Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Engineered Inconvenience

There is a new way to increase profit. It's the engineering of inconvenience. How is this possible?
It's simple when you look at bottles of detergent. They appear to be designed to occupy more shelf space while containing less detergent. Something the chemical companies are surely aware of but not the companies that purchase the chemicals, package and then sell to retailers.

Once upon a time gas tanks in cars were much larger than they are today. Of course the cars are smaller than they once were and more fuel efficient, but that doesn't mean the car manufacturers didn't get together with big oil and decide they wanted you to stop for refueling just as frequently if not more, so why not make the tanks smaller for more profit?

Notice how your left-over boxes from Christmas and birthdays were designed only to exactly fit the product they came with and nothing else? It makes sense for manufacturers to save money on packaging materials but do you get the sense that the things you buy seem to be way over-packaged, almost to the point of absurdity? Too many wire ties, Too many bags within bags? Boxes within boxes?

It's infuriating when you want to store your tapes, disks, or photos and there is always that extra few inches of space you wish you could fit those last few items, but it just doesn't work. Even the photo boxes at the card store have that agonizing extra useless space.

Food containers are much larger than the
dimensions of a single sandwich made with
standard sized slices of bread.
Food containers are ridiculously mis-shapen. I went to the store to find one that would fit a single sandwich and found one that seemed much larger than necessary. It might contain one regular sandwich and perhaps a small additional bag with a snack or something, but if you wanted a full meal you might have to upgrade to the next size of container that might accommodate a regular sandwich with something else, but it would be five times as big. Everything else in between are shaped more for salads or soups.

Luckily the sandwich container comes in a package of five. Don't get paper sandwich bags because they won't fit. I don't want to use and throw away plastic bags anymore so I just went with the container anyway.

We seem to be conditioned to accept more inconveniences at a higher price for the profit of others. The cardboard tubes in paper towels and toilet paper have expanded in size while the rolls appear to be the same size. Low-fat products seem to have more carbohydrates than the regular stuff.

Things that were once made of much more durable Nylon are now made with brittle Polystyrene or Polyester. Leather furniture is usually only partially leather. Much of the filler in the products we buy are manufacturing waste byproducts from other things. Very little is wasted but very little is known about the long-term effects of exposure to some of these substances, like artificial sweeteners. Our world of consumer goods is evolving into pseudo-goods.