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February 10, 2006 03:59 PM

Broken: Hard-to-open packaging

Another good one from David Pogue. Link: Weapons in the Fight Against Hard-to-Open Packaging - New York Times.

Clamshell packaging annoys me especially because so many electronic products come entombed in them: radios, cameras, walkie-talkies, inkjet cartridges, videotapes, tools, phones, flashlights, accessories and so on... these sharp-edged, steely-hardened acrylic crypts have broken countless scissors, ripped flesh and wasted ridiculous amounts of people's time.


First post!

Posted by: Chaos at February 10, 2006 04:13 PM

First ya'll!111!!LOL teh packaging need teh chainsaw to open!!LOL

Posted by: PiMpMaStA at February 10, 2006 04:14 PM

What I hate the most about hard to open plastic packaging is that after using a sharp object to puncture the packaging, you find it necessary to try to rip the package open with your hands because the sciccors or whatever you're using doesn't fit inside enough to cut due to the odd shape of the object. In the process of using this manual technique, I end up scratching or cutting myself on a sharp piece of plastic.

Posted by: Chaos at February 10, 2006 05:02 PM

During December, I got a set of cordless landline phones. They came in one of them clamshell packages, except even deadlier. It had been...riveted... with plastic rivets. I tore up my knuckles getting the phones out. I didn't steal them, by the way. The companies should not make the case so difficult to open; I'm a paying customer!!!

Posted by: zero??? at February 10, 2006 05:37 PM

The sad thing is, I bought some really high quality, and therefore really expensive RAM for my computer, and it came in a simple clamshell that a baby could have opened. It cost 50% more than the phones and caused 1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000% less hassle and bloody fingers than the phones. The RAM came in a smaller package, so it would seem logical that it'd be more protected but it wasn't...

Posted by: zero??? at February 10, 2006 05:43 PM

Instructions for packaging, brought to you by CAD

Posted by: Jello B. at February 10, 2006 05:46 PM

tin snips (aviation snips) are great for cutting almost any plastic (but I mainly use them for cutting sheet metal, like they are intended too). You can get some for about $10 at Homedepot.

Posted by: dfghdfghdfh at February 10, 2006 05:52 PM

I think they came up w/the idea of clamshell packaging b/c it is blatantly obvious when you have opened a package and therefore you can't return it. Any other package you could lie about opening the package. The clamshell makes probably reduces the number of items that companies have to sell as "refurbished".

The bitch-slapping of customers is broken.

Posted by: Confused Shopper at February 10, 2006 05:54 PM

Confused Shopper, while your idea is most likely... my RAM came in a package that simply popped open. It wasn't even wrapped in plastic film, like a CD. I could shove it back in the case and it looks like new. At least that company realizes that the product (and the customer) must be intact for proper usage, though.

Posted by: zero??? at February 10, 2006 06:15 PM

What's "broken" is the title of the column:

From the Desk of David Pogue

Now that's a darn clever desk, able to get something published in the New York Times. All my desk does is just sit in my office. If I could some work out of the darned thing, I could spend more time posting inane, nitpicky comments on blobs.

Posted by: Steve at February 10, 2006 08:29 PM

I ordered 30 Belkin notebook locks. Each one came in individual clamshell packaging. Not only was it difficult enough to open the outside, but the padlock on the inside was locked THROUGH another piece of the same horrible plastic. The lock couldn't even be tilted far enough away from the plastic to get the key in, so it was necessary to cut through the plastic. And then each lock cable was wound and fastened with three plastic zip ties that had to be snipped off. After opening a few of them, I was tempted to ship the rest to Belkin and tell them to open the rest and send them back.

Posted by: Lomedhi at February 10, 2006 11:01 PM

You people ain't heard a 'dese?

They's works!

(Don't know if NYT refs 'em b/c regs suxx hard)

Posted by: abcdario at February 10, 2006 11:30 PM

I have often wondered why the store clerks could not open that stuff for you when you pay. I think that would be a good solution.

Posted by: signin at February 11, 2006 12:02 AM

Hey ABCDario! David Pogue mentioned both the OpenX and the Pyranna in his weekly e-mail to people who subscribe to NYTimes e-mails about tech stuff.

Posted by: Confused Shopper at February 11, 2006 01:23 AM

David Pogue had my baby in '74. I haven't seen him since, and now he has a newsletter for the NYT?! Hadn't heard of the Pyranna either, but it looks pretty sexy. Thx for pointing out, El Comprable Confusadado. OpenX does work well, though, and it's cheaper, so I'd go with that if I were me.

Posted by: abcdario at February 11, 2006 01:29 AM

I think it's an anti-shoplifting measure.

Posted by: Loren Pechtel at February 11, 2006 01:29 PM

No!! Ya think?

Posted by: William P. Johnson at February 11, 2006 04:25 PM

I have scratched cd's for cameras trying to open these stupid things. They rank up there with PDF web pages for things that really annoy me for their sheer unuseability.

Posted by: jjbird at February 11, 2006 08:48 PM

Hmmm... I, like everyone posting here about this, have had similar 'events', opening this type of ('theft-proof') packaging and have been slightly injured in the process. I wonder... If you were injured by or in the course of using or attempting to use, another type company's product (say, alcohol, or maybe... tobacco, or... a gun), one might be able to sue for damages... Hmmm...

Posted by: SDIgroup at February 12, 2006 10:04 AM

You'd only be able to sue for the used band-aid... Loren: It's an anti-shopper measure.

Posted by: zero??? at February 12, 2006 12:57 PM

I went to The Source (Radio Shack in the US) today to purchase a laser pointer (cat's go crazy for them). I had read this post yesterday and when I saw the 4" long item encased in a plastic tomb more than twice it's length, at least ten times it's width and, quite likely 4 times it's weight, I laughed and walked out.

The cat will just have to chase it's tail!


Posted by: Steve O at February 12, 2006 08:18 PM

Speaking of broken packaging, they need to come up with a new kind of "child proof" cap because I had the flu last week and was so weak that I couldn't even medicate myself because I couldn't open the bottle. Ironically, I had to wait for my 10 year old to come home from school and open it for me.

Posted by: Meli at February 12, 2006 09:41 PM

If you do manage to get the item out of the packaging, how many pieces is the manual in?? I've cut cords to headphones too. Anti-theft or not, it's broken. If they are worried about theft they should package them in reusable containers that the cashiers remove, like they do with CD's. This is also a recycling issue. How much plastic gets wasted??

Posted by: Poindexter T Quakenfuss at February 12, 2006 10:51 PM

They should do it like with shoes; they have a tag on them which the cashier takes off on purchase. Actually, Sam's Club has some paper strips with a barcode which you present to the cashier, and after paying you get the product. It usually isn't so hard to open if you get it that way.

Posted by: zero??? at February 13, 2006 06:28 AM

signin, I was thinking along the same lines. BEFORE actually paying, make the cashier or salesperson open the pakage for you. If they refuse, then walk out, leaving all your unpaid stuff at the register.

Posted by: steve h at February 13, 2006 03:39 PM

1. I am not making this up, I swear. They guy who invented the packaging also invented one of the gadgets used to open the packaging.

2. Make the store help you open the package after you buy the product and before you leave the store. Also leave behind large, unnecessary cardboard boxes. If we did this often enough, things would change.

Posted by: Paul at February 13, 2006 03:59 PM

I loathe those things! Having the poor cashiers open the dastardly things isn't fair, either. Those people couldn't care less care whether or not you walk out and the store sells one less package of underwater goggles, since they'll get their minimum-wage paycheck either way. Maybe the few that work on commission would. But this is a manufacturing design problem requiring a manufacturing design solution. Alas, any solution is bound to be more expensive, so we can either tape up our wounded hands or pay more.

Posted by: Ron Mexico at February 13, 2006 04:04 PM

Maybe we could lessen our "foreign dependency on oil" if we eliminate the ubiquitous and universally hated clamshell packaging in favor of reusable containers opened at the store after purchase. Oh yeah, and jail any American who drives only themselves in a SUV more than 20 miles one-way to work. That would also help.

Posted by: Dawn at February 13, 2006 05:30 PM

kraft makes a string cheese that really pisses me off. Twistums are quite tasty bit unlike most string cheese which the plastic is already separated at the top and easily peels apart, this stuff is well sealed with no perforated line to tear or separation to start with. Then, they have the gall to say,"safety first, use hands--not the teeth." fuckers I say. there will be a string cheese incident.

Posted by: kennyh at February 13, 2006 10:29 PM

if only the hard to open packaging was actually broken, then it might not be so hard to open...

but that would then be a paradox, would that then make it broken again?

Posted by: memnon at February 14, 2006 10:15 PM

Having to register before you're allowed to read the article = broken.

And then, when refusing to register, finding out that my Back button has been disabled = broken squared.


Posted by: Bryan at February 16, 2006 03:53 AM

>>>What I hate the most about hard to open plastic packaging is that after using a sharp object to puncture the packaging, you find it necessary to try to rip the package open with your hands because the sciccors or whatever you're using doesn't fit inside enough to cut due to the odd shape of the object.>>>

I have some industrial scissors for cutting stuff like this packaging. I can cut a penny in half with these scissors. This packaging whimpers when my scissors start chomping. 10 bucks ! (^:


Posted by: Jonathan at February 19, 2006 10:33 PM

Where do u get those scissors?

Posted by: spacecase at March 24, 2006 06:59 PM

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