Canon Uses Comically Oversized Box To Send You Something They Could Have Taped To A Postcard

Earlier this week I ordered a part from Canon USA Service for one of my Canon cameras and it arrived today. I am impressed for the fast shipping but not so much by the efficiency of the packaging.

Additional photo inside.

Canon USA is headquartered in a place called “Lake Success” in New York. Out of curiosity, we checked what UPS would charge to ship a one-pound package, roughly 12″x8″x6″ from Lake Success to Los Angeles. Our reader said he was pleased with the fast shipping, so let’s say Canon used UPS 3 Day shipping: that would be nearly $20. We then checked how much it would cost to throw the part in an envelope and drop it in the mailbox: that would be 41¢. Well done, Canon.quarterscale.jpg
(Thanks to Dale!)


Edit Your Comment

  1. bsalamon says:

    lake success? that place is seriously full of money. its part of the gold coast of long island

  2. IrisMR says:

    *scratches head* I wonder what the guy that wrapped this thought.
    “Wow that is obviously too big for an enveloppe! I better shove it down in that huge box right there!”

  3. sporks says:

    Just for the record, last week, I ordered a book and CD from Barnes and Noble online, and it was shipped with three of those air pillows on top of the CD, on top of the book, on top of their promotional stuff. It fit perfectly in the box, and nothing was harmed in transit.

    There are still people out there that know how to do it right, just remember that.

  4. LatherRinseRepeat says:

    Just toss the box in the recycling bin. And move on.

  5. Nytmare says:

    @LatherRinseRepeat: How about if we toss your post in the bit-bucket and continue the thread.

  6. EllenRose says:

    You want to use a large enough package that it doesn’t fall through the shippers’ cracks and sit there under the table or conveyor. But THAT box is overkill.

  7. Didn’t photograph it, but I got a pair of iPod-compatible earbuds from in a similar-sized box. The earbuds were encased in two layers of hard plastic at the factory, and thus couldn’t have been damaged by anything short of getting run over by a truck.

    My guess is, the prevailing argument is that using the same size box for everything saves labor costs at the order fulfillment facility. As long as someone else is paying the shipping costs (I got my shipping for free), the company couldn’t care less how big the shipping container is. Otherwise, making sure your minimum-wage warehouse staff takes the time to choose the correct size box costs a lot less than paying UPS the difference.

  8. Hanke says:

    Yeah, and if that part arrived in two pieces because the postal machinery crushed it, or it was otherwise mishandled? Then what? Oh, “Canon USA ships parts poorly”

  9. Anyone hear of shipping envelopes?

  10. Orv says:

    The postal service also sometimes balks at letter post envelopes that contain hard objects. So they’d probably have to pay more than $0.41, or whatever the post office is charging this week.

  11. hi says:

    Maybe they ran out of quarter-sized boxes.

  12. DaleM says:

    I am the guy who submitted this story and I am extremely pleased my story made it to the consumerist website.

    When I saw the box I was afraid they had shipped me an entire camera instead of just the part – how would I explain such an accident to my wife! Once I picked up the box I was relieved, way to light for a camera.

    They did charge me something like $10 for shipping and I did receive it in three business days in Chicago.

  13. dlmarcou says:

    The size of the shipping box in this instance not withstanding, Canon offers some of the best customer and parts service I’ve ever experienced.

  14. se7a7n7 says:

    I run an eBay consignment store and thus mail out 30 – 50 packages a week.

    I consider myself super green because I always use reused packing peanuts and boxes from neighborhood store that would just throw them out.

    Putting things in the right sized box is very important. That part they sent out should have cost them less than $1 for 1st Class Mail. The box they sent it in had to make the package weigh almost 2 pounds, which increases the cost A LOT. However these companies get a considerable shipping discount because they send so much stuff. So they probably have no motivation to be more sensible about it.

  15. ZaltanaGazelle says:

    Comment on Canon Uses Comically Oversized Box To Send You Something They Could Have Taped To A Postcard Many of these companies are simply reusing old boxes. Who cares if its way too big? I would prefer that over them using a brand new smaller box to ship a part.

    Remember, reusing is even better than recycling!

  16. Murph1908 says:

    I ordered some HDD jumpers (pack of 10) from an Amazon retailer. These too could have been taped to a postcard, or put in an standard envelope and mailed for 50 cents. They quoted shipping at over $4. Fine, I can’t find them anywhere, and I need the stuff off the drive.

    I wasn’t mad until I received the shipment, in a padded legal-size envelope, accompanied by their catalog.

    I paid for them to ship me their catalog.

    It went directly into the trash. I refuse to buy from them again.

  17. milk says:

    I recently ordered an Eggo Freezer Alarm (yes, totally awesome), and the package conformed perfectly to its size. Kellogg’s needs to educate people on good shipping.

  18. Bog says:

    I got the same kind of thing. Except it was a 2 inch by 1 inch filter for a cPAP machine. Yeah, two filters that were not fragile, in a 1×1 foot box with packing spacers. Before that they did something similar but shipped each filter in separate boxes. Only once on their first order did they use an appropriately sized padded envelope. But then again they are charging the insurance company $25 two filters plus a good $5 or $8 for shipping. (The same OEM filters I have seen on line for as low as $12 for a dozen.)

  19. do you want them to wipe your ass for you too? certain companies just buy like 3 or 4 different size boxes in bulk and then use whatever is available at the time. isn’t the important part that they got your part to you in a timely and efficient manner? ffs, people are such babies..

  20. leprofie says:

    They packed it well. It didn’t arrive broken.

  21. Ringl says:

    My brother-in-law had a gamecube memory card shipped to him in an envelope and when that arrived it had a tear in it and no memory card. I’m sure he would have preferred a box big enough for a tv if it meant he would get what he paid for.

  22. yourbffjill says:

    I worked in an adidas warehouse for a summer when I was in high school, which shipped everything from shoes to clothes to watches. We had 5 or 6 different sizes of boxes, and whenever an order came in it would print out exactly how many of which size boxes you needed to grab.

    Is it that hard for someone to write a quick algorithm that determines which size box you should use? They’ve got to know the dimensions of all of their products.

    Environmental issues aside, it would certainly save money, so I’m always really surprised when I find a USB cable in a box big enough for a few CD drives.

  23. LunarLoki says:

    It might have been some employee who thought it was humorous. Remember not every worker does things correctly, some honestly and truly hate their jobs and will seek refuge in amusing gags such as the one above.

  24. Spaztrick says:

    @LunarLoki: I’m wondering if he/she reads Consumerist and is showing to everyone he knows laughing the entire time.

  25. Nihon no Purin says:

    okay Alex. let’s say Canon takes your advice. then what??? tomorrow there’ll be a consumerist post going something like “Canon sends replacement part in unpadded, cheap envelope,” or “Canon takes Consumerist’s advice, mails replacement part onto a postcard; this is unacceptable despite our having suggested it.”

    i agree that wasted packaging materials is something that companies can easily be improved upon, but it’s not a matter as easy or as ludicrous as you suggest. better safe than sorry, and if the myriad petty consumer complaints on this website are an indication of anything, it’s that safe is DEFINITELY better than sorry.

  26. niccernicus says:

    @Steaming Pile:

    “….I got a pair of iPod-compatible earbuds from ….”

    As compared to non-iPod compatible?

  27. kangman says:

    response to first poster, I live near Lake Success, it’s just a couple of strip malls with middle class residential housing. Nothing golden about it. There’s a decrepit Sears rotting at Lake Success mall.

  28. DaleM says:

    I am the OP for this subject. I am extremely pleased with Canons response time and thoroughly amused at the excessive packaging – so much so I took pictures and sent them in.

    Sure, I paid roughly $9 more than I should have for shipping a $6 dime sized repair part but getting my camera fully operational again was well worth the price.

  29. sql says:

    The quarter size box would easily lost in the delivery process.

  30. @DaleM:
    yeah you were amused by this, but you come off as a whiny little biotch…did you want them to wipe your ass for you, too? was the exceptional and prompt service not enough?…

  31. DaleM says:


    Wow, you are a special little bitch with a strange obsession with my ass. Since when is it exceptional to receive something you order from a multinational corporation in a timely fashion?

    You better watch yourself or your mother will take your computer away.

    Again, I didn’t care how much it costs but clearly you are to dense to understand this.

    Come back when you have something useful to say, otherwise STFU.