Sunday, December 20, 2009

Wrap Rage

In recent years, manufacturers have started making their packaging extraordinarily difficult to remove. Many electronics come in clamshells that one must violently destroy to get at the contents.

Personally, I've taken to using extremely sharp and dangerous objects like box cutters to open plastic clamshells. I really dislike clamshell packaging as I like to keep packages around for storage.

My guess is that manufacturers are seeking to reduce returns. It is less tempting to return items to a store after destroying the package.

The result of the hard to remove packaging is that there will be a large number of emergency room visits this Christmas as people trying to open clamshells fall into a fit of wrap rage.

Christmas Morning is a time filled with elevated emotions and hyper activity. The parents might be filming while the kids stumble over each other to find if Santa was kind.

Heightened emotions can take unpredictible directions.

When a present proves unopenable, kids will run and grab whatever sharp object they can find to break the wrapping. I've seen small children weilding eight inch chef knives trying to find a way to the toy held in place by industrial strength plastic holders.

Invariably, a large number of people will stab themselves on Christmas morning and destroy their Happy New Years with an expensive trip to the Emergency Room.

The way to prevent wrap rage in your family is to completely open then rewrap all presents before xmas day.

It is better to deny the gift recipient the experience of removing the manufacturers packaging than it is to subject them to a stay in a hospital.

Parents should put the camera down and stand at the ready with the box cutters. It is better to have sharp objects at the ready for opening packaging than it is to have people run around on Christmas day trying to find knives and scissors.

The reason for this post is that it wrap rage brings up an interesting question of liability. Apparently there is some sort of financial gain for manufacturers in using clamshell packaging. I assume that it reduces returns. Manufacturers receive a small financial gain by creating a large number of injuries.

This is the type of situation where liability laws play a positive role.

Decisions made by manufacturers to encase their products in difficult to open packaging will result in a large number of injuries that would not otherwise occur. The treatment of such injuries should be paid for by the manufacturers that benefitted from the decision to use impossible to open packaging.

IMHO, what we want in the personal injury arena is a system that can fund all of the small claims from product liability. For that matter, I think our product liability laws and practices do a good job of helping people identify and account for risks.

With a system that has manufacturers facing the real costs of their decisions, the manufacturers could then look at the data and weigh the fact that clamshell packaging reduces returns against the injuries caused by the packaing and hopefully come up with packaging designs which can be opened without the aid of a sharp object.

1 comment:

Scott Hinrichs said...

Each Christmas Eve as we place gifts under the tree, we also place wire cutters, metal cutting shears, industrial strength scissors, and a couple of small blade knives nearby. The adults and older teens use these objects as necessary to free gifts from horrendous packaging materials.

Your idea of completely removing the gift from original packaging before wrapping would be much safer. It would also permit one to check the item for defects in time to do something about it before the blessed day.

But there are two drawbacks to the pre-wrap de-packaging plan. 1) It takes a lot of time during a busy season. 2) It would destroy a time honored family tradition of using industrial tools on Christmas morning. :)