I don’t remember what toy it was, but it had a lot of pieces. Seth was beyond excited as he pulled the wrapping paper off.
He begged me to open the clamshell package. With scissors in hand, I cut open the hardened plastic. Why can’t toys be made this strong, I wondered?
Then came the real work: there were dozens of pieces inside, and each one was clamped down with industrial-strength twist ties. At first I tried using my fingers. Ow. Ow. Ow.
Seth nearly burst into tears when I mumbled, “need to get my pliers out of the garage.” I had to tell him that if he didn’t calm down, I was going to toss the toy in the garbage. That’s how frustrated we were.
After about an hour, I finally freed the last miniature object from it’s plastic and steel prison. It was Seth’s bed time.
If you haven’t wrestled with modern, crime-proof packaging, you must have a private staff of helpers. For those of you who have kids, we share your parenting misery. Incredibly, 6,000 American consumers wind up in the emergency room every year trying to open store-bought loot. Class-action lawsuit, anyone?
There may be hope, though. The founder of Amazon.com has had enough and has persuaded some manufacturers to create alternative packaging, reports The New York Times:
“I shouldn’t have to start each Christmas morning with a needle nose pliers and wire cutters,” said Jeffrey P. Bezos, the father of four young children and founder of Amazon.com. “But that is what I do, I arm myself, and it still takes me 10 minutes to open each package.”
It’s a bit easier for Amazon to offer modified packaging than regular retailers for a simple reason: no need to worry about shoplifting. Still, some manufacturers are trying to find functional alternatives to packaging nightmares. Alternatives include an easier yet noisier package – to alert clerks to marauding Kleptos – when it’s ripped open.
Sadly, real relief is not likely for this holiday season. It will take time for new package designs to win over manufacturers, retailers and consumers. At least it’s a step in the right direction.
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