This Battery Shipment From Dell Was Packed Efficiently

Our inbox is overflowing with links to the above photograph from the Daily WTF.

An anonymous reader sent the photo in after they ordered a shipment of 50 CMOS batteries from Dell in an attempt to save time and money by asking for “fifty spare batteries instead of having them delivered individually.” This is what they got, a big box with 50 smaller boxes inside.

Packing Done Right [Daily WTF] (Thanks, Everyone!)


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  1. nicemarmot617 says:

    That is awesome. Thanks for the laugh, I really needed it!

  2. k6richar says:

    Packaging this wasteful should be illegal. Fines to be payed to help clean the environment.

  3. Rectilinear Propagation says:


    These things must already be individually boxed at the warehouse.

  4. Utterly shocking.

  5. kingmanic says:

    These are dell branded batteries. They need to protect them from shocks or they will explode like nitroglycerin. This isn’t enough packaging! They should all have asbestos cases.

  6. Greasy Thumb Guzik says:

    You would think that Dell would have the brains to have some batteries pre-packaged 10 to a box already for those who order in bulk.
    Maybe even 50 or 100 prepackaged if they found that they get orders that big.

  7. JN2 says:

    I’m waiting for Dell to begin shipping your “built-to-order” computer by separate pieces in individual boxes. All you have to do is connect the pieces together at your convenience.
    Imagine the manufacturing savings!

    (Oh, wait, Tandy did this 30 years ago, what’s their stock price now?)

  8. SuffolkHouse says:

    This is silly. These are probably pre-boxed on the shelf awaiting order. To think they would un-box them is silly.

    This doesn’t seem inappropriate to me.

  9. DraconWolfX says:

    You guys act like this is something Dell WANTS to do. I can assure you that any company that ships products would prefer this all in one box as well. Packing materials aren’t free. Consolidation saves money which is the name of the game to any corporation.

  10. Jesse says:

    They all probably sit boxed individually in the warehouse. These warehouse ordering systems are designed to be automated and hands off. We laugh, but it may have just been more work and thus money to un-box 50 batteries and condense them into just a few boxes.

  11. Letsgohokies says:

    Aren’t motherboard batteries usually like the CR2032? I am pretty sure every Dell I have ever owned had that kind of battery in there. I think I’d just make a trip to Walmart or Target to get the batteries, instead of overpaying from Dell.

    I agree that there should be some kind of fine for this kind of wastefulness.

  12. snowburnt says:

    @k6richar: they probably pass it to on to the buyers by charging you waste cleanup fees like auto repair places

  13. AgentTuttle says:

    August 7th was Particularly Preposterous Packaging Day – FOR REAL! Dell is just being festive.


  14. I’m waiting for Consumerist to actually contact the shipping departments of these companies and ASK why this is done. I know this seems against the rules of conduct calling out Consumerist, but if we had an explanation from these companies which explains why they do this, such as their shipper demands it, then we should be calling out the shipping company, not the company shipping.

  15. SharkD says:

    They should shut Dell down and give the money back to the shareholders.

  16. HalOfBorg says:

    @Greasy Thumb Guzik: Maybe they DON’T get orders that big – but I still agree with you.

  17. mariospants says:

    Look folks, this is a good thing: it keeps various people EMPLOYED stuffing boxes and sending and routing them and things.

  18. @Letsgohokies:

    How about because Dell gives the batteries out free of charge to corporate customers.

  19. Shark1998 says:

    If they have return labels with free postage on each one….then send them back with whatever junk you have laying around (sand, rocks, etc.). I don’t imagine they would like that…..he he he

  20. shufflemoomin says:

    Dell have a serious box fetish. I’m surprised the delivery truck that dropped that off didn’t arrive in a huge giant box of it’s own too. I wouldn’t be surprised if that’s what the Dell warehouse is. Just a big, giant box in the street…

  21. Televiper says:

    Did he buy the batteries from the DELL consumer products division or the corporate division? I doubt they were prepackaged (that’s a lot of space in the warehouse) but instead came with rigid packing instructions (use box A, put label here, use this ESD bag for battery). I bet that’s the same box they use for shipping every one of their OEM peripherals and small devices. This may all be in the spirit of keeping packing instructions simple. It beats having 50 damaged batteries that weren’t packaged properly.

  22. @Letsgohokies:
    I was thinking the same thing.
    Why order something so easily found at a Radio Shack from Dell?

  23. IphtashuFitz says:

    We once got a similar shipment a number of years ago, but inside each of the boxes was a single power cord…

  24. desertdust says:

    Most people that order fifty would get them from a local “cheap” source. Something like the godless Walmart. 2 dollar battery yours for only 9.99 plus shipping and handling.

  25. coan_net says:

    My guess is the batteries are already in the small boxes waiting to be shipped out. And if someone orders more then 1, they just get more then 1 box.

    To have a company unbox then rebox the item would probable add to the time & “handling” cost of the item

  26. Marshfield says:

    This is one of those “it looks dumb until you understand the reason why” threads.

    The cost of stocking “single” and “multiple per-box” batteries, keeping track of inventory, etc. not to mention unboxing them and consolidating the shipment, is higher than simply sending out multiple boxes when needed.

    I doubt they get very many orders for 50 of these at a crack, much less 10 at a time.

    So let’s not beat up Dell TOO much here.

    Opinion based on 4 years working with and installing Distributor/Warehouse inventory control software.

  27. The Great Aussie Evil says:

    I hope the boxes at least are recyclabe… recyclabibl… I can’t spell it

  28. Mr. B says:

    Not really surprising. How many people order CMOS batteries in bulk?

  29. I know why this happened, but it still shouldn’t.

  30. I see this as an opportunity by the company to save on packaging, not so much as a waste. If fifty people ordered fifty batteries, this is the amount of paper/foam/etc. that would be consumed. Fifty being ordered by one person is just an opportunity to consolidate.

    Unfortunately, since they’re preboxed, the unused packaging would probably just be thrown away.

    There’s really no great way around this while using a relatively automated shipping system.

  31. MrEvil says:

    I can’t beleive they’re still shipping CMOS batteries in those little boxes. The last few times I’ve had to replace CMOS batteries for customers (yes, Dell pays me to replace frigging CMOS batteries) they’ve come in a padded envelope that promptly makes its way to the roundfile. Much more efficient packing than the little boxes you see there.

  32. Mr.SithNinja says:

    This is not surprising to me considering that I once ordered a MS Points card from and it came in a box big enough to fit a motorcycle helmet in.

  33. Quilt says:

    HAHAHAHA! Looks to me like some guy in the shipping department wanted to have some fun!

  34. ludwigk says:

    @Git Em SteveDave displays attention-grabbing vanity: Completely unnecessary. Anyone who has worked for an electronics service provider can tell you why they do this. I was a computer tech for a big mfr, and I can think of a lot of reasons Dell might operate this way.

    Dell’s service end is likely geared for “horses” (i.e. some guy, somewhere, at some time needs a CMOS battery). It’s not meant for Zebras, or the “Pega-Unicornaplatypotamus” that is this guy ordering 50 of them.

  35. Zeniq says:

    It’s likely that these were prepackaged, sitting in a warehouse. It is more likely that even though 50 of them were shipping to one location, the people packing the bigger box were too lazy to combine items.

  36. davidc says:

    If your going to continue to post articles about boxing like this, then at least take the time to understand the situation.

    The vast majority of people here are out of touch with how distribution of products work these days. In this case, those cmos batteries are not all lumped into some big bin with 50,000 of them loosely floating and when you order one, some schmoo walks over and picks out “just one” and puts it into a box.

    The factory can / does send “bulk containers” out to other manufacturers, but what they send to fullfillment centers are the individually boxed products. So if you order 50 of them, your going to get 50 boxes.

    What? did you expect some employee to open up 50 boxes and put them all into some other type of container for you? What makes you think an “employee” even grabbed them off the shelf? and it was not down by a mechanical process? hmm?

    Enough of these stories …

  37. AgentTuttle says:

    @mariospants: “Look folks, this is a good thing: it keeps various people EMPLOYED stuffing boxes and sending and routing them and things.”

    That’s the dumbest thing I have heard in a long time. Makes as much sense as being in a war just to employ soldiers or that we need smog so that people at Visine can keep working.

  38. bwcbwc says:

    @Marshfield: Or if these are lithium batteries there could be environmental or safety regulations about keeping more than one in a single box.

  39. SuperJdynamite says:

    Who the hell needs 50 CMOS batteries? It’s unlikely that a single person owns 50 Dells. It’s also unlikely that some corporation has a sudden need to resurrect 50 computers that are so crusty their CMOS batteries are dead.

  40. SableHemlock says:

    Seriously, the only thing that this means is that I have great job security in the containerboard business. Maroons like this will ensure that there will always be a high demand for boxes!

  41. MBZ321 says:

    Why wouldn’t one buy CMOS batteries from DealExtreme or even Wal-Mart? I’m sure Dell isn’t a very cheap place to order things like that.

  42. @SuperJdynamite:

    It’s obviously a corporate buy. I’ve ordered about 15 at a pop before from dell. They all come separately boxed. Not hard to order a bunch of them when you have thousands (I had about 6000) dells.

    These are also most likely free to a big account, why go buy them when you’re getting them free?

    On a side note, I’ve had both an HP and a Lenovo refuse to boot this week because of bad CMOS batteries. Both are under 3 years old, and have plenty of life left.

  43. HexiumVII says:

    I use up lots of 2032s, but seriously, dealextreme gives you 50 for like $5 shipped free.

  44. Lulzer says:

    Meh. Cardboard is recyclable.

    Also, if you want a tray of CR2032’s, you can order from lots of places other than Dell, Digikey for example.

    50 from Digikey would cost you $12.40.

  45. Anonymous says:

    Holy crap … and I thought the recent order where I received a pair of projector bulbs in a box that was so big I literally could hardly lift it was bad… but 50 CR-2302 CMOS batteries? I could fit those in a jeans pocket… two pockets if they were still in the blister packs. I’m sure if you buy them in bulk they come in a small box containing a set number of blisters (such as a 12×4 set of AAA’s I recently ordered online, whose box took up less space than a paperback and is a great contributor to the tidiness of my office desk drawer), so why have they put each one in the kind of excessive padding that even wedding rings aren’t usually afforded?