Sunday, November 16, 2008

Death to clamshells.

Hannah and I have both blogged about our dangerous and enraging experiences with sadistic packages.

Extracts from
Packages You Won't Need a Saw to Open
by Brad Stone And Matt Richtel for The New York Times

A number of retailers and manufacturers have a gift for holiday shoppers: product packaging that will not result in lacerations and stab wounds.

"I shouldn't have to start each Christmas morning with a needle nose pliers and wire cutters," said Jeffrey Bezos of Amazon.

Companies, including, Sony, Microsoft and Best Buy, have begun to create alternatives to the infuriating plastic "clamshell" packages and cruelly complex twist ties that make products like electronics and toys almost impossible for mere mortals to open without power tools.

Impregnable packaging has incited such frustration among consumers that an industry term has been coined for it — "wrap rage."

It has sent about 6,000 Americans each year to emergency rooms with injuries caused by trying to pry, stab and cut open their purchases, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission.

This month, Mr. Bezos pledged to lead the charge into a new era of nonhostile containers.

In Amazon's "frustration-free packaging" initiative ... companies will ship some of their best-selling products to Amazon in cardboard boxes that don't fight back.

Such a campaign is relatively easy for Amazon, of course, because it does not need to worry about ... whether items will disappear inside shoppers' jacket pockets.

Sony's project, optimistically called "death of the clamshell," ... uses an adhesive that is easy to pry open but makes a loud Velcro-like noise — intended to deter thieves.

At its annual sales and marketing meeting [Sony] showed a humorous video of four consumers struggling to open Sony products. One of them resorted to a hacksaw, another used his teeth and a third cut his finger.

A decade ago ... retailers decided they needed to attract shoppers by showing off items on shelves in clear plastic, instead of opaque boxes. ... they decided to seal the hinges of containers with tough epoxy that would resist shoplifting, or what retailers call "shrinkage."

Most shoppers know what happened next. There are the injuries, of course. And tool makers found a thriving market for blade-bristling implements to defeat the clamshell, with names like the Plastic Surgeon and the Package Shark.

For the last few years, Consumer Reports has published an annual Oyster Awards for the clamshell packages that are most frustrating to open. Last year's winner: an Oral-B sonic toothbrush kit from Procter & Gamble and the Bratz Sisterz dolls from MGA Entertainment, which took an adult tester eight and a half minutes to open.

For consumers like Lisa Martin, a mother of two from Chicago, such packaging means exhausting birthday mornings as her young children wonder impatiently why a cluster of adults are stabbing at their new presents with knives and scissors.


Post a Comment

<< Home

Find me on Google+