So darned secure…

30 12 2007

… you just can’t open it!

Why did a miniscule proportion of world’s population do such stupid acts as tamper with products that they’ve made it difficult for the rest of us? And why are companies so fearful of tampering and law suits that they make products that are almost impossible to open—by anyone?

I’m not arthritic and I can use my hands as well as I could when I was in my 20s, but in the past few days I’ve had two instances where getting a top off a product was more than difficult. It was frustrating, annoying, and in one case put my teeth at risk!

One instance was one of those ‘push down and turn to open’ lids that’s meant to keep children from consuming the contents. Well, I pushed down and turned about six times before I got the darned thing to open. And I swore a bit too.

The other was a plastic jar of what used to be called stewed fruit. It seems the two main producers of these ‘jars’ are using a seal that can only be opened by brute force. Here’s a picture of this ‘seal from hell’:

The safety seal from hell

So, what makes it nasty? See those two little bits that stick out? Well, there’s four of them, evenly placed around the seal.  But they are almost impossible to lift using my adult fingers, small though they are. Fingernails get broken in the process, and once I resorted to using a kitchen knife (NOT a sharp one), but that only put my eyes, face, arms, and hands under serious threat of mutilation. Only once have I been able to lift these tabs enough to pull them back to break the incredibly strong seal. And then the seal itself is a sod of a thing to remove without spilling the contents.

The only thing that works for me on this seal is my bottom front teeth! Yes, teeth. I’d like to see the manufacturers’ reactions if I sent them a bill for missing or broken teeth as a result of trying to consume their product!

I wonder how those with even slightly limited motor impairment get on. The elderly spring to mind, anyone with arthritis or lessened strength in their arms and hands, multiple sclerosis sufferers, and the like.

Design for usability and accessibility is not just for software—it’s for every product we use. This seal meets neither requirement—it’s not usable, and it definitely prevents the product from being accessible!

Just a little rant to finish off the year…



3 responses

30 12 2007
Magik Quilter

I have arthritis and resort to opening most things with knives…ring pull cans are tricky. My son’s friend at school sliced through his tendon in his thumb opening one when they were first released.
Ironically the top of my painkillers bottle is almost impossible for me……..squeeze in and turn at the same time…….it is a job for anyone I can rope in to help.

30 12 2007

Some years ago I was in the Coca-Cola store in Las Vegas and found a terrific ring pull can opener for $1 (also known as a ‘beverage wrench’?). It was the BEST bargain – not because of the price which was great, but because of how much use I’ve had from it. I’ve found similar things on promotional products websites; perhaps you can also find these in stores. For what they look like, go to then click on Automotive Products, then Key Chains in the left menu. Take a look at some of the key chain bottle openers – I think you’ll find something that takes the hard work out of opening ring pull/pop top cans.

8 02 2011
Purple Fox

I’m so glad to hear someone else ranting about this! I was moaning to my grown son who was round for some coffee, which I couldn’t for the life of me get into. He laughed, said give it to me (slightly patronisingly I might add cheeky boy!) and prodeeded to struggle with it for 5 minutes before changing his request to a cup of tea! Fair enough, medicine needs some Tamper Evident Tape on or we’d only be moaning about safety, but really. Are they just trying to wean me off coffee?!

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