/ Food & Drink, Shopping

Why can’t I open this pesky packet?!

Ever had that frustrating feeling when the delivery you’ve been excitedly waiting for turns up, but you can’t get into the packet? Or you’ve just bought a new shaver and the plastic casing is impermeable?

‘Ooh how exciting, my new video game has arrived! All wrapped up snugly in a bubble-wrapped envelope. Now to release it from its packet and pop it in my console…’

It was all going so well, but this vacuum-sealed plastic envelope had other ideas. I couldn’t open the damn thing with my hands, nor my teeth. It was impervious to my efforts as I tried to rip and bite at it.

Five minutes later, as I fell into a heap on the sofa after multiple expletives, I calmly looked a little closer at that packet. A packet containing a little video game box ordered online and shipped from Jersey, Guernsey or some other island. On the sticker was a description of the product and the words ‘may be opened officially’. May be opened officially? Well good luck to you officials, I’d like to see you try!

Without scissors to hand, this innocent little impenetrable pack was consigned to my drawer, unopened. There it remained for well over a week until I got so worked up that I took a kitchen knife to it. Finally, my video game was free.

The trials and tribulations of prising open packets

I’m sure this isn’t an experience limited to just me. I know scissors are quite a common and essential piece of kit for any household, but should you need to use anything other than your hands to get into the product you just bought? Using your teeth is bad enough.

One reader got in touch to say they had huge difficulties opening suppository packets. The reader added: ‘if you risk being poisoned and open one with your teeth, as an [elderly person] you are likely to lose or loosen the tooth.’

Sometimes it feels like these products are designed not to be opened. And maybe they are. That brings me to shaving razors – there’s been many a time where I’ve wedged my fingers into these razor packets, and the only thing I have had to show for it is a bloody cut from the plastic. Perhaps it’s difficult to open for a reason – so that shoppers don’t get hold of a razor blade with only their bare hands.

Still, I’m sure this phenomenon isn’t just relegated to potentially dangerous products – do you have any other examples of impossible to open packets? I’m just off to buy myself a pair of scissors, but how I’ll get them out of their packet is another question entirely…

Comments
Member

The tough transparent covering on many small items allows the customer and retailer see the goods, helping to avoid mistakes. It makes it possible for shops to attach security tags to high value items and makes it more difficult for shoplifters to remove the contents. It also provides good protection, which means that there is less need for additional packaging, an important factor now that so many products are sent by post etc.

Scissors or a sharp retractable knife make it easy to open the packaging at home. I once spent ten minutes trying to get an SD card out of a packet when I wanted to check that a new camera worked properly before taking it home, so I can understand the problem. Still, I think the advantages outweigh this disadvantage, and anyone with arthritic fingers could probably get help from a shop assistant.

Member

Children’s toys are often an absolute nightmare to open – plastic casing, metal ties, tape and a double layered cardboard box all for a toy that is designed not to break. My top tip is to remove all packaging from toys before wrapping and giving them as gifts. This is vitally important in preventing children (and parents) from having tantrums while trying desperately to open them. But before removing any packaging, it is worth checking that the recipient doesn’t already have the toy!

Member
Cashmere addict says:
7 August 2012

As a widow with poor grip, I use scissors or retractable knife… carefully… so far without mishap. I often wonder what the seller’s reaction would be if an item is returned as faulty/unsuitable, as return policies often state items “must be in original packaging.” By the way, Patrick: it’s drawer, not draw!

Member

Spotted that, and fixed the typo. Thanks! What if you damage the product inside with your scissors/knife?

Member
Cashmere addict says:
7 August 2012

You’re welcome. If I did damage something, I would have only myself to blame and would chalk it up to experience: that’s where the “carefully” comes in! 🙂

Member

I always have scissors and a knife handy as I receive packages several times a week. In fact I actually have a knife and scissors in every room as I need to combat lots of sachets and packages for my dogs too. DVD plastic coverings can be very frustrating.

Member
Nick Morrison says:
7 August 2012

Pretty sure that the reason for some of the these packaging nightmares is to make it harder for thieves, for example when it comes to a cd, dvd or computer game most of the case are security tagged so a thieve would try and take the disk out of these case, the packaging they have prevents that, but yes it is a bit fiddly to open them at times.

Member

For these products the packaging also ensures that no-one, including shop staff, has the opportunity to use or copy the DVD, etc.

Member
Naphtalia says:
7 August 2012

My packaging bugbear is greetings cards. Easy to buy, impossible to open. I’ve