It’s time for another news roundup — this time, about price increases and lawsuits!
Dollar Tree’s Name Becomes Less Literal
For years, as long as you had a single Washington (plus some change for tax, if applicable), you could talk into a Dollar Tree and take home anything in the store. For those looking to spend a little more, shoppers could visit its sister store, Family Dollar, which it acquired in 2015.
But Family Dollar, whose main rival is Dollar General, has struggled both pre- and post-buyout. Then, the tariffs pushed by the previous president put a lot of pressure on Dollar Tree, and the chain began including some products priced over $1 at select stores.
This isn’t a surprise considering prices everywhere are rising. But it was nice to go to a store where you never needed to keep checking prices. And it was fun to occasionally stumble across an anime-related deal.
I recently came across Digimon Adventure tri. Blu-rays at Dollar Tree, and while even if Blu-rays went up to $1.50, $2, it would still be a bargain. But depending on what goes up, it often may be easier to get items with my regular shopping versus stopping at Dollar Tree.
USPS’ Slowdown Begins
The United States Post Office has implemented a new step in its “Delivering for America” plan. As a part of this initiative, a lot of First Class mail is going to take longer to deliver since the goal is to use more ground transportation and less on airmail.
Analyses show that areas like California, Florida, and Texas are likely going to be hit the most with these new up to five day delivery standards.
In addition, while the next rate increase will likely be next summer, after that, it looks like prices will rise twice a year.
But last week, 20 state attorneys general filed a lawsuit to stop these and other changes, saying the Postal Regulatory Commission didn’t study all the data and this amounts to a massive overhaul of the postal system.
I already mentioned the shipping crisis as a reason to do your holiday shopping early. And while this could be just my experience or bias, but since October 1st, it really does seem like First Class packages are slowing down. Things I mailed out were arriving in a timely matter for the past couple months, but this past week or two has been awful. As of this writing, a First Class package being delivered to Fort Worth has been sitting for five days in the Forth Worth distribution center with no updates. Another to an address in a Detroit suburb an hour and a half away from me went four days with no news before finally moving to another center. When it’s finally delivered, it will likely end up clocking in at a week to go less than 100 miles. Others aren’t late, but they’re definitely not arriving early; most are pushing the four to five day window. And we’re still far from the real holiday shipping jam.
So yeah, higher prices and slower delivery…not a good combination for consumers. Be patient if you’re waiting for things to arrive, and check out prices elsewhere if you’re sending things. eBay for instance has some nice discounts with FedEx and USPS if you’re selling online — I sent a pair of pants in a polymailer through FedEx to Colorado for less than what USPS wanted to charge. PirateShip, which I mentioned before, now has discounted UPS rates.
This kind of leads to the problem Postmaster DeJoy’s critics have been saying — if USPS is slower and more expensive, people are going to turn elsewhere, which means fewer packages and revenue for the post office. USPS is going to continue to be a hot-button issue.
The Epic-Apple Feud Continues
Gamers are likely familiar with Epic Games’ stunt back in 2020 to challenge Google and Apple. The Fortnite developers advertised a discounted rate on in-app purchases if bought through Epic Games’ store instead through of Google Play or App Store.
Both tech giants pulled the game for breaking their rules, but Epic Games sued them separately. Epic Games v. Apple was recently adjudicated, with both sides claiming victory. Apple’s App Store wasn’t considered a monopoly or illegal, but they were ordered to allow other payment options for apps.
However, Apple has filed an appeal, asking for the judge’s ruling that required access to other methods to purchase apps and items within 90 days be stayed.
Apple is heading back to court in November, and if they get an injunction, even if Apple loses their appeal, it could be years before iPhone and iPad owners are not locked to using the Apple ecosystem for payments.
So while Apple did lower payments for smaller developers at the beginning of the year after they were sued, developers and consumers who were looking forward to PayPal, Google Pay, Shopify, or whatever as options will likely need to wait a while longer. How much longer, though, is a big question.