Boy, This Tiny Microfiber Cloth From Amazon Sure Is Packaged Efficiently

Yes, folks. It’s time for everybody’s favorite post: Stupid Shipping Gang! In this episode, Amazon demonstrates how to package a tiny microfiber cloth efficiently.

Nathan says:

I wanted to add another example to your files of stupid shipping. I just got the microfiber clothes I ordered for cleaning my SLR’s lenses. I thought it was kind of silly they used a big box and put all the cushioning on top (none below of course). But even when I took it all out I couldn’t find the clothes, which had slid under on of the cardboard flaps. I’m pretty sure that alone is proof that a standard, letter sized envelope would have more than sufficed.

Thanks for letting me share.

Check out the delicious unboxing gallery below.

GALLERY






END

Comments

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  1. AnderBobo says:

    I used to have to go to the Amazon.com processing warehouse where they shipped out a bunch of things, and let me tell you this was probably one of the smarter employees who did this.

  2. I’ve had issues with Amazon packaging, but a recent Amazon Fresh order shocked the hell out of me…in a good way. When I first started ordering from Fresh I was recieving plastic totes filled with a single 12 pack of soda, or 12 singles of ramen. The order I recieved yesterday came in three totes, and all the bags inside had obviously been re-used. Pretty much the only thing they won’t re-use is the invoice/reciept. Now if only the other side of the house could do the same.

  3. ironchef says:

    makes me wonder why buy just a microfiber cloth and pay full shipping? I am wagering Amazon wasn’t paying for this. It’s already built into the shipping price since it wasn’t part of the free shipping promotion. (unless this person is on the 2 day plan which he or she already paid a premium for).

  4. skitzogreg says:

    You know what’s intriguing about this? The fact that anytime you order media from Amazon (i.e. DVD’s, Games, etc.) they come in perfectly formed boxes to the item. For example, I had an interesting time yesterday trying to remove the cardboard around my shipped copy of Smash Bros. While I’m aware they don’t need to custom make boxes for every item they sell, I don’t understand why they can’t create tiny boxes for tiny items.

    Strange, isn’t it?

  5. LucyInTheSky says:

    Wouldn’t you think that it would be a lot cheaper to package things more efficiently? I mean, if you use a big huge box and those air pillow things all just to ship a tiny product, aren’t you just wasting materials? Materials that cost money? You would think that it would be in the company’s interest to package things properly. Then again, I doubt the guy packing products is thinking about this.

    That said, this is not only annoying, but bad for the environment. It’s a waste of plastic and paper. Bad.

  6. picardia says:

    @skitzogreg: I never really thought about it, but you’re right — when it comes to books or DVDs, Amazon’s packaging is minimal and well-fitted. Anything else? God only knows.

    Today I got an iPod dock that came in a box literally twice as large as it needed to be. I thought I understood when I saw all the no-break padding piled atop the dock, but that understanding was ripped away when I saw that there was absolutely no padding beneath it. Luckily the dock is in good shape.

  7. javi0084 says:

    Seriously, who buys a tiny microfiber cloth online? They can be had for cheap at any department store. I wouldn’t be surprised if dollar stores sold them as well.

  8. evslin says:

    @skitzogreg: I was just about to comment on that. Got a game in the mail from them just the other day and the box was just big enough for the game itself and the packing slip.

  9. emona says:

    @skitzogreg: I rarely order books from Amazon (I’m a Half Price Books girl) but they’ve always come tucked into a perfectly sized boxes with almost no wiggle room at all. This is true if I order 3 or 13. I wonder if it’s just certain shipping warehouses.

    Staples, now… talk about screaming inefficiency. If you order 5 stacks of 50 cups, you sure will get 5 huge boxes, one for each cup stack. Just for fun once, I stuck them all into one box and there was room for at least 3 more.

  10. They need a big box because those are Mexican jumping microfiber clothes and they need their space to roam.

  11. yasth says:

    Boxing items is more of a pain than you think. Ideally this would go into an envelope, but the volume of things that can be shipped via envelope are too small so they use the smallest box size that can hold a full ups label without bending which is a requirement of their shipper.

  12. octopede says:

    So…Amazon sells corrugated boxes. What happens if you order those? Do they package them in, say, a shipping crate and leave it on your lawn?

  13. badgeman46 says:

    I’ll point out again that packers in warehouses are paid by how many units they can pack in an hour, therefore they will pack it in which ever manner will be the fastest.

  14. gjaluvka says:

    They just did me one better with a wall-thingy that hangs clothes. The box was 4″ by 20″ by 2″ and weighed maybe 3 lbs. They sent it in a 36″x20″x”16″ box that had literally 20′ of wadded up brown paper in it. And then to go one better, they had it registered in their UPS packing materials as 32 lb!

    If I knew how to post the pic, I’d do so.

  15. gjaluvka says:

    In the above post my first reference to the “box” was the product itself.

  16. Doug81 says:

    @LucyInTheSky: It could be the cost associated with stocking another box size to accommodate smaller items. I would hope that they have looked into making their packaging cost efficient.

  17. Doug81 says:

    I recently ordered a box set (Monty Python full series, thanks for the tip Consumerist) and it had plenty of moving room. The height of the box was good but there was tons of space around it. DVD box sets are probably an exception to the media packing efficiency rule at Amazon.

  18. drjayphd says:

    @Doug81: Ordered that same set off the Consumerist deal, and it was the same principle. Apparently, shrink-wrapping it to a piece of cardboard provides all the security you’d need, so it had plenty of room on the sides. That’s probably the most cost-efficient way to ship it, though.

  19. Concerned_Citizen says:

    Would you rather they used an envelope that would get lost amongst all the packages? Or maybe a separate truck for the few envelope sized items they may have? Get over it, that box is small. They cannot have a million different box sizes. Next time order something with it. Otherwise this will happen and it will be your fault.

  20. samurailynn says:

    I think all the packages I’ve gotten from Amazon have been delivered by UPS. My company uses UPS to ship products, and when we have small items (a single t-shirt, for example) we usually use a padded envelope. UPS has never had a problem shipping things in envelopes for us, so I wonder why Amazon couldn’t do the same. I doubt that the cost of getting “Amazon.com” stamped on to envelopes would be that cost prohibitive.

  21. Bix says:

    @skitzogreg:

    My thoughts exactly. It’s interesting that they can be so efficient for the type of items that I would guess constitute the majority of their sales (and that they’re most associated with), but for everything else, box size starts pretty big (comprable to the smaller of the USPS Priority Mail flat rate boxes).

  22. Breach says:

    Ahah, that could have easily be put in a standard envelope…

  23. pat_trick says:

    The more types of boxes they have to stock, the more it costs them. By using some standard sizes down to a small size, it helps them save from specializing in shipping materials. People also tend to get a better initial response to a box than to an envelope–it speaks ‘quality’ of the product.

    That said, this should have been sent in a bubble envelope or something.

  24. I prefer to get items I purchase in a decent size box that I can reuse in some way. If the box is too small it just goes in the trash but if it is a good size I can use it to store something or send something to someone else.

    All mail order companies,

    Please keep using reusable boxes!

  25. ElasticSyntax says:

    And you wonder why gas prices are high when people feel compelled to waste FedEx’s gas ordering unnecessarily online, who in turn raises the price of shipping.

  26. lizk says:

    Are you sure this was an order directly from Amazon? I’ve gotten items of similar size from them in little mailer envelopes. Maybe this was ordered through a less responsible merchant selling on the Amazon site.

  27. ShadowFalls says:

    @skitzogreg:

    I bought the same item probably both from the same sale, it came in a bubble envelope. One thing for sure, there seriously is a lacking of consistency. Either that or they ran out of little boxes or bubble envelopes…

    But at this point, there should be DVD sized boxes just for shipping. Makes sense since DVDs are very popular and most video games are that size or smaller.

  28. Xerloq says:

    I take Amazon’s side on this one.

    Efficiency in this case does not necessarily mean the perfect sized package for each product. Efficiency is effective management of a host of variables.
    The more sizes of boxes they stock, the more inventory they have to manage.
    Their carriers have size requirements, especially in the large shipping LTL contracts.
    Smaller boxes/envelopes would require different sized shipping labels.

    I don’t think many Amazon customers would like to wait an extra week because Amazon was out of stock on the right size box. Nor would they want to pay more to use a smaller box because the shipping company charged more to handle additional sized boxes. Imagine the outcry if a package couldn’t be shipped because they ran out of labels small enough to fit the tiny box, or if the envelope was torn to shreds in the automated high-speed sorting house because the item inside wasn’t uniform in dimensions.

    Efficiency in this case is using the smallest available packaging material.

    I’d suggest saving the box for future use. I can never seem to find those smallish boxes when I need them.

  29. alejo699 says:

    At least cardboard is recyclable.

  30. dewrock says:

    Maybe they ran out of small boxes or padded envelopes at the time of shipping.

  31. @Xerloq:

    Well Said.

    BTW, those “big” boxes do not cost more to ship. The box is small enough to qualify for the 1 pound shipping rate.

  32. somuch says:

    @javi0084: People without cars, disabled people, people with small children, people who work odd hours… lots of people just cannot make it to a kmart.

  33. somuch says:

    That looks like the smallest size amazon box. I got a battery charger in one of those this week. It’s about 6″ x10″ x 2″

  34. STrRedWolf says:

    I’m one of the people who would say “Um, you know, you could of avoided this by going to an Office Depot and Staples close to you and buying a microfiber cloth perfect for your camera lenses.”

    I’m also one to want to say “Amazon, don’t you have bubblewrap mailers?”

  35. MisterArt.com is another company that is guilty of poor packaging. I recieved crepe paper in a HUGE box stuffed with brown craft paper. It was CREPE PAPER, by it’s very nature it was more cushioned than the material used to pacage it. Other guilty parties are Wal-Mart and Buy.com. Ideally, I would liek to see companies use shredded recycled plastic grocery bags or similar.

  36. Jesse in Japan says:

    I kind of understand how this can happen. I mean, they have to buy boxes in bulk (it costs a lot to go to Office Depot and buy just one box) and most of their boxes probably exist under the assumption that something bigger will be shipped. I don’t think they keep very many tiny boxes on hand (and they need something big enough for a shipping label.

  37. clickable says:

    @STrRedWolf: It might be part of a bigger order, and Amazon just shipped that item separately.

  38. timsgm1418 says:

    my daughter bought some towels on-line from Bed, Bath & Beyond they came in a huge box with a boat load of crumpled brown paper. It was only 2 towels, couldn’t those have been in an envelope? She bought them because she had a gift certificate and she never goes to that store (or the mall for that matter) I just wonder about shipping departments

  39. APowerCosmic says:

    You know, I am all for saving the environment and not using oversized packaging! Always have been, always will be! But it begs the question that has been brought up in some of the Consumerist’s other posts? What exactly does this have to do with being a consumer watchdog again?

    I mean, did they not send the right product in the right amount? Did they double bill her? Did they bait and switch her? This is beginning to become a trend of late, and it’s a shame as I do like this site! This one seems to have the equal relevance of the story on the airline jokingly offering blow jobs to its passengers! Show me the consumer wrongdoing, I shall be first to admit my folly!

    Sorry, Consumerist! I come here to find out information on wrongdoing of companies to their customers, to learn where I should and should not spend my money. At least as far as I am concerned, your fascination with oversized shipping boxes is not shared by me! Here’s to the day when actual consumer watchdog reporting finds a full time home here again! Cheers!

  40. Xerloq says:

    @Corporate-Shill: My point was that LTL carriers often charge (slightly) more for “non-standard” or special sized boxes. Very small boxes might fall into that category.

    Additionally, boxes that are too small can get lost or damaged easier.

  41. Xerloq says:

    @timsgm1418: @JamieSueAustin: @everyone commenting on packaging:
    Most carriers require 2″ of packing material to qualify for insurance, regardless of the item being shipped.

  42. mbz32190 says:

    I got a similar sized box from Amazon yesterday…for a microscopic 2 gb flash drive in its own blister packaging…surrounded by those plastic air cushions. Wtf.

  43. jsch222 says:

    I have always wondered about their box choices myself. A shipper like amazon pays UPS for DIM weight which is based on dimensions and weight of contents. It would make sense to me that they use smaller more cost effective boxes. Several times i have received a box that is 2 to 3 times larger than the box inside it. Guess they are making so much money they haven’t had to look at this in order to cut costs. The way the economy is, it will only be time before they start cutting back some of the fat!

  44. legwork says:

    @APowerCosmic: It’s hugely wasteful. A product of 20th century bean counting at the expense of our resources. That affects where I spend my money and helps me know if the huge box I received was a fluke or a trend. I appreciate it when Consumerist calls these guys out.

  45. Onouris says:

    @skitzogreg: How many tiny items do they sell that would fit into the same type of box? People would then complain it was too long for a really tiny item. It gets ridiculous.

    If they don’t have a smaller box, do people expect them to fashion a brand new one before they ship?

  46. battra92 says:

    @legwork: The only issue I see is Cardboard boxes are 100% reusable and recyclable. Whenever we get shipping boxes at work and offer them to employees they disappear so fast it’s insane.

    I suppose Amazon could use bubble envelopes but it might not make sense from a business perspective.

  47. legwork says:

    @battra92: Yes, the cardboard boxes can be re-used, but it still does poorly on the reduce/reuse/recycle test. Then there’s the compounded waste when you factor in permanently lost crate and vehicle space. I’d complain about extra padding material but it seems like most of these are packed with air and bouncing product.

    I have to wonder how increasing transport costs will affect shippers’ motivation to reduce sloppy packing.

  48. startertan says:

    I recently upgraded cell phones (VZW). I called and ordered the phone then saw that I was eligible for a free 8GB SD card so I called back. She said that I could have it but it might not ship with the phone. I said fine but had a funny feeling. Sure enough, 2 FedEx boxes came to my door, both boxes were the same at about 8″ x 11″ x 2″. One had my phone the other had a SD card. The box for the phone was fine but using the same box for an SD card that could’ve fit in an envelope was a bit much.