What are the Netflix bar codes for?

It sounds like the NetFlix bar codes are for sorting the movies that are outbound from Netflix.  From this NPR segment, NPR : Netflix Manuever Draws Legal Fight, I learned that:

  • returned movies are opened by hand and an employee manually checks that the DVD matches the envelope and that there are no visible scratches,
  • the movies are then immediately put in an envelope,
  • the envelopes are tailored for the post office system to ensure speedy processing,
  • Netflix sorts the movies by zip code before they deliver them to the post office.

So it sounds like it doesn’t matter if you line up the bar code with the hole in the envelope.  Which makes sense because it’s not orientated to be the default way you’d put the DVD in.