Between boxes, blister packs and fancy coverings, product packaging can add up to a mountain of frustration.

Consumer Reports just looked at the raft of complaints it gets about all sorts of packaging problems. Companies spend roughly $130 billion a year on product packaging and about seven percent of a product's cost is in the packaging.

Here’s a look at its top packaging “gotchas:”


Oysters are those hard-to-open packages, sometimes also referred to as clamshell.

Several readers complained vehemently about the No-Touch Kitchen System from Lysol, saying it was basically impervious to everything they could bring to the table. Lysol says scissors should be enough to open its soap dispenser.

And freeing a Barbie doll isn't much easier, with the doll being enveloped in several layers of oyster packaging. Mattel had no comment when asked about its maddening packaging.


Downsizing is where the package content volume is reduced without changing the package or the price of the product.  Companies sometimes will use package downsizing as a way to introduce an invisible price hike for their products.  

Testers purchased two Barbasol shaving cream cans of the same size, but one contains 11 ounces and the other 10.  When asked about the gotcha, the company said: "A slightly reduced product volume improved function."

Ivory soap used to weigh 4.5 ounces and now it's just four.  Ivory says its half-ounce bar soap reduction is due to increased production costs.

The Black Hole

The Black Hole refers to packages that make products look bigger than they are.

Testers looked at a container of Velveeta Shells & Cheese. The package itself looks like there’s a lot of pasta inside, but once you're done making it there's actually very little food inside.  Kraft says it leaves room for water in the Velveeta Shells n' Cheese and that noodles expand.

A box of Nice! apricots is less than half full. Nice! apricots said it will evaluate its product.