Coding matters: Boxes, boxes, everywhere

Boxes, boxes everywhere. Image of a pile of boxes with a person buried beneath them - just the legs sticking out. (Image generated by Dall-E)

No, this is not a follow-up to last week’s thoughts in Coding matters: Paper, paper, everywhere. That was about the government’s lack of digitization. This is a new and different problem. Although maybe I’m the only one who thinks it is a problem.

A small stroke of good luck

I had a small blessing a little while ago. My vacuum cleaner packed up. That might not sound like good luck, but it happened two weeks before the two-year warranty expired. It often seems that products expire just after their warranty.

I still had the original box and the invoice. So I logged a return at Takealot and it was collected. A few days later, I had a brand new replacement vacuum cleaner.

So many warranties

This is the age of consumer electronics. We buy devices and appliances more often than any previous generation. There are more devices, at more affordable prices. And, many say, appliances don’t last as long as they used to.

Most of these devices come with a warranty, which can be anything from 6 months to 5 years. Or, in the case of RAM and some Stanley flasks, a lifetime warranty. But to claim against a warranty, you usually need two things:

  • Proof of purchase.
  • The original packaging.

What’s with the packaging?

I understand the need for the original packaging if you return something because you changed your mind. You usually have to do that within a few days of purchase.

But what about 23 months and 12 days later, as with my vacuum cleaner? Is it reasonable to expect me to have the original packaging? What if I don’t? Will that void the warranty? If it does, is that fair? If it doesn’t, why state that the packaging is required?

Boxes, boxes everywhere

I’m either a cynic or averse to financial risk. I want the security of the warranty. I don’t want to lose it just because I don’t have the packaging. I don’t trust companies not to use that as a loop hole. Which means keeping the boxes.

And that brings me to the problem. Where am I going to store all the boxes? And how will I keep track of them?

My current approach is manual. I print a copy of the invoice, write the warranty period on it, and tape it to the box. With a bit of care, it doesn’t damage the box (which is also important for returns). And I can quickly see when I can throw out the box. This is fine for a limited number of kitchen appliances.

But wait, there’s more

But in my case, it’s not just kitchen appliances. I have the same problem with computer hardware, including replacement parts.

If you work for a company, you’ve never thought about this. You request a repair or an upgrade, and keeping track is not your problem. But I am in the middle of a hardware cleanup and audit, so this is my problem right now.

There seem to be more empty boxes of still-under-warranty hardware in the server room than actual hardware. And do you know how big the box for an ultra-wide curved monitor is? If I stand it on end, it almost reaches my shoulders!

I’m a teeny bit pedantic when it comes to paperwork and records. This is the considered opinion of our auditor. And I like to have a process for things. But this? It’s a cardboard nightmare, and it’s driving me nuts.

In the age of the paperless office, we have a box problem!

Is it just me, or do you share my frustration? Do you have a solution? I’d love to hear your comments.

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