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The last two times a movie was shipped to me from a DC other than my own, I shipped them back normally and they were both checked in as received the very next day. And one of them was going half-way across the country.


I don't really know how it all works, but isn't there a good chance that this will screw over the rest of us? If all of the copies of the next movie I want to see end up in Florida, and I'm in Seattle, I have to take on the extra ship time, whereas if users had let Netflix correctly balance the physical locations, it'd be here the next day.

This 'trick' strikes me as me-first, and selfish. Assuming that Netflix is strongly interested in reducing overall wait times, and the evidence that they put a lot of effort into where inventory goes for this purpose, this hack can't do anything but make things worse for everyone.

Count me out.


I just send movies back two in one envelope whenever possible. That way I can save a bunch of envelopes addressed to my nearest Netflix facility. Then if I get a movie from another facility I just throw that envelope away and use one of my saved ones.


"this hack can't do anything but make things worse for everyone."

It's possible it could make it worse, but more likely, it probably just evens out in the end.

Why would Netflix put "Nearest Netflix Shipping Facility" on the envelope if they didn't want people doing this?


I've sent several movies back in envelopes addressed to distant DC's. All of them were checked in the next day. So altering the addresses is unnecessary.

Hunter McDaniel

Kirby, there is nothing selfish about this trick. It's just a way to "help" the post office do what they are already supposed to do - send each return back to the Nearest Netflix Facility. Some people (see Scribe1964 above) find that their post office will do the right thing anyway. Others of us have not been so lucky, and hence want to make sure our discs don't waste three days on a totally unnecessary flight across the country.

Unlike a rental-car business, there isn't any risk that the discs will somehow collect in South Florida during the winter. Any short-term imbalance is quickly corrected the next time those discs are requested - NF will send the discs from whatever distribution center has them. Surplus discs that aren't requested at all get sent back to the main repository in San Jose.


It's really a waste of time, as is saving envelopes to return "2 in 1".

The envelope says "Nearest Netflix Shipping Facility" for a reason. That's where it will be returned -- to your local facility. EVEN IF THE ADDRESS SAYS TIMBUCTU, it's going to your local distribution center.

Netflix has special arrangements with the post office. The announcement that they were going to be hiring more trucks yesterday just underscores the fact that red Netflix envelopes get sorted into their own boxes at the central USPS facilities, and they're trucked directly to the closest Netflix distribution center.

As far a screwing up algorithms goes, it doesn't. At the point in time you're sending a movie back, the last time somebody wanted it, they were in your area, because they were you. If the movie ends up going back to Timbuctu, it will be because nobody near you was requesting it right away, and somebody near Timbuctu was.


Sounds like a great idea...however someone correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't altering a business reply envelope address illegal?

Not that you'd go to jail for years for scratching out an address and I'm sure the post office would never do anything to you since it would be going back to the same company, but I just thought that doing such a thing was technically illegal.

I know I know, just like technically speeding is illegal, but everyone does it. Just thought I'd throw it out there though that by using that suggestion you might be breaking the law.

Hunter McDaniel

zeggman, we know that returns are SUPPOSED TO go to the nearest facility regardless of the return address, and for many people that seems to happen. But my own experience has been otherwise, and these relabeling hacks are just quick and easy insurance against a USPS screwup.


My experience is the same as Hunter's. Local mailers are usually faster. I save the local ones and send 2-3 discs in each. If this new idea works consistently, I'll keep using it. It's not really my concern whether it causes Netflix any extra trouble. I think it should all balance out. The envelopes are addressed where they came from. It's supposed to go to the nearest anyway, Kirby and zeggman. We're not cheating anyone, just making sure we get the most out of the service.


Well, as others have said, the envelopes SAY "nearest facility" for a REASON.

But, for the first time recently, I got one from way away and instead of taking a chance the post office would send it back to where it came, I doubled it up with another disc going to my local facility.

That, it seems, might hamper throttling although I guess they could pretend they didnt get either if they wanted.

Both mine showed up as recieved the next day.

I think Netflix should encourage users to send 2 or 3 in one envelope when possible. It would save them on postage. They could even pass some savings back to the customer with say a 5-10 cent credit to their account.

Why not ?

Lamarr Wilson

At first, I sided with Kirby's comment. However, when I think about the fact that people double up envelopes anyway (something Netflix encourages), it can't screw it up for others.


I also think doubling up returns will reduce damage. Three might be pushing it, though. I don't know. They might deliberately throttle envelopes with 2 or 3 movies, since they are probably from heavy users.


Putting more than one DVD in an envelope poses a few problems, ie: the damage to the DVDs are higher when you place more than one DVD in the envelope. The envelopes are designed to hold one DVD not multiple ones. Also if in the off chance that envelope is lost and it contains more than one DVD, you will have multiple DVDs lost on your account. True, Netflix does give you a certain amount you can lose before they either start charging you for the lost DVDs if the number is too great or they can cancel your account at their whim.


I just re-write the address. Even though it says Nearest Facility it doesn't always work. I also double up some of the dvd's so I have extra envelopes.


If postage is such a high percentage of the cost of doing business for Netflix, why don't they send out movies two to an envelope (maybe rent out an additional movie from your queue or something you might like...they could even charge $1 for movies with extra inventory). This would please the heavier users.

Is it too difficult to pull off in the dc and in billing?


"the damage to the DVDs are higher when you place more than one DVD in the envelope."

Surely, they're less likely to break if you double returns. The chance is probably half as much, and you send half as many, so that could reduce damage by 75% overall.

"The envelopes are designed to hold one DVD not multiple ones."

They easily hold 2. Netflix says it's OK to send 2 per envelope. They should just print the local address on the envelope, like BB. Then we wouldn't have to worry about how to ensure they go to the local facility.

"in the off chance that envelope is lost and it contains more than one DVD, you will have multiple DVDs lost on your account."

I've never had that happen. I'd say a 50-75% damage reduction would compensate for theft. It all probably balances out.

Hunter McDaniel

Not sure about disc breakage, but I know I've read that doubled-up envelopes are more likely to rip open or jam in the USPS sorting machinery. So while Netflix does tell you to do this if you are missing an envelope, they don't encourage it as a regular practice.

In terms of postage I believe that sending out a mailer with two discs would push the weight up, to the point that NF would not save any money. And given the way their facilities work, it would be very difficult to collect multiple discs being sent to the same customer for inclusion in the same envelope.


My experience has been that if the envelope is addressed to a distant shipping location, that it does NOT get checked in the next day. As a result, I always change the address on the envelope to the local one. And it works. Otherwise it really stinks to wait 3 days for a disc from across the country, watch it and wait another 3 days for netflix to get it back.


"doubled-up envelopes are more likely to rip open or jam in the USPS sorting machinery."

Greencine uses much thicker envelopes and I haven't seen heard their customers reporting a lot of broken discs. I would think that 2 discs are half as likely to break, twice as thick, and twice as strong. If you seam them carefully, ripping and jamming are minimal.

"In terms of postage I believe that sending out a mailer with two discs would push the weight up, to the point that NF would not save any money."

Their postage isn't calculated like regular mail. It's cheaper to send heavier letters: 14 cents for each additional ounce. I don't think it's costing them any money. It might not save them much, but it won't cost more.

"And given the way their facilities work, it would be very difficult to collect multiple discs being sent to the same customer for inclusion in the same envelope."

I wasn't talking about them sending multiple discs, but I think it is safe to send 2 at a time. Maybe 3 at a time would be pushing it. Given how automated their system is, I think they could send multiple discs in envelopes, for greater cost savings. It doesn't matter. If crossing out the address and barcode will work, people can just do that.


"It's cheaper to send heavier letters: 14 cents for each additional ounce."

Sorry, I meant 24 cents. It's 39 cents for 1 ounce and 63 cents for 2 ounce.


I spoke with a Netflix representative and she told me that they love it when people send 2 in an envelope. It saves them money and they are grateful.

I asked if 3 in an envelope would be better and she said no. Apparently the return postage fee is prepaid to cover 2 discs but three would be too heavy and would arrive postage due. Which I think would REALLY slow down your turn around time.

She also told me that when we get discs from far off shipping centers that it's usually because we are watching something that isn't very popular and, therefor, isn't stocked in as many facilities. Upon consideration, this seems to be true for me personally. The stuff that tends to get shipped from far away (for me) is usually older TV shows. Dick Van Dyke, Abbott & Costello Show, Columbo...all of these were coming from all over the country. (I live in St. Louis, MO.)

She also said that they have a very difficult time trying to figure out how many of a TV show to stock. Apparently the formula they use to calculate how many discs of a title are stocked is based on box office totals. So TV shows, direct-to-video releases and old movies just now coming to DVD are difficult for them to calculate based on their current equations.

She was very chatty when I called. I was surprised to get so much info. This call was about a year ago so some of this info could be outdated.


i had read that netflix pays for both ways when they send out an envelope so that when they're returned, they don't go through the normal sorting routine. They get tossed into a hamper and await the netflix truck to take 'em back that night.

I've been double and triple returning without any problems for two years.

Harvey Birdman

Here are some misconceptions that need to be cleared up:

Nearest Netflix Shipping Facility - The USPS is not obligated to do anything special with Netflix mailers. I have talked to the USPS and so have friends of mine across the country. The USPS in some locations will sift through the mail and pull Netflix mailers and put them in trays to go back. Other facilities do not and let them go on the sorter. The facilities that pull them do so because the mailers can occasionally jam the postal equipment and thus it is more efficient for some locations to pull the mail.

Therefore if you erase the address and your mail is not hand sorted out of the mass of incoming mail then you will very likely delay your return. If there is no address it goes to another department and most likely will get passed onto Netflix but it is not a guarantee.

The post offices that do this can change policy as needed and some days they may decide it is not worth pulling the mail and so you might think it is a good idea but I don't think so.

Myth 2 - putting multiple mailers in a Netflix Return envelope saves money. If someone in customer service says Netflix loves that the person is probably high on crack or very new and does not know what he or she is saying. The postage is paid on the envelopes. Again I have looked into this with the post office and Netflix prepays to and from the customer to make things faster. Therefore if you put two in an envelope you are not saving the company money, you are costing it money. If you are malicious you may jump up and down at this but that is your call. For two movies it would cost Netflix 39+63= $1.02 as one was already paid vs. $0.78.

Third the damage to the movies can occur if more than two are in an envelope if the mail is processed by machines on the return vs. being pulled by hand. Yes Netflix says you can put two in one mailer but that is because they don't send you additional mailers if you lose one and if you do it occasionally the chance of problems is minimal.

Fourth - I don't have evidence to support this but a theory I have is that if you put two movies in one envelope it might be easier to steal a movie. Think about it, if you put two in one mailer and someone is hand checking it in all they see is a movie being checked in and not suspicious that there are actually two movies. I am not saying this happens regularly or at all, but it could happen. It all depends on the security at the facility and how they are monitoring things.


I don't think you're right about the pre-paid postage. I was under the impression that they are only charged on return postage if the envelope is actually returned. It's the same as the magazine subscription forms that fall out of various periodicals. They only pay the postage if the card is returned.

So if you hate those cards, just collect them and drop them in the mail un-filled out.

This is why (as it was explained to me) that they like 2 in an envelope. It prevents them from getting charged for two returns. But a third disc is over the pre-paid fee so it creates problems. This makes sense to me. I can't imagine Netflix agreeing to pay postage on unmailed envelopes.


But if they pre-pay postage, the envelopes don't have to go through the machines on return. That opens up the possibility for unsorted 'nearest distribution center' processing.

I'm not sure that constitutes a proof, but I think they must be pre-paying postage.


Harvey Birdman

You simply dont know what you are talking about.

A firm can print up 5 million postage paid envelopes but pay ZERO postage if none are ever used.
It means postage WILL BE PAID by netflix.

It saves them SIGNIFICANT postage by returning 2 discs in one envelope.

You are clueless and you pretend to know what you are talking about.

Shameful !


Is there any reason that crossing off the barcode and address and the re-writing the address of your local center wouldn't work? It would have the benefit of getting to where you want without the drawback of being delayed by a sorting machine. If BB puts the local address on all of their envelops why can't we do the same for ourselves?


ENDING THE DEBATE - I just called Netflix and asked if I could re-write the local address over the one on the envelope and they said yes and gladly gave me my local address.

Now, was that so hard?

Steven Sokulski

I think what is annoying people here is really quite trivial. We have already determined without a doubt that Netflix uses a throttling system to help lower its cost, though most people seem to think this is a postage related issue. However, Netflix combines permit postage rates and bulk sorting rates so their per-piece postage rate is significantly lower than what any of us would spend to ship the same product. Rather, by slowing your receiving of a movie (limiting the number that move) they are increasing the number of discs they have on hand to send to other customers. Think of it like this: if Netflix wants to lower the number of DVDs you get they'll either reroute your package to slow it down as seen above, or just delay shipping of your next movie by a day.

As far as the speed of a Netflix envelope moving through the mail to a location other than your local center (which seems to be everyone's complaint) they have done several things to help speed the movement of the product. The design of the front of the envelope is uncluttered and contains a prominent barcode that is quickly read by mail sorters (no human interaction is ever needed to move a Netflix envelope through USPS) and the size and shape of the envelope make it ideal for post office sorters.

That said, your forcing the mail to be handled by hand could easily take away the benefit of having it sent to the center Netflix wants it to.


you could move to the middle of the united states like me and get all your moves in 4-5 days


I move twice a year, from the Eastern West Virginia Panhandle to the mid-Hudson Valley, NY, and back. When in New York state, my average turn-around time for a movie from the day I mail it until I receive a replacement is 3 days; i.e., if I return on Monday, the replacement arrives on Wednesday abut 98% of the time. This is the same turn-around time I experienced in Vallejo, CA for many years.

Turn-around time in West Virginia is a whole 'nother thing. It can take TEN DAYS for the same turn-around; seven is average. At least one day each way is the Post Office. Mail from the main station arrives at the local substation after the delivery person leaves to do the route. That's one day. Returned disks, picked up by the carrier, return to the substation after the day's mail has left for the main station. That is another day. The other two days are, I assume, also the Post Office as my 'main' branch isn't main except in comparison to the local branch. Voila! 7 day turn-around average. If the envelope reads Harrisburg, PA instead of Martinsburg, WV, then it can take ten days.

So I use the 'double up and save local address mailers' method when in West Virginia. I have used this for years, whenever I have received DVDs from anywhere other than my local facility, in states on both coasts, and it has always worked great.

Joe Scmoo

I work for the United States Postal Service. All Netflix that are collected to return are all sent to the local Netflix processing center REGARDLESS of the return address.
It does not matter what the address is. That is a fact!

Harvey is for the Birds

Harvey Birdman couldn't be more misinformed.

No Netflix discs are EVER touched by Post Office machinery. The discs would be shattered to bits if they ever were.

Every single Netflix envelope is handled BY HAND, and all discs are returned to the closest facility, regardless of the address on the envelope. The address on the envelope is where it came from. They don't have dozens of different return-addressed envelopes at each shipping center. That sort of complexity would greatly slow down their efficiency.


Wow, this topic is lame. If this is really that important to you all, I suggest you re-evaluate your lives. I'm sorry I even googled out of curiosity how many netflix distribution centers there were...

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