By Collin Allen

Tales From Packaging Hell

May 26, 2006

The stubborn plastic casing around the Microsoft Xbox 360 faceplate seemed to laugh first at the kitchen scissors and then the steak knife that tried to penetrate it. When 14-year-old Daniel Mroue’s attempt to open the thing with a long, serrated bagel knife failed, his parents became concerned.

Mroue’s father, George, took over with a pair of box-cutters, which did the trick. But George Mroue also ended up with a wad of bandages shoring up the damage after slicing his palm open on a sharpened piece of plastic.

“It was ridiculous,” groused George Mroue of the February incident. “There was nothing anywhere telling us how to open the (darn) thing. I don’t understand why they make it so goddamn hard to open these things.”

That’s an increasingly common question these days. From Psyclone electronics cables encased in impenetrable layers of thick plastic to DigiPower camera batteries coated with packaging several times the size of the item itself, the hardest part of buying electronics these days is opening the products when you get them home. In many cases, it makes solving Halo 2 seem like a kindergarten project.

This article on Wired perfectly illustrates my frustration with today’s hard-to-open consumer electronics products. People should not be getting injured while trying to open a new gadget – that’s a sure sign that something has gone horribly wrong. I’m in favor of other packaging methods mentioned, such as recyclable paper containers like HP ink cartridge boxes or PVC containers “bolted” at the top. Hampering shoplifters is all well and good, but forcing consumers to resort to knives and box-cutters is too much, especially after paying for it in the first place.