David Pogue stands up for the little guy Matt 03 Nov 2005

13 comments Latest by Henk Kleynhans

David Pogue rants against annoying plastic packaging, the number of times customer support lines ask for phone or credit card numbers, power strip bricks, and more in 10 Ways to Please Us, the Customers.

I. Thou shalt not entomb thy product in indestructible plastic. Sure, we understand the temptation: you want your packaging to be sturdy yet see-through, so shoppers can see exactly what they’re buying. Trouble is, you’re caring only about whether people take your product home; you apparently don’t care about what happens after that. You don’t seem to mind that getting those hard plastic packages open is a dangerous ritual involving scissors, steak knives, band saws and, eventually, blow torches…

IX. Thou shalt not hog the power strip. If a power cord absolutely must incorporate one of those big black transformer bricks, how about putting it in the middle of the cord? When the transformer brick is at the prong end, it hogs three slots on our power strips or both outlets on the wall, and that’s just greedy.

13 comments (comments are closed)

Benjy 03 Nov 05

Seems like point I would actually cost companies less in the long run. Since the packaging is destroyed in the process of opening it, should the consumer choose to return the product it cannot be sold as new anymore. Were the package more easily re-closed then it could simply be put back on the shelf. Instead, they’re sold at a discount on the “open box” table or liquidated elsewhere.

Robert Gremillion 03 Nov 05

Opening toy packaging on Christmas Eve is the WORST. (BTW, When did they start requiring screws for battery covers?!)

Dave Simon 03 Nov 05

Many companies could learn from Apple’s beautiful, functional packaging design.

The power brick thing - that’s a huge pet peeve for me. You have a strip with 6 outlets, but can only use 4 at the most. Argh! But why don’t the power strip makers see that and make the strips longer with more space between the outlets. Seems like there would be a market.

Jesper 03 Nov 05

I don’t usually particularly care for Pogue, but this article was well-written and made a lot of sense.

As far as packaging goes, I think the best model I’ve seen is the one AirPort Express comes in. The ‘outer box’ is just a regular box, but with no top part, so the only thing you need to do is remove the plastic and slide the inner box out, like a drawer. (Some LaCie hard drives also follow this model.) Much easier for the customer, and certainly recyclable per the article - just slap on a new layer of the plastic and you’re good to go again.

sixtoe 03 Nov 05

Ah…the tech writing circuit has finally found its Andy Rooney.

Wesley Walser 03 Nov 05

Both of those are great, especially the second one. I have never understood why they put that massive plug thing on a power cord.

8500 03 Nov 05

If you have lots of power bricks consider the
PowerSquid Outlet Multiplier.

It’s brilliant design.

One of several Steves 03 Nov 05

In addition to the blister packaging - which I have cut myself on after opening - CD and DVD packaging needs to improve dramatically. Out of 100 discs, about 95 don’t have any easy way to start removing the shrink wrap. And once you do get that off, there are sometimes stickers on all three edges other than the spine/hinge that you have to peel off. And they’re adhered using some sort of industrial-grade adhesive that makes it nearly impossible to get the sticker off in one piece, and frequently leaves a stick residue on the case.

Beth 03 Nov 05


dusoft 03 Nov 05

One of several Steves: you are so right about that one! it’s always so closely wrapped and does not containt some hole in it, it’s imposssible to open with your fingers only. you always have to use some scissors or knife, but that could even scratch CD! (beside cutting your fingers…)

Mike 06 Nov 05

Hey guys, there are little extension cords made just for the outlet problem. You plug the big brick into the short cord and the short cord into the power strip. Most office supply store and computer shops have them.

It sure is nice to get to use all 6 of the plug-ins on my surge protector.

Nam-ho Park 07 Nov 05

I was thinking about Point IV: Thou shalt not charge tech-support fees for thine own mistakes. Manufacturers like Dell offer “90 days of free technical-support calls” - why don’t they offer something like a calling card, that doesn’t expire for 3 years or something. 10 hrs of tech support to be used any time. (which doesn’t charge for mistakes they have made or time you spend waiting - pure dialog time.)

They should take a cue from these guys :-)

Henk Kleynhans 11 Nov 05

I HATE those power bricks. In South Africa we are cursed even more by having them on European-style two-prong plugs.

As we don’t use European outlets here, it’s further complicated by the fact that we have to use two-prong adapters.

This makes it extremely flimsy and we continuously have trouble with loss of power to our routers, switches and access points.

I actually think that every manufacturer out there who ships these power bricks should be tried for crimes against humanity!