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Package Opener and Box Opener: Take a Stand Against "Wrap Rage"

Feb 24, 2008
First there was road rage; next, air rage, and then computer rage. Now, more and more consumers find themselves experiencing wrap rage.

Apparently first used in print in a 2003 item in London's Daily Telegraph, the term "wrap rage" is rapidly catching on as a name for that peculiar combination of irrational frustration and homicidal anger brought on by hard-to-remove product packaging. After turning up several times in UK media during 2003-4, the phrase gained recognition when Consumer Reports used it in a 2006 story announcing the magazine's new Oyster Awards, given to the most-fiendishly-packaged products of the year.

After that, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported on the phenomenon, and popular comedian Steven Colbert dedicated a segment of his TV show "The Colbert Report" to it, as he tried in vain to open a package containing a new calculator with a knife.

Wrap rage can easily lead to injuries both minor and major, as well as to unintended hilarity (at the would-be package opener's expense). Finger cuts, shoulder strains and wounds to one's dignity (if in public) are among the commonest minor injuries, while more serious injuries include major cuts (as when a sharp knife slips off the slick packaging).

One British newspaper reported recently that nearly 60,000 Britons sustain injuries requiring hospital treatment while grappling with food packaging every year. Meanwhile, in America, a typical figure is 200,000 packaging-related injuries in the year 2001 (the most recent figure available). That's no laughing matter.

What products are most likely to create wrap rage? Many authorities point to the CD, with its treacherous combination of insanely persistent shrinkwrap coating and ridged jewel-case edges (which lead to cut-up knuckles as you attempt to tear the package open for the nth time so you can enjoy your new copy of Astral Weeks). DVDs aren't far behind, along with computer components, convenience food, and plastic-encased children's toys.

Energy-efficient lightbulbs can pose a serious problem. And of course, packages received in the mail - if mummified in packing tape by an overzealous sender - can out-wrap-rage nearly every item on this list. Moving boxes are frequent causes of wrap rage.

Wrap rage can be especially dangerous to the elderly and to sufferers from arthritis, but it can strike anybody. Folks working in shipping and receiving are likely to suffer from it, unless they've been provided with good box cutters. Office workers who handle large volumes of mail may struggle with frequent wrap rage. Those who buy and sell articles over the Internet - "eBayers," as they often call themselves - are at risk, as are consumers, as a whole.

Wrap rage is easy to recognize. Symptoms include (a) irrational persistence in tugging or picking at wrapping that obviously isn't going to budge; (b) sweating; (c) the use of foul language; (d) most importantly - and dangerously - the selection of unsuitable, unnecessarily sharp or powerful tools, or a resort to excessive force, in a last-ditch attempt to destroy the recalcitrant packaging. If you or a nearby person experiences wrap rage, set the package down, take a drink of water, count to ten, and think happy thoughts. Then go find a tool that's designed to open packages safely and quickly. For opening packages, knives and scissors aren't entirely safe. They're too prone to slippage. Fingernails, meanwhile, are rarely tough enough, and the claw of a hammer - an expedient sometimes resorted to by handymen - nearly always ends up tearing you and not the package. Chainsaws, meanwhile, are not recommended for indoor use.

But most wrap rage problems could be solved in advance by keeping a good package opener on hand - a safety knife specially designed to open boxes with a minimum of effort and a maximum of speed. Though many consumers still think of box cutters as a tool more appropriate for a mail room or shipping and receiving department, the utility knife is an everyday necessity in this age of consumer-unfriendly packaging.
About the Author
Safecutters
, Inc., provides an online store of utility knife box cutters for opening shipping boxes and shipping packages, as well as safety knives to open moving boxes and packages. For more information about Klever Kutter and other Safecutters products contact us!
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