Tech Life Why do they even have a sleeve?

NetFlix Sleeve?

Your Monday morning useless brain teaser:

Big fan of NetFlix here. Been using the service for just under year and have no major complaints.

This weekend, I accidentally sent a movie back w/out the DVD sleeve. When I discovered the orphan sleeve next to the TV, I thought, “Ooops. How are they going to identify the movie and that I returned it?” A quick examination of another mailing envelope showed the same bar code on the enveloped as the DVD… ok, so I assumed they could still figure out that I sent The Ring back… cool.

This morning, I received the regular “We’ve received: The Ring — Rate it Now!” email and I thought that was that. All done. One hour later, I received another email from info@netflix.com titled “Netflix Account Alert: Sleeve Missing” which gently asked me to “be sure to include the appropriate white sleeve with all future returns.”

The question is: if Netflix truly marks both the white sleeve and the mailing envelope with the same bar code for tracking, why do they care if I return the sleeve? Why do they even have a sleeve? Is this for error correction to prevent just my sort of stupidity? Doesn’t this duplication encourage stupidity like mine? Wouldn’t a single envelope reduce complexity and cost?

9 Responses

  1. Sometimes redundancy is good.

    Also, since the outside envelope has no user-readable markings, it’s assumed that you’ll mix things up and put the wrong DVD in the wrong one. Or even lose an envelope and stick 2 DVDs (each in their own sleeve) in the same envelope, which the recommend if you’ve lost an envelope.

    I suspect that a DVD in a sleeve in an envelope has higher odds of surviving the Advanced Facer-Cancellers, Mail Processing Barcode Sorters, Delivery Barcode Sorters and Carrier Sequence Barcode Sorters. (I assume NetFlix envelopes get to bypass the Multiline Optical Character Readers and Remote Barcoding System entirely)

    http://everything2.org/index.pl?node_id=39854

  2. probably for people like me, that have a pile of dvd’s in the sleeve and a pile of the netflix envelopes up by the player.. so the sleeve has only a 30% chance of ending up in its original envelope 🙂

  3. Rachelle suggests that the DVD sleeve’s primary purpose is not for tracking (which it does do), but storage for the DVD when it’s sitting in a Netflix fulfillment location.

    I’ll buy that.

  4. There is no way that netflix trusts the envelopes to have anything to do with the movies contained therein. Sometimes I will have three envelopes, all of which come from different fulfillment locations, and I never keep track of which DVDs go where. I just grab an envelope and send it back, and I’ve never seen a delay or heard a complaint. The only thing I can think of is that maybe it does contain info about a movie and its origingating location, and they can use the envelope to track inventory movement or something

  5. It could be that the barcode on the envelopes allows the employees to quickly scan for content or inventory without having to open the envelope and look inside.

    More likely, though, it’s used for transport and storage.

    On another note: anyone know if Netflix is coming to Canada soon?

  6. Give us the link to your Netflix profile, Mr. Netflix Fan!

  7. Maybe we should ask NetFlix…

  8. with the assumption that the sleeve is necessary for protection of the disc…

    My guess: It’s an optimization. The sleeve tells them what disc is inside (to speed up inventory control), but that information is only considered trustworthy when the disc is sitting in their warehouse (since they’ll make sure it’s in the right envelope when they check it in). That way they don’t have to pull the discs out of the sleeves and check them when they pull them off the shelf to send to you. No sense taking the disc out of the sleeve when checking it in AND when checking it out.

  9. I would like to clarify some confusion here. There is a distinction between the DVD SLEEVE and the ENVELOPE, which is the red mailer with your address on it. The mailer has no distinguishing marks and is not related to the DVD inside in any way. The only barcode on the mailer is for the addresses to and from.

    The barcoded sleeve, on the other hand, identifies the disc inside, with a name, year, and short description. If the DVD goes in the wrong SLEEVE, chaos ensues. I know. I got the 1992 version of Last of the Mohicans inside the sleeve for the 1920 version. You have no idea the trouble I went through to explain the problem to Netflix. They sent me the same mis-sleeved disc three times, because they NEVER looked inside the sleeve!