Dell: Let's Ship Tiny CDs In Massive Boxes!

Dell has promised to stop shipping individual CDs in 10x19x10 boxes after Christian over at Technologist for Hire posted a rant about Dell’s growing love for wasteful packaging.

The company I work for orders all of their computers from Dell. About 4 months ago we started receiving random Adobe Acrobat Standard CDs & licenses for free with every single computer that we purchase. We did not request these CDs. At first, they came inside of the box with the computer. Soon, they started arriving in a padded envelope. After that, they began arriving in their own box, complete with paper padding, and a padded envelope. We have received well over 100 of these.

Sean, one of Dell’s blog-watching ninjas, initially responded with the usual PR prattle: Dell is a green company, killing trees is wrong, the planet is nice, big packages are bad, etc, etc. Surprisingly, he sent a followup email that contained a meaningful commitment:

Christian, just wanted to circle back and let you know that we’re working this now. As much as we would like this to be a very simple fix it isn’t. But you do have our commitment that we will have this fixed in the next six months. Two things we are looking at:

1. Option to exclude all manuals and CDs from packaging at time of order. And, an option to have one set delivered for multiple systems.

2. A move to packaging alternatives

We’ll be sure to keep you posted.


We look forward to Dell renouncing its membership in the stupid shipping gang by June.

Dell and the environment: green is out, brown is in [Technologist For Hire]
Update on Dell’s Environmental Impact [Technologist For Hire]


Edit Your Comment

  1. humphrmi says:

    OK so they did, at one time, ship the CDs in envelopes. Then they moved toward putting them in huge boxes. One of their “fixes” is:

    “2. A move to packaging alternatives”

    But it’ll take SIX MONTHS to implement that? Just going back to packing them in envelopes????

  2. snoop-blog says:

    dude your getting a dell!…….and i’m getting a bong!

  3. dasunst3r says:

    They need to hire some eBay sellers to mend their shipping systems. After all, eBayers definitely know how to pack worth a darn for less!

  4. Zimorodok says:

    How about:

    3. Fire your shipping/fulfillment subcontractor.

    On second thought, that’s probably why it will take 6 months.

  5. PølάrβǽЯ says:

    Why is it so damn hard just to stick the effin CD in one of these?

    Morons. (Note: My Dell PC was GIVEN to me by it’s original unsatisfied owner, for FREE. I’d NEVER buy one.)

  6. stickystyle says:

    ” As much as we would like this to be a very simple fix it isn’t.”

    Sure there is! Tell your brain dead box monkeys to grab a different size box. That takes all of what, one email?

  7. AT203 says:

    Despite what Dell is saying this IS a simple problem to solve. To maintain otherwise is to admit that Dell’s organization is critically broken. Are we to believe that their system is so out of control that they cannot get their shipping clerks to stop using big boxes to ship individual CDs? If Dell can’t solve this minor, obvious problem how can anyone trust them with something more complicated? Such as delivering and supporting a high-tech desktop computer or accessory?

    Suck it up Dell, incompetency is not a flattering defense.

  8. You guys have some miserable luck. When I order the Dell stuff at work the pc, kb/mouse, and all the software and documentation come in the same box.

  9. criticman says:

    They have done this numerous times @ my work. I don’t understand why they don’t just send the software with the systems we had ordered.

    Their other boxes are nice and safe for the equipment, but always overkill and a pain to dispose of.

  10. javi0084 says:

    And I thought it was bad when HP shipped me a CD in a huge over sized envelope.

  11. strathmeyer says:


    (I guess you’d have to x-ray it first….)

  12. Doctor Cathattan says:

    I have a Dell printer that had a broken paper feeder tray. When I called Dell service for a warranty replacement part, the CSR said that they would send me a new refurbished printer to replace it! The part in question was worth probably less than $5 and weighed less than half a pound. When I explained to the CSR that I only needed a plastic tray he explained that this was the way Dell did things and he had no choice in the matter.

  13. StevieD says:

    There is a large box theory. Larger boxes are harder for the shipper to loose. Allow more crush room. Easier for customers to spot sitting beside the door. Oh, and shippers can simplify their shipping operations.

    Since freight costs are determined by the weight, not volume (unless oversized), and a “big” box costs about the same as a “small” box, there is little incentive to use only small boxes.

  14. ecwis says:

    @aaron8301: Those envelopes are only for Express shipping (via Air) and the CD’s would likely get damaged if put in an envelope that has no protection.

  15. levenhopper says:

    @StevieD: Except for the price per box it costs to get a bigger box.

    Then again, it may only be a few cents more per box. But a few cents again probably add up after a while…

  16. doctor_cos wants you to remain calm says:

    Think of the trees :)

  17. KogeLiz says:

    ah, the daily “small item, large box” post.

  18. justaconsumer says:

    Don’t buy anything from Dell. Micheal Dell is a well-known neocon buddy of George W. They do not have anything you need.

  19. geel says:

    Lego has amazing Cd/Dvd shipping enevelopes there just the right size for Disks and they put the disk between to small bits of cardboard .

  20. MrEvil says:

    Definitely an easy problem to fix. Us service techs have been complaining to Dell for the better part of 2 years to have half a brain when boxing stuff. Simply because most techs drive a small car like a Honda Civic and can’t fit 10 large boxes inside the car.

    Their replacement parts packers are just as stupid too. I once received a motherboard by itself in a box that could fit 4. The motherboard was packed inside it’s own pizza-sized box that was more than adequate for shipping. However, they haven’t run out of padded envelopes for shipping CDs. Anytime a customer gets a replacement order for OS CD’s they somehow come to me in a padded envelope that I take to the customer.

    Sounds like Sean needs some freaking reading comprehension classes, or he needs to stop sending canned responses.

    @Simply_J: Depends on the printer model. If it’s a smaller machine that sells at a lower price point, Dell doesn’t want to waste the money sending out a field technician to repair the machine. They’d rather repair it at a service center and just send you another printer. Larger color lasers and B&W lasers typically get 2-3 on-site repair attempts (depending on the $$ value of the parts) before they decide to replace the whole machine. However, I’ve had one color laser that still had a paper jam error after ONE repair and Dell said they were just going to replace it.

    Oh, and don’t get me started on the two printer repair work-orders where the boxes I had to pickup from DHL were large enough to hold the entire freaking printer and were too large to fit in my car trunk or my back seat.

  21. AlexJP says:

    @MrEvil: Dell has made some progress over the past year or so. Some of the Dell Dimension systems I had to deal with were shipped in boxes that were too big for the trunk of my Town Car (said trunk is rated to hold two dead bodies). The newer Vostros can now be shoe-horned in without much trouble. Progress!

  22. Foxtrot Uniform Charlie Kilo says:

    @justaconsumer: Did you know that google servers come from dell?

  23. LoadStar says:

    At the school I work for, we have leased Dell computers for the last two years. The computer vendor we used prior to switching to Dell used what we nicknamed “coffin boxes” – they were boxes approximately the size of a human burial casket, and they held 5 computers surrounded in recyclable polystyrene within. The keyboards and mice were loose packed in special inserts in the polystyrene, and no extraneous documentation was included. For the volume of computers we purchased, it was actually a fairly ecological way of shipping them safely.

    Unfortunately, when we switched to Dell, we discovered that they had absolutely no way of shipping computers other than individually boxed, and including all documentation in paper form. This last year we leased 280 computers. That meant that we received, along with the computers:
    – 280 large cardboard boxes
    – 560 polystyrene packing segments (two per unit)
    – 280 warranty booklets approximately 75 pages long and containing the warranty statement printed in 8 or so languages
    – 280 “How to set up your new Dell computer” poster-sized box inserts
    – 280 “accessory” cardboard boxes that contain 280 keyboards (each in its own box), 280 mousepads that we filed away because we didn’t need them, and 840 compact discs (3 per unit, one containing the Windows restore CD, one the driver CD that was already outdated by the time the units shipped, and one containing the install for the Roxio EZ-CD Creator that we don’t use and didn’t want)

    This doesn’t even begin to go into the mice (shipped to us in individually boxed retail packaging instead of bulk boxed units) or monitors (likewise individually boxed).

    We asked, PLEADED with Dell to ship the systems in a “coffin box” or SOMETHING other than individually packed systems. Dell refused. We stepped back and asked them to send the systems without the extra stuff (manuals, CDs, etc.) and Dell refused, saying they had no way to accommodate the request.

    (This also doesn’t mention that upon receiving the systems, we also had to waste about 40 man-hours of labor — 5 people for an entire day — just unpacking the things and stacking the boxes and polystyrene for disposal. I shudder to think the “carbon footprint” that this one purchase made.)