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HP Shatters Excessive Packaging World Record 359

An anonymous reader writes "HP customers will be familiar with their bizarre packaging practices (5 pounds of packaging for 8 license keys!); lets just say this story is not an isolated incident ... " I've seen some excessive packaging, but perhaps nothing to top this.
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HP Shatters Excessive Packaging World Record

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  • Crazy (Score:5, Funny)

    by suso ( 153703 ) * on Sunday July 20, 2008 @11:06PM (#24268829) Homepage Journal

    I've seen something crazy, but not that crazy. That's just ... crazy.

    • Re:Crazy (Score:5, Funny)

      by MightyYar ( 622222 ) on Sunday July 20, 2008 @11:34PM (#24269065)

      Could it have something to do with the wording of the "shrink wrap license"? Like "by opening this box you agree..."?

      That would be really depressing.

    • Re:Crazy (Score:5, Funny)

      by Venik ( 915777 ) on Monday July 21, 2008 @12:25AM (#24269447)
      Looks like HP should invent itself some envelopes.
      • Re:Crazy (Score:5, Funny)

        by Zymergy ( 803632 ) * on Monday July 21, 2008 @01:21AM (#24269817)
        I am just glad HP does not sell Refrigerators or Couches!
        One could just imagine that each would come from HP inside its own 40' shipping container filled with those "environmentally friendly" peanuts that turn into snot when they get wet... LOL
        • Re:Crazy (Score:5, Funny)

          by MillionthMonkey ( 240664 ) on Monday July 21, 2008 @03:10AM (#24270395)

          You can scatter those things outside; they're just starch. Something will eat them. Maybe birds? If I don't have too many to deal with I just flush them.

          Don't do any of that if they're styrofoam. Those have to be thrown out or reused. Although if you have even a little acetone you can have fun with the styrofoam ones. They vanish right into it, way better than the starch ones do in water. One prank people used to pull in the labs where I went to college (I only heard about this) was to hand the new guy a styrofoam cup and tell him to go downstairs and get some acetone.

          • It can also be done more cheaply with Xylene (paint thinner). I just love to see huge chunks of styrofoam melt into a goo! :D Plus if you're really out for a good time, the resulting goo should still be flammable...obviously there are safety and environmental issues there though.

            • by gnick ( 1211984 ) on Monday July 21, 2008 @12:55PM (#24276631) Homepage

              It can also be done more cheaply with Xylene (paint thinner). I just love to see huge chunks of styrofoam melt into a goo! :D Plus if you're really out for a good time, the resulting goo should still be flammable...obviously there are safety and environmental issues there though.

              Back in high school, we used to mix Styrofoam and gasoline. We'd hit the furniture store dumpster after closing on delivery-day and load the cars up with all the Styrofoam we could stuff in. Then go out to the desert, pour a couple of gallons of gas in a waste basket and start chucking in the Styrofoam. Pour our the resulting sludge and light. It burns hot and burns for a long time.

              Very environmentally unfriendly and you're likely to inhale way too much vaporous gasoline, but good fun for juvenile fire-bugs.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by xalorous ( 883991 )

        One reason for using boxes is that they are harder to steal by dropping them in a pocket. But ONE of those inner boxes would have sufficed without being complete overkill. Though common sense calls for a 9x12 envelope or mailer.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by xaxa ( 988988 )

          One reason for using boxes is that they are harder to steal by dropping them in a pocket. But ONE of those inner boxes would have sufficed without being complete overkill. Though common sense calls for a 9x12 envelope or mailer.

          Many companies send far more important documents in ordinary envelopes by courier.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by SkyDude ( 919251 )
        Unfortunately this is not a new problem. About four years ago, I purchased an HP desktop for my then-high school age son, mostly because I was too busy to build him one. The shipment arrived in two cartons - one contained the CPU and cables. The other package - a corrugated carton measuring approximately 9x12x3, contained the "extended warranty" paperwork.

        It was at that point I thought a change in career would be a lucrative decision. I figured if I could be the corrugated supplier for HP, I'd be all set.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by catwh0re ( 540371 )
      They hate envelopes at HP.
    • by ebh ( 116526 ) <edhorch@EULERgmail.com minus math_god> on Monday July 21, 2008 @10:49AM (#24274043) Journal
      I once received a large box from HP containing several smaller boxes of stuff. The final one was one of those 9x12x3 boxes other people have mentioned. Inside it was a single sheet of paper that read, in its entirety: This box intentionally empty.
  • MSDN (Score:5, Insightful)

    by maglor_83 ( 856254 ) on Sunday July 20, 2008 @11:11PM (#24268881)

    And I thought the MSDN CDs ya get posted were bad.
    They come in a box about the size of an Eee PC (but taller), and contain just a CD in a sleeve cover.

    • Re:MSDN (Score:4, Interesting)

      by initialE ( 758110 ) on Monday July 21, 2008 @12:26AM (#24269455)
      HP has given me boxes that size for 4 screws in a plastic bag, wrapped in foam. Repeatedly.
      • Re:MSDN (Score:5, Funny)

        by jonbryce ( 703250 ) on Monday July 21, 2008 @02:52AM (#24270289) Homepage

        I've had a box the same size for a charger adapter. Perhaps it is the only size of box they have?

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Dolda2000 ( 759023 )

        HP has given me boxes that size for 4 screws in a plastic bag, wrapped in foam. Repeatedly.

        If they do this so regularly as your comment and many others seem to suggest, I just cannot help but wonder: How do things go so wrong to begin with? Also, one would think that the errors of their ways ought to be completely obvious to anyone involved, so whyever do they not fix it?

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by KGIII ( 973947 )
      I have been getting the smaller boxes with my MSDN subscription lately. They are just a little bigger than the actual sleeve size and, generally, only about ¾" deep. They usually contain up to a half dozen DVDs at a time. I would *guess* that they're just a wee bit bigger than the actual space needed. Side note: MSDN ships out their DVDs from a third party company as you may already know. I am not positive but it could well be that different regions get different packaging materials.

      Oh, and on another
  • by y86 ( 111726 ) on Sunday July 20, 2008 @11:12PM (#24268891)

    Cost of shipping 150$?

  • Nothing new here (Score:5, Informative)

    by alcourt ( 198386 ) on Sunday July 20, 2008 @11:17PM (#24268925)

    Sounds about typical for HP. Back many years ago when I was primarily an HP-UX SA, excessive packaging was the norm as well.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      Indeed. If you look at the second picture, the A4 sheets were "license entitlement certificates". It brought back a lot of memories for me as an HP-UX admin also.
    • Re:Nothing new here (Score:5, Informative)

      by Stripe7 ( 571267 ) on Sunday July 20, 2008 @11:48PM (#24269169)
      Standard practice indeed. I went to a customer site once and was taken aback when I saw his cubicle filled with HP boxes. He had over 400 HP servers and he had the same couple of sheets of paper in a box for each server. I am not sure if it was more than 400 little boxes I remember about a dozen or so huge boxes containing little boxes each with a couple of sheets of paper.
    • Re:Nothing new here (Score:5, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward on Sunday July 20, 2008 @11:50PM (#24269177)

      But... but... HP and Dell scored top marks from Greenpeace. Clearly the packaging was needed to protect the license papers which means you'd kill more tree for more paper if they are damaged.

      [This also show that Greenpeace ranking is irrelevant]

      • Re:Nothing new here (Score:4, Interesting)

        by RealGrouchy ( 943109 ) on Monday July 21, 2008 @12:37AM (#24269531)

        While I'm not familiar with how Greenpeace came up with its ranking, I do know that the book "Paper or Plastic: Searching for Solutions to an Overpackaged World" by David Imhoff included an anecdote that HP reduced packaging and lowered supply-chain losses and costs all in one.

        Instead of shipping printers (perhaps only a certain model or type) in individually-packaged boxes on skids, HP had a tray-like thing (like what you get at a fast food place for drinks) that held many printers. This was then wrapped with clear skid wrapping.

        Because they weren't boxed individually, you could fit many more on each skid. Because the contents were visible from the outside, forklift operators were more careful and there was less damage in warehouses.

        It is very likely that HP pre-packages its licenses in these boxes, and the economics of it probably works out that most of them are sent individually. It is thus simpler for them to send out many individually-packaged boxes to customers who purchase multiple licenses, than to have someone remove the papers from the boxes in the warehouse, find an appropriate envelope to put them in, and then do something with the box.

        You, the customer, would no longer get the many boxes, but they would probably be used and discarded further up before they get to you, analogous to when recycling bins get emptied into the same dumpster as the trash.

        - RG>

        (the "idle" comment form is really weird in SeaMonkey)

      • by elnico ( 1290430 ) on Monday July 21, 2008 @12:41AM (#24269569)

        ...or perhaps Greenpeace takes into account more than packaging? I mean really, you're declaring their whole environmental study invalid based on a few anecdotes about excessive use of cardboard?

        [Disclaimer: In general, I don't trust Greenpeace numbers, but even then, the parent's argument is off.]

        • A variable for "marketing splash made by issuing bad marks to a given brand" appears to be given about equal weight to "legitimately wasteful or unnecessarily toxic practices", by Greenpeace. They get far more publicity for issuing a ticket to Apple for using 3 wire-inches of the wrong type of plastic in an iPod model than they would ever get for ticketing HP's stupid behemoth wasteful packaging, which has been seen by every corporate customer of HP. (I've seen strikingly similar examples of insanely was
  • by zakezuke ( 229119 ) on Sunday July 20, 2008 @11:19PM (#24268937)

    Often times when you ask the shipping department to take care of a package containing hardware, let's say in a 12 x 12 x 4 cube, they are nice enough to protect by putting it in a box with extra padding. Sometimes, when you note it's out of IT and don't notice it's already reboxed, they'll do it again.

    This is not that unusual. Clearly they ship out their licenses in a box. I'd just use an envelope like those free ones from the shipping companies. But why ask why, put it in a box. Got many boxes? Put the boxes in a box.

    Why not be thoughtful and put 32 pages in one box? This presumes the shipping department knows what's in the box, and even they know, why would they want to deal with all these extra boxes when they can ship them off to the customer.

  • by epine ( 68316 ) on Sunday July 20, 2008 @11:20PM (#24268955)

    My experience with HP have been increasingly disappointing. Recently I contemplated the purchase of an HP network printer / scanner. Most network printers with an integrated scanner implement the scanner as a host-based scanner over USB. The HP unit I found seemed to be the exception. Until I read the data sheet more closely. The network scanner degrades resolution to 200dpi. For full resolution scanning, dust off your host-based USB interface. What I found annoying about this is that the brochure blithely advertised "network scanning" as fully supported.

    I have a colleague who swears by HP at the enterprise level, but at this point, I wouldn't buy a consumer level appliance unless I had first exhausted the alternatives.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      I have a colleague who swears by HP at the enterprise level...

      Did they give him a read T-shirt as a freebie?

    • Someone named John Robson commented on the story linked by the Slashdot story. He said, "HP should be penalised for that."

      No need to worry, John. HP is in a Slashdot story. There will be very capable people, I think, who say to themselves, "Maybe I should apply for a job at HP. Nah, maybe not."

      The parent comment says, "My experience[s] with HP have been increasingly disappointing. Recently..."

      That's been our experience, too. HP seems to be getting a little better, however, now that Carly Fiorina [hp.com] has left. Before, it was REALLY ugly.

      How does excessive packaging happen? It happens because people become so unhappy working for a company that they slip into becoming robotic drones. Nothing matters. They just try to get through each day. Illogical packaging is only one of the many, many illogical things that happen every day. Those people never go to hell, because if they arrive there, Satan says, "You've suffered enough. You don't belong here."
      • by NiceGeek ( 126629 ) on Monday July 21, 2008 @12:39AM (#24269547)

        It appears that Carly is now one of McCain's campaign advisers. May she do as well with McCain's campaign as she did at HP.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Chrisje ( 471362 )

        This is a load of rubbish. I agree that licenses are shipped in excessive packaging. I've seen things like that box delivered in that way to more than one customer indeed.

        However, there are probably good reasons for these practices. HP, like any company, has product numbers attached to licenses. So when you buy a license from HP, you are buying a product.

        These products are "manufactured" or "assembled" in a "factory". This line of reasoning stems from the fact that HP traditionally is a Hardware Shop.

        This m

        • by pimpimpim ( 811140 ) on Monday July 21, 2008 @09:01AM (#24272457)
          Funny that you mention IKEA packaging, one of the main reasons for their success is their highly efficient transport of goods, you'll notice that hardly a single cubic cm of air is wasted in their packaging.
        • Sarcasm is dead. There is no possible way that Chrisje was serious. Any rational person with even a limited exposure to computers and a vague understanding of software would realize that there is no excuse for this type of wasteful packaging behavior from a technology company in this day and age. That comment is ROFLMAO comical. This is *Slashdot*. Have none of you mods ever been around *software*? All this talk of part numbers and order handling and logistics for a tiny bit of *data on paper*? You r
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday July 20, 2008 @11:20PM (#24268963)

    (Posting anonymously for obvious reasons)
    When working for a spin-off of HP, we did a licence audit and decided we needed 500 or so C++ compiler licences for compliance. Order them. Expect a single A4 sheet back saying we're covered.
    Instead, we get a pair of huge 2m x 2m x 2m boxes, on shipping palets, containing 500 smaller A4-sized cardboard boxes, each containing an A4 paper licence. This was soul-destroying fail of the highest level and led me down the path to BOFH-dom.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday July 20, 2008 @11:59PM (#24269249)

      C++ compiler licences

      lol... paying for a C++ compiler. You're funny, I like you.

      • by johannesg ( 664142 ) on Monday July 21, 2008 @01:02AM (#24269689)

        lol... paying for a C++ compiler.

        You're funny, I like you.

        People did this in the old days. I once paid for the ACC compiler as well (I guess that's the one), because GCC was "open source" which was utterly distrusted by everyone. How times have changed - now the place is full of Linux systems, the few remaining HPUX machines will be replaced as soon as is convenient, and Sun? The only one I've seen in the last five years is the one in the sky.

        ACC, while a bit shaky in its implementation of the C++ standard, at least produced great error messages. Typically it did not just tell you what was wrong and where, but also what it thought you needed to change to fix it. And mostly it got it right too!

        "In file xxx on line yy, function FooBarBaz is undefined. Maybe you meant to call function FooBarBoz?"

        Really, all it was missing was an interactive mode where you could just tell it to change the source for you...

        • by Sycraft-fu ( 314770 ) on Monday July 21, 2008 @08:02AM (#24271939)

          It's called the ICC, Intel C Compiler. The reason people pay for it is because it is the fastest damn compiler out there. Every time I see compiler tests done there is always some back and forth, some are faster at one thing, some at others. Newer ones are generally faster than old ones... Then, at the top of the pack, is ICC. It produces the fastest code in EVERY test.

          Now if this were Intel marketing material, ok, but this is every test of the compilers I've ever seen done by third parties. Intel's compiler just knows how to produce extremely optimised code for their processors.

          As such, it is no surprise that people buy it.

  • Good god (Score:4, Funny)

    by tinkertim ( 918832 ) on Sunday July 20, 2008 @11:24PM (#24268989) Homepage

    Remind me to never request a printed manual from HP. Every page would be in a different box.

    Now that is _truly_ dirty paging. Yikes!

  • by LeandroTLZ ( 1163617 ) on Sunday July 20, 2008 @11:24PM (#24268993) Homepage Journal
    Ever tried ordering a 100-page printer manual from HP? I ran out of space in my lawn after the third trailer truck arrived...
  • by Large Bogon Collider ( 815523 ) on Sunday July 20, 2008 @11:32PM (#24269045)
    I had one almost as bad. About 1 year ago, I ordered a storage Fotochute for $99.99. I had a $20 off of $100 coupon and so I padded the bill with a roll of transparent tape at $0.98. Howwever, the Fotochute was permanently of out of stock so that only thing that was shipped was the roll of tape $0.98 - $0.19 discount = $0.79 with free shipping. That is understandable, but what wasn't was the fact that it came in a 1' x 1.5' x 2' box full of styrofoam peanuts.


    I repeat: 1 roll of scotch tape in an huge box full of peanuts. Shipping was free.

    P.S. I have have the receipt but not a picture of the box as it was in 2006.

  • by darkjedi521 ( 744526 ) on Sunday July 20, 2008 @11:34PM (#24269059)
    I recently ordered a pair of servers from Sun. The power cords and the addon nic each came in seperate boxes in a 2'x2'x1' box for each server. At least the outer box wasn't filled with peanuts.
    • by E-Lad ( 1262 ) on Sunday July 20, 2008 @11:56PM (#24269229)

      There's actually a good reason behind why the power cord(s) is/are packaged separately, and hence in their own boxes - international differences in electrical sockets.

      It would suck for inventory and man power if you constantly had to manage how many of each of your servers have continental europe, british, north american and so on power cords with them in the box.

  • by jcrystal ( 1311613 ) on Sunday July 20, 2008 @11:36PM (#24269071)
    I feel like being forced to download HP's 600MB installer just to get one printer driver is the software equivalent of this packaging phenomenon.
  • by lewp ( 95638 ) on Sunday July 20, 2008 @11:37PM (#24269089) Journal

    Tell them you already got your license entitlements via BitTorrent.

  • ...wins the wasteful packaging contest IMHO. My Leopard CD and trackpad protecting sticker arrived in a box that was filled with brown paper and was large enough to fit two LCD monitors.
    Several years earlier, I ordered a Firewire-to-USB connnector for my old iPod and it arrived in a box that was 5x bigger than the package AND was literally packed with nothing but air...in the form of plastic air-filled balloons.
    I'm surprised they don't ship their MacBook Air in a depleted uranium case in order to maintain

  • email? (Score:4, Funny)

    by stabiesoft ( 733417 ) on Sunday July 20, 2008 @11:41PM (#24269113) Homepage

    Weird, I use email to ship keys. Its faster and *much* cheaper.

  • PC's from IBM (Score:4, Informative)

    by mikael ( 484 ) on Sunday July 20, 2008 @11:44PM (#24269143)

    Happens with a lot of companies I have known. One company ordered around 40 new PCs' from IBM. The PC's arrived from IBM in a pair of 2m x 2m x 2m cube boxes on the inside of the container. The driver asked if our IT department happened to have a forklift truck available as it would save time unloading.

    Well, we didn't, so we had to cut open the boxes and make a little door so we could get in - they had been filled to the brim with styrofoam peanuts and promptly flooded the back of the container before spilling onto the parking lot.

    Then, one by one we got the monitors and main units out - all two hundred of them. By the time we were finished, there were enough styrofoam peanuts on the ground to visualize the airflow around the building. They would form streamlines and vortices all around the parking lot. It was our job to chase after every single one for recycling.

    Now, mail-order companies seem to enjoy putting the smallest items in the largest boxes. Once ordered some new memory cards and hard disk drives. Each order arrived in a large desktop PC sized box filled with large plastic air-bubbles (empty sealed plastic bags filled with nothing but air), styrofoam peanuts or foam padding. In each case, the padding took up about 20 times as much space as the original item.

  • No prank (Score:5, Insightful)

    by tsa ( 15680 ) on Sunday July 20, 2008 @11:45PM (#24269149) Homepage

    At first I thought this was just a prank pulled by someone who didn't like HP, but after reading the comments I seem to have to believe it's true. It makes you see this [hp.com] in a whole new light.

  • by D Ninja ( 825055 ) on Sunday July 20, 2008 @11:54PM (#24269215)

    My...that's a big package.

  • by ghoti ( 60903 ) on Sunday July 20, 2008 @11:57PM (#24269235) Homepage

    Look at the packaging for a few screws [thedailywtf.com]!

  • by superid ( 46543 ) on Monday July 21, 2008 @12:15AM (#24269373) Homepage

    This is the craziest I've ever seen personally.

    A box arrived in the mail. It was maybe 10 x 6 x 4 or so. Inside that was a manila envelope. Inside that was a small box, slightly larger than a jewlers ring box. Inside that was a clear plastic pill bottle. Inside that was a small ziploc baggie.

    Inside that was ONE styrafoam bead, like from a beanbag chair. it was the replacement foam bead for an anemometer.

  • by PPH ( 736903 ) on Monday July 21, 2008 @12:21AM (#24269417)
    There may be a reason behind the practice of shipping single sheets of paper individually boxed. It makes them look important. This policy may have been established following an important customer accidentally tossing licenses or keys out while unpacking s/w manuals and media.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by stefanb ( 21140 ) *

      There may be a reason behind the practice of shipping single sheets of paper individually boxed. It makes them look important. This policy may have been established following an important customer accidentally tossing licenses or keys out while unpacking s/w manuals and media.

      When working for a software distributor 12 years back, we had that exact problem: server software license keys worth about 100k USD were sent by the software maker in plain envelopes. At first, we sent them on to the customers in that

  • by FlyingSquidStudios ( 1031284 ) on Monday July 21, 2008 @12:22AM (#24269427) Homepage
    If it turned out to have actually contained HP hardware, it would have been a much bigger waste of packaging.
  • by DaphneDiane ( 72889 ) * <tg6xin001@sneakemail.com> on Monday July 21, 2008 @12:40AM (#24269559)

    Wow! Looks like HP has gotten more efficient in their shipping.

    About ten years ago I get back from lunch to find a huge box at my desk. Typical workstation plus monitor size box from HP with a shipping label was like 4ft+ cube. Was not exactly sure what it was so got to openning it. Inside that box was another slightly smaller box also with a shipping label listing one HP address to another HP address. This went on for quite a while til I got to a small box with padding. (If I recall the stuff have been shipped a total of 5 times adding several boxes each time) Inside that box was a large manila envelope. Inside manila envelope was a white envelope (or might have been the other way around) it has been a while. Inside that was a single 5" by 6" sheet of paper with a single license for the HP-UX 9 C++ compiler.

    I had order 5 licenses... the next day another of the licenses came, though at least the outer box was not quite as large. I often wondered if it was either that there shipping system was set up for just sending license keys or if they really wanted to make sure that piece of paper didn't get lost in the mail.

    The other odd thing was the licenses didn't include any serial numbers or what not, just the B code number for the software and a statement about it being 1 license.

  • by sasha328 ( 203458 ) on Monday July 21, 2008 @12:56AM (#24269663) Homepage

    I worked for HP for several years, so this is personal experience.
    For a High Tech company, they are still extremely retarded in the way they handle things.
    Here are some examples:
    Leave application forms. Go to a website, fill in a form and then print it and fax it to your manager. There is no way to "submit" the form to a database which then emails the manager. I was probably one of the first people to print-to-pdf and email it instead.

    Procurement: Once when I moved roles within HP, I needed to order a laptop. So I ordered a laptop, docking station, and carry case. These were standard laptops. The order processing centre was located in Singapore or Malaysia, and so the laptop, the docking station and the carry case were air freighted to me from Singapore even though my office was about 5 Kms from their Warehouse in Sydney.

  • by nukem996 ( 624036 ) on Monday July 21, 2008 @01:16AM (#24269781)
    I just got hired by HP and I am awaiting for my contract to arrive in the mail. Its taking awhile so I hope its because it will be coming in a huge box like this.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Yvan256 ( 722131 )

      It's the other way around. You'll receive a shipping box so you can mail yourself to your new location.

      Given what I've read so far, however, you can expect to travel in luxury aboard a whole shipping container.

  • by LaRoach ( 968977 ) on Monday July 21, 2008 @01:44AM (#24269923)
    Large warehouse management systems usually have a "footprint code" (or some other similar term) for all the items in the system that they ship. If someone is lazy and doesn't put one in (or uses some default setting) then the system picks the wrong size box to ship the product. The crew working shipping can't change it so they just ship it and tell the monkeys in charge they've got a bad footprint. *Hopefully* someone cares enough to actually change it to the right code. I've seen 100 CD's go out in 100 separate boxes for this reason.
  • I remember getting a set of VMS manuals from Digital. It was a very large box, very heavy (a set of VMS manuals weighed over a hundred pounds.) The books didn't fix the box exactly, and in the box was another box, empty, labeled "Empty Filler Box".

  • by zlogic ( 892404 ) on Monday July 21, 2008 @02:37AM (#24270213)

    I am a Oracle Magazine subscriber (free magazine, totally useless but great when I need quality paper for packaging). Once they sent a "special edition" magazine with a promotional CD included; it was sent in a standard A4 envelope. Well, the Oracle guys decided it was a really important CD and sent me another copy, just to make sure. It was in a paper CD envelope, like Ubuntu's free CDs, but the paper was much thinner. The paper envelope was put in bubble wrap, and the bubble wrap was put in a cardboard box the size of a 500-page A4 paper pack. The cardboard box was sent as a DHL package, the delivery was priced something like $20-$30 (paid by Oracle). And the best part? The DHL-shipped version arrived a month later than the copy I received with the magazine (and probably was free for Oracle to ship since they already paid for shipping the magazine).

  • by B1 ( 86803 ) on Monday July 21, 2008 @03:18AM (#24270427)

    A while ago, our company ordered an upgraded protocol license for some Intel telecommunications gear.

    A few days later, a big box shows up -- I think a 2 x 2 x 2 foot cube. In that box was a wad of packing peanuts, as well as a padded envelope...

    When we opened the envelope, we expected to find a license button, which would be physically installed in our equipment. There would be no reason to ship that in a large box, but at least a license button would have been some tangible product that justified shipping.

    Alas, the envelope contained no license button after all. Instead, it contained a single sheet of paper complete with instructions on how to access a web site, and a validation code to use. That validation code would then give us an actual license key, which we could then enter into our equipment to unlock the extra protocol features (that were already built in to the equipment).

    I can't quite put my finger on it, but something seems a little wasteful here... I'm *sure* if somebody thought hard about this, they could probably find a way to do the whole thing electronically...

  • by golodh ( 893453 ) on Monday July 21, 2008 @04:18AM (#24270727)
    Could it be that some Manager (or even Vice President) is being paid by the volume of products shipped? That might explain things.

    Alternatively I expect someone totally bored and with a sense of humour at work.

  • I believe the notion of shipping licenses in boxes started at Digital Equipment Corporation. The idea was that by shipping it in a box, it was less likely to be thrown away (as "worthless paperwork") before reaching the technical person who would understand its value. That idea seems to have survived two changes of corporate ownership, so maybe it's correct.

  • by Minwee ( 522556 ) <dcr@neverwhen.org> on Monday July 21, 2008 @07:22AM (#24271681) Homepage

    Back when HP was Compaq I once received a shipment from them consisting of one 60cm x 100cm x 100cm box completely filled with loose styrofoam packing chips. At the very bottom of the box, where none of the packing material would do it any good at all, was a plastic envelope containing a handful of license keys.

    At least the guys who shipped this package made sure that their paperwork was protected from damage. It seems they're learning.

Who goeth a-borrowing goeth a-sorrowing. -- Thomas Tusser