Judging by the growing number of stories I see on the topic, hard-to-open plastic packaging is a pet peeve of a lot of people -- or at least a lot of newspaper columnists. The folks at Consumer Reports magazine don't just complain about this problem -- in their own unique style, they study and test a variety of packaging, and come up with a list of the hardest-to-open. Then they tout them with their "Oyster Awards," touted as a "hard-to-open packaging hall of shame." The 2007 "winners" are featured in the magazine's March issue: the Oral-B Sonic Complete Toothbrush Kit and Bratz Sisterz dolls.
“Consumers are increasingly frustrated with difficult-to-open packaging,” said Tod Marks, a senior editor at Consumer Reports. “As manufacturers create packaging that more aggressively discourages theft and tampering they are concurrently creating a package opening nightmare for many consumers.”According to the judges, the Oral-B package took CR testers three minutes and fifteen seconds to open. "It takes top honors because of the tools, strength, time, and finesse required to extract the contents. The toothbrush is housed in a sealed, hard-plastic clamshell package and has such a tight fit between the plastic skin and cardboard that it was all but impossible to open with scissors. When the tester finally succeeded in opening the packaging her work table was littered with sharp plastic shards." The Bratz dolls packaging was loaded with those annoying restraints that hold all the pieces in place -- about 50, according to the magazine.
CR's 7-year-old tester attempted to open the package and had to resort to ripping the dolls from the package after her safety scissors couldn't handle the job. The Sisterz were missing clumps of hair and packaging debris was everywhere by the time she finally got the package open.The magazine also touts some products with better packaging that "put consumer interests first:" the Logitech mouse, Arnold croutons, Zicam Cold and Flu Single Dose, Oral-B Cross Action toothbrush, and the Polly Pocket Trendy Pets Paw Spa. So hats off to them -- and to the losers, it's time to change your packaging.