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Government United States Entertainment Games

GameFly Scores In Longstanding DVD Mailing Complaint 147

Posted by timothy
from the everything-competes-with-everything-else dept.
An anonymous reader writes "GamePolitics reports that the Postal Regulatory Commission has ordered [PDF] the U.S. Postal Service to equalize the rates paid by mailers who send round trip DVDs, and concluding (sort of) a dispute that has been underway for more than four years. The new postage rates take effect on September 30th. Some mailers, prominantly Netflix, send their round-trip movie DVDs as 'letters,' but GameFly's gaming disks are sent in slightly bigger envelopes as 'flats' to avoid breakage, and so GameFly has paid a much higher postage rate. GameFly argued that this was unfair discriminatory treatment because USPS was providing special hand-sorting treatment for Netflix disks without charging Netflix for the extra handling. But now there's a new twist: the Postal Service wants to reclassify DVD mailing [PDF] as a competitive product, where the prices would not be limited by the rate of inflation, because it says that mailed DVDs compete with the internet, streaming services, and kiosks such as Redbox. The regulatory agency is accepting responses [PDF] from interested persons until September 11th to the Postal Service's latest comments on its request [PDF]."
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GameFly Scores In Longstanding DVD Mailing Complaint

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  • Aaaaand... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday September 05, 2013 @12:16PM (#44766583)

    And regular mail doesn't compete with Email at all right?

    • Exactly,
      The USPS is loosing out to the Internet, for all the small stuff that it is really good at shipping to us. Letters, DVDs, and small packages. USPS can ship rather well. However most of these things is stuff the internet can do for less, and much much faster.

      So their last breath is to try to make it easier for companies who are shipping media to ship stuff. As to keep their revenues going.

      So $0.46 for a million DVDs is better then $1.00 for 25,000 DVDs. If they can keep these DVD sharing companie

      • Re:Aaaaand... (Score:5, Interesting)

        by hedwards (940851) on Thursday September 05, 2013 @01:30PM (#44767283)

        Not really, sure people are sending less mail, but mail isn't the only thing that the USPS delivers. I keep hearing people declare the USPS dead because of the internet, and the only reason they're having financial problems at all is because they were given a decade to fund their pensions 100%, which is more than what even responsible companies do.

        What's more, the internet can't do things like have proper signature requirements, there's no guarantee of privacy like there is with things mailed within the US.

        I know it's popular to badmouth the postal service, but seriously, how are physical things going to be transported without something filling that niche? And the USPS is pretty much the most cost effective way of doing that in the US.

        • Not really, sure people are sending less mail, but mail isn't the only thing that the USPS delivers. I keep hearing people declare the USPS dead because of the internet, and the only reason they're having financial problems at all is because they were given a decade to fund their pensions 100%, which is more than what even responsible companies do.

          What's more, the internet can't do things like have proper signature requirements, there's no guarantee of privacy like there is with things mailed within the US.

          I know it's popular to badmouth the postal service, but seriously, how are physical things going to be transported without something filling that niche? And the USPS is pretty much the most cost effective way of doing that in the US.

          There are plenty of private carriers that deliver physical things. UPS, FedEX, DHL, others. Typically the private carriers do a better job. In my opinion that makes private service worth paying more for. I haven't used USPS to send things for years.

          IMO, using USPS is as much of a gamble as going to vegas - just with lower stakes.

          • There are plenty of private carriers that deliver physical things. UPS, FedEX, DHL, others. Typically the private carriers do a better job. In my opinion that makes private service worth paying more for. I haven't used USPS to send things for years.

            This seems to depend an awful lot on the local post office. In my area, sending packages via USPS is very good -- much more reliable and timely than UPS, and on par with FedEx, though much cheaper. On the other hand, I know people in other places where USPS is so bad that it's completely pointless to use it -- packages and letters are "lost" or destroyed more often than not.

            The result is that if I have something being shipped to me, then I have the sender use USPS. If I'm shipping something myself, thoug

          • by Zenin (266666)

            There are plenty of private carriers that deliver physical things. UPS, FedEX, DHL, others. Typically the private carriers do a better job. In my opinion that makes private service worth paying more for. I haven't used USPS to send things for years.

            Aaaaand... all those "private" carriers contract with the USPS for much of their final delivery, especially residential delivery.

  • by Dan667 (564390) on Thursday September 05, 2013 @12:18PM (#44766601)
    sounds like in winning gamefly may have put the nail in their profit margin. Instead of adopting the Netflix mailer and accepting breakage as part of doing business everyone will now have to pay much much higher mailing. Ironically, this also will mean that dvd mailing services will probably start to die which hurts the USPS too.
    • by WillgasM (1646719)
      Yep. I'm one of the few people I know that still uses Netflix for DVDs. I like the service, but it's already hard to justify the cost. If the price goes up, I imagine people will drop the DVD service en masse.
      • by suutar (1860506)
        indeed. The only reason I keep it is for the stuff that they don't have subtitled on streaming (or don't have on streaming at all), but more and more often, they have only half the discs in the series anyway. Pfui.
      • by hedwards (940851)

        You mean drop Netflix in general, their online catalog is complete garbage. I literally spent an hour last weekend trying to find something to watch and wound up giving up because everything I wanted to watch wasn't available for streaming.

        Sure it is cheap, but the selection online blows and if they increase the prices much more, you may as well take Redbox's offer of $8 a month for 4 DVD pickups and streaming.

    • by mog007 (677810) <Mog007@@@gmail...com> on Thursday September 05, 2013 @12:29PM (#44766683)

      Breakage is not a big deal for Netflix because brand new movies are not that expensive to replace. Even if they have to pay retail prices, you're looking at 15-20 bucks. Brand new video games are easily more than quadruple that at 50-60.

      Gamefly wouldn't be able to handle those losses.

      • by MozeeToby (1163751) on Thursday September 05, 2013 @12:34PM (#44766729)

        They almost certainly almost never have to replace broken movies. Look at the shelves at the local brick and mortar rental store next time a big release comes out, see the hundred or so copies? 2 weeks later it's 50, 2 weeks after that it's 10. In a year there's only a handful. So Netflix has their stock of the new release which, even taking into account how long it used to take to get some new releases, is much larger than the stock they will need just a few weeks down the road. Breakage gets written off, so long as it doesn't outpace the drop in demand (which I suppose it will one movies are old enough, but that isn't the majority of the business) you never need to worry about it.

        • by OverlordQ (264228) on Thursday September 05, 2013 @12:36PM (#44766747) Journal

          > Look at the shelves at the local brick and mortar rental store next time a big release comes out, see the hundred or so copies? 2 weeks later it's 50, 2 weeks after that it's 10.

          Having worked in a video rental store, you'd be surprised how much those DVDs actually cost from the distributor. And yes, it's more than what you'd pay if you went out to buy it.

          • by CODiNE (27417)

            I haven't heard of this before, thanks for the info. They know you can't get the bulk you need anywhere else so they charge whatever they want for them?

            • by suutar (1860506)
              They charge more for the ones that are licensed to be lent/rented (even if they don't bother to change the fbi warning).
              • by lgw (121541)

                There is no license needed to rent DVDs. It's a persistent urban legend. At least in the US, anything but "phonorecordings" can be rented out with no particular license.

                The old scam used to be that video tapes and early DVDs would sell for triple the "normal" price for the first 2-3 weeks. Since rental places would compete to offer popular titles as early as possible, they'd "volunteer" to get gouged.

                Some rental places do get special licensing, even though they don't have to. I believe Netflix does licen

                • by suutar (1860506)
                  Ah, good to know. I had thought (based on legend and the existence of disc versions specifically intended for rental) that there were licensing issues. Thanks for the clarification :)
                • by CODiNE (27417)

                  That was my thinking, right of first sale should permit whatever use the owner of the disc wants. But as with software titles the "purchase" is really more of a rental with an implied license that's never agreed upon by the buyer yet in full legal force.

                  I'm surprised DVD rental places haven't tried challenging this, or maybe they did and lost?

                  • by lgw (121541)

                    Right of first sale applies normally to physical movie DVD media. Purchase of a DVD really is purchase of a DVD, and not a license or any such BS, as long as we're talking about a physical disc (or tape) holding a movie.

                    CDs and records are different, copyright law specifically excludes music from the normal right of first sale when it comes to renting them out (and other things). Sadly that battle was lost long before digital.

                    • by CODiNE (27417)

                      As far as I'm aware ripping your own DVDs is still not legal because of the DMCA, so as I interpret it, right of first sale is substantially reduced in this case.

                  • Got a case on that? AFAIK everything except phonorecords (that is, audio recordings, such as CDs) and non-console software falls squarely under first sale for rental purposes. Boilerplate notices of dubious accuracy printed on a DVD label are no EULAs.

                    • by CODiNE (27417)

                      So I can go buy 10 copies of the latest flick at Walmart and start my own little neighborhood rental business?

                    • If you're in the US, yes.

                      The relevant part of 17 USC 109:

                      [T]he owner of a particular copy or phonorecord lawfully made under this title, or any person authorized by such owner, is entitled, without the authority of the copyright owner, to sell or otherwise dispose of the possession of that copy or phonorecord.

                      Of course, it might not be the best business plan. There aren't a lot of video rental stores left. But if you can make it work, go for it.

          • Well, in the US, at least, it's perfectly legal to rent ordinary retail DVDs. There are good reasons to go with a distributor, such as early access to copies so that they can be on shelves and ready to go ASAP, but if you're not getting prices lower than if you just got discs retail, and worse if you're locked into a requirements contract which precludes you from shopping around, I don't know if its worth it.

            In any event, it seems to be a mostly moot point now.

          • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday September 05, 2013 @01:25PM (#44767239)

            As an ex video store owner I concure that yes when you're a little mom and pop shop you get reamed. But Netflix is like blockbuster. They buy in bulk and get much better rates than we do. In 1992 we were typically paying about $85 for a new release, and customers expected us to have multiple copies. Meanwhile, blockbuster was selling them to consumers at $45. Eventually we went to a model where we'd buy 1 from the distributer (so we'd have it on the release date), and then buy a couple more from blockbuster to backfill our inventory as soon as we could. Even still at $4.00 / day for a new release it takes a while to recover those costs. The averge interest didn't typically last more than a month, so even with all 3 coppies out at 4 / day (and that doesn't always happen) we'd make a max of $360, of which $175 is purchase costs. Now add into that equation the bad VCR that wrecks a tape, the overhead of running a brick and morter business, payroll, etc. We went out of business shortly after Blockbuster got big. We just couldn't compete.

          • by Solandri (704621)
            Why should a rental store/Netflix have to pay full price to replace a broken DVD? You paid full price to license the movie, not the plastic disc. If the disc is broken, that doesn't nullify the license you already paid for. You should be able to just send the studio the pieces, pay a nominal fee, and get a replacement. That's what Disney does [disneystudioshelp.com]. If the other studios don't offer a similar service, they should be sued for breach of contract (violating the terms of their license where they give you the righ
        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Coward

          1. Movies which come out to rental stores prior to general Sale copies cost a holy shitload. I'm talking several hundred bucks a copy.
          2. This doesn't happen much any more, most companies are starting to release all at the same time.

          But more important than anything else:
          They are different products. Just because the physical disk shares the same physical dimensions does not mean the product has the same value. Gamefly is running a business where they can't accept as many busted disks as Netflix can, so they'r

          • USPS is involved because, if you read TFS, they were giving special handling treatment to Netflix DVDs during sorting for no extra charge while GameFly wasn't given such treatment and therefore had to pay for special packaging to avoid breakage.

      • I've had netflix movies delivered that looked like a copy made by Netflix. I think it is legal to have a backup copy of the DVD and legal to use it if the original is destroyed.

    • by hedwards (940851)

      They tried using a regular mailer like Netflix, but the breakages were substantially higher. What's more, Netflix was supposed to be paying for the special treatment as the envelopes wouldn't work with the automated machinery.

      As a result of that, Gamefly started using better envelopes to avoid the substantial losses due to breakage in mail.

      Had the USPS charged Gamefly the same as Netflix and provided the same level of service, this would never have gotten to this point.

      • by Dan667 (564390)
        result for gamefly is still the same. Mortal wound.
        • by hedwards (940851)

          How is this a mortal wound? Gamefly is an incredibly good deal as it is, even if you just play a couple games a month, you've still more than made up for the cost of membership. Even if they have to double their rates, it's still an incredibly good deal.

          The market isn't going to dry up just because of a little postage increase. Netflix is going to be far more affected by this, as people generally watch more movies per month than they play video games. Unless it's an epically bad game like Epic Mickey, you'r

  • if you pack your stuff to survive the mail/UPS/FumblesRus, then it will be bulkier and should cost more.

    another blow to common sense. can't they argue they have added value and get it on the back end?

    • by Russ1642 (1087959)

      You can't even RTFS. They were treating Netflix discs with gentle loving care for nothing extra but were charging GameFly extra for packaging their stuff so it didn't break when the post office treated it like trash. They should not only have won their case within minutes but had every penny of over-payment returned.

      • by jandrese (485)
        Didn't Netflix spend years working closely with the Post Office to refine their DVD mailing business down to an art? It's not like the Post Office volunteered to put all of that extra effort into it.
  • Ridiculous (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Hatta (162192) on Thursday September 05, 2013 @12:31PM (#44766693) Journal

    The postage rates should be based on the size and weight of the package, the origin and destination, and nothing else.

    • by Russ1642 (1087959)

      I can't believe the post office fought this one. They should have given in immediately considering it was such a plainly apparent claim.

    • Re:Ridiculous (Score:5, Insightful)

      by jd.schmidt (919212) on Thursday September 05, 2013 @12:50PM (#44766875)

      Basically that is the problem, the prices do not reflect true delivery costs by government mandate. The USPS is mandated to provide certain types of services at a certain cost no matter what.

      Effectively Netflix got low prices because they knew how to get their packages classified as protected mail. Also they really DID work very hard to make their packages as easy to sort and deliver as possible. They spent a lot of time working closely with the USPS to make a package that was easy for them to sort, they even went so far as to hire a bunch of USPS personnel to consult on how to do this.

      One more point, CDâ(TM)s are super cheap, the costs are controlled by the publishers, so they can make or break Gamefly and Netflix.

      • by hedwards (940851)

        No, they didn't. Netflix envelopes have been hand sorted for most of their existence. I think they did eventualy change the format to go through the machines, but they weren't designed specially to reduce costs. The USPS just chose not to charge the cost of the hand sort.

    • by Guppy06 (410832)

      "Nothing else" means "no special handling." Sorting equipment for letter-class mail expects paper, which unlike DVDs can be curved and bent with no ill results.

  • by SirGarlon (845873) on Thursday September 05, 2013 @12:32PM (#44766705)

    So, the Postal Service says DVD mailing competes with Internet streaming and ... that means they want to charge *more*?

    "Competitive." You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Bandwidth of a postal truck loaded with DVDs is still more than what is available to most people... the latency is measured in days but the throughput is crazy high.

      • Here are some hard numbers. It is for FedEx but I suspect that USPS numbers would be similar.

        http://what-if.xkcd.com/31/ [xkcd.com]

      • Bandwidth of a postal truck loaded with DVDs is still more than what is available to most people... the latency is measured in days but the throughput is crazy high.

        Yes, but how many games do you play in a week? How many movies do you watch in a week? It doesn't matter if the throughput is crazy high if the demand fits inside the bandwidth available for instant gratification. "You could rent 500 movies and play 60 games through us in 3 days, versus only 5 movies and 2 games online, so we need to charge more for the service" is not going to work.

        And what does this do to non-returnable optical disk deliveries?

        Seems to me that if businesses really want to keep going on

        • by hedwards (940851)

          For me, the time it takes to download a new game is not much less than the time it takes to ship a game from the next town over. What's more, while I'm waiting for the game to arrive, I'm not having to deal with the increased load on the network. What's more, I'm lucky enough not to have a cap, for those on a cap, the download size makes a difference.

          I feel for those that have 1.5mbps connections around here as their only option. I'm lucky enough to have one that's nominally 5mbps, even though it doesn't fe

    • Reading the summary, but not the article, I got the impression it would be less. The USPS has a monopoly on letter delivery and can charge whatever price they want. In areas where they don’t have a monopoly – like next day mail – they have to charge a lower “competitive” price to match FedEx, et. al.

      • Reading the summary, but not the article, I got the impression it would be less. The USPS has a monopoly on letter delivery and can charge whatever price they want. In areas where they don’t have a monopoly – like next day mail – they have to charge a lower “competitive” price to match FedEx, et. al.

        If this were even remotely true then the USPS going bankrupt a few years back is bullshit. Since they were in fact going bankrupt and since they had to get Congressional approval to raise their rates, I would say that calling them a "monopoly" is disingenuous at best. Their prices are fixed, their costs are not. They have an expectation to provide a service at a rate that is significantly lower than FedEx or UPS - this is what has been causing them so much grief in recent years. UPS and FedEx are making

        • Are you trying to say “Monopolies” are a synonym for “Bloodthirsty pirates who are only interested in booty?” because that is not what monopoly means. There are a lot of monopolies out there that lose money.

          Case in point, USPS. In exchange for a monopoly they are heavily regulated. I am a free marketer and I think the USPS service does a decent job for the money. There are a lot of other cases out there like that.

          • Are you trying to say “Monopolies” are a synonym for “Bloodthirsty pirates who are only interested in booty?” because that is not what monopoly means. There are a lot of monopolies out there that lose money.

            No, actually, I was correcting you where you were wrong. Namely when you said "The USPS has a monopoly on letter delivery" - which is demonstrably false. You can send your letters via FedEx and UPS if you like. Also "and can charge whatever price they want", which is also demonstrably false since the USPS has to petition Congress in order to raise rates. I could have corrected you on this: "In areas where they don’t have a monopoly – like next day mail – they have to charge a lower

            • Namely when you said "The USPS has a monopoly on letter delivery" - which is demonstrably false. You can send your letters via FedEx and UPS if you like.

              Let us look at this closer. What do you mean by “letter”.

              FedEx and UPS offer “express mail” or package shipments, but I can’t find a non-urgent letter service – which is what the USPS has an explicit monopoly on. Court cases have been fought over this and you cannot directly compete with the post office on plain vanilla service – it must be differentiated in some way – such as being “express”.

              As to the point that I was trying to make – you ar

              • I was arguing that the USPS isn't a monopoly because 1) there are other businesses that provide the same service and 2) other businesses CAN provide the same service. If they don't, that's not the fault of the USPS. The USPS has no exclusivity for taking a letter from point A and taking it to point B...what they do have is a lot more Government oversight that prevents them from competing on the same level as the actual businesses that could provide the service. I do agree with you that the category of se

        • by hedwards (940851)

          The reason for the USPS financial problems is that the congress mandated that the pensions be 100% funded within 10 years. The reason for that was to protect the competition that wasn't able to compete on price or service.

          And they have a monopoly, it's just on the use of mailboxes. They're the only ones that can legally leave things in mailboxes, everybody else has to use their own box or leave it on the doorstep.

          • Huh – that is an interesting point that I have not thought about.

            Checks UPS financials, find pension obligations are overfunded. Checks FedEx financials, find them overfunded as well.

            So maybe not.

            I will admit 2 points. First, I suspect UPS an FedEx use define contributions (401(K)s) while the USPS uses define benefits (traditional pensions). Second the USPS uses good accounting for it’s pension liabilities which cannot be said for many – either private or public.

            But I think the point still

        • by operagost (62405)
          FedEx and UPS are required to charge a minimum amount for letters, which means USPS can always undercut their price. USPS also has the exclusive privilege of delivering to a mailbox; everyone else must deliver to the door or some other receptacle. Those are the USPS monopoly powers.
          • In an effort to continue arguing with everyone I have stumbled across the following:

            As do the Post Office departments in many countries, the United States Postal Service has a legal monopoly on delivery of non-overnight letters.

            from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Legal_monopoly [wikipedia.org] (yeah, not the best but good enough for me).

            Soooo....I'm afraid that I must admit defeat or else become a Government employee. Since they aren't fans of pot smokers, I will tuck my tail between my legs and shamefully exit this thread :p

    • by Guppy06 (410832)

      "Competitive." You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.

      It means they can comply with the order without overcoming the financial/regulatory inertia involved in juggling funds earmarked for "market dominant" services. Otherwise the USPS will have to provide special services now with money they won't be able to touch for at least a year.

    • From TFA:

      by reducing the price for a two-ounce First-Class flat-shaped round-trip DVD mailer to the price of a one-ounce mailer First-Class letter-shaped round-trip DVD mailer

      They see the DVD mailing as competing with the internet option, therefore giving them cause to support DVD mailing by discounting the price.

      I'll tell you the truth and its up to you to live with it.

    • by suutar (1860506)
      Sounds like they deal with two categories of stuff: things for which there's a market (e.g. parcel delivery), with competition, and for which they're allowed to set their prices as "what the market will bear", and things for which they're the sole supplier (first class letters) but which have regulations limiting what they charge (and which may be subsidized by their other operations). Getting DVDs moved from 'first class letter' to something with competition may raise their pricing ceiling.
  • Why this need be regulated? Just pay people to send your packages. If they are charging too much then find someone who is doing it for cheaper. If nobody is doing it for cheaper, and it is possible to do it for cheaper, then someone will start doing it because there will be profit motive.
    • Re:o man (Score:5, Insightful)

      by SirGarlon (845873) on Thursday September 05, 2013 @12:56PM (#44766935)
      Tell that to Congress. They're the ones micro-managing the Postal Service and setting arbitrary rates. Those rates, BTW, are not sufficient to fund the Postal Service pension system at the level Congress demands, which is why the Postal Service is in crisis.
      • Re:o man (Score:4, Informative)

        by serviscope_minor (664417) on Thursday September 05, 2013 @01:23PM (#44767217) Journal

        Those rates, BTW, are not sufficient to fund the Postal Service pension system at the level Congress demands

        Quite. For those who missed it, the rates are entirely fine to find the pension scheme. Naturally government run stuff has to be bad (for some reason) so they mandated the most insane pension scheme ever (funding pensions for people quite a few years away from being born) just so the USPS would "fail". Even so, due to the strength of it the crisis is not terminal, which does go to show how good it was.

        I'm assuming that congress is wrecking the USPS for the same reason Parliament is wrecking the Royal Mail, namely so they can prove their flawed ideology that all government run stuff must be bad and use that as an excuse to sell it off to some of their cronies.

        • I'm assuming that congress is wrecking the USPS for the same reason Parliament is wrecking the Royal Mail, namely so they can prove their flawed ideology that all government run stuff must be bad and use that as an excuse to sell it off to some of their cronies.

          Except you can't sell off the USPS without a constitutional amendment or a revolution because, you know, supreme law of the land and all that.

          • by SirGarlon (845873)
            The Cato Institute (a conservative think tank, for those who don't recognize the name) disagrees with your assessment [cato.org] that the Constitution gives the Federal government a monopoly on postal service. If what you say were as simple as that, wouldn't FedEx have been shut down by the real Feds?
          • by nedlohs (1335013)

            Not at all.

            The constitution empowers Congress "to establish Post Offices and post Roads" but it does not require them to do so.

            If you think it does then you must also think these debates about Syria are silly, since the same section empowers Congress "to declare War" so they have to do so, right?

        • by Laxori666 (748529)
          No, far more practical than ideology. I suspect they are wrecking the USPS because they can make money that way. They can use the money supposedly being saved for the pension scheme today, or borrow more money using the pension scheme as collateral.
        • From a Huffington Post article on the subject last year:

          "Much of the red ink in 2012 was due to mounting mandatory costs for future retiree health benefits, which made up $11.1 billion of the losses. Without that and other related labor expenses, the mail agency sustained an operating loss of $2.4 billion."

          So pension issues aside, the USPS was BILLIONS in debt in 2012 anyway. Potentially fixable? Sure ... but let's not pretend it was a well managed and profitable business until Congress came along with th

      • by lgw (121541)

        Yup, the Post Office really needs to be released from government control. The problem is: it has a monopoly, and so like a utility company needs some regulation. The monopoly is probably a reasonable trade-off for offering mail delivery to sparse rural areas, and the overall good for dependable mail delivery to everyone is certainly worth some subsidy, but something needs to be done to let the post office set whatever price it wants for stamps.

        Would anyone be unhappy if the price of postage went up to the

        • by Laxori666 (748529)
          The only reason it has a monopoly is because it's illegal for anybody besides the USPS to deliver first class mail. Raise the legal restriction and you can bet that FedEx, UPS, DHL, etc., will rush in to fill the gap.
          • by lgw (121541)

            The only reason it has a monopoly is because it's illegal for anybody besides the USPS to deliver first class mail

            That's the definition of "monopoly", not the reason for it. The reason for it is that rural mail costs more to deliver than urban mail, but we want the same postage rate for all first class mail. Without the monopoly, someone could offer cheaper urban-only service making the whole thing fall apart.

            But I do think we could have the regulation without the monopoly.

            • by Laxori666 (748529)
              No, you can have a monopoly without it being illegal to have competitors. If you're the first person to produce a new kind of product then you have a monopoly on that product until someone else joins the market.

              If the USPS made money before the ridiculous pension fund thing came into play, then a private company would also make money charging the same rate for all mail. Maybe they would do it that way. Or you'd have some companies doing urban-only, some doing rural, etc. Besides why is it such a big deal
    • Because the US Constitution gives the USPS a monopoly over letter delivery (in exchange for universal service) so it does not matter if you could do it cheaper or better. Ergo no profit motive. (Unless you bypass the USPS by delivering the movies over the internet, hence the move to make it "competitive".) Hence the regulation.

      • by Laxori666 (748529)
        Aye, my point was to remove that government-enforced monopoly (the only kind of monopoly that ever lasts). Aren't monopolies supposed to be bad?
        • There's plenty of cases where a well-regulated monopoly performs better than independent competition, usually when there's a particular resource in question that needs to be exploited or perform at a consistent level, and plenty of circumstances arise where you'd rather that control not be a purely profit-driven organization.
        • Look up “Natural Monopolies”. There are quite a few cases where monopolies can last forever. Or if not forever then for decades. I have strong free market tendencies but I do recognize that there are market failures and those need to be regulated.

          I do think the Post Office makes a strong argument for a monopoly in exchange for universal service.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Why this need be regulated? Just pay people to send your packages. If they are charging too much then find someone who is doing it for cheaper. If nobody is doing it for cheaper, and it is possible to do it for cheaper, then someone will start doing it because there will be profit motive.

      This needs to be regulated to ensure universal service. If UPS had to deliver letters, it's unlikely that they would drive to every house every day. Many times the price of the stamp nowhere near covers the cost of shipping. Doesn't it boggle your mind that someone in Orlando can send a letter to remote northern Alaska for less than 50 cents?

      The free market system doesn't work, unless you don't value universal access to mail delivery or near everyday service regardless of the volume of mail you receive.

  • Canada Post has seen drastic drops in volume. How much longer before federal governments just pull the plug and let postal services die and be replaced by private business. What reasons are there for federally funded postal services to be continued?
    • Universal Service.

      I know that is important for rural USA. I would think it would be even more important for Canada which is even more rural. (Urban areas are a different ball game.)

    • by Russ1642 (1087959)

      If they targeted parcel delivery properly they could stay afloat. How about offering services we want such as simply holding my packages at the post office and emailing me when they arrive so I can pick them up on my way home from work? Instead, they try to deliver to an empty house and then you can't pick up the package until late the following workday. It's ridiculous. They complain about a changing market affecting their business but they've done very little to try to keep up with the changes.

    • by Mitreya (579078)

      What reasons are there for federally funded postal services to be continued?

      Plenty of rural areas will get no postal service (or once-a-week service at exorbitant prices by UPS/FedEx). That's reason enough. Oh, and USPS isn't federally funded, imagine that (self sufficient, according to wikipedia, anyway)

      UPS and FedEx outsource to USPS for delivery on "unprofitable" destinations.

  • Hard not to think of these when Gamefly comes up: http://ibrill.tumblr.com/post/22589153484/all-the-video-games-peteholmez-mentioned-in-his [tumblr.com]

    Haven't quite mastered Lego Human Centipede yet.
  • I get my movies through a tube. That's right, a Senator Ted Stevens reference, Altavista that biatch. It's about as current and relevant as a DVD mailer company complaining about the cost of postage stamps for hand delivered snail mail.

  • But now there's a new twist: the Postal Service wants to reclassify DVD mailing [PDF] as a competitive product, where the prices would not be limited by the rate of inflation, because it says that mailed DVDs compete with the internet, streaming services, and kiosks such as Redbox.

    Uh.... so let me get this straight.... it sounds like the postal service is explicitly trying to kill off its own customers.

    Where is the logic in that?

  • If GameFly is sending "in slightly bigger envelopes", why shouldn't they have to pay more?!

    If they were "essentially" the same as Netflix's packages, then yes, they should presumably pay the same rate (excepting for huge volume discounts perhaps).

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