remember that Netflix had to re-design their mailers to be able to go through the postal automated system, if gamefly won't then too bad for them.

Rule of Aquisition #299 (1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,1 day | (#44400903)

Don't put your customer out of business.

Herp Derp.... (1)

Lumpy (12016) | 1 year,1 day | (#44400947)

It's called media mail. I've been using it for well over 20 years now.

Re:Herp Derp.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,1 day | (#44401239)

And how fast is media mail delivery? Usually considerably slower than first class. Herp derp, indeed. Moron.

Re:Herp Derp.... (1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,1 day | (#44401241)

Media mail isn't going to arrive in 1-3 days.

Too late (-1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,1 day | (#44401005)

What are these, "DVD"'s you're speaking of?

Surprised netflix hasn't (1)

sixsixtysix (1110135) | 1 year,1 day | (#44401097)

Surprised netflix hasn't just started renting games. They'd kill off gamefly in a heartbeat.

Re:Surprised netflix hasn't (1)

Belial6 (794905) | 1 year,1 day | (#44402237)

I would use them. I used GameFly for a lot of years, but every month I would look at the $40 price, consider how badly they throttle their mailings, and the price of just buying games outright. They only barely a better choice than just buying games. When they started their shutdown of supporting Wii games, they dipped below the value point that they made sense to me.

Why not just cut the CDs and DVDs locally? (1)

mi (197448) | 1 year,1 day | (#44401117)

If the USPS were really smart, they could've offered the overnight delivery for an even lower price by taking the media from the sender, ripping it, transmitting the data to the recipient's local office, and making a new disk over there to deliver...

Re:Why not just cut the CDs and DVDs locally? (1)

Joe_Dragon (2206452) | 1 year,1 day | (#44401225)

and bust all the mail workers for illegal movie distribution?

Maybe can be a good way to get out paying for retirement plan.

Re:Why not just cut the CDs and DVDs locally? (1)

mi (197448) | 1 year,1 day | (#44401409)

If they were really into that, they could as well open the numerous Netflix envelopes passing through them, rip copies, and put them back. Heck, for all we know, they may already be doing it — stealing Social Security checks [washingtonguardian.com] and gift-cards [abcactionnews.com] has already been done by some enterprising USPS workers.

Re:Why not just cut the CDs and DVDs locally? (1)

PPH (736903) | 1 year,1 day | (#44401659)

Evidently, you have more industrious postal workers than I do in my town. Here, all they do is borrow my copy of The Economist and read it in the can for a few days before putting it in my PO box.

Re:Why not just cut the CDs and DVDs locally? (1)

g1powermac (812562) | 1 year,1 day | (#44401729)

Sadly, this does happen, but really for social security and other gov't benefits checks, it takes a whole corrupt post office to pull it off. When I worked for the post office as a rural carrier, social security checks came in via a different system, outside of your DPS mail. It wouldn't take much at all to tell if a single person in the chain was stealing them. But, if the supervisor was in on it, then all bets are off. It would have to go through the postal inspectors only to try to catch it.

Re:Why not just cut the CDs and DVDs locally? (1)

Osgeld (1900440) | 1 year,1 day | (#44401251)

how does making multiple copies of a physical item any cheaper than just moving them when you have no equipment to do such things

Re:Why not just cut the CDs and DVDs locally? (1)

mi (197448) | 1 year,1 day | (#44401375)

Yes, I suppose, you'll need to buy the equipment. The burner — even a good one — is still cheaper, than monthly maintenance and fuel of one USPS truck...

Re:Why not just cut the CDs and DVDs locally? (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,1 day | (#44402177)

Yes, I suppose, you'll need to buy the equipment. The burner — even a good one — is still cheaper, than monthly maintenance and fuel of one USPS truck...

Except that that one USPS truck is used to deliver many times more mail than gamefly or even Netflix discs. If those were the only things USPS delivered, then yeah, maybe, but both of those is just a very small fraction. Even if it does technically make good economic sense, it's like trying to reduce your electric bill by disconnecting the led lights on the front of your computer.

Re:Why not just cut the CDs and DVDs locally? (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,1 day | (#44401517)

This kind of electronic-to-physical service has already been considered and rejected because of protest from brick-and-mortar stores.

Startups doing it (electronic-to-physical document delivery) have tried it.

mailing discs is old? (1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,1 day | (#44401191)

To those who claim that mailing discs is old or that optical media is dead:
Where do you get your high quality (spec-wise, not content-wise) audio and video?
Has streaming just become "good enough"? Where are high bit-rates, the uncompressed audio, the extras, the commentary tracks, the subtitles?

Re: mailing discs is old? (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,1 day | (#44401485)

For most streaming is good enough. The main complaint people have isn't the quality of the stream, it's the lack of content.

Re: mailing discs is old? (1)

PPH (736903) | 1 year,1 day | (#44401599)

it's the lack of content.

The studios have fixed this problem. The 'for rent' DVDs are now stripped of all the extras. So now they are just as bad as streaming content.

Well, maybe not just as bad. There is still content on DVDs not available via streaming.

Mail? (1)

binarybum (468664) | 1 year,1 day | (#44401975)

What is a DVD?

Load More Comments
Slashdot Account

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?

Don't worry, we never post anything without your permission.

Submission Text Formatting Tips

We support a small subset of HTML, namely these tags:

  • b
  • i
  • p
  • br
  • a
  • ol
  • ul
  • li
  • dl
  • dt
  • dd
  • em
  • strong
  • tt
  • blockquote
  • div
  • quote
  • ecode

"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>
Create a Slashdot Account

Loading...