January 10, 2014

Wrap Rage

There are all kinds of drawbacks to buying things. Wrap rage is yet another one that could be harmful to your mental and physical health.

Cutting a blood-spurting gash on your hand or other body part as you try to open the armoured packaging of a new and anticipated purchase is no laughing matter. A majority of Canadians polled reported that they had received injuries in the past from attempting to open impenetrable packaging.

What a bummer! The delicious deliriousness of the shopping experience quickly digresses into "heightened levels of anger and frustration". They tell us buying stuff is supposed to be 'fun'.

I have experienced wrap rage and spilled blood before, but as you would expect, on a very limited basis. Things in the second hand shop don't come in blister packaging, or any packaging at all as a matter of fact. You could say it is the only "frustration-free' packaging going - no packaging at all.

One of my favourite of the "R" words is REFUSE. I refuse to become involved in harmful things. Just like road rage can be avoided by refusing to drive and taking the bus instead, you can avoid wrap rage by refusing to buy anything that comes in wrapping that offends you.

However, what if you do need something that comes in a blister pack?

First of all, stay calm. There is not a single thing inside a blister pack worth hurting yourself over. Consider putting on a pair of gardening gloves. Or wave the white flag and return the product to the store.

If I ever again have to buy an impenetrably packaged item, I am going to take it to Customer Service. I will tell them I wish to purchase the item, but don't want to risk injury upon arrival back home. I am almost positive they would offer to open the item, and recycle the packaging too.

Maybe if this happened often enough, retailers would become advocates for sensible packaging that allows us to buy things we need without losing too much blood.


  1. Oh you are so right. I just refuse to buy this sort of item now. I think the packaging is a tell tale sign that it's Chinese or unethically made Cack. Does my head in.

    1. T.M.,

      Cack is not a word I am familiar with, but I like it.

      I am not buying any cack.

  2. Anonymous1/11/2014

    I'll second that! Refuse to buy anything with offensive or dangerous packaging. I remind myself that "every piece of plastic we have ever made is still on the planet" somewhere. Hearing that in my head makes me think twice before purchasing anything involving plastic. I've learned from experience that if I just have to have something that has that hard plastic ends and sides melted together wrapping, that I must reach for scissors or a knife to open it and never ever just tear into it. I've seen blood from those and had rage over them too. Second hand shopping and refusing are on my "code of living" values list as well. Terri

    1. Terri,

      "Code of Living" values - wow, what a concept. How many people actually have those?

  3. Anonymous1/13/2014

    Having worked in the retail sector for a great many years I can relate to the frustrations over packaging and you could always come to my customer service desk to have something opened for you--we had the tools. Sad fact is, without this packaging the "shrinkage" (theft) in many retail outlets would go (further) through the roof. The costs incurred by people just pocketing things as they walk by and then walking out of the store are a very large part of why prices for articles that cost less and less to produce keep going up. They are also one of the major reasons that the wages for people who work in those stores are stagnant. According to the latest info I have on hand from company training courses, more than $13 Billion in merchandise is shoplifted every year in North America, and I have been out of the industry for a couple of years now. Finding ways (packaging among them) to reduce theft is an entire industry unto itself. Interestingly enough, through the years I have NEVER seen anyone caught shoplifting--from the corporate executive in the Brioni suit caught palming a pocketful of cheap pens to the teenager who thought he could stash a netbook inside an encrypted lockbox into his backpack and just walk out of the store--react with anything but belligerence, anger and a sense that somehow they were entitled when they were caught. Until we make some drastic changes in society itself, packaging is going to become, I am afraid, even more difficult to open.


    1. M,

      Thank you for bringing up the shrinkage angle and how things are packaged - that makes a lot of sense when you look at it from this perspective.

      I think a sense of entitlement pervades western culture, and has for a long, long time. However, it seems to be spreading.

  4. Oh I so agree! The amount of packaging just for a single item is quite insane. I recently had to buy a new thermometer. The blister pack was at least 5x larger than the actual thermometer. They could have put it in a simple cardboard box, and it would've been fine. This is also why I love buying toys second hand--the assembly is already done, and I don't have to scoff at the amount of packaging involved!

    1. Megyn,

      You remind me that wrap rage does not have to be only from hard to open shell packaging, but excessive packaging of all kinds.

      We pick up all the same things in second hand stores that we do in first hand stores, but with no packaging what-so-ever. So what is all the packaging for new items really for?

      Convenience in shipping, advertising on store shelves, and giving customers the thrill of opening something as if it is a gift on a birthday or holiday.

      I say open items at Customer Service after paying, and leave the excessive packaging with them to deal with.

  5. Anonymous1/18/2014

    I never thought about the packaging being used to deter some shoplifting like M elaborated on. I'm glad to know about that.

    It made me wonder how big a problem is shoplifting in second hand stores?? Do you know Gregg, M? I'm sure not as much, but I bet there is some shoplifting there too.

    Ever heard of the IKEA effect? You can look it up on Wikipedia. It has to do with people liking things more when they have a feeling of creating it. So most IKEA items require assembly of some kind. I guess it is so you feel like you are creating something when you are putting IKEA items together. I didn't know about the IKEA effect when I determined that the few things I bought at IKEA a long time ago, required tools and my time to assemble. I quit that store on that principle alone. (I do like creating things, but the few IKEA items I bought and had to put together frustrated me. I could tell it was deliberately made to required assembly.) Can't argue with IKEA's success, they must be onto something. I know lots of people who love that store....which makes me suspicious. If mainstream is doing it, I am questioning it.

    Like others here, I like second hand items, already put together ready to use.

    Good discussion, great blog!

    1. Terri,

      I am almost certain that shoplifting occurs everywhere things are sold. I think most consider it to be a part of doing business, and we all pay for it in the end.

      I have not heard of the IKEA effect, but the way you have described it, it makes a lot of sense. I have often wondered what the appeal of that store is, and that helps explain part at least. The company is huge, and has been linked to the decimation of old growth forests to make their stuff.

      The herd is headed for a cliff. Now is a great time to be a contrarian.


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