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October 11, 2005

Packaging Rage

Michael Blowhard writes:

Dear Blowhards --

Why do I suspect that many people have had similar experiences?

(OK, so they're bad photos. The first pic shows me prying a new electric razor out of its plastic packaging. The second pic shows a bloody, bandaged finger.)

It seems that freeing a device from its blister-packaging results in painful finger-slicing amazingly often, doesn't it? I understand that gizmos are packed the way they are to facilitate shipping, lower costs, and combat theft. Still: Why should I be expected to care more about the manufacturer-retailer's convenience than I do about "being able to open the package an electric razor is sold in without gashing myself"?

I don't know about anyone else, but if I were given the choice between A) Paying $50 for an electric razor in packaging that's guaranteed to slice a finger, and B) Paying $51 for the same razor delivered in sensible and easy-to-use packaging, I'd happily fork over the extra buck. But where am I given the choice?



posted by Michael at October 11, 2005


The biggest villains in this are companies that sell electronic goods that are packaged so tightly so no one steals it from the package... I suppose. Have you ever bought digital memory and struggled to get it out of the plastic for an hour?

My other pet peeve is when they sell you a large bottle of vitamins which contains 90% cotton balls.

Posted by: Neil on October 11, 2005 3:00 PM

I have the age-old complaint: jars of olives or pickles that require me to break my arm trying to twist the vacuum-sealed lid off. That or break my hand hitting the bottom, which, for some reason, is supposed to jar the vacuum-sealing loose. I have nearly returned jars to the grocery store and demanded money back, since they can't be opened.

Posted by: annette on October 11, 2005 3:37 PM

Annette, try giving the unopened lid a few whacks from the side first with the butt of a butter knife. The result is a few dents in the lid, and much greater ease in opening it.

Posted by: dan g. on October 11, 2005 5:12 PM


You can try wrapping a rubber band around the lid. It provides much better grip which makes the jar *much* easier to open.

Posted by: b on October 11, 2005 7:06 PM

I hate that packaging shown in your images Michael. There's literally no good way of opening it, and, if you don't like the product there's no way of returning it either, you have to tear the plastic to shreds just to get the product out.

Posted by: . on October 11, 2005 7:38 PM

Sorry for the second post...

I think what companies might need is a good lawsuit. I don't like to be overly litigous, but I've definitely cut myself several times on such packaging. All we need is someone to attempt to open such packaging with their thighs and it's a ten million dollar settlement.

Posted by: . on October 11, 2005 7:40 PM

This is why I always carry a box cutter.

I actually carried it to Italy and back, inadvertently, and airport security didn't detect it. It must be made of kryptonite.

Posted by: miriam on October 11, 2005 7:59 PM

Ooh, I hate that packaging! Even though I use a blade, I still end up cutting myself on the ensuing jagged edge too often as I try to pry the packaging apart. I suppose I should slice all the way around the item, but sometimes that's hard to do without cutting your product. A cardboard box with stickers over the edges does just fine for me when it comes to theft protection.

I also hate food cans with pull tabs- not soda cans, but ones where the whole top is supposed to come off; I gashed my finger deeply on one of those once. I'd rather use a can opener nowadays.

Posted by: claire on October 11, 2005 8:47 PM


Wow, I've accidentally taken a box cutter through airport security as well (although it wasn't international). I used to work at a deli where I got used to having one on my person all of the time -- no more extraordinary than having a pen. They help with so many things in daily life.

Posted by: J. Goard on October 12, 2005 2:43 AM

Of course, running the pickle jar's lid under hot water is the easiest way of loosening it.

Posted by: onetwothree on October 12, 2005 7:25 AM

After going through similar skinning-of-the-packaging debacles as yourself, all also resulting in my running around screaming, "My Finger! My Finger!", I stumbled upon a solution. The dog, ever-protective of his master, must have seen me in one of my whirling dervish opening escapades. He duly destroyed the packaging as punishment for harming its owner. So now, after wiping a glaze of beef stock onto the limb-severing packaging, I simply call him over and hand it to him. He proceeds to inflict pain onto the packaging that in the past had inflicted pain onto me. As long as the dog's within reach, all goes well. The packaging is successfully removed and the Hope diamond encased within is freed. However, there have been moments when he was just out of reach and the contents and packaging received the same treatment. I've returned the product and shambled through a "The dog ate the .." excuse. I've always been able to get a free exchange. The store guy understood; I'm not the only one using the family dog for such purposes.

Posted by: DarkoV on October 12, 2005 8:18 AM

Isn't it interesting how many people hate this kind of packaging? How do we let our dislike of it be known to manufacturers and retailers? Generally speaking, you let 'em know by buying alternatives to what you dislike. But so far as many small gizmo-style products go these days, there is no alternative to finger-cutting blister-packaging. How will the guys in charge ever get the message?

Posted by: Michael Blowhard on October 12, 2005 9:50 AM

If you really promise a $10 million settlement...I'll try opening it with my thighs!! :) Do you promise? Or will I just have wierdly cut-up thighs?

Posted by: annette on October 13, 2005 10:23 AM

People really like to see the product they are buying, so this type of packaging is very useful in that sense. And as a previous commenter alluded to, this packaging is extremely effective at reducing shoplifting because (1) the packaging is stiff and large, so it's often awkward to pocket the whole thing and (2) you can't break into it in the store, and pocket a small piece.

Michael, you may be willing to pay $1 extra, but if the packaging indeed increases sales and prevents shopfifting, you may end up paying $10 extra for an alternatively-packaged version.

I do think that as more people decry these packages, and as people refuse to buy anything sold in them, you will probably start to see some alternatives. Keep up the complaining (I hate them, too).

Posted by: Paul N on October 13, 2005 1:39 PM

Actually, you can return something bought in this packaging - even after you've opened it. But it is embarrassing to do so - which may be the point...


Posted by: Girish Maiya on October 14, 2005 4:59 AM

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