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Worst Design Ever? Plastic Clamshell Packaging

Soulskill posted more than 2 years ago | from the spilled-more-blood-than-all-the-swords dept.

Businesses 398

Hugh Pickens writes "Rebecca Rosen writes that if you've recently opened up — or, more specifically, tried to open up — a CFL light bulb, you can sympathize with the question posted on Quora last year, 'What is the worst piece of design ever done?' The site's users have given resounding support to one answer: plastic clamshell packaging. 'Design should help solve problems' — clamshells are supposed to make it harder to steal small products and easier for employees to arrange on display — but this packaging, says Anita Schillhorn, makes new ones, such as time wasted, frustration, and the little nicks and scrapes people incur as they just try to get their damn lightbulb out. The problem is so pervasive there is even a Wikipedia page devoted to 'wrap rage,' 'the common name for heightened levels of anger and frustration resulting from the inability to open hard-to-remove packaging.' Amazon and Wal-Mart are prodding more manufacturers to change their packaging to cut waste. 'We've gotten e-mails from customers who've purchased scissors in a clamshell, which would require another pair of scissors to open the package,' says Nadia Shouraboura, Amazon's vice president of global fulfillment. Other worthy answers to the Quora question include the interfaces on most microwaves, TV remotes, New York City's parking signs, and pull-handles on push-only doors, but none gained even close to the level of popular repudiation that clamshells received."

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It's not the packaging, it's the seal (5, Informative)

DrEnter (600510) | more than 2 years ago | (#40182399)

I've had plenty of terrible times trying to get things out of plastic clamshells. I've also had no trouble at all... when they don't press seal the entire circumference of the package. If they just use a couple press locks (maybe with a touch of adhesive or a staple), these packages aren't bad at all. Why they insist on hermetically sealing them, though, that is baffling to me.

Re:It's not the packaging, it's the seal (4, Informative)

Jeng (926980) | more than 2 years ago | (#40182473)

Why they insist on hermetically sealing them, though, that is baffling to me.

I believe it is that way for as a theft deterrent. The harder it is to open the harder it is to open in the aisle in the store and not get caught.

There are replacements for clamshells that do an even better job of this though and without the bodily injury that occurs from people trying to open stubborn clamshells.

Re:It's not the packaging, it's the seal (0)

firex726 (1188453) | more than 2 years ago | (#40182645)

Well chances are you wont be using your hands. Bring along a small pocket knife, voila!

Re:It's not the packaging, it's the seal (2)

Jeng (926980) | more than 2 years ago | (#40182985)

Even with a knife it is still very conspicuous to open in a store.

Re:It's not the packaging, it's the seal (5, Interesting)

NewWorldDan (899800) | more than 2 years ago | (#40182651)

It's also a return deterrant. Once you've shredded the package, you're much less likely to try and return it if you don't like it. Still, you could solve that by using a tear away strip. The packaging is irrepairably damaged, but the product is then easy to get out.

Another key advantage is that it's very effective at protecting goods in shipping. It makes a very good shock absorber and it's very hard to damage the product inside. Unless you work in manufacturing or product development, you probably don't realize how much damage and vibration boxes suffer in the back of a truck.

Re:It's not the packaging, it's the seal (3, Funny)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 2 years ago | (#40182849)

Another key advantage is that it's very effective at protecting goods in shipping.

Which, of course, explains why the last chisel I bought was hermetically sealed in an indestructible plastic clamshell package.

Re:It's not the packaging, it's the seal (4, Interesting)

cayenne8 (626475) | more than 2 years ago | (#40182901)

It's also a return deterrant. Once you've shredded the package, you're much less likely to try and return it if you don't like it.

Interesting...

I've seen this put forth here a few times on this early thread...and I'm baffled. Really?

Would anyone here be deterred from returning something just because packaging was shredded? I've never heard of this before till this thread....I'd not have thought of it at all actually.

Way back in the dark ages, when I was working retail jobs in HS and first years of college, I was amazed at what people would try to return...shoes that were obviously worn. I had one kid bring in an old old worn pair of shoes, said his brother handed them down to him, and they didn't fit and wanted to return them for a new pair that fit him. No joke...

I used to also sell clothes in the young men's area....and had some lady bring in bags of clothes..that were obviously worn and in cases stained.

What was nice...was back then...the management backed you up when you refused to accept a return in that shape. I argued with her...called mgr...he looked at it and said no and when the lady started throwing a fit, he called security and they had her removed from the store telling her not to come back. Don't get me wrong...customer service was good with us...I got award for it and sales, had many happy return customers.

Sadly...you don't see that today...bad service, and mgrs would never back up a sales person like that...and they accept returns on EVERYTHING....which is horribly abused. Hell, i've talked to girls that thought nothing, of buying a complete outfit to wear out somewhere nice...and then, returning it the next day......really?

With that mentality...I can't imagine a clamshell case would deter anyone from a return.

Re:It's not the packaging, it's the seal (2)

AmiMoJo (196126) | more than 2 years ago | (#40182939)

Must cost the shops more to process returns though as they can't just check and re-sell the item, it has to go back to the manufacturer for re-packaging or be written off. It must also increase the number of "dead out the box" returns due to items getting damaged as people wrestle with the packaging, light bulbs being a good example of something delicate often sold in clamshells.

Re:It's not the packaging, it's the seal (5, Funny)

coinreturn (617535) | more than 2 years ago | (#40182683)

Why they insist on hermetically sealing them, though, that is baffling to me.

I believe it is that way for as a theft deterrent. The harder it is to open the harder it is to open in the aisle in the store and not get caught.

Regardless, if I ever meet the inventor, I will punch him/her in the face.

Re:It's not the packaging, it's the seal (5, Funny)

19thNervousBreakdown (768619) | more than 2 years ago | (#40182785)

Nah, just seal their head in a clamshell package.

Re:It's not the packaging, it's the seal (1)

Bieeanda (961632) | more than 2 years ago | (#40183001)

Welp, looks like I've got the first murder lined up for Se7en^2.

Re:It's not the packaging, it's the seal (0)

ldobehardcore (1738858) | more than 2 years ago | (#40182829)

If it were only for theft deterrent purposes, wouldn't it make more sense to just embed the product in a Lexan cube with a weighted base? Then nobody would steal it... /Troll

Re:It's not the packaging, it's the seal (2)

MozeeToby (1163751) | more than 2 years ago | (#40182537)

They will want to balance ease of opening with tamper resistance and tamper evidence. The press locks are very easy to open, but make shoplifting and 'spare parts' lifting trivial to do in the store, all the more so because it isn't obvious that the package has been opened. More likely, they will move toward the perforated back panels, so at least you'll be able to see if someone opened it before you bought it.

Re:It's not the packaging, it's the seal (5, Insightful)

mcgrew (92797) | more than 2 years ago | (#40182577)

I think everyone hates those offal things; I know I do. But the worst design? Hardly. Clamshell packaging never killed anybody.

Ever drive a car from the late '80s-early '90s? Rather than a knob, the volume control was buttons! Unlike earlier and modern car radios, you couldn't change the volume without taking your eyes off the road!

Worse, your ac/heat controls used to have knobs, too. You could change the temp without taking your eyes off the road. Now they have BUTTONS! God damn it, listen up, idiot designers, buttons don't belong on a car's dash! If you need buttons, put them on the steering wheel like the radio controls on my car. That has the added benefit of not letting the fatassed passenger turn the AC all the way up and freezing me out.

Similarly, what idiot decided to put the winshield wiper on the turn signal? Probably one of the many idiots that never use their turn signals. Not as bad as clamshell packaging or buttons on a car's dash, but still frustrating and stupid.

Re:It's not the packaging, it's the seal (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40182665)

I should count myself as lucky then, my car uses knobs for both the radio and the AC/heating system.

Re:It's not the packaging, it's the seal (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40182691)

That's nothing.

Since everyone's caught up in the touchscreen crazy, it's moving towards being controlled via tocuhscreen -- where you can't even feel if there's a button being pressed!

Re:It's not the packaging, it's the seal (0)

X0563511 (793323) | more than 2 years ago | (#40182851)

Some of us higher functioning beings can glance quickly (1/4 of a second or less, and usually not even necessary) to fix a reference and do the rest by feel and proprioception [wikipedia.org] .

If you have to stare at it to do your adjustment, then you really need to learn the thing better. Stare at it some in the parking lot or something.

I know where every control of my car is by feel, and I did so after having the car for a whole month.

Re:It's not the packaging, it's the seal (1)

Grishnakh (216268) | more than 2 years ago | (#40182855)

Dude, you're a few years late with this complaint. (As another poster noted here) many car manufacturers are switching to all-touchscreen controls, so you have to navigate menus on a touchscreen just to set the temperature, adjust fan speed, or adjust the radio volume. The worst offenders are Ford/Lincoln and BMW.

Most of the new cars I've driven lately do use knobs for HVAC: they typically have a knob for temperature, another for vent selection, and one for fan speed. There's frequently a few buttons (in the middle of the knobs usually) for turning on/off the AC, selecting recirculate, etc., but that's it (and those are things that you really do need buttons for).

As for the wipers on the turn signal stalk, I've only seen that in GM cars. That alone will make me avoid buying a GM; it's too bad, because otherwise they've really improved a lot over the last 10 years, but if they can't even get that right, then forget it.

If your passenger is messing with your AC, stop the car, make him get out, and tell him to call a cab. Problems with passengers are entirely your fault; you're the driver. If you can't control your passengers you have no business driving.

Re:It's not the packaging, it's the seal (1)

macwhizkid (864124) | more than 2 years ago | (#40182747)

Why they insist on hermetically sealing them, though, that is baffling to me.

The only reason I've ever heard that actually makes sense is that it cuts down on in-store returns.

People often feel that if they return a product to the store that they're obligated to include all the original packaging: little plastic baggies and paper flyers, as well as the foam padding and the box itself.

In reality, most stores are far more lenient, but when you have quite literally destroyed the package in the process of testing it out, it makes you far less likely to take that $10 light bulb back to the store.

Re:It's not the packaging, it's the seal (1)

No2Gates (239823) | more than 2 years ago | (#40182763)

I'd like to meet the guy who designed clamshell packages in a dark alley.

To put something fragile like a CFL bulb in it is insane. I broke one trying to open the package. I took it back to the store and got a refund, but what if I cut myself on the glass of the CFL tube?

It's a huge pain to have to get a sharp knife and carefully open those packages.

Arrrrr. (3, Funny)

Steauengeglase (512315) | more than 2 years ago | (#40182793)

That is exactly what a filthy pirate who is smuggling counterfeit light bulbs would say!

Re:It's not the packaging, it's the seal (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40182845)

Use a can opener. Never a problem with a clamshell package again.

Someone sells a tool to open these things easily.. (4, Interesting)

craznar (710808) | more than 2 years ago | (#40182403)

.. and you guessed it.

Comes in a nice cardbox box : http://the-gadgeteer.com/2009/08/10/zipit-clamshell-package-opener-review/ [the-gadgeteer.com]

Re:Someone sells a tool to open these things easil (5, Informative)

steveg (55825) | more than 2 years ago | (#40182493)

I got a handy little tool from Think Geek called "The Plastic Surgeon [thinkgeek.com] " that works pretty well.

Re:Someone sells a tool to open these things easil (2)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 2 years ago | (#40182869)

I got a handy little tool from Think Geek called "The Plastic Surgeon [thinkgeek.com] " that works pretty well.

Did it come in a plastic clamshell package?

Re:Someone sells a tool to open these things easil (1)

archen (447353) | more than 2 years ago | (#40182527)

I just use a wire cutters on everything.

Re:Someone sells a tool to open these things easil (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40182861)

good way to ruin your wire cutters.

Re:Someone sells a tool to open these things easil (2)

million_monkeys (2480792) | more than 2 years ago | (#40182615)

I use a pair of scissors (or a utility knife in a pinch). The advantage is i can use them for other things and they don't require batteries. I hate those packages as much as the next person, but they really don't require a custom designed opening tool.

Re:Someone sells a tool to open these things easil (1)

gl4ss (559668) | more than 2 years ago | (#40182669)

http://boaty.pwp.blueyonder.co.uk/bare.jpg [blueyonder.co.uk]

a knife works too. the problem is that you don't have one while at the office, bus-stop or wherever.

theft prevention and being cheap as fuck to put together are the reasons for these horrible packages though.

Re:Someone sells a tool to open these things easil (1)

Nadaka (224565) | more than 2 years ago | (#40182799)

Who leaves the house without at least one knife?

I went to Golden Coral with my family on mothers day and was unable to cut the steak with the butter knife they provide at the table. I wouldn't have been able to find the edible half of that slab of gristle without my razor sharp folding pocket knife.

Re:Someone sells a tool to open these things easil (2)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 2 years ago | (#40182867)

Why don't you have one at the office or bus-stop?

I always have my skeletool in my pocket. Pocket knives are cheap and extremely useful tools. I suggest keeping one in your towel.

Re:Someone sells a tool to open these things easil (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40182715)

Just pierce the casing with a knife in a flat spot, it tears apart easily from there. Having said that, that packaging truly sucks.

Re:Someone sells a tool to open these things easil (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40182967)

I was told you can just drop it on a rock from a high location (but I'm gullible).

Re:Someone sells a tool to open these things easil (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40182997)

Or you could just use a standard box cutter. I've honestly never understood why this is such a hassle for some people.

I blame Apple (2, Funny)

kthreadd (1558445) | more than 2 years ago | (#40182417)

For every iPhone sold there is at least one package. Absolutely THEIR fault.

Re:I blame Apple (2)

ddd0004 (1984672) | more than 2 years ago | (#40182831)

It can't be Apple's fault. The plastic clamshell is only difficult to open. If Apple designed it is wouldn't be able to be opened by the end-user. Apple would require you to visit a nearby Apple store, pay a service charge and have a "genius" retrieve the contents.

Memo to manufacturers (0)

crazyjj (2598719) | more than 2 years ago | (#40182423)

If I need a pair of scissors to open your package...you have failed.

Re:Memo to manufacturers (1)

idontgno (624372) | more than 2 years ago | (#40182523)

If you're a shoplifter, and you need a pair of scissors (or more likely, a bolt cutter) to open the package, they have succeeded.

After all, once the damn thing is paid for, the manufacturer certainly doesn't care how hard it is to open. They've got theirs. Whereas losses from pilferage take (prospective) money out of their pocket, so THAT is not gonna happen if they have any say in the matter.

Re:Memo to manufacturers (1)

0123456 (636235) | more than 2 years ago | (#40182911)

Whereas losses from pilferage take (prospective) money out of their pocket

As do losses from people not buying your product because they don't want the hassle of dealing with shitty packaging.

There are good things (5, Interesting)

jonnythan (79727) | more than 2 years ago | (#40182429)

The nice thing about clamshell packaging is that it clearly displays the product itself, and usually so you can see most or all the sides of the product. This is in many ways better than a cardboard box with a couple of printed pictures on the outside.

I'm sure I'm not the only one who has pried open a cardboard box in a store to get to the product inside to see what it actually looked like. Clamshell designs largely prevent that.

The fix is to make them possible to open by hand. Many clamshell packages have a perforated panel on the back you can simply pull open. That's a pretty good design.

Re:There are good things (1)

InvisibleClergy (1430277) | more than 2 years ago | (#40182495)

This is almost exactly what the Wikipedia article linked in TFA said. Just, y'know, FYI.

Re:There are good things (2)

jonnythan (79727) | more than 2 years ago | (#40182603)

I apologize for not reading all 4 links in full before posting a thought.

Re:There are good things (1)

Sunshinerat (1114191) | more than 2 years ago | (#40182627)

I agree only on your point that the product is almost completely visible. No need to unpack.
What I do not agree on is the easy to open idea of perforation in the back. That never works.
Either the perforation is to rigid and wont tear without excessive force, I usually get a scissor to open.

A well made clam shell packaging can be opened and closed with press locks and a piece of tape.
If you need to return an item, you can do so in decent shape, if the product came in a completely sealed clam shell (with or without perforation) and I need to return it, expect it to be returned in a plastic bag as the packaging will never go back to its original shape.

Lastly, CFL bulbs need to be in clam shell packaging as it protects the product fairly well, however, when you buy a pack (always more than one in a package) to replace one lamp, you end up with one or more unprotected bulbs as the package never comes back to its original shape. The last thing you want to do is break an spare CFL in storage.

Re:There are good things (2)

marcosdumay (620877) | more than 2 years ago | (#40182963)

If you need to return an item, you can do so in decent shape, if the product came in a completely sealed clam shell (with or without perforation) and I need to return it, expect it to be returned in a plastic bag as the packaging will never go back to its original shape.

That's a feature, not a bug. When you get a product in a sealed clamshell in a store you know it wasn't tampered with, and it isn't a return.

Re:There are good things (5, Insightful)

smagruder (207953) | more than 2 years ago | (#40182753)

On the other hand, they're usually made from a kind of plastic that recyclers don't take. If we have to continue to put up with clamshells, at least they should use a #1-#6 plastic.

Re:There are good things (1)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 2 years ago | (#40182903)

Yes. At least that.

Re:There are good things (1)

Anubis IV (1279820) | more than 2 years ago | (#40182755)

If all you want to do is display the product, there are better ways, as you point out. For instance, I'm reminded of the packaging used for action figures [amazon.com] . They have a thin cardboard backing with clear plastic adhered to the front, and the plastic had a section where the product could be displayed. It was simple to open by either peeling the plastic away from the cardboard or by tearing through the cardboard. Even as a child, I could do it without the need for any tools or long fingernails.

Granted, the example I've provided is pretty generic, since they were likely trying to save on manufacturing costs while producing hundreds of various models of action figures, but for a company with a handful of products, you could easily have the plastic conform to the shape of the product.

Clamshells are on their way out (4, Interesting)

Jeng (926980) | more than 2 years ago | (#40182437)

Clamshells have been on their way out for a while now.

Here is an example of what is replacing it.

http://www.hpcorporategroup.com/the-benefits-of-natralockr-paperboard-packaging.html [hpcorporategroup.com]

Re:Clamshells are on their way out (4, Informative)

hiryuu (125210) | more than 2 years ago | (#40182757)

I've worked with companies that are trying to drive a paper-based alternative to plastic clamshells, and while there's a modicum of market activity there, none of these packagers has yet to see the take-off they'd like. One of the challenges is that a paper-based package is going to require an adhesive system of some sort that provides the package as a ready-to-seal unit into which the widget-maker can drop his widget, without buying a lot of additional materials and equipment (such as adhesive and an application system).

Want to make a self-sealing cardboard package? You could use a pressure-sensitive adhesive that would stick two flaps of cardboard together when the package is folded shut, but then you've got to have release liner covering the adhesive, or the adhesive film will end up bonded to whatever else it touches and/or pick up dirt and become useless in the shipping and handling portions of its pre-packaging life. (Think of the types of closure you see on a UPS "Red" overnight shipping box or envelope.)

Another option is using a cohesive-type of product, where both sides are coated with an adhesive that sticks to itself but not to much else. These are great, except the bulk of them are made of natural rubber and have a very limited shelf-life before they "deaden" up and simply won't seal any longer. That makes it a definite possibility that your 10,000 purchased packaging units will really only allow you to use 3,000 of them to package your widgets before the packages stop sealing, within literally a month or two after they were created and sold to you.

I'm not saying it can't be done - just that I've been watching the attempts to replace clamshells go on for years, and I've had a front-row seat to watch some of the limitations of the potential replacements.

Re:Clamshells are on their way out (3, Funny)

Belial6 (794905) | more than 2 years ago | (#40182853)

It's being replaced by guys shaking hands in front of giant maps of the world?!?!?!?

More seriously, while natralock is better, it still sucks.

Re:Clamshells are on their way out (4, Insightful)

jimicus (737525) | more than 2 years ago | (#40182973)

You'd think they could put up a photograph of their packaging, rather than some cheesy stock "people shaking hands" photo.

We should sue them every time we cut ourselves (3, Insightful)

johnb10001 (604626) | more than 2 years ago | (#40182445)

when trying to open those packages with scissors, knives, screwdrivers, laser cutters, C4 then finally a nuclear bomb and the package is still not open

CFL light bulb (-1, Offtopic)

cpu6502 (1960974) | more than 2 years ago | (#40182465)

They suck. If the only think wrong with a CFL bulb was the "clamshell" packaging, I'd actually be happy. I saw on youtube last night of a bulb covering a bathroom with smoke/soot as it burned-out (normal operation according to the manufacturer). It cost the family thousands of dollars because they wanted to save a few pennies.

If it was an isolated incident, I wouldn't care, but there are dozens of videos like that. I suspect if some student or professor with spare time performed a study, they'd find CFLs actually cost MORE money (and energy) overall than using the old Edison bulb (incandescent bulb). Similar to how ACEEE.org performed a study and found a grid-powered EV actually emits more pollution/greenhouse gases than a 50 or higher MPG gasoline or diesel car.

Re:CFL light bulb (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40182531)

*Edison
Team Edison's bulb.

Re:CFL light bulb (1)

firex726 (1188453) | more than 2 years ago | (#40182697)

Personally I don't like their charge up time.
I'll turn one on and it'll be five minutes or so before it's at full strength.

Used both cheapo dollar store ones to more quality GE and Phillips brands. I just refuse to use them now.

Link Please! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40182743)

I saw on youtube last night of a bulb covering a bathroom with smoke/soot as it burned-out (normal operation according to the manufacturer). It cost the family thousands of dollars because they wanted to save a few pennies.

Seriously, link please (if you were logged into youtube it should be in your history). I've never heard of this and would like to know if it's you fear mongering or legitimately as common as you say.

Re:Link Please! (1)

game kid (805301) | more than 2 years ago | (#40182857)

There's many CFLs in my place-of-residence and the few that have gone out have done so not with expelled smoke, soot, or a bang, but a harmless flicker (though the bulbs do turn black in one or two parts near the base as they near their end of life). They've also lasted MUCH longer than the incandescents (months or years, instead of weeks).

Maybe I've been lucky, but you'll find no loathing of CFLs from me.

Re:CFL light bulb (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40182749)

You may be interested to know that Philips manufactures a line of domestic incandescent light bulbs that use 50% less electricity, last twice as long and yet still have a low per-unit cost.

Re:CFL light bulb (1)

smagruder (207953) | more than 2 years ago | (#40182771)

Might help us see your point if you gave us links for these claims.

Snopes Says You're Full of Shit (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40182775)

They suck. If the only think wrong with a CFL bulb was the "clamshell" packaging, I'd actually be happy. I saw on youtube last night of a bulb covering a bathroom with smoke/soot as it burned-out (normal operation according to the manufacturer). It cost the family thousands of dollars because they wanted to save a few pennies.

How full of shit is he Johnny? Well, Bob, he's pretty darn full of shit [snopes.com] . Nothing in there indicates it could cover a bathroom.

Re:CFL light bulb (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40182813)

They suck. If the only think wrong with a CFL bulb was the "clamshell" packaging, I'd actually be happy. I saw on youtube last night of a bulb covering a bathroom with smoke/soot as it burned-out (normal operation according to the manufacturer). It cost the family thousands of dollars because they wanted to save a few pennies.

If it was an isolated incident, I wouldn't care, but there are dozens of videos like that.

I've had plenty of CFLs burn out over the years. They just go out. No smoke, let alone anything that could cover a room in soot. I'll agree that it shouldn't be brushed off by the manufacturer and that, if it really were widespread, it should be addressed as the defect it is, but it's not normal.

I suspect if some student or professor with spare time performed a study, they'd find CFLs actually cost MORE money (and energy) overall than using the old Edison bulb (incandescent bulb). Similar to how ACEEE.org performed a study and found a grid-powered EV actually emits more pollution/greenhouse gases than a 50 or higher MPG gasoline or diesel car.

Testing something like emissions from vehicles has got a lot more complexity and variables than the childishly-simple-to-determine power consumption of a light bulb. They're sold by their consumption. They produce an equivalent amount of light while consuming a fraction of the power. Unless you don't believe their rated consumption - their regulated, enforced, legally culpable consumption - it's not really up for debate. Go to the hardware store and grab some light bulb sockets, wire and batteries, and you can put it to the test yourself for $20. There are plenty of complaints one might make about mercury, advertised life, cost, flickering, color tone, but I've never seen very many people try to claim CFLs don't really consume less power.

Re:CFL light bulb (3, Insightful)

MojoRilla (591502) | more than 2 years ago | (#40182927)

There were 243 million CFL's sold in the US in 2009. And there were 34 reports of smoke, and 4 reports of fire in a US consumer product safety database from March 2011 through December of 2011 (see this article [masslive.com] for more information). Seems like a pretty safe product to me.

In terms of your supposition that CFL's actually cost more than incandecents? Here is a study [google.com] that says no, In terms of the ACEEE.org study, I can't find specifics (unless you are talking about the 2006 study, which is hopelessly out of date). But electric cars top the ACEEE.org list of cleanest cars this year [plugincars.com] .

Re:CFL light bulb (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40182929)

I call BS on this. Not that the videos aren't real but that a manufacturer would claim that this is normal operation. In my experience with CFLs in my own home, as well as friends and family, the typical failure mode is the same as an incandescent; the bulb just goes out.

If I had to guess what would cause a CFL to smoke I would say it was a ballast failure, which is the thick part of the base. I haven't seen a CFL fail like that but I have seen them fail in a standard fluorescent light fixture and they can smoke and stink.

And as far as the frequency of this kind of failure, given that millions if not billions of these bulbs have been sold I would characterize dozens of videos as "isolated incidents".

I agree (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40182469)

I agree, I hate the plastic clamshell anti-theft junk because it wastes so much plastic. These need to go away. Usually how I open them is I take a kitchen knife or pocket knife and just cut straight through the packaging right above where the object in it rests, take the object out, and the dump out anything else in it through that opening.

We'd see a quick end to this crap if stores were required to open packaging at point of sale and then put a "opened by" sticker over it. Like when you buy pre-packaged sushi, meat, and stuff, so that you aren't harassed about potentially having stolen it.

Packaging? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40182499)

Sure blame the packaging. But the real problem is the niggers that steal shit from the store, which is why the packaging exists in the first place. Fix the niggers and you won't have to turn packages into fort knox.

Re:Packaging? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40182579)

Oh, believe me, white people steal plenty of shit as well. Sounds like someone needs a few hours with a "Faces of Meth" video.

I bought a pair of tinsnips for this (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40182519)

I bought a pair of tinsnips for these packages. Actually, it was a good excuse to get a tool that could CUT SHEET METAL. How bad is that? I had to laugh at the jokers selling special tools just for the packages. Screw that. Go out and get yourself a badass sheet metal cutting pair of tinsnips, and if you ever need to CUT METAL you're set too. OK, I never cut metal, but just knowing I can do it is cool.

Yes they suck. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40182529)

But what's neat is that people lose their cool over them.

Marketing & Anti-Theft (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40182545)

They weren't intended to be easy to open: they were intended to show off the product, keep it safe in transit, and make theft more difficult. Particularly for small/high value products (e.g. formerly flash memory) they bulked up the product size to make theft harder.

Web shopping? Whoops, didn't think about that! They were designed for in-person shopping, and are now obsolete.

Computer projector UI (4, Interesting)

dtmos (447842) | more than 2 years ago | (#40182561)

My nominee would have been the user interface on substantially all computer projectors. At a typical meeting I attend -- the type of group doesn't seem to matter -- the first ten minutes is usually spent trying to figure out how to get the projector to work. "Is it on?" "Is it off?" "Is it plugged in?" "Is it warming up?" "Is it cooling down?" "Is the bulb bad?" "Is the cable bad?" "Is it receiving anything from the laptop?" etc. Not to mention the eleventeen connectors and plenty-two buttons, when all anyone ever uses -- at least in my experience -- is a PC laptop cable and the on/off switch.

Whether it's a group of administrative assistants, football coaches, electrical technicians, farmers, or Ph.D. computer scientists, it's always the same. My kingdom for a projector that has a nice little LCD that tells me its present state, and what I need to do to either (a) see my presentation, or (b) turn it off, from there.

Re:Computer projector UI (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40182779)

I have also seen:

"Why can't I see the whole screen (resolution)?"

Re:Computer projector UI (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40182921)

Or when it does display information on the screen:

We just replaced the bulb, why is it still complaining?

Uh, the filter is clean.

Okay, how do we unfuckup the screen geometry?

Why is everything wiggling?

Re:Computer projector UI (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40182937)

Indicators, indicators! A simple 2x20 or 4x20 character lcd on many devices would a lifesaver.

I've worked with a satellite modem that had three different colour LEDs all behind a red filter. The non-red LEDs were difficult to see. Obvious bad design.
The serial link light never turned on and there was no reset sequence or button to make the device say "hello" over the serial link.
The manual gave the wrong baud rate to use.
The device echos serial input only if you start with AT, otherwise not.

Of course now that I say this I realize I should be putting LCDs on the stuff I build.

Re:Computer projector UI (1)

MetalliQaZ (539913) | more than 2 years ago | (#40182955)

It wouldn't be a meeting without projector trouble.

it's worse that that! (4, Interesting)

sribe (304414) | more than 2 years ago | (#40182565)

...and the little nicks and scrapes people incur as they just try to get their damn lightbulb out.

Not to mention the estimate 6,000 - 7,000 people a year who get cut badly enough to seek treatment in emergency rooms!

Re:it's worse that that! (1)

jrmcc (703725) | more than 2 years ago | (#40182917)

Count me in that statistic, granted, I am a klutz but the scar on my thumb came from trying to open up a clamshell.

Security seals on DVDs and audio CDs (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40182589)

Even after all the big box music retailers have gone out of business (so "shrinkage" is presumably less of an issue), many if not most CDs still come with safety seals on three sides underneath the cellophane wrap. Same with DVDs. I'm sure these have been partly responsible for plenty of trips to the ER over the years.

Irony (1)

arthurpaliden (939626) | more than 2 years ago | (#40182609)

I remember a few years back an, only available on TV, ad for a special pair of scissors specifically designed to open these packages and yes it was sold in one of them.

Eh, 'hated' and 'worst' are hardly identical... (3)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 2 years ago | (#40182619)

It seems a bit unfair to call plastic clamshell packaging the 'worst design ever' just because the collateral damage don't like it very much...

It can be inexpensively vacuum formed from plastic sheet stock, easily machine cut and sealed, allows items to be presented for display in a retail environment, and makes it harder for the small-but-valuable stuff to wander away. From the perspective of the actual customer(ie. the one who buys clamshell packaging, not you, you peon) it's actually quite a successful design.

Obviously, it is out of place in mail-order environments, and now that a large amount of merchandise gets moved that way, I assume we'll see dedicated 'warehouse-only' packaging come to the fore; but clamshell has been phenomenally successful on the shop floor.

In other news, shell-shocked civilians describe high-explosives as 'pretty lame' and 'about the worst ever'...

Brick and Mortar won't last (0)

andymadigan (792996) | more than 2 years ago | (#40182631)

This is just an example of why Brick and Mortar retailers won't survive. They focus so much on theft prevention that they don't care about customers anymore. Clamshell packages can be made easy to open, providing all the same benefits except theft prevention, but retailers won't hear of it. They see every customer as a criminal, which is why they've taken to demanding your receipt as you leave.

Companies that want to stay in business are going to have to learn to treat customers well, providing 'adequate' service isn't going to cut it anymore.

Re:Brick and Mortar won't last (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 2 years ago | (#40182993)

Don't hand it over.

I give them the option of calling the police and having me searched by a police officer or I shall give them the receipt and items back in exchange for a refund. I bought this crap, it is now mine and they have no right to search.

Consumer preference won't drive change here. (2)

hiryuu (125210) | more than 2 years ago | (#40182635)

Plastic clamshell packaging has always been a nightmare from an end-consumer's perspective, and yes, there's lip-service paid to changing things in the words of major retailers and consumer goods distributors, but it's not likely to change because of "wrap rage." Clamshell packaging is adored by the retail industry for a handful of reasons:

A.) Product visibility: transparent plastic packaging that hugs the product, displays it prominently, and can showcase it visibly with flashy liners and inserts is just loved by marketing departments. Using corrugated boxes, trays, or cartons just isn't sexy if you're pushing a mostly-commoditized consumer good.

B.) Tamper evidence and loss prevention: opening boxes is easy. Opening a clamshell is difficult and noticeable, particularly if you're an unscrupulous retail employee trying to get the widget out of the package and into your pockets without the embedded loss-prevention device (RFID, etc.) coming with it.

C.) Cost of packaging: getting something into paper or corrugated boxes and cartons is a slow and expensive process, in terms of unit throughput, materials, and equipment/process complexity. Mechanical fastening (staples, etc.) is slow, adhesive application systems aren't cheap and aren't much faster, and self-seal packaging comes with a host of other issues that contribute to waste and cost. By comparison, a clamshell packaging process can be quick, with a minimum of material and significantly less scrap.

Until boxes are cheaper and faster - until the cost per unit in time, money, materials, and processing is lower using paper packaging than clamshells - those nasty, finger-slicing hunks of PVC, PET, and polycarbonate aren't going anywhere.

WTF? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40182643)

You can't open a package but you can write an article. I wonder what's more difficult?

Opening a package. (2)

dtmos (447842) | more than 2 years ago | (#40182769)

I wonder what's more difficult?

Writing is, quite literally, child's play. Plastic clamshell packaging, on the other hand, is child-resistant, if not actually child-proof.

People are weak. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40182653)

People who have trouble with packages and stuff like this are the same people that run with scissors.

Ta1co (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40182663)

Very interesting (1)

anonymousNR (1254032) | more than 2 years ago | (#40182685)

But what part of this news makes it nerdy ?? I am little confused.

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This is a public service announcement (5, Interesting)

Bogtha (906264) | more than 2 years ago | (#40182727)

Use a can opener.

One word (3, Insightful)

cyberzephyr (705742) | more than 2 years ago | (#40182737)

Scissors

"Curb Your Enthusiasm" touched on this (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40182739)

Hi -

The wonderful HBO series "Curb Your Enthusiasm" worked this idea into a storyline in season seven.

Here is some of it:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R8HZbWusMDI

- Tom, Redondo Beach, California

It's due to an open border (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40182787)

and a clash of cultures. These things have become pervasive over the last 15 years or so which is also when we've gotten so lax on border control. Shoplifting and theft in general is pretty common south of the border and with more people moving up here it's going to follow.

Haha... (1)

JustAnotherIdiot (1980292) | more than 2 years ago | (#40182803)

We've gotten e-mails from customers who've purchased scissors in a clamshell, which would require another pair of scissors to open the package

I wonder how many people ran into this problem, and went to the store to buy another pair of scissors, only to get home and realize they still have the same problem :P

There's an old invention for this (1)

na1led (1030470) | more than 2 years ago | (#40182873)

It's called a KNIFE!

Wiss 20R Carpet Shears (1)

aoeu (532208) | more than 2 years ago | (#40182879)

4 1/2 inch blades and very heavy (nearly a pound) duty. Makes short safe work out of this kind of package.

GE Spacesaver Microwave (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40182943)

At my house we get little power fluctuations on average about once a week or so (I have good line conditioners for my computers), and whenever I get one of these little fluctuations the microwave looses it's time. Unfortunately whom ever came up with the requirements for this product decided that it was imperative that the microwave know the current time, day, month and year in order to cook my bean burrito for 30 seconds, and the process to enter this information takes like ten minutes! WHY ON EARTH DO YOU NEED TO KNOW WHAT YEAR IT IS TO COUNT DOWN FROM 30 TO 0?!?!?!?!

Intel!!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40182959)

Anyone remember Intel BOX CPUs???

annoying vs. life & death (1)

sociocapitalist (2471722) | more than 2 years ago | (#40182965)

Pinto?

Make the stores open them (4, Interesting)

beegle (9689) | more than 2 years ago | (#40182971)

I'd like to see a law that stipulates that any store that offers products in plastic clamshell packaging MUST be willing to open all of the packages in the checkout line (no "go wait in a separate customer service line after paying") at no extra charge. Those packages would be gone within a year.

Right now, clamshell packaging is a huge win for the store, but all of the customer frustration is an externality. By forcing the stores to deal with the externality, we align store interests with consumer interests.

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