And all for the low, low price of just $12

I hate this kind of packaging

Black and Decker just yanked my chain. My packaging chain. The one that sets me off when I run across some truly frustrating or ridiculous product packaging.  And goodness knows we’ve more than enough of that, thanks to whatever government agencies and corporate lawyers are in charge of the rules and regulations for product packaging and labeling, consumer safety, and manufacturer liability.

This time it was a measly little laser level — one of those really handy little gadgets that you never think about until you need it, and then you manage without it because you don’t have one. Anyway, I was in Lowe’s the other day for something else and finally thought to get one. Today I decided to open it up and get it ready for my next picture-hanging adventure, whenever that might be.

They're serious about product "registration"

Of course, we all know you don’t “just” open one of these things. No, no, it comes in one of those supersafe, bulletproof, unshopliftable plastic safes known as clamshells or blister packs. (Known to induce “wrap rage” and send thousands of people each year to emergency rooms.) Goodness knows we have to protect those valuable, irreplaceable $12 laser levels.

Anyway, I pulled out the nearest scissors and went to work. Immediately the package itself became a lethal weapon. Those jagged, rigid plastic edges are a lot more dangerous than the scissors needed to get the package open. I managed to get this one open without cutting myself, but I haven’t always been so lucky. I wish they’d be as concerned about my safety as they are about protecting their precious plastic gizmo.

The two batteries in the package were encased in their own plastic wrap — to keep them together, I suppose, in case they miraculously became separated from the mother package. And there was a nice little rectangular void molded into the package to hold a big wad of folded paper.

More instructions than product

Housed within were instructions, yes, but also a product registration form. We all rush to register our $12 products, don’t we? In case of a recall, we’d want to be notified so we could return it for an exchange, right? Plus, B&D noted, registration is also important as “proof of ownership” and for “warranty service.” Fer cryin’ out loud, people, it only cost $12!

What the form really is, of course, is marketing research for B&D. Like I’m going to tell them my gender, age, occupation, income, level of education, and whether I own my home. All of this is printed on a sheet of paper four times the size of a postcard. (Think how much smaller it could be if it weren’t in three languages.) I’m supposed to fold it up, tape it closed, put a first class stamp on it, and mail it back — within 10 days. Right. I’ll get right on that, as soon as I finish this rant … er, post.

The instruction sheet was roughly 18″ square and also printed in three languages. (Don’t get me started on multilingual instructions and packaging.) Very little of it was useful or pertinent information, aside from the reminder not to stare into the laser light. I was pleased, however, to see the cat react instantly to the jiggling red line on the sofa. Now I know I won’t be wasting my money if I buy one of those little laser pointer toys for him. Or maybe I’ll just use the level.

Yep, instructions for the labels

I did find it amusing that this cheap little gadget has a two-year warranty. Also amusing/puzzling was the warning: “Do not remove or deface warning labels. Removing labels increases the risk of exposure to radiation.” Seriously? Are those, like, lead labels that keep the lasers from getting out? Or maybe they cover little drainage holes? Or do they really just mean that without the benefit of the warning labels, somebody might actually stare into the light? Anyway, in case I might not know what labels are or where they are located, the instructions included a diagram for me. Seriously! And also an address for ordering more labels.

I really need a man around the house to deal with things like this. He’d have ripped the package open with his bare hands and would never have stopped to read the instructions or registration form. This entire rant could have been avoided.

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