Oral-B Sonic Complete Toothbrush Kit Wins Consumer Reports "Oyster Awards"

Consumer Reports gave the Oral-B Sonic Complete Toothbrush Kit the “Oyster Award” for most difficult to open packaging.

A tight fit between the plastic skin and cardboard thwarted scissors.

Our tester grabbed a box cutter but hacked up the box as an unavoidable result.

After removing the clamshell and opening the box, she had to dislodge parts from a foam case, yank off one plastic bag covering the power cord and another protecting additional components, then pop perforations on smaller clamshells shielding the toothbrush heads.

Her work table was littered with sharp plastic shards.

Do clamshells really reduce theft? Are they cheaper to manufacture? What’s up with the clamshells??? — BEN POPKEN

And the Oyster goes to… [Consumer Reports]

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  1. juri squared says:

    Reduce theft? No. We had a shrink problem with a clamshell product at my workplace. They just stole the whole thing, of course!

    I’ve gotten more puncture wounds and scratches from those stupid things…

  2. Christopher says:

    As much as I dislike frivolous lawsuits, I hope to start seeing some class action lawsuits against companies that use this type of packaging. It’s absolutely ridiculous that they use such impossible to open & downright dangerous packages all in the name of “theft protection.”

    I have a few scars on my hands from opening this type of packaging, and they weren’t caused by the scissors/knife, they were actually due to the plastic packaging itself! I should sue because they ruined my potential hand modeling career, lol.

  3. Dustbunny says:

    Uh oh. I was planning to buy this toothbrush because my dental hygienist recommended it. I’ve got a box cutter, but it sounds like I’ll need something more — a flame thrower, perhaps?

  4. thrillhouse says:

    Clamshells, blister packs …. yes, very cheap and easy to manufacture. Easy to package the product up, too.

    What I can’t figure out, is why so much of packaging in general is not recyclable. Rarely is there a recycling code on much of the plastic I find in packaging.

  5. gorckat says:

    Its really pointless.

    Before the holidays I worked Target for a couple weeks. The Loss Prevention chief told us to be on the lookout for people just walking out of the store with a pair of Dyson vacuums or clearing out shelves of Mach 3 razorblades (and other high dollar/small footprint items) into duffel bags.

    Apparently those kinds of things happened often enough that most clamshelled product was either locked in a glass case or put behind the pharmacy counter.

  6. gorckat says:

    Its really pointless.

    Before the holidays, I worked at Target for a couple weeks. The Loss Prevention chief told us to be on the lookout for people just walking out of the store with a pair of Dyson vacuums or clearing out shelves of Mach 3 razorblades (and other high dollar/small footprint items) into duffel bags.

    Apparently those kinds of things happened often enough that clamshelled product, like the Sonic Complete, was either locked in a glass case or put behind the pharmacy counter.

  7. AcidReign says:

    …..I love it when an expensive electronic gizmo is imprisoned in one of these things. They are SO hoping you slice the cord off, and have to buy another one!

    …..I use the serrated blade on my Leatherman Core, if I have it handy. It cuts plastic like butter, so be careful!

  8. kerry says:

    If you go to the site and read the description for the Bratz doll packaging, you’ll be appalled. I had one of those as a gag gift and nearly threw the whole container out for lack of being able to extricate the doll from it. In fact, the description is so good I’ll just quote it here:

    As the name implies, these dolls were difficult and unpleasant to deal with. They had about 50 restraints, including a cardboard and plastic box, tape, tabs, cardboard banner, plastic bags, rubber bands, hard-plastic bands, molded plastic covers, glue, wires, string sewing the hair to the cardboard, a plastic tab imbedded in the heads and pinning them to the cardboard, and a rigid plastic manacle around the arms of one doll, giving her a posture with attitude.

    Sewing the hair to the box was a new one to me, and a little scary to pull apart.

  9. brad77 says:

    I hate clamshell packaging too, but I would guess that it is used so that the package better puts up with the abuse it receives while in transit to the store. I would bet that the packaging holds up much better than, say, a cardboard box or less sturdy molded plastic, seeing as it’s pretty much impervious to all outside attacks.

  10. hop says:

    i like the comments you get from the return desk when you return one of those articles with a shredded package….on occasion i’ve seen packages on the shelf taped together for resale…….

  11. Landru says:

    I suspect that a goal of fewer returns is part of the reason for the blister pack; I think people feel guilty returning something with the box so shredded. Most return policies say something like “In original pacakaging” which is almost impossible after they have been opened.

    Would would be fun is for everyone to decide on a product, take it home, open the box and then return them all on the same day. Would that be be conspiracy?

  12. AcidReign says:

    …..Heh, Kerry! I know what you mean! I did that dance, Christmas morning, 1993. The Mother in Law bought my 3-year-old daughter a “collector Barbie.” Naturally, the child HAD to have Barbie OUT! I had the flu, and was running a 102.5 fever. While fixing breakfast, I had eaten several asprin to no effect, and I prepped for the family deluge with a small cocktail; a jigger of honey, a jigger of lemon juice, and well, probably two cups of 80 proof brandy. I heated this thing to boiling, then snarfed it down my blistered throat as I heard cars pulling up for our present-opening ritual.

    …..I sat dazed and miserable in my chair, trying to smile and endure, and make it to lunch, when the relative party-train would relocate elsewhere. And then, I was given the daunting task of emancipating Barbie from her prison. Horrors! After four band-aids, peroxide, 30 minutes, and another medicinal cocktail; I had finally succeeded in removing the 75 or so demon-bonds from Hell that were restraining poor collector Barbie. (I think she ended up with no clothes, no arms, resting in a local landfill; a victim of a child who enjoys Windows registry editing and blowing heads off with her shotgun online via Gears of War, more than clothes and makeup!)

    …..I learned, after that Christmas, to teach my kids some basic knife-safety, and to read and follow directions. Make ‘em open their own ridiculous stuff they wanted, I sez!

  13. FLConsumer says:

    AcidReign: I’m with you… I use a Gerber (I prefer them over the Leathermans) serrated blade on the blister packs. Works every time, but if I ever slip, there goes a finger.

    Do we really need this stuff packaged like this? I’ve received plenty of European products which are just as well packed…in easily-cut, recyclable paper/cardboard products. Still would be enough to deter shoplifting, but not terribly impossible either. I like some of the blister-packs were you could easily extract the item from them if you were trying to shoplift the item..while trying to open the package the conventional way would only be an exercise in futility. The Inova flashlights are like this. Squeeze the sides in and the flashlight will easily slide out of the “Try Me” hole.

  14. alhypo says:

    In the store I once spotted a small tool that purported to facilitate easy opening of packages such as these.

    Guess in what manner it was packaged…

  15. Angiol says:

    I have cut through a CD without noticing.

  16. pestie says:

    I’ve gotten a sliced finger or two from the packaging on these things, but after a while I figured out what I think is the best way to open these things. I use a retractable-blade razor knife and only extend as little of the blade as I need to get just through the plastic. If it’s the “blister pack” sort, I cut all the way around 3 of the 4 edges (assuming a roughly rectangular shape), fold it back, and remove it. If it’s more of a clamshell-type design, with no raised parts, I cut around the outside of the package and fold it open. I haven’t cut myself or had a hard time with this style of packaging since adopting this method.