Amazon Wants To Make Sure Your Tiny Purchase Has Lots Of Breathing Room During Shipping

Heaven forbid a four-pack of valve caps, weighing maybe about an ounce, not have enough room during shipping to spread out, breathe and generally feel the calming effects of roomy comfort. That must have been the thought process when Amazon decided to send Tara her purchase in a huge box instead of a more appropriately-sized conveyance.

She says she ordered the caps from Amazon, where they’re listed at less than two ounces, and was astonished when they arrived in the Yukon Denali of boxes, along with a few obligatory air-pocket thingies.

“Why do they not have envelopes to use?” she asked.

Forget an envelope — that box looks to be about two feet wide and one foot deep, at least. There are surely smaller options lying around, hmm, Amazon?



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  1. McRib wants to know if you've been saved by the Holy Clown says:

    I wonder if shippers at amazon have a game where they package something foolishly, and if it shows up on Consumerist, they get a point?

    “Nice one Bob, you’re up to five points!”

    • Snoofin says:

      I wonder why people even give a shit. Just take your stuff out of the box and throw the damn box away. Why does this have to show up at least once a week.

      • noramine says:

        Because it’s wasteful as shit. That’s why.

      • little stripes says:

        Because it’s amusing.

      • mr cloudy says:

        It’s wasteful. However, I’m wondering if posting this here is more effective than sending a comment through their “packaging feedback” form.

        • GuyGuidoEyesSteveDave‚Ñ¢ says:

          It’s only wasteful if you just throw it out. If you re-use it, or properly recycle it, it’s the furthest thing from “wasteful”.

          • witeowl says:

            Incorrect. Recycling doesn’t just happen. It requires transportation, water, energy (in the recycling plant). In fact, some consider recycling such a resource hog that they wonder if it’s worth it (only in the case of paper recycling. Refuse beats Reduce beats Reuse beats Recycle.

            • Tunacrab says:

              this is the smartest comment i have ever read on consumerist.

            • joako says:

              I get a box, keep it in my garage and use it to ship something. It saves me money on boxes. Actually today I was complaining that the boxes Amazon sent me were too small for a MagLite (did you know if you use Duracell batteries and they corrode and get stuck inside they Mag will replace the flashlight for free?)

        • Snoofin says:

          Its only wasting Amazon’s money since they are paying for the box, Its not wasteful to you.

  2. FreshPorcupineSalad says:

    ..Meanwhile at the Amazon warehouse…

    Bob, shut’r down…they’re on to us!

  3. duncanblackthorne says:

    Valve caps? You couldn’t find those locally? Seriously?

    • DrRonster says:

      With Amazon Prime, why bother wasting the gas.

      • Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

        Especially when you’re already paying the annual fee for Amazon Prime!

        • little stripes says:

          If you have the Amazon Student discount, which is only $40/year and stays that way for 4 or 5 years, only a few orders are needed to make it worth it. You would need to order quite a bit to make the $80/year worth it, though, but if you do order a lot, it’s a bangin’ deal. Especially with gas prices! (If you don’t live in or near a city, Amazon Prime is probably an amazing deal.)

          • Cat says:

            Unlimited instant streaming with prime is cheaper than a Netflix membership – If you consider the six bucks and change per month to be for streaming movies only, then the free shipping AND one kindle book rental a month are a free bonus.

    • caradrake says:

      Between not paying shipping costs and no taxes, Amazon is often a good deal cheaper than my local stores.

      Heck I had 3 packages arrive today (nothing in oversized boxes like this), and more coming in later this week.

    • little stripes says:

      Sometimes it’s much easier and cheaper to order these things online if you have Amazon Prime. It’s also possible he made some other orders at the same time, but they don’t always ship from the same places/at the same time.

    • Coffee says:

      Valve caps aren’t as extreme as my example, I’m sure, but one time I got a new monitor, which used an SVGA input, but my GPU card only had DVI outputs, so I needed this little adapter to convert the signal. I went to Staples, thinking it wouldn’t be very expensive, and they wanted more than $20 for it. Thinking that was overpriced, I went home and got online, and the same product was about $.99 + a couple bucks shipping. I eventually found some spare converters in a drawer, but the lesson is that depending on what you’re purchasing, sometimes the mark-up on things at a B&M is HUGE.

      • Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

        This, because I had the exact same thing happen, with the exact same item (though not at Staples). Got it on Amazon for dollars.

        B&M stores have loss leaders – items they mark at or below cost in order to lure customers – and then items that mark up significantly to make up for them.

        Amazon eliminates the need to live in that business model.

      • TheGreySpectre says:

        Same here:
        DVI to HDMI converter: $19 at target, $2.20 at amazon.

    • KyBash says:

      Oddly, it isn’t always easy. I’ve been in the market for them for about a week, and three stores in my normal shopping circuit which I thought would have them either didn’t or only had expensive chrome ones (expensive as in 3x what I thought they should be). I found some yesterday at a farm supply store for 99 cents (it’s the same brand as she bought).

    • ThunderRoad says:

      It’s not easy for some people to get around either. And even if these were for the OP’s car, it doesn’t mean that they can easily get in and out of their car if they are wheel-chair bound to go look for something so simple.

      There are reasons people do something, and you don’t have enough data to know why OP ordered them online to determine if it was foolish or not.

  4. Coffee says:

    Forget an envelope — that box looks to be about two feet wide and one foot deep, at least. There are surely smaller options lying around, hmm, Amazon?

    I know I’m being a little picky, but that box looks to be about six inches deep at the most.

  5. Rachacha says:

    I want Amazon to start an airline service. “Big Smile Air”. You show up at the airport, step on a conveyor and are carefully placed inside a large box filled with air pillows. Just imagine all the legroom and privacy and you are shipped anywhere overnight!

  6. akede2001 says:

    My understanding is that this is done to maintain quotas. To get lower shipping rates they have to fill up certain amounts of truck space and such.

    Just something I heard when I worked at Amazon. Not sure if it’s true or not.

    • jeffpiatt says:

      when the item is scanned in to the terminal the packer is standing at it displays an box code and prints the packing slip and the barcode sticker. my guess is for that item the computer requested this box size and in order for the packer to avoid getting an defect where the box is ejected to be repacked they stuffed in in that box or bigger. and stuffed it full of dunnage. amazon does have flat media boxes but tends to avoid using them unless it’s an book or dvd. not all center have bubble mailers or all box sizes if anything it sould have at least gone in the small a1 box. I worked in the Allentown plant and got complained at by the back staff for using smaller boxes when it requested an massive one because the computer kicked it for not scanning the right box barcode.

      • little stripes says:

        I’m not trying to be a jerk, truly, but … I think you need this:

        • rob3912811 thinks this site is full of retards and assclowns with cats for friends. says:

          Yes you are. You KNOW you are, since that’s all you do.

          • little stripes says:

            All I do, really? So you stalk my comments? I don’t really believe that, but sure.

            I was really trying to be helpful, because s/he did this like, 5 times. It was distracting. And I’m not sure s/he realizes it. I was thinking maybe thier first language isn’t English. It was just distracting and I was trying to be helpful. Honestly!

            • rob3912811 thinks this site is full of retards and assclowns with cats for friends. says:

              N rll, t’s ll y d. t’s nnyng. nd pthtc. Srs qstn, thgh: ds smn lk y lk n th mrrr (ntrll, nc yr tk yr slghtl skw hlmt ff), nd trl nt blv tht sh s crz? Lstn, y hv lng hstr f drmmng p mndlss, nnsnscl, slf-lthng, llgcl, btng, nd rdcls cmmnts tht srv n rl prps bt t shw ff hw trl scrwd p nd gnrnt y rll r. ‘v nvr cm crss bttr pstr chld fr strlztn. G tsd nc n whl, nd myb y’ll cm crss sm rl ppl (nd thngs tht rn’t cts) t ntrct wth.

              • little stripes says:

                Ooookay, wall-o-text.

                I don’t think I’m the one that’s crazy, but sure, if you want to base your entire opinion about me on a handful of comments (I don’t even comment that much!) on one blog, when you don’t even know me … sure, sure, I’m the crazy one. We’ll go with that.

              • little stripes says:

                “I’ve never come across a better poster child for sterilization. Go outside once in a while, and maybe you’ll come across some real people (and things that aren’t cats) to interact with.”

                And seriously? Wow oh wow. It’s amazing to me that you clearly hate someone you’ve never even met so much. Also, sterilization? And I’m the crazy one? Sure, sure, we’ll go with that.

                Also, yeah, I’ve got a pretty rockin’, fulfilling life full of amazing people, but I do sense a lot of projecting which is making me sad. :(. Also, we just had a fire alarm at work, so I totally went outside! It’s really warm today. O_o

              • little stripes says:

                Oh, SNAP! I’ve been told!

                I just looked at your comment history, and it appears you left the exact same comment, except with this little gem:

                “You sound retarded. Actually, wait…you ARE retarded. Silly me.”

                Using “retard” as an insult. You sound so classy and mature! And then you leave the exact same comment when you realize I didn’t see the other one. You clearly needed a response from me. It was clearly very important to you that I see your vitriol.

                Did I hurt your little feelings?

                I don’t think it’s sane to hold such negative feelings toward someone you’ve never even met … but I’m the crazy one? (And let’s not forget retarded! Classy!)

                • little stripes says:

                  Shit, I was wrong; there are THREE comments that are exactly the same. And *I’m* the crazy one. I wonder if there are more I’m not aware of?

                  Seriously, dude, it’s fine if you don’t like me, it really, truly doesn’t bother me if you don’t, but please leave me the fuck alone. You’re fucking creepy.

                  • rob3912811 thinks this site is full of retards and assclowns with cats for friends. says:

                    Ww, rn’t y jst th qntssntl mrnc, btch cntbg.

                    • little stripes says:

                      Wow. You really are in love with me, aren’t you? Just plain obsessed and motherfucking creepy. I think you need therapy.

      • Daggertrout says:

        Amazon does have bubble mailers. They sent my Firefly Blu-Ray set in one. I had to return it because the case was smashed and all the discs fell out when I opened it.

        • jeffpiatt says:

          not all amazon fulfillment centers carry the bubble mailers. that looks like the smallest box that they have and it was just filled with dunnage to keep the part in place.

  7. CrankyOwl says:

    Amazon is doing it for the kittehs! Because cats love cardboard boxes and if the box is too tiny, they wont’ be able to fit in it.

    • raydee wandered off on a tangent and got lost says:

      One of our cats, whenever we get a box, be it a box of groceries from Costco or a box shipped to us from parts unknown … once the box is empty, there is a cat inside that box.

    • Babylicious says:

      Fortunately, my kittehs love Amazon boxes in all sizes =^^=

    • LMA says:

      There is no box too small for a kitteh. Maru is proof of this.

      My own Yukiko’s favorite “toy” is an Amazon box. It’s two years old at this point. All I have to do to rekindle her affections is bring home some fresh tissue paper now and again and put it in the box.

  8. ash says:

    This is a good time to use the “shipping feedback” feature on Amazon.

  9. jtehh says:

    I used to be a manager in an Amazon fulfillment center. You have to understand the process to get to the most likely reason this happened. When someone is “packing” they scan the order and the computer monitor shows them exactly what box size to use (A4, B3, etc.). Failing to use the recommended box size is a quality failure and can eventually lead to termination. Amazon declares that the computer knows best and this is correct 99.99% of the time. But how does the computer know what size the item is? Ah yes, it has to be scanned in to the system with its weight and dimensions. This item was probably “scanned” with incorrect dimensions, thus leading to the incorrect box recommendation. The packer in this case probably thought this was hilarious, but hey, they are told to adhere to the box recommendation every time, so off it goes!

    • Extended-Warranty says:

      Amazon has gotten too big to ship!

    • The Wyrm says:

      That’s actually very useful information and it makes a lot of sense. Nobody is going to risk their job, or even the mild annoyance of their boss, over a packaging decision. That’s why there’s
      ‘leave packaging feedback’, so they know what items need to be re-scanned.

  10. Princess Beech loves a warm cup of treason every morning says:

    Airlines should adopt this sort of principle for airplane seating.

  11. hoop123 says:

    Click the “LEAVE PACKAGING FEEDBACK” button on Your Order Summary

  12. Andrew says:

    I just got a monitor from amazon that was in a box big enough to hide several bodies.

  13. Roman Roadwalker says:

    Not surprising. I bought an item that amounted to an folder with about 10 sheets of paper. They taped it to the bottom of the box, completely covering it with the tape, them mailed it without the puffy bubble stuff. And that is not a one time thing. Every package I have gotten was in an oversize box.

  14. hush404 says:

    lol, why not just laugh at it and enjoy the randomness that has crept into your life instead of raising an eyebrow and asking about envelopes? Shheessshhh. People today.

    • Jeff asks: "WTF could you possibly have been thinking? says:

      Because I want my great-grandkids to be able have a better life than I did. Not a worse life because my generation killed all the trees and polluted the waterways and burned up all the energy sources.
      Two trees died to make that box. Think of the trees!

  15. ReverendTed says:

    Do humans pack these boxes? I’m assuming yes.

  16. RackDaddy says:

    Sorry, I call BS. I highly doubt anyone would buy something on Amazon that locally costs a buck. And while I admit Amazon could do a better job finding suitable boxes, with my hundreds of orders they’ve always at least used packing material to fill the voids they’ve left.

    • LMA says:

      Really? Mine are typically shrink-wrapped to a separate sheet of cardboard.

    • DrRonster says:

      As long as it’s Amazon Prime eligible, I will and have ordered items that inexpensive. To me the shipping cost is 0. If I go to the store, I’ll buy that item plus all sorts of other stuff I don’t need.

    • Fishnoise says:

      I have a full time job plus I’m the primary parent for our young children. Honestly, it’s a lot easier timewise just to get little things like this from Amazon than bundling up the kids and shlepping them through WallyWorld and Tarjay on a school night where they’ll fuss and fight and beg for things and pout when they don’t get them instead of doing homework. Last Christmas, I did about 80% of my shopping online, and it was so much easier.

      Smallest thing I’ve ordered individually? A pack of a dozen plastic insects for a school project.

      • RackDaddy says:

        I don’t see your point unless you paid a dollar for those bugs. I never said it wasn’t convenient to order things from Amazon.

  17. Jack Doe says:

    What, no “stupid shipping gang” tag?

  18. Dont lump me into your 99%! says:

    They need a special spot on this site for these posts, seems like they are becoming a daily feature.

  19. Razor512 says:

    it takes a lot of walking to get items and package and ship so they are more likely to get a ton of the most popular box size then pack almost all items with it when possible.

  20. Kuri says:

    That could have easily got into an envelope.

  21. Terron says:

    SATA Cable: $20 at best Buy, 55 cents at Monoprice. A 3500% markup isn’t too bad, I suppose.

  22. Bor&Mitch says:

    I received an Amazon order yesterday. When I opened the box, there was..another cardboard box. OK so the inside box didn’t say ‘Amazon’. But really, they couldn’t just slap a label on that one and send it? It’s not fun cutting up boxes for disposal/recycling.

    • hoi-polloi says:

      For a relatively plain box, that would be my preference, as well. Unfortunately, some shippers will slap a label on product boxes for televisions, printers, or other mid to high-end electronics. That bothers me since most packages tend to sit on my porch until I get home. I haven’t had anything stolen, but someone could tell at a glance if the risk is worth the reward.

    • GrayMatter says:

      Well, in this case there might be a problem. Many packaging boxes are not designed for shipment; they have no cushioning, strength, or crush area.

  23. Extended-Warranty says:

    God forbid this was Best Buy, we’d have all kinds of comments like “this is why they are going out of business”.

    Let’s all ignore Amazon’s huge drop in profits. They are making these kind of investments for the future.

  24. Swins says:

    If they shipped it in an envelope, it would have gotten damaged and we would have heard some other complaint.
    The Consumerist, whiny bitches of the Internet

  25. Sensical says:

    First world problems.

  26. Midnight Harley says:

    This has happened to me so many times lol