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Hi, I’m Brad Feld, a managing director at the Foundry Group who lives in Boulder, Colorado. I invest in software and Internet companies around the US, run marathons and read a lot.

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Fuck The Packaging

Comments (21)

I spent 45 minutes this morning desmegmafying three new Xbox 360 controllers, three new Wii controllers, a Wii charger, and a bunch of videogames.  Thanks to everyone that suggested Wii and Xbox 360 games to me – BioShock ate my morning (after I got the controllers out of their packages.)

My experience reminded me of Mark Cuban’s brilliant post from 2006 titled Seagate Leaves me bloody…  My right index finger is now sliced, my left palm has a cut on it, and my left index finger is still bleeding a little – five hours later.  But I’ve liberated the controllers from their plastic jail, inserted the batteries, and gotten my butt kicked at Wii Table Tennis.

When I looked at the damage I had done (including scraping up over 50% of the brand new controllers I’d gotten, including one particularly gruesome two inch long scratch in the black plastic of a brand new Xbox controller), I pondered the pile of crumpled and useless plastic that will take 154,792 years to decompose.

I spent some time on Wikipedia trying to figure out the type of evil plastic that is used for this stuff and got bogged down in common plastics and their usages.  I now know more about polycarbonates, polystyrene, and acrylonitrile butadiene styrene than I thought I’d ever want to know.

Why, oh why, do consumer products companies insist on using this shit?  There has got to be a better way.  I’m sure I would have done better at Wii Table Tennis if I hadn’t damaged my hands.

  • Jim Murphy

    I feel your pain, literally.

    The only “reason” I can come up with is that these product need to survive, in secure merchantable condition, loading from a likely factory, truck transport, JIT warehousing, a trip across the pacific, a train ride, a truck ride or 5, and a *dude* with a skid steer to the store shelf all while maintaining an impeccable presentation of the mechandise. But it sucks.

    And whats with those 25 wire ties that keep Baby Chou Chou sealed in her plastic sarcophagus?

  • Brian Hart

    Couldn't agree more. This “blister” packaging does little more than treat honest, paying customers like criminals. I could go on and on, but it's a topic well covered on the Internet… just punch 'blister packages emergency room' into your favorite search engine.

  • http://www.terrygold.com Terry Gold

    I once went into a store while traveling to buy some piece of gadgetry, then got to the car and realized I could not get the package open. I went back in and bought a little Swiss army knife, and then of course realized IT was packaged the same way. I got the clerk to saw it open with a pair of dull scissors. I hate this packaging too and also have the scars to prove it. The technique is probably patented too!

  • Juan Luis

    Hey Brad
    next time be sure to have a Pyranna(pyranna.com) or Openx (myopen.com) near you :)

  • http://learntoduck.com micah

    My favorite solution – the microwave. The blister pack melts long before anything inside, and I always hope that its sealed tightly enough to explode and scare the dogs. Yes, Im evil in that way.

  • http://www.wynnewilliams.com Brian Wynne Williams

    I couldn't agree more, Brad. This pisses me off to no end. Not only is it impossible to get into the product, but it's insanely wasteful. I'm sure they do it because it's cheap and keeps the product pristine even under tough transport circumstances, and studies have no doubt shown that consumers are more likely to buy “perfect” merchandise. It's gone too far, though. What we need is a good groundswell of support from some influential bloggers who demand that products be packaged differently — and a movement of consumers to commit to not buy products packaged that way …

  • Jud Valeski

    you ain't seen nuthin' until you've opened children's toys (game controllers don't count). I have wire cutters, box cutters, scissors, and screw drivers at my side during Birthday parties and holidays. insane!

  • http://www.steve-lacey.com Steve Lacey

    I got one of these: http://www.amazon.com/As-Seen-On-TV-OX104/dp/B000…a couple of years ago. Life as a geek has been much better since :-)

  • http://www.derekscruggs.com Derek Scruggs

    Steve Martin wrote a pretty funny story about this a few years ago: http://www.physics.ohio-state.edu/~wilkins/scienc

  • http://www.derekscruggs.com Derek Scruggs

    Steve Martin wrote a pretty funny story about this a few years ago: http://www.physics.ohio-state.edu/~wilkins/scienc

  • Dave

    And this is the true meaning of the U2 song, “Sunday, Bloody Sunday.” It was about CD packaging!

  • http://www.derekscruggs.com Derek Scruggs

    Steve Martin wrote a pretty funny story about this a few years ago: http://www.physics.ohio-state.edu/~wilkins/scienc

  • http://www.derekscruggs.com Derek Scruggs

    Steve Martin wrote a pretty funny story about this a few years ago: http://www.physics.ohio-state.edu/~wilkins/scienc

  • http://andyrankin.org Andy Rankin

    I think it's partially a security measure. It's so hard to open these things that you can't slip them out of their security enabled (RFID) packaging and walk out of the store with them.

    Still, it seems like there should be a better way. Personally, I'd factor in “easy to open” packaging when making purchasing decisions.

  • J 2 The B

    Brad,

    You need these Black & Decker Cordless Power Scissors. They work great at opening those plastic packages. I have 2 kids, and after many bloody knuckles and fingers, I finally got these and it has been a lifesaver (and skinsaver). Best $25 I've spent lately.

    Black&Decker SZ360 3.6-Volt Ni-Cad Cordless Power Scissors
    Amazon link: http://tinyurl.com/2webfj

    Amazon review
    "You can cut nearly anything with these, from delicate pattern paper to sheet vinyl flooring and window screening, with just the press of a button. Our favorite job for these, though, is to easily slice into that impossible-to-open, hard plastic packaging that seems to be on most everything these days. It’s no match for these scissors."

    Tx.

  • J 2 The B

    Brad,

    You need these Black & Decker Cordless Power Scissors. They work great at opening those plastic packages. I have 2 kids, and after many bloody knuckles and fingers, I finally got these and it has been a lifesaver (and skinsaver). Best $25 I've spent lately.

    Black&Decker SZ360 3.6-Volt Ni-Cad Cordless Power Scissors
    Amazon link: http://tinyurl.com/2webfj

    Amazon review
    “You can cut nearly anything with these, from delicate pattern paper to sheet vinyl flooring and window screening, with just the press of a button. Our favorite job for these, though, is to easily slice into that impossible-to-open, hard plastic packaging that seems to be on most everything these days. It’s no match for these scissors.”

    Tx.

  • J 2 The B

    Brad,

    You need these Black & Decker Cordless Power Scissors. They work great at opening those plastic packages. I have 2 kids, so we have many toys and such that come in that plasitc packaging. What a nightmare to open.
    After many bloody knuckles and fingers, I finally got these and it has been a lifesaver (and skinsaver). Best $25 I've spent lately.

    Black&Decker SZ360 3.6-Volt Ni-Cad Cordless Power Scissors
    Amazon link: http://tinyurl.com/2webfj

    Amazon review
    “You can cut nearly anything with these, from delicate pattern paper to sheet vinyl flooring and window screening, with just the press of a button. Our favorite job for these, though, is to easily slice into that impossible-to-open, hard plastic packaging that seems to be on most everything these days. It’s no match for these scissors.”

    Tx.

  • http://www.scottschnaars.com Scott Schnaars

    The Black and Decker cordless scissors are a great call above. I'm a big fan of the KitchenAid kitchen shears (http://tinyurl.com/27f4bm) which are big and sharp and keep your hands out of the way of danger.

  • http://www.scottschnaars.com Scott Schnaars

    The Black and Decker cordless scissors are a great call above. I'm a big fan of the KitchenAid kitchen shears (http://tinyurl.com/27f4bm) which are big and sharp and keep your hands out of the way of danger.

  • http://www.techniqal.com Daniel Weiss

    I suggest a relatively low tech solution that I used on my last blister pack purchase.
    Try using a plain old manual can opener.
    No cutting, or dismemberment involved, and everybody has one.
    Maybe not as quick a slashing it with a sharp object, but much safer.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/jim_murphy3964 jim_murphy3964

    I feel your pain, literally.

    The only "reason" I can come up with is that these product need to survive, in secure merchantable condition, loading from a likely factory, truck transport, JIT warehousing, a trip across the pacific, a train ride, a truck ride or 5, and a *dude* with a skid steer to the store shelf all while maintaining an impeccable presentation of the mechandise. But it sucks.

    And whats with those 25 wire ties that keep Baby Chou Chou sealed in her plastic sarcophagus?

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/micah105 micah105

    My favorite solution – the microwave. The blister pack melts long before anything inside, and I always hope that its sealed tightly enough to explode and scare the dogs. Yes, Im evil in that way.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/barnwilliams barnwilliams

    I couldn't agree more, Brad. This pisses me off to no end. Not only is it impossible to get into the product, but it's insanely wasteful. I'm sure they do it because it's cheap and keeps the product pristine even under tough transport circumstances, and studies have no doubt shown that consumers are more likely to buy "perfect" merchandise. It's gone too far, though. What we need is a good groundswell of support from some influential bloggers who demand that products be packaged differently — and a movement of consumers to commit to not buy products packaged that way …

  • Terry Gold

    I once went into a store while traveling to buy some piece of gadgetry, then got to the car and realized I could not get the package open. I went back in and bought a little Swiss army knife, and then of course realized IT was packaged the same way. I got the clerk to saw it open with a pair of dull scissors. I hate this packaging too and also have the scars to prove it. The technique is probably patented too!

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/juan_luis3966 juan_luis3966

    Hey Brad
    next time be sure to have a Pyranna(pyranna.com) or Openx (myopen.com) near you :)

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/brian_hart1973 brian_hart1973

    Couldn't agree more. This "blister" packaging does little more than treat honest, paying customers like criminals. I could go on and on, but it's a topic well covered on the Internet… just punch 'blister packages emergency room' into your favorite search engine.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/jud_valeski3968 jud_valeski3968

    you ain't seen nuthin' until you've opened children's toys (game controllers don't count). I have wire cutters, box cutters, scissors, and screw drivers at my side during Birthday parties and holidays. insane!

  • Steve Lacey

    I got one of these: http://www.amazon.com/As-Seen-On-TV-OX104/dp/B000…a couple of years ago. Life as a geek has been much better since :-)

  • Dave

    And this is the true meaning of the U2 song, "Sunday, Bloody Sunday." It was about CD packaging!

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/andy_rankin3995 andy_rankin3995

    I think it's partially a security measure. It's so hard to open these things that you can't slip them out of their security enabled (RFID) packaging and walk out of the store with them.

    Still, it seems like there should be a better way. Personally, I'd factor in "easy to open" packaging when making purchasing decisions.

  • J 2 The B

    Brad,

    You need these Black & Decker Cordless Power Scissors. They work great at opening those plastic packages. I have 2 kids, so we have many toys and such that come in that plasitc packaging. What a nightmare to open.
    After many bloody knuckles and fingers, I finally got these and it has been a lifesaver (and skinsaver). Best $25 I've spent lately.

    Black&Decker SZ360 3.6-Volt Ni-Cad Cordless Power Scissors
    Amazon link: http://tinyurl.com/2webfj

    Amazon review
    "You can cut nearly anything with these, from delicate pattern paper to sheet vinyl flooring and window screening, with just the press of a button. Our favorite job for these, though, is to easily slice into that impossible-to-open, hard plastic packaging that seems to be on most everything these days. It’s no match for these scissors."

    Tx.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/daniel_weiss501 daniel_weiss501

    I suggest a relatively low tech solution that I used on my last blister pack purchase.
    Try using a plain old manual can opener.
    No cutting, or dismemberment involved, and everybody has one.
    Maybe not as quick a slashing it with a sharp object, but much safer.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/RohitK RohitK

    i want to say, everybody gave suggestion about how to cut the plastic..But here problem is the plastic..is there any means to package the material without it..nobody talks about that so i think we should use strong paper material to avoid this type of problem (accidents).

  • http://toostep.com/ RohitK

    i want to say, everybody gave suggestion about how to cut the plastic..But here problem is the plastic..is there any means to package the material without it..nobody talks about that so i think we should use strong paper material to avoid this type of problem (accidents)…nobody is worry about the banning this type of material specially plastic one…

  • http://www.intensedebate.com/people/RohitK RohitK

    i want to say, everybody gave suggestion about how to cut the plastic..But here problem is the plastic..is there any means to package the material without it..nobody talks about that so i think we should use strong paper material to avoid this type of problem (accidents)…

  • http://www.intensedebate.com/people/RohitK RohitK

    i want to say, everybody gave suggestion about how to cut the plastic..But here problem is the plastic..is there any means to package the material without it..nobody talks about that so i think we should use strong paper material to avoid this type of problem (accidents)…

  • http://www.intensedebate.com/people/RohitK RohitK

    i want to say, everybody gave suggestion about how to cut the plastic..But here problem is the plastic..is there any means to package the material without it..nobody talks about that so i think we should use strong paper material to avoid this type of problem (accidents)…nobody is worry about the banning this type of material specially plastics one…

  • http://www.intensedebate.com/people/RohitK RohitK

    i want to say, everybody gave suggestion about how to cut the plastic..But here problem is the plastic..is there any means to package the material without it..nobody talks about that so i think we should use strong paper material to avoid this type of problem (accidents)…nobody is worry about the banning this type of material specially plastics one…

  • http://www.intensedebate.com/people/RohitK RohitK

    i want to say, everybody gave suggestion about how to cut the plastic..But here problem is the plastic..is there any means to package the material without it..nobody talks about that so i think we should use strong paper material to avoid this type of problem (accidents)…nobody is worry about the banning this type of material specially plastic one…

  • Angel

    He really seems to be a true sex addict. I am a suneel's former employee. I heard he took a trip to the Caribbean for an adult sex vacation at charlisangels where he spent time with beautiful European and Russian escorts in luxury private villa. I was mistreated by suneel several times.

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