LEESBURG, FL–Local consumer Jerome Bishop returned home from Radio Shack Tuesday with a newly purchased telephone, two polystyrene foam blocks, a protective plastic pouch, a heavy-duty corrugated cardboard box, three square feet of bubble wrap and twist ties.
"The redial button on my old phone only worked if you pressed it really hard, so I had to throw it out," said Bishop, sifting through a pile of new-phone-related detritus covering his couch and living-room floor. "This new one should be much better."
At approximately 5 p.m., Bishop began the 45-minute task of unwrapping the Radio Shack ET-290 Lighted Dial Trim-Fone, entombed deep within eight protective layers of packaging. Upon opening the outer cardboard box, he encountered a four-sided cardboard phone-mount which slid out after a pair of styrofoam product-stabilizing blocks were removed. After dismantling the inner cardboard mount, he discovered a freestanding polystyrene shell molded into the shape of the phone's handset and base, with two compartments for the phone's cord and optional wall-mounting screws, both of which were enclosed in factory-sealed miniature plastic baggies. Bishop then removed the polystyrene casing and cut through the underlying layer of protective bubble wrap, giving him access to the phone itself, which was housed in a multi-twist-tie-sealed plastic bag.
"I like this new phone okay, I guess," said Bishop, trying out the white, two-piece unit featuring a backlit multifunction LCD display, dual keypads and an extra-long 10-foot cord. "It's kind of too bad about the other one, though–it was fine except for that one button."
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After setting up his new phone, Bishop tossed its box and inner packaging into a garbage bag, and also discarded the Radio Shack bag in which it was brought home. He did briefly keep the sheet of protective bubble wrap, spending several minutes meticulously popping the small air pockets between his thumb and forefinger before throwing it away.
While disposing of the packaging, Bishop said he was careful to set aside the various pieces of literature which accompanied the phone, including a 48-page instruction manual, a booklet explaining the terms of the phone's 60-day limited warranty, the warranty certificate itself, a consumer-opinion reply card, a form for product registration, a catalog of other fine Radio Shack products and a Sprint promotional insert offering Sprint phone cards at a 15 percent discount.
"I'd better look through this stuff before I throw it out with all that other stuff," Bishop said. "I'd hate to lose anything important."
Attempts to reach production-line employees responsible for the packaging of the ET-290 Trim-Fone were unsuccessful. As of press time, all floor workers at the plant in Garland, TX, were occupied filling industrial-sized dumpsters with imperfectly molded plastic shells, miscut cardboard backings, undersized lengths of twist-tie wire, boxes with slightly smudged printing and five-cubic-foot balls of crumpled plastic wrap.