Amazon Ships 8 Plates In 13 Boxes

Reader Gibson ordered 8 plates from Amazon, and they arrived in 13 boxes. We’re sure the operations research management scientists at Amazon shipping have an answer as to why, in the context of the entire shipping infrastructure, this was the most cost-effective solution, but it escapes us mere mortals. Full pic inside.


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  1. k6richar says:

    Packaging this wasteful should be illegal. Fine them and use the money for various anti-pollution agencies.

  2. Anah says:

    I agree, it is wasteful. Now Amazon, help us save the trees. It’s ridiculous!

  3. Underpants Gnome says:

    I wish amazon had shipped my dishware like this. I have to return a set of plates that arrived yesterday because one came shattered. It was in just a single box with the air packs around the sides, but no protection on top or bottom.

  4. stang says:

    At least they arrived unbroken… OP could have received 13 places in 1 box and smashed to 10,000 pieces.

    Yea it was excessive, but it’s better to have breakables protected than smashed.

  5. xphilter says:

    when oil is cheap again we’re all going to be complaining that they ship everything in one box and not in 15 separate ones like the good ol’ days.

  6. picardia says:

    @xphilter: I doubt it. Stupid is always annoying, and this kind of shipping is always stupid.

  7. 11hawkinst says:

    Ummm… so what did they put in the extra 5 boxes. I mean 8 boxes with 1 plate each would make a little more sense wouldn’t it? (still wasteful nonetheless)

  8. Hey Consumerist! Can you find out who makes these decisions and put their info out for a good ole fashioned ECB?

  9. wiggatron says:

    So there were 5 completely empty boxes then? WTF!? Or were some of the plates broken into smaller pieces and shipped seperately? LOL

  10. Cynicor says:

    I’m thinking that two of the small boxes went into one large box, creating 13 total boxes. When you ship something fragile, it’s usually a good idea to do large box + packing + small box + packing + item.

  11. BeastMD says:

    I am thinking they packed the smaller boxes in the larger boxes so they were boxed twice.

    It may not be eco friendly but I am sure amazon’s system saves them money over the long haul.

  12. Quilt says:

    Not a single broken plate. That’s how Amazon saved money there. Also, this person has boxes for the next time they move. Bonus!

    Can Amazon do any wrong? I think not.

  13. MyPetFly says:

    Amazon… disappearing rain forests… how ironic.

  14. Mfalconieri says:

    @xphilter: Agreed

  15. vladthepaler says:

    Plates are fragile. Packing materials are recyclable. Way to go, amazon.

  16. Ein2015 says:

    @Quilt: I was just about to say that!!!

    Plates are highly breakable, especially if they collide with each other. It’s cheaper to spend pennies on extra paper/cardboard products than to spend a few (not knowing how much the plate costs them) dollars on new plates AND new shipping.

    Now the other stories about batteries or pieces of paper being shipped 1-piece-per-box… that’s crazy. But this? Not crazy.

  17. xmarc says:

    I ordered 6 Fiesta ware bowls from that each one was double boxed and 6 boxes looked like they could fill a room.

  18. dragonvpm says:

    Were these ordered using the “Group my items into as few shipments as possible” option or the “I want my items faster. Ship items as they become available” one?

    I was just mulling this over last night when I got 6 separate emails from Amazon to let me know that some books and DVDs I ordered had been shipped out in 6 separate shipments (and iirc 4 shipments had 1 item each). I often order multiple things at once and I like to pre-order things so I usually use the multiple shipment option, but I was starting to reconsider when I saw how it carved up a single order for multiple available items.

    In this case, if the OP ordered 8 separate dishes and picked the send them fast option, I could see how they might get packaged strangely. It is wasteful, but without knowing what option the OP chose, I can’t put all the blame on Amazon (i.e. they do have an option that says send as few shipments as possible). Speaking from experience, I know that in the past Amazon has actually held an order for over a month just to send it in one shipment (as I selected) when something was backordered, so there are options when you want to be less wasteful ordering through Amazon (I was pleased to see that they moved to using padded mailers instead of boxes for sending out single books and DVDs lately)

  19. coan_net says:

    I would guess all the plates are already boxed up in small boxes – so when someone orders 8 plates, they get 8 boxes.

    Sounds like Amazon tried to save some shipping and instead of shipping 8 different boxes, put a couple of those into bigger boxes.

    And not only that, like others said – since they are breakable, double boxing them will save on returns.

    To have amazon:

    1. Ship 8 separate boxes which are more likely to break

    2. Unbox the 8 smaller boxes, then repack everything into bigger boxes.

    Both of those would put extra cost, time, and possible damage to product. I think what Amazon did was the correct thing.

  20. scamps says:

    I’m thinking this is some kind of glitch, unless they did box some boxes as suggested earlier.

  21. Farquar says:

    How is this shipping “stupid shipping gang” material? Plates break, easily. We regularly feature angry posts on here about the post office throwing boxes around and breaking people’s stuff.

    Failure to double box the plates would have been POOR shipping. Double boxing, as they did, is proper shipping.

    Basically, no matter what they do you are going to find a way to point the finger and call them idiots.

  22. Bakkster_Man says:

    @dragonvpm: Exactly. Were all 8 plates even the same? They may have been shipped from several different locations, resulting in boxes additional to the proper shipping to prevent it from breaking.

    Let’s keep the “Stupid Shipping Gang” to boxes containing a single sheet of paper, and loose hard drives in a box 50x larger than the drive.

  23. hills says:

    I took the pic – here are some answers to your questions:

    1. I chose “free shipping” (not I want my items faster) and all the boxes shipped on the same day – each plate was in an individual box with a sticker “Amazon Ready to Ship” – and those boxes were in bigger boxes

    2. Double boxing plates is a great idea – but you can put more than 1 plate into each interior box and still not have them break (I just moved from VA to OR and didn’t break a single plate and had up to 10 in a box)….

    3. I recycled the boxes on craigslist

    4. I emailed Amazon and they responded with a form email about their programs to ‘conserve resources and reduce our impact on the environment’

  24. roggenka says:

    Amazon offers fulfillment services … wonder if they simply packed things properly AND billed their fulfillment customer accordingly.

  25. @hillsrovey: I can tell you from experience that “ready to ship” stickers means that’s how they are sitting on the shelf. I order Cliff and Power Bars through Amazon sometimes, and each retail box has one of those stickers on it, taped over the perforation so it’s won’t open in transit. So the shipping dept and the pullers have no control about that packaging. BTW, what was written on the bottom of the invoices? There is usually a two digit letter/number code which correlates to what box they are supposed to pack them in.

  26. jeffs3rd says:

    This actually makes sense if boxes were in boxes. I would rather have 13 boxes and 8 unbroken plates than what might have been.

    We ship LCD panels at work, and typically do the double box thing because it really cut down on our RMA rate.

  27. jeffs3rd says:

    @jeffs3rd: I should add, our local UPS depot has a 15ft straight down drop from one conveyor to another going outbound (one of our shipping employees used to work there in management). Even with regular packing materials in a single box, LCD panels are fragile enough that they would break.

    I really don’t trust UPS and fedex to get my package there ontime and unbroken.

  28. Rectilinear Propagation says:

    If all the plates were individually boxed then why are the small boxes still so big? I’m sorry but this still seems a bit much even for a fragile item.

  29. dveight says:

    Damned if they do, damned if they don’t……..

    I really feel sorry for some of these companies when stories like this run, because the exact opposite will happened if they had only used 1 box and the plates came broken. People would be complaining that it should have been better boxed as opposed to there be too many boxes.

    I for one, would prefer that they use more materials so that the plates come unbroken the 1st time around. What is more wasteful, you sending them back and forth, or using the extra material to ensure that it does not happen.

  30. hills says:

    I still really like Amazon – got the plates for less than half the retail – I just would have preferred to have 4 boxes – 2 boxes with 4 plates each, double packed inside 2 larger boxes – the packing would have been just as protective, and much, much, less wasteful. Even if it meant paying extra for shipping, I would have done so.

    Bottom line is, you can pack more than 1 plate in each box and have them be secure. This is just a time saver – cost cutter “Ready to Ship” program that Amazon has – that consequently is a total waste of resources.

  31. HogwartsAlum says:

    I order from Amazon all the time and they never send my stuff in separate boxes. But Staples Corporate online does it all the time. I need to bring my digital camera to work sometime and post a pic. They’re hilarious.

  32. josephers says:


    8 + 4(at two each) = 12.

    what the heck is the last one for?

  33. goodkitty says:

    Given the number of dishes and glassware that I’ve gotten from Amazon, broken, I really have to agree with the sentiments here that this was likely intentional and not a stupid shipping gang issue. The extra boxes and packing material are pennies each, the cost of an RMA for them (return shipping, customer service calls, replacement item, more boxes) is a lot larger.

  34. tgrwillki says:

    For those people complainign about the waste of trees and recycling, here’s a nice piece to read on the 8 great myths of recycling:


    For the people talkign about saving the trees, just remember, the trees that are used to make paper products are grown on tree farms, just like potatoes are grown on potato farms.

  35. slyikkiss says:

    LOL! Did they break the plates?? I mean, at the most they could have used just 8 boxes (which is still wasteful)!

  36. Drowner says:

    As someone who’s moving soon, I say bring on the free boxes. I <3 staples and my work place. One day i took home 6 boxes. 6! That’s half my clothes and all my books. Thanks staples!

    • HogwartsAlum says:


      Yeah, we order 100 reams of copy paper at a time too. This one brand has plain brown boxes with handle cutouts. Me and another coworker fight over them. I like to put stuff in them in my garage. He likes to use them to carry firewood.

  37. FrankenPC says:

    I get a whole load of boxes together and Craigslist them for free. I <3 Craigslist.

  38. Nick_Bentley says:

    Screw it, boxes are expensive and the holidays are coming, I’d just reuse them. You could shop at Walmart and your friends would think you bought them stuff at Amazon, win-win!

  39. yeahso says:

    So much waste for such fugly plates.