Opening Those @#%$# Plastic Packages

I’ve had it with those impossible to open plastic packages that products come in these days.  You know the ones I’m talking about.  You go buy something and then, when you get it home,  it takes half an hour to open the #@$% thing because it’s sealed inside indestructible, half inch thick, bullet proof plastic.

What on earth can companies be thinking when they use this stuff?  One thing for sure, they aren’t thinking of you and I, the cash paying customers.

This is serious stuff I’m talking about here.  For example, the other day I was trying to open a nice bottle of wine and my corkscrew broke.  Not to be put off of my mission, I went straight to the grocery store and bought a new one.  But I knew I was in deep trouble when I saw the packaging.  Sure enough, the corkscrew was embedded inside that infernal, atom bomb proof plastic stuff.

When I got home I tried to open it to no avail.  I tugged on it, tried a serrated knife on it, stomped on it and thought about running my car over it.  Things were starting to get out of hand as I began to fantasize about chainsaws, the Jaws of Life and thermonuclear weapons.

There was also colorful language involved.

Fortunately, I don’t own a chainsaw, Jaws of Life, or thermonuclear weapons, so I was forced to use more conventional methods.  I eventually got the #@$% thing open with a VERY sharp knife.  This took considerable force and attention – and wasn’t the safest thing I’ve done in my life.

I very nearly gave up on the whole enterprise, but then, there was the unopened bottle of wine, so I carried on.  But I bet many folks have just quit and set their products aside, unopened, out of pure frustration and exhaustion.

I can see future archaeologists digging up all our rigid plastic packages a thousand years from now, shaking their heads in puzzlement, wondering what the heck we were thinking way back in the twenty-first century.  Of course, on the good side, many of the packages they unearth will be perfectly preserved, unopened from customer exhaustion and abandonment.

I’ve formulated a strong rule on packaging these days. For all of you companies out there selling consumer products, here it is.  Packaging should be able to be opened by hand (one hand if you’re really good) and NO TOOLS!

Repeated frustration eventually caused me to do a little research on the Internet.  I learned that this packaging is known as Rigid (no kidding) PVC Clamshell packaging.  And as I suspected, injuries have occurred to customers trying to open it.  In 2004 alone, there were 6000 injuries attributed to the stuff.

More recent data isn’t available because the consumers aren’t able to write with their damaged hands yet.  Further research revealed that the rigid PVC Clamshell stuff has engendered a new consumer phenomenon called “packaging rage.”  Go figure #@%$ … I know a little about this myself.

On a positive note, I did find a consumer tip suggesting the use of a manual can opener — kind of a mini jaws of life.  That sounds safer and workable, and I intend to try it next time.

And an astute WoodChips reader suggested, “If you can’t open it, just re-gift it to someone else.”  Great idea!  You can even say, hey, this is brand new – the package hasn’t even been opened (heh, heh).

Finally, I’ve noticed at least one company who got the word and quit using PVC packaging altogether.  Printer cartridges for my H-PEA printer (not the real vendor name) used to come inside these millennium fortified capsule things.  Because of this I used to dread replacing ink cartridges when the ink ran out – and of course, having to take out a mortgage to afford them, but that’s a thought for another time.

But now they package their cartridges in easy to open, cardboard boxes.

Way to go, H-PEA, and further kudos because I think your boxes will return to the environment in a friendlier manner than the indestructible plastic clamshell things — although too bad I guess for the future archaeologists.

So, back to the bottle of wine I was trying to open.  Exhausted, but not deterred, I finally freed the corkscrew and opened the bottle.  But all I could think of while I enjoyed my drink was how companies could possibly think it was such a good idea to start using these clamshell things.

For a brief moment, I toyed with the idea they were totally focused on their packaging needs and not the consumer, but I quickly dismissed that thought.  The best answer I could come up with was, well, they just all must have been drinking.

So what do you think?  Have you experienced this problem?  Let me know your packaging rage thoughts, injuries, deaths, wars or end of civilization stories involving rigid PVC Clamshell packaging.

Just click on this posts’ title, and write in the comment box that appears below.

Have a nice day – J. Daniel

P.S. If you’d like to learn more about this subject, much of my information came from the WikiHow web site.  You can read about it at

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