GameFly calls out USPS

Gaming rental-by-mail service accuses US postal service of providing preferential treatment to Netflix, Blockbuster.

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Gaming rental-by-mail business GameFly already has a simmering fight on its hands, considering that Blockbuster recently announced plans to add games to its own rent-by-mail service. However focused it might be on that encroachment, GameFly apparently had time to pick another fight, given that it filed a complaint yesterday with the Postal Regulatory Commission alleging that the United States Postal Service is giving preferential treatment to Blockbuster and movie-by-mail service Netflix.

It arrived, but in how many pieces?
It arrived, but in how many pieces?

As reported by Ars Technica, the complaint notes that GameFly mails approximately 590,000 DVDs to subscribers every month, and receives about 510,000 in return, for a total of 1.1 million one-way trips through the postal service. GameFly cites a breakage rate of 1 percent per mailing in its complaint, which according to them suggests that, every month, the company burns through 11,000 games that don't survive delivery. Many of the discs are broken by USPS' automated sorting equipment, according to GameFly.

That broken-disc tally doesn't even count loss and theft, two more problems for GameFly. However, the company said that the USPS has been helpful on this front, with a total of 19 postal-service employees arrested for the theft of GameFly property, 14 since the beginning of 2007.

As for the preferential-treatment charges, GameFly notes that broken discs were also problems for Blockbuster and Netflix. However, GameFly says that the USPS responded to those companies' complaints by manually sorting their mailers for special processing, a courtesy that it refused to extend to the gaming-specific rental outfit.

GameFly is asking the PRC to hold hearings on the complaint and order the USPS to offer it the same level of service at the same rates as those received by Netflix and Blockbuster.

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