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Games Entertainment News

Gamefly Complains of Poor Treatment From USPS 269

Gamefly, the popular video game rental service that operates through the mail, has filed a complaint with the Postal Regulatory Commission about the high number of games that are lost or stolen in the mail. The complaint (PDF) asserts that the postal service's automated sorting machines have a tendency to break a small percentage of discs, and that preferential treatment is given to DVD rental services like Netflix and Blockbuster. "According to Gamefly's numbers, it mails out 590,000 games and receives 510,000 games back from subscribers a month. The company sees, depending on the mailer, between one and two percent of its games broken in transit. ... Even if you assume the number is one percent, and a game costs $50 to replace, that's an astounding $295,000 a month in lost merchandise. ... That's not the only issue — games are also stolen in transit, which has lead to the arrest of 19 Postal Service employees."
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Gamefly Complains of Poor Treatment From USPS

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  • Re:Heh heh.. riiight (Score:0, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday April 24, 2009 @10:19PM (#27709209)

    Read the summary. Postal employees have been arrested for stealing the games. Games are being broken in transit. It doesn't sound like their customers are the biggest problem.

    I'm modding you down for being stupid.

  • by Ceiynt ( 993620 ) on Friday April 24, 2009 @10:33PM (#27709281)
    I've been using Gamefly for almost 5 years now. In those five years, I've had three games lost when returned. I've had one game take 2 months to be returned to the Gamefly facility, one game shipped to me that was broken on delivery, and one never made it to me. I'm at my second resident since I've started this, so I would have to assume it's not just my address nor an individual carrier nor local postal center, but more widespread. I have noticed over the years the little cardboard thing has gotten a little more sturdy. Given the increasing news about postal carriers not delivering the mail, or stealing it, and the increased use of contractors to transport a lot of mail from major cities to smaller, I can see this becoming more of a problem. And with Gamefly plastered on the shipping sleeves, it is easy to take a guess at what's inside, quick and easy money.
  • by Ceiynt ( 993620 ) on Friday April 24, 2009 @10:38PM (#27709307)
    I've had games lost on return, and one never made it to me, one DOA. They've been pretty easy to deal with, don't really ask quetions other then how did you try to return the game, in an open mailbox, locked community box, dropped off at post office, questions like that.
    I've never gotten the email survey's asking about shipping time. Wonder if you live in either a huge use area or are the only subscriber in a three city radius.
  • by BitZtream ( 692029 ) on Friday April 24, 2009 @10:43PM (#27709335)

    TFA says Blockbuster is now considered competition to GameFly. I've only been using GameFly a short while, but for fucks sake please don't compare them to BlockBuster. Maybe I'll change my mind, but BlockBuster changes their rules and rental policies almost weekly. They've got a hundred ways to get extra cash out of you. They 'did away with late fees' only to charge you some other weird fee of a dollar or so if you didn't return it in the 'time period' ... just like a late fee, smaller sure but its a late fee all the same. Then they go ahead and charge you full price for the game within a short period of time. When you return it, it takes them more than a month to issue the refund to your card. I'm not talking about the extra time the CC processor takes. BlockBuster itself waits for the better part of a month at least in most cases.

    Then, the bastards just silently do away with the 'no late fees' policy and go back to charging them without warning, no signs, the clerks don't mention it, you either find out on your next rental afterwords or when the just charge your card anyway if you don't rent again soon enough.

    BlockBuster is about as evil as Microsoft.

    GameFly may not be better, but they have yet to charge me anything over what I signed up for. I will admit, I'm only in my 4th month so feel free to point out how they may rape me later if you have different experiences.

  • by Belial6 ( 794905 ) on Friday April 24, 2009 @10:53PM (#27709407)
    Here you go: []
  • Re:USPS sucks. (Score:3, Informative)

    by Bigjeff5 ( 1143585 ) on Friday April 24, 2009 @10:54PM (#27709413)

    UPS and FedEx are both hella expensive for anybody outside the continental US.


    Cheapest option on solid goods is generally 5-10 times more expensive than USPS. Especially UPS. They can't figure out how to drive through Canada, or put goods on a barge, they'll only send it via air freight, which is generally 2nd day service and obscenely expensive because of it.

    DHL is better than both on price, but they are still more expensive than USPS, and good luck finding an online retailer who uses DHL.

    Honestly, I've never had an issue with my local USPS. I live in a condo with the little metal mailboxes and I don't get broken DVD's, or mis-delivered items (well, that I've ever known about). It sounds like a local problem with your local government employees, and if it really bothers you, you should get some other locals together and put some pressure on your local representatives to DO something about it.

    Anyways, back to Gamefly, I'll bet their biggest problem is a lack of distribution centers. Turnaround on Netflix for me is usually 3 days, which is a day to get to netflix, a day to process, and a day to get back. No way they are hitting that without a local distro, probably more than one even. Also, if Netflix's packaging forces hand-sorting, I could see that as being a bonus as well. They have very low protection, just a fiber sleeve, and they don't -seem- to be having the same issues, at least not on the ratio that GF has.

  • Re:Dying industry (Score:5, Informative)

    by gandhi_2 ( 1108023 ) on Friday April 24, 2009 @11:10PM (#27709495) Homepage
    I was about to say something like "it's cheap unless you consider taxes"...but thought I'd better check on that. And bigger than shit was I wrong. The USPS actually runs on it's own sales. I guess I'll STFU now. []
  • by Sparr0 ( 451780 ) <> on Friday April 24, 2009 @11:21PM (#27709545) Homepage Journal

    Stealing things out of a mailbox is a federal crime. Robbing a convenience store (with a weapon other than a gun, in jurisdictions where that matters) carries lower penalties. No one ever said petty criminals were smart, but one of the benefits of the USPS being a federal agency is that they have laws that extremely overprotect them and their service.

  • Re:Dying industry (Score:5, Informative)

    by mysidia ( 191772 ) on Friday April 24, 2009 @11:23PM (#27709555)

    The reason it is more expensive is it is required by law, as in the United States, the USPS is a state-protected monopoly whose rights and position are made exclusive by law, and in exchange for that, their price is regulated, and their competitors are legally required to charge a higher price.

    It is in fact illegal to compete with the USPS, but there is a narrowly carved exception that other mail services utilize.

    The two laws involved are the Private Express Statutes and the Mailbox Access rule.

    The Mailbox access rule gives the postal service exclusive access to the customer mailboxes. Your mailbox is federal property, and it would be criminal trespass, and a felony under federal law for any employee of a competitor to deposit mail in anyone's mailbox.

    The Private Express statute refers to a group of laws that make certain acts federal crime and also civilly actionable offenses for any organization or employee of an organization to deliver mail other than the postal service.

    COMPETING carriers like Fedex, UPS, etc, cannot LEGALLY deliver non-urgent mail, without employees being thrown in jail, and their company having to pay massive fines, except if certain special conditions are ensured. All these conditions force the price to be much higher than USPS cost for the customer.

    The special exception that allows third-party mail services to deliver letters refers to "extremely urgent letters". One way a competitor is permitted is that the delivery of the letter must cost the greater of $3 or "twice the First Class US mail service would cost"

    Other exceptions would be "Lawful Private Carriage" exception, which requires that the US Postage be paid in addition to the private mail delivery service's fees (i.e. an agreement is required with the USPS, and standard postage affixed to the letter, and the postage cancelled upon receipt, ON TOP of the private carrier's fee).

  • by Tauvix ( 97917 ) on Friday April 24, 2009 @11:48PM (#27709683)

    One thing that you are not taking into consideration is this:

    Gamefly will sell you the game if you like it, then ship you the original box and manual.

    When they have a new release, they buy dramatically more then they are going to need in the long run in order to meet short term demand. Then, you have the option while you have the game to "Keep it" for a discounted rate (usually less then buying it used at Gamestop/EBGames). If you managed to get ahold of the game in the first week or so of the release, you can also be reasonably sure that you are either the first, or at worst the second, person to use the media.

    And again, since they are sending you the case and manual, they have to be obtaining the retail versions of the games (I have purchased a number of games from them over the last 3-4 years that I've been a subscriber, it has always been the same packaging/UPC that I found on Amazon, Best Buy, etc). So, while it's probably not costing them $50/game to buy, it's not going to be costing them $10-20 either.

    I used to work for Best Buy for a while, it's highly unlikely that Gamefly is getting a better deal on the games then BBY is, and on a $49.99 game the cost to BBY was usually around $38-40. I would imagine that GF is picking up a new release for $43-45/copy on a $49.99 release.

  • by WGFCrafty ( 1062506 ) on Saturday April 25, 2009 @02:03AM (#27710287)
    That is not the equivalent of a streaming Netflix style games.

    Netflix streams movies and tv shows to my xbox that are on par with regular tv quality. Netflix even streams shows from this year and last year, newer things.

    Gametap lets you play games over the internet, and it doesn't really even stream them. It makes you download an application, and then download the games you want and then play them.

    Gametap is more like a licensed emulator: you pay a monthly fee to play games from the early to mid 90s.
  • Re:Heh heh.. riiight (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday April 25, 2009 @02:32AM (#27710411)

    movies are easy to get from bootleggers/internet

    So are games. Either you don't realize the quantity of brand-new games available for download or I'm entirely missing your point.

  • Re:Dying industry (Score:3, Informative)

    by V for Vendetta ( 1204898 ) on Saturday April 25, 2009 @08:52AM (#27711703)

    Europe got rid of postal monopolies, and the vast majority if not all are either privatised or soon to be. Mail here is cheap and reliable

    Cheap? Maybe. Reliable? Nope! (Germany here) That one guy from the Deutsche Post does/did know where my post box is located. And he took the time to open the door to the yard, walk that 10 meters from the street to my font door and drop the mail into my box.

    Since all those private services stepped in, letters are returned to the sender, because "recipient has moved to unknown location" (read: "I'm to fucking lazy to walk down to that door.") and things like that. I don't mind the snail mail spam that never reaches me that way. But invoices disappearing, even voter's notifications is a different matter.

  • Too true (Score:3, Informative)

    by Sycraft-fu ( 314770 ) on Saturday April 25, 2009 @03:22PM (#27715217)

    When something is important, plain is the way to go. As a great example look at credit cards, or other financial documents. When you are getting an offer, it is usually pretty obvious from the envelope what it is. There's all sorts of advertising plastered on the outside "OMG Chase card with t3h zeros percentage rate!!!11". Now suppose you apply for said card. Does it come in the same thing? No, it comes in a plain white envelope with nothing but your address and the return address on the outside. This is not because the advertising and issuing departments don't share notes, this is because they don't want your card getting stolen. The offer, well big deal they are mailing those out to everyone with a pulse. They'll just send you another one next month (and the month after, and so on). The card, well that is a problem. Someone steals that and you are pissed off and they are on the hook for the fraudulent charges.

Statistics are no substitute for judgement. -- Henry Clay