Incredibly Stupid And Wasteful Packing Job, Brought To You By AT&T And iPhone

Reader Nick’s wife recently ordered an iPhone and was surprised to find it came in two boxes. She was even more surprised when the second box contained only an AT&T plastic shopping bag. It was also packed with brown packing material around it. “I find it comical that the plastic bag had more packing material around it then the $250 iPhone did,” Nick writes.


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  1. bsalamon says:

    seems like it was a mistake….albeit a wasteful and amusing mistake

  2. humphrmi says:

    LOL – I wonder if this sheds any light on it: When I bought my iPhone in an AT&T store, they started to bag it up into one of those bags (it seals along the top) and I, being environmentally prudent, said “I don’t need a bag”. They said they had to put it in the bag and seal it up. They didn’t explain why.

  3. azntg says:

    Later this year, I intend to add anoher phone line to my account (for a grand total of 4) and order new phones for each one of them.

    I wonder how AT&T will handle that? Hmm…

  4. Scuba Steve says:

    Ahh, the bittersweet news of hearing that someone bought an iphone for half of what you paid, and that in a few months a new version will be coming out that’s actually web worthy and has real GPS.

    oh well.

  5. Wormfather says:

    @Scuba Steve

    Shhhhhh, you are totally killing me. I’m trying to wait until like June 1st to sell my iPhone.

  6. robdew2 says:

    Several of these overpackaging stories are getting old, usually because they are not taking into account shipping and storage efficiencies that may occur from using a bigger, yet uniform box.

    This particular one is puzzling though. First, the description doesn’t seem to match the picture. It looks like the iphone was just double-boxed. If one of the boxes only contained an AT&T bag, what is the orange underneath it?
    Also, the bag appears to have a bar code. This could have been used for tracking.

    If this was two boxes, perhaps they noticed their mistake and simply didn’t think it was effective to recall the empty one? Or perhaps they couldn’t recall just one of the boxes?

    I am sure the simplest explanation is that the shippers were actually doing something stupid, but really, can we limit the stories to clear examples?

  7. dookas says:

    Burn for getting an iPhone 3 weeks before the 3G drops!

  8. We just got a pair of luggage locks from HSN (4″ x 7″ package, about 6 ounces) and it came in a 6″ x 12″ x 12″ box, at least. And it came via UPS.

    Office supply vendors are the worst. We used to get single packs of pens in boxes that size. Or a single name tag. And that was after we requested shipment consolidation.

  9. Brandon says:

    I would send that phone back as fast as possible and wait the 11 days til the new iphone comes out, we hope. But with so many rumors confirming the date its well worth the wait. or maybe use it a few day and still send it back :)

  10. weakdome says:

    I used to work at a shipping company, and if we couldn’t deliver something, we’d have to send it via UPS on our dime. I used to consolidate packages like CRAZY to save the company a little money – to the point where I would plastic-band boxes together totalling 100-150Lbs that were all going to the same address.
    The UPS driver HATED me. But our company was appreciatiave of the money-saving efforts.

  11. latemodel says:

    I worked for a manufacturing company that was a large volume shipper with FedEx. Part of the agreement was that there would only be one box size used for all shipments, so it had to accommodate the largest item shipped. That was a requirement of FedEx.

  12. tenbeers says:

    When I worked as a contract tech for HP notebook computer repairs, they would ship each individual part in a cardboard box or huge padded envelope. Say I needed two hinge covers, a couple case screws, some screw covers for the LCD bezel, and a keyboard.

    I’d get each item individually freaking boxed in a stack of parcels almost as high as my workbench. I’d tear open a huge box and pull out wads of packing paper, only to find a single case screw inside. It would take me far longer to unpack the parts and dispose of the packing material than it took to actually repair the laptop.

    Pretty sure HP and UPS had some sweet deal going on there.

  13. mantari says:

    I hate to be a complainer, but are there any more interesting or important stories than somebody who got shipped something in a box that was oversized for the job?

    This is The Consumerist, not The Environmentalist or The Efficiencist.

  14. elislider says:

    Sounds like at least a few people are getting this same thing. strange, my roommate just got his iPhone refurb in the mail yesterday and it came in just the small box, nothing extra

  15. trujunglist says:

    @Scuba Steve:

    Yeah, it’s too bad technology advances, otherwise my shed full of SEs, 512ks, and IIe’s would be worth like a million dollars!

  16. tackhouse1 says:

    hey guys I am Nick (the submitter) just wanted to clarify some of the confusion from Robdew2’s comments.

    Like hanbush I received two separate packages. The smaller one contained the iPhone the larger was just the AT&T bag. The “orange” you see in the first picture is just the top of the bag (it was folded over at the time). I included a shot of the packing slip that came with the AT&T store bag showing that it was the lone item in that package. (It is listed as “MISC iPhone PPA BAG”), Consumerist didn’t print it

    Interestingly enough I ordered a similar iPhone two months ago for my self. In that case I received just one smaller package. Inside that package was the iPhone box, and that box was wrapped in the AT&T store bag.

  17. @mantari: exactly. Not sure why some go apeshit over a box that’s 3 or 4 inches wider and taller than the other box inside.

  18. @Scuba Steve: Didn’t you hear? The 3G iPhone is going to be fatter. Some (lame) Apple fanboys are already up in arms, that they want GPS, 3G, excellent battery life, a non-recessed headphone jack, and a dildo attachment in the 2.5G package.

  19. crazylady says:

    nick, why on earth did you buy an iPhone so close to wwdc?! all these 3g iPhone rumors are floating the least you might have been able to buy that phone cheaper, or a better phone :(

    also in regards to the packing job…I’d rather a big box be shipped than a small one that looks identical except slightly larger than the iPhone box. Harder to steal, harder to identify.

    and for what it’s worth, when I purchased my iPhone last year from Apple it came in the box in a minimalist but fancy paper bag that was big enough for the phone, so not everyone is being wasteful.

  20. mammalpants says:

    thats how they send my bill every month!

  21. tackhouse1 says:


    To be honest, I am a T-Mobile subscriber and have no intention of using the iPhone with AT&T. The 2nd gen 3G model wont work with T-Mobile (as T-Mobile uses a different broadcast frequency for their 3G service) True the 1st gen models will probably fall in price after the 2nd gen is released, but it’s a decision I made.

    Regarding the boxes, if the iPhone came in a larger box, that wouldn’t be a problem. The larger box only contained a plastic back. The iPhone was shipped in its own separate box.

  22. mikecolione says:

    The purpose of the bag is this: The outside of the bag has terms and requirements on it for service with the iPhone. That’s why it is rung out of the system everytime an iPhone is sold. It shows that you received the terms of service and other requirements. Even if you don’t read it, it shows you were offered the opportunity to read them. I’ve never had one person read the bag in the store…

  23. Mr. Gunn says:

    @Scuba Steve: Yeah, and it’ll still not be half the phone the N95 is.