Companies Respond To Wrap-Rage, Design Packaging That Isn't So !@$% Difficult To Open

Companies are starting to use tamper-resistant packaging that doesn’t cause wrap-rage or puncture wounds. Retailers love those maddening plastic supermax containers for the theft-deterring frustration factor, while manufacturers just want consumers to see the eye candy within. What’s the compromise?

At Logitech, which makes computer and home entertainment products including mice, keyboards and remote controls, [design expert Kerry Azelton] was encouraged to make changes in response to a variety of consumer complaints, including package-opening injuries.

His influence is most obvious in Logitech blister packs that bend at a corner to start an opening and pull apart relatively easily because the material has an outline of perforation.

[Laura Bix, an assistant professor at Michigan State University] said the biggest force driving the trend is the assertiveness of baby boomers, who are sure to demand more convenient packaging as they age.

“We’re going to see more and more people focus on this,” Bix said. “Easy-opening innovations are rare so far, but definitely increasing.”

Yes, someone think of the elderly.

Ouch! Why do they package like that? [Mercury News]
PREVIOUSLY: When Liberating Your Sony Headphones From Their Plastic Shell, Be Careful Not To Stab Yourself With An X-Acto Knife
(Photo: P?rcel???g?rl°)

Comments

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  1. glass says:

    Who here *hasn’t* hurt themselves on a BPOD (blister pack of doom)?

  2. DimitroffVodka says:

    I use a can opener to open the tough ones.

  3. BugMeNot2 says:

    YEA, cause box cutters are just so terribly difficult to use!

  4. the_wiggle says:

    kitchen shears. the kinds that come with ur knife set block. work great :)

  5. legotech says:

    @BugMeNot2: Its not just the geeks that buy this stuff…you have to think of the helicopter parents that won’t keep a sharp object in the house in order to protect their precious snowflakes…have you ever tried opening one of those things with blunt school scissors!!!???!! ;)

  6. bohemian says:

    We use our kitchen shears that can cut through bone to open those packages. The edges are still horribly dangerous.

    I have seen some items in blister packs that are only sealed at the corners with round divots that are heat sealed. You have to yank hard to get it open but no sharp edges.

  7. headon says:

    @bugmenot2: How ya supposed to open the blister pack the box cutters come in.

  8. glass says:

    @BugMeNot2: youre right, and we all have a dozen or so box cutters laying around. especially parents. kids love em!

  9. StevieZ83 says:

    if people didn’t steal everything from a retail location it wouldn’t be so bad but they are stealing stuff and opening the package to remove the tag that makes the alarm go off.. They then bring it back and get money out of the store! At my store we cut the package open for the customer neatly and take the piece out of the package(after we ask them) (guess good customer service from the bad radioshack ppl again!).

  10. socritic says:

    How about all that thick plastic, derivative of oil, which in the grand scheme of things contributes to the amount of non degradable materials in our landfills. Apple for example doesn’t use those. How about injuries resulting from this packaging? i wonder if anyone injured from these dangerous packaging thought about suing the companies for unnecessarily having us use sharp objects to open what we purchased.

  11. Tank says:

    i give them to my kids to open. keep them busy, and i don’t cut myself.

  12. homerjay says:

    @glass: Why would you have a dozen when one in dad’s toolbox works fine. Just cuz you have a razor in the house doesn’t mean you have to keep under your sons pillow.

  13. chai_tea says:

    I experience this rage on a daily basis. There is, virtually,
    nothing that can be opened without an implement of some kind, and it’s
    both frustrating and time consuming to have to pull out a fucking saw
    just to open a package of *name that product*. Even the glues on a lot
    of boxed good require running a sharp blade under the flap.

    I recently got some LED lights which were impenetrable. Shears, box
    cutters, and a Ginsu knife couldn’t make a dent. I pulled the girl card
    and asked a male neighbor to help, and he ended up holding a flame
    under the edge to cause the plastic to soften and turn gooey enough to
    begin a cut.

    If that’s not insane (and insanity-causing) I give up.

  14. humphrmi says:

    I got one of these, and it works great:

    [gizmodo.com]

  15. gStein_*|bringing starpipe back|* says:

    @Tank: heh, great parenting

  16. Ha, my fiancee and I just battled packaging today. It was for a label-maker, and the packaging was form-shaped right around the contents–we used scissors and a knife, and now our new label-maker has a beautiful scratch across the front.

  17. LatherRinseRepeat says:

    I like clear plastic packaging because you can actually see the product before buying it. No switch-a-roo surprises when you get home to open it up. Plus, you pretty much have to destroy the packaging to open it up. This cuts down on retailers simply shrink wrapping returned/defective items and putting them back on the shelves.

    On the other hand, these things are a pain to open. I stopped using scissors because cutting through that thick plastic dulls the blades and sometimes bends them. Box cutters work fine for me, but are a little more dangerous to use. The other negative is that some retailers can hassle you on returns and say that the product must be in “new and sellable condition”. Yeah, whatever.

  18. strathmeyer says:

    @BugMeNot2: “YEA, cause box cutters are just so terribly difficult to use!”

    You apparently have not met the new, space-age plastics?

    /srsly

  19. Infe says:

    I would be happy if there were just a clear place to cut the package open. I’m always afraid I’m going to slice a wire or cut whatever is in the package. But I agree with Socritic…I’m not a crazy environmentalist, but why waste when you don’t have to? Surely a thick cardboard box would keep out thieves just as well.

  20. bohemian says:

    The non-green factor of these could be used to shame retailers into using something else. I don’t see why they don’t use some sort of reuseable plastic boxes like they used for CDs in the past.

  21. Infe says:

    @LATHERRINSEREPEAT: You do make two good points, about seeing the product, and about retailers selling returned products as new. I don’t mind buying open box, but I expect a discount. As for seeing the product, I guess that one is hard to get around. Perhaps just a plastic window could be glued to a box?

  22. lockdog says:

    Funny, I finally gave up finding my pocket knife after having lost it two weeks ago. But last night I was at Target and saw they carried the exact same knife, and it was much cheaper than when I first bought it 15 years ago. I know I could have waited until I got home a found scissors or a box cutter, but I was excited. I found that the applied use of some stored up rage and that telephone book tearing technique actually allowed me to rip a corner of the package open. My wife was quite impressed, until we discovered that the knife was indeed blister packed inside the blister pack….*sigh*

  23. yg17 says:

    @strathmeyer: Yeah, opening it with boxcutters became too easy so they made them harder to open it seems.

  24. girly says:

    I hate those sealed plastic packages so much that I will usually pass over a plastic-packaged product in favor of a boxed product.

    When you cut the plastic it is usually super-sharp.

    If there’s some “see the product issue” I’m sure a plastic window wouldn’t hurt, but those welded shut plastic packages are a good purchase deterrent (for me).

  25. Tank says:

    @gstein: i try :)

  26. guroth says:

    [www.myopenx.com]

    It DOES come in a blister pack, but the packaging states that this will be the last one you have difficulty opening.

  27. ShortBus says:

    How the hell companies have not been sued over these packages yet is beyond me. I’ve gotten some pretty nasty cuts; I’ve gotta believe there’s a few people out there (esp kids) who’ve lost finger tips trying to open them.

  28. PølάrβǽЯ says:

    @glass: “youre right, and we all have a dozen or so box cutters laying around. especially parents. kids love em!”

    What pisses me off worse than these dumb packages (I’m a pretty tough guy and I carry a razor knife in my pocket), are the retailers that lock the blister packs on the peg, inside a large plastic container, or in a locked cabinet so you can’t examine the product before you decide to buy it without being babysat by a suspicious employee who doesn’t have time to help you anyway because the store is too horribly understaffed.

    If shoplifting is such a problem, why not put the entire store in a theft-proof container and only give me access to the items I want after I pay for them – wait, they already do; it’s called online shopping! I guess I’ll just buy everything I can online from now on, and open the products with the many sharp knives and other tools that I keep in my toolbox, that I have taken the parental initiative to teach my children to stay away from instead of keeping my children sheltered and pretending the objects don’t exist.

    Oh, btw, I keep a 12-gauge in my closet, too, you yuppy soccer moms. And my kids know not to touch it, or I’ll cut off their fingers with all the sharp tools I have that they also know not to touch.

    [/rant]

  29. XTC46 says:

    @aaron8301: Glad to see somone willing to teach their kids. My dad was the same way “don’t touch my saw unless I’m there with you and say its ok…and if you cut yourself, you have to wait till Monday to go to the hospital because weekends cost more and they are too busy and I don’t feel like waiting in line” (we did most work on weekends when I didn’t have school and he wasn’t working) Parenting is so much better for kids then “becasue I said so” type bullshit.

    As fas as shoplifting, yes, it is a huge concern. The thing is, blister packs don’t stop shoplifters. They actually make it easier to steal things becasue you can make really clean cuts and they hold their shape really well. I worked for a few stores that used variations of blister packs and a quick swipe with a razor in the right spot would release the product, you can then stick it behind a nother product of the same type on the shelf and the package looks like it has not been tampered with. With plastic wrap, you can clearly see rips and tears in it.

    Its like the locking dvd cases blockbuster uses. A qucik swipe of a razor down the seam on the spine and it opens with no problem, and it is really hard to tell it has been cut unless you pick it up.

    Companies would be better off using boxes that are hard to open nicely (so it is obvious when it has been opened)

  30. BlondeGrlz says:

    We have a wonderful holiday tradition in my family, where Dad uses his handy pocket knife to open the plastic packaging around our Christmas presents…and either stabs himself or cuts part of his finger off and we spend the rest of the day in the ER. Ah, pleasant childhood memories. I look forward to passing this on to my children.

  31. JollyJumjuck says:

    Seriously, articles that require a reader to “sign in” are the online equivalent of ridiculously-difficult-to-open packaging (yes, I know of bugmenot.com)

  32. ohiomensch says:

    I just ask someone at the store to open it for me before I leave. If there is a line at the checkout, I go to customer service. Staples loves me.

  33. Infe says:

    @JollyJumJuck: Hah! The irony. So true!!!

  34. clevershark says:

    Sure, the packages are hard to open… but “wrap rage”? Ever think we’re going overboard with the whole “rage” thing these days?

  35. Hello_Newman says:

    They just need to design them so they have interlocking bubble that make a loud crack each when each separates. Shoplifters wouldn’t be able to get them open in the store without sounding like a machine gun going off. Even the crooks carry that special knife cutter designed to open those kinds of packages easily…

  36. azgirl says:

    A guy at my work cut some plastic, and it flew into his eye… it was pretty serious damage.

  37. jeblis says:

    Just make them easily oopened w/ scissors

  38. XTC46 says:

    @Hello_Newman: stores are too loud and employees typically don’t pay enough attention to notice a noise, otherwise they would see people cutting packages open.

  39. Rahnee says:

    The easiest thing to open those blister packages with is a pair of trauma shears like they use at hospitals. You cant stab yourself because the end is bent at a 90deg angle and they will cut through almost anything. we keep a pair in the kitchen and in every car.

  40. azntg says:

    God, those packages are annoying as hell. Thankfully, I haven’t been injured yet opening those packages, but I have disposed of one really good scissor which was deformed after a few years of opening such tamperproof packaging.

    Can we please do the “watch for thieves” and “packages that are reasonably easy to open for legitimate consumers” bit again? Much appreciated!

  41. lovelygirl says:

    LMAO @ LegoTech– precious snowflakes! Those blister packs, if that’s what they’re called are sooo hard to open. I have to cut the side and trim it like I’m performing surgery or something haha. I hate how stuff is so hard to open– like pill bottles! Sometimes it’s difficult for me to even open my own pill bottles! There are no children in my household(and never are) so I don’t see why child-proof caps are mandatory for everyone grrrrrrr

  42. StevieD says:

    Box cutter into the meaty part of the thumb was good for 9 stitches. And I thought I was being careful.

  43. Tijil says:

    When I purchase something in packaging that is obviously tamper-resistant and blast-proof, I will often just insist that if they want to sell it to me, they will open it for me. So far it has always worked.

    Tom

  44. Sestos says:

    We so need easy to open containers. The following story results in an injury which is my own fault.

    I brought a Geek Squad USB cable from Best Buy (I no longer shop there for other reasons. When I got it hold it was in one of those heat closed blister containers that cannot be torn open. I attempted to use a pair of scissors to cut the top but they were unable to cut the plastic. I then took out my Gerber knife and tried the same, and was unable to do more then scratch the plastic (super sharp knife, it was in no way dull, I tried poking a hole with the Gerber… and that did not work. I finally was but all my weight behind a cut into the side of the blister container. It cut though the blister box and continued on in an arc and cut though the bottom of my foot. I was sitting down and cutting away from me, but I should have known better. A trip the emergency room, and 21x stitches into the bottom of my foot I was able to use the USB cable that cost me $6. *sigh*

  45. forgottenpassword says:

    I bought some hair clippers at walgreens the other day & it came in one of those nearly impenatrable plastic blister packs. It wouldnt be that hard to open using large scissors,but the edges were indented so getting scissors to cut through it was a bitch! And the outer edges were rough in an almost “micro-serrated” sort of way. I managed to cut 2 edges only to find out it was stapled too! $#%^%$@!!!!!

    I almost wish I had a large paper cutting board with one of those BIG handles that has a sharp edge on it…. to guillotine the edges off of those plastic packages.

  46. crashman2600 says:

    A bandsaw would dispatch those tough to open packages pretty quickly.

  47. 00exmachina says:

    I hate those packages. Keys tend to work against most of them you just have to drill the key point through the package to start it then saw away. The downside is the faint odor of hot plastic that pervades the area when doing so.
    A dremel, or other small hand power tool works.
    But personally I think those packages are proof that people who genuinely hate humanity can still be productive, and slightly reviled members of society.

  48. My biggest downfall sometimes is that I lack patience . . . I bought a new car the other day which has an auxiliary jack for my MP3 player – no more FM transmitter gadget thingy – and just had to pop into Worst-Buy and grab a cable for it before commencing with the maiden joyride. Even with a serious pair of wire strippers/cutters and a little pocket leatherman, it still took me a lot of force (and some scratched knuckles) to open the thing. I guess I could have waited until I got home and used the hedge-clippers on it, but as I said, I lack patience.

  49. okvol says:

    Sheet metal cutters are the best answer. They work great. A good pair has a lever mechanism for mechanical advantage.

  50. smallestmills says:

    I just broke a pair of heavy-duty kitchen shears trying to open a blister pack. I wasn’t mad until I started reading these comments.

  51. TheWraithL98 says:

    i never understood why either retailers or companies selling products favor those terrible things because if anyone opens a returned package, even if there’s nothing wrong with it, there’s no way possible to gracefully repackage it for sale in it’s original packaging, since you’re forced to destroy it to open it.

    so as a retailer, you either sell it as an “open box buy” with a large markdown (and write off profit somewhere), or you send it back to the manufacturer, who probably re-packages it as a refurb and loses money somewhere instead.

    with alarm tags and all the other security measures, is shoplifting really that significant compared to dealing with the repercussions of returned opened items?

  52. yetiwisdom says:

    I was recently thrilled to discover the inexpensive Brother P-Touch labeler has perforated packaging that is brilliantly engineered to pop open very easily without a box cutter. Big kudos to Brother

  53. JohnnyE says:

    @LATHERRINSEREPEAT:
    With clear plastic packaging, you typically CAN’T actually see the product before buying it — or rather, you can see it from only the one angle from which the marketing dept. wants you to see it. They usually hide all sorts of details behind the opaque parts of the packaging, like what the power brick looks like, or the length of some cables, exactly where things hook into in the back, etc., etc.

    I MUCH prefer to have a box that I can open in the store, hold the product, see ALL the parts, turn it around, etc., etc. It pisses me off to no end to be in a store and have to buy a product on faith, then open it up at home, and hope it’s exactly what I want — and trudge back to the store and wait in line to return it if it isn’t. One of the most anti-consumerist things going these days is expecting buyers to purchase something based only on a glance or ad copy, rather than full disclosure as to the nature of the product. Plastic packaging provides no advantage to buying something in a store as opposed to on-line — if I can’t actually hold the product in my hand and closely examine it, I might as well just buy it from a picture on a web page.

  54. ElizabethD says:

    “the elderly” Hmph!

    Watch it there, boys and girls. We’re not dead yet.

    Love,
    The Boomers

  55. Buran says:

    @guroth: Their money is apparently not where their mouth is if they pull this kind of hypocrisy. I’d rather give my money to people who act out their principles. Talk is cheap.