Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Comcast's Packaging Stupidity Goes To Xfinity and Beyond!

I've had Comcast cable Internet service since 1999. Love it other than that one time storms knocked out my service for over two weeks. That I did not love.

Running Speedtest.net shows I'm getting almost 24 Mbps down and 2.2 Mbsp up. I just downloaded an almost 200 MB video driver package in about 75 seconds. Compare that to the three hours it took to download the ~36 MB Half-Life demo on dial-up or the 12 hours the Kingpin demo took. (If it wasn't for a program called GetRight that allowed downloads to be resumed after hanging up and reconnecting, I could have never downloaded it.) Cable is hella fast. My girlfriend has 1.5 Mbsp DSL at her place and I cry whenever I need to download something there.

A couple of weeks ago I got a note from Comcast that they were upgrading the service and I'd need a new modem. I'm on my third modem in 12 years, I believe. They've done an upgrade once and I think one died or something. Regardless, I needed a new new modem for whatever reason. I called them up last week to send it out. The nice operator mentioned that a "return kit" would be sent to facilitate return of the old busted junk. I still have the OG modem I got in '99 someplace. I never dropped it back with them.

Tonight, I came home to find this box in my apartment hallway:

It's approximately 2' x 2' x 1'. (It wasn't opened; I went back to shoot this sequence when I really what sheer f*ckery was afoot.) I saw it was from Comcast and got confused. A modem is about the size of a small book. What's with this giant box?

I cut it open and this is what was inside:

Hmmm...that's a lot of air. The small white box was about 8" x 10-1/2". The note was to tell me that this was for my old modem to be sent back in.

Well then, what's in the....hold on, say it like Brad Pitt at the end of Se7en: "What's in the baaaaaahksss??"

A small glossy folder with various manuals and paperwork for the new modem. Instructions on the lid which basically say, "Plug stuff in. All done!" Let's take a look under that top cardboard layer, shall we?


Listen, I'm not a big enviro-whacko who harps on about recycling and whatnot, but my practical nature has always been peeved by needlessly large packaging. I used to wonder why Al Gore didn't crusade against the big boxes of air that the CD jewel case with the software on it came in instead of trying to scare us with fairy tales about the ManBearPig? This is nuts.

In this large box was (clockwise from upper-left):
  • The modem.
  • Ethernet cable and two lengths of coaxial cable - short for when your computer is close to the wall jack and long for if it's not. I suppose just leaving the long cable rolled up if you're close was less practical than providing a second, shorter, cable. (Note: Sarcasm.) 
  • Wall wart power adapter.
  • Cable splitter, in case you needed to feed a TV box as well as the modem.
  • A bag of cable tacks to secure a long run of cable to your baseboard strip.
Here's what everything in the small big box inside the big big box amounts to:

The white box is the return box. If you're thinking that everything they sent would fit inside that box, you're almost right. The size of the coil of coax means the box would need to be an inch deeper, but otherwise IT ALL FITS!

That's right, folks! Comcast could have sent everything I needed in a box 8" x 10-1/2" x 3-1/2" or 294 cubic inches. How large was that UPS shipping crate that greeted me in my hallway? Approximately 6,912 cubic inches or about TWENTY-FOUR (24) TIMES AS LARGE AS IT NEEDED TO BE!!! It weighs almost nothing, but UPS had to eat up four cubic feet of truck space to deliver about one-sixth a cubic foot of contents. Properly packaged, they could put 24 of these modem kits in the same space as my one jumbo box. Un. Real.

I don't know what Comcast's stock is worth or their market cap or anything like that and I don't care. But how fiscally sane can they be when they do such idiotic things such as this?!? Why couldn't they just send out the right-sized box and say, when you're done emptying this one, toss your old junk back in and slap on the mailing label over the old one? Madness!