How Much Packing Material Is Needed For A Headphone Adapter?

Hey Consumerist!

discounteggroll here, with another example of wasteful packaging. I ordered a headphone adapter for my iphone from for $4 shipped, but the box and packaging it came in was ridiculous (see attached photo). Not only is the headphone adapter in its own packaging, but it was INSIDE a DHL bubble wrap bag, sitting ON TOP of a DHL bubble wrap bag and paper inserts, and padded with about 10 feet of paper packaging inside of its shipping box.

Shipping was free, but at what cost?

Oh, for pete’s sake.


Edit Your Comment

  1. bbbici says:

    Yup, I find it really disturbing when I get a grossly overpacked shipment.

    I had one idiot company send me a flat, 60 gram item in a relatively giant box, so they could get the box up to 1lb to qualify for shipping insurance. And I didn’t even want insurance!

  2. ElizabethD says:

    If the adapter had been less carefully packed, with less cushioning material, and had arrived damaged, we’d be hearing a different tune.

    Just sayin.

  3. @bbbici: But aren’t envelopes covered for insurance also?

  4. qwickone says:

    @ElizabethD: while it’s true that it’s annoying if damaged, this particular item probably wouldnt have gotten damaged in just a bubble wrap envelope.

  5. 8abhive says:

    @ElizabethD: True, though they’d still need remedial training.

  6. thanks for posting meg.

    @ElizabethD: had it arrived broken you would be absolutely correct. however, I don’t think any normal (or even abusive) force could have damaged the packaging, let alone the headphone adapter itself

  7. rewinditback says:

    you know… people complain when there’s too little packaging. people complain when there’s too much packaging. it’s wasteful, sure… but what’s worse? Having your product arrive busted, or wrapped in too much recyclable paper and box?

    maybe its just me… but buy it in store if this bothers you… NO SHIPPING packaging waste, NO SHIPPING fuel waste on top… no complaining!

  8. Bladefist says:

    they probably over-pack now because if they under-pack they end up on consumerist. I guess no matter what they end up on consumerist unless they hire engineers to do their shipping.

  9. PatrickIs2Smart says:

    Dear discounteggroll,

    Thanks for doing the hard work for me… I’ve been needing an iPhone headphone adapter.


  10. urban_ninjya says:

    Hmm.. If I were DHL, I set up an online store that’ll sell things at almost cost. Then pack the hell out of hit when shipping so DHL gets the profit.

  11. hi says:

    I can tell you the person who packed it could care less and probably makes enough to live check to check each month. And they probably have a boss who scolds them for not packing items correctly. If you shake the box and something moves then it needs more packing material (in the eyes of a boss who doesnt want to deal with damaged goods).

    If you think it’s wastefull then find some use for it yourself. Stop complaining.

  12. DallasDMD says:

    Look at the headphone adapter’s own packaging. Those plastic shells are pretty tough. A little bit of bubble wrap surrounding the adapter inside of a bubble envelope would have been more than sufficent.

  13. watchout5 says:

    You’d complain if there was no packaging too, jeez.

  14. Parting says:

    On the other hand, I’ve received a package from a jewelery company. They’ve managed to squeeze 12 bracelets in a small bubble envelope. Everything was well protected, but it was the most minimalistic package I’ve ever seen :)

    Before opening the envelope, I was worried that the company mistakingly didn’t send the whole order.

  15. mmmmna says:

    Well, yeah, the one DHL envelope would likely have served the purpose, but some shippers are lower cost and higher loss. Somebody might have made a decision, albeit a poorly though out decision, to not ship via DHL. But still, I believe all shippers have a minimum size.

  16. DrGirlfriend says:

    Yes, people complain if there is too little or too much packaging. It’s because either extreme is not right. I think the idea is *adequate* packaging.

  17. darkened says:

    I like when this happens to me, i like to qualify it as the idiot tax on the business. My cell phone bill itemizes every single text message I send (which includes mobile aim ims) which totals into the 1000s every month which gives me a 30-40 page phone bill. I always revel in the fact it must cost them like $3 in postage to mail me this thing every month. I immediately throw it in the trash, while I suppose i should care about the wasted paper I feel this makes up for part of their surcharges they pass onto me instead of paying themselves.

  18. ionerox says:

    The plastic on the packaging for that item is pretty tough, they would have been able to stick in a padded envelope or a small box and would have been just fine.

  19. DallasDMD says:

    @ionerox: Echo chamber!

  20. DeeJayQueue says:

    So really what we’re complaining about here, and in many other threads besides this one, is the lack of personal oversight and responsibility all over every industry from top to bottom.

    We complain that it’s hard to get personal attention on the phone when we have an issue to resolve. We complain when companies set impersonal and blanket shipping guidelines and the people who pack the boxes don’t give a crap and have no incentive to. We complain when the guy at starbucks can’t be bothered to make our drinks right. We complain when we DO hear from a company when they’ve done wrong and they’re “Taking the matter very seriously”

    The Super-saturated solution of this is: We all want more attention, but we aren’t willing to pay for it.

    There is no compromise, there is no way around it, no silver bullet. Good service costs money. People are not willing to spend money on service, only goods. Shareholders in companies want to see more growth, because those shareholders aren’t making as much money at their jobs as they used to, because they had to cut back with the raises, because the shareholders wanted to see more growth.

    I know, that was a sizeable rant in a thread about shipping boxes and waste, but the people who pack those boxes just don’t care, and never will, because they have no satisfaction at their jobs. They (and their bosses) are trying to make the fastest buck they can, support their families for as long as they can, while not going crazy from how much their menial job sucks.

  21. AD8BC says:


    The thing wasn’t damaged, was it?

    Do you get garbage pickup?

    Problem solved.

    There are much more important things to worry about.

  22. STrRedWolf says:

    A cheap DVD of waterfalls (I mentioned cheap, eh?) bought from Woot! and sent through FedEx SmartPost. The DVD’s in a standard movie container, and could of easily been sent with a padded mailer. Nope, went into a box, with not enough packing material (a few air bladders). FedEx dropped it at the post office who delivered it at the last mile.

  23. laughtrack says:

    Working at Hollywood Video in high school, (R.I.P.), Warner Bros. was the worst offender. They used to send one DVD, heavily packaged, in a box that could easily hold 40 DVDs or more. Silliness.

  24. MercuryPDX says:

    @ad8bc: You forgot: 1. Did you actually RECEIVE it?


  25. Amen, deejayqueue.

    There’s just as much filler on this blog about overfilled packaging as there is overfilled packaging for this blog to blog about (mindfuck?). Don’t get me wrong; I’m a big fan of the quality content this site provides, but seriously, where is this whining about packaging getting us?

    Maybe the Consumerist should come up with some sort of generic letter that users can fill out and send to any company to register their complaint with how wasteful the company is when it comes to packing materials. It may never get anywhere, but at least it’d be a step in the right direction.

  26. AD8BC says:

    @mercurypdx: Oh $#!+ you are right. One time I actually did get a box that only contained styrofoam peanuts and a packing list.

  27. ludwigk says:

    DHL gives them all that packing material for free. So they use a bubble-wrap envelope instead of bubblewrap, and pack it in the smallest box they have available, and you get what you see up there.

    On the opposite side of things, I received a Brenthaven rebate from a laptop bag I bought recently. It was just a postcard style piece of paper printed with a cheque on the other side. We were mighty confused by it, but it cleared, so fine by me.

  28. ripple says:

    How many of these “they used to much packing material/huge box” threads are we going to have to read. So they used a big box, made of trees on a farm that were planted for the express purpose of being made into paper products. Big deal

  29. Lacclolith says:

    I personally love it when companies over-pack items I purchase. I immediately reuse everything they give me to repack and send off various eBay sales or care packages to friends and family.

  30. AD8BC says:

    @Lacclolith: yeah I reuse a bunch of packing material for shipping stuff. I take most of the peanuts to the shipping department at work too.

  31. Chad Cloman says:

    As someone who worked at UPS for about 5 years, I highly recommend that you always fill the box with packaging material. When there’s empty air space in the package, there’s a significant chance the box will get crushed. They look like accordions when they get that way.