It Took An Hour Just To Get It Out Of The Box: Making Your New Gadget Work

Now that you’ve gone through the process of shopping around , the excitement of buying something new, and the heartbreak of finding out that by the time you’ve gotten your shiny new gadget home, it’s been supplanted by something even newer and cooler, it’s time to actually unpack it and use it. Just the unpacking alone can turn into a major ordeal; some manufacturers seem to think it’s okay to make you actually use tools to extract the product from the package. There’s even a new consumer malady called Wrap Rage, caused by people having to spend disproportionate amounts of time and effort unpacking new products.

  • Be very careful when using a knife to open the box or package. I’m not talking about hurting yourself here (You already know better than that!), I’m talking about damaging the product inside the box. Sometimes the packing material is thin in places. When opening those awful welded plastic blister packs, scissors work better than knives.
  • Never throw anything away! (At least for a while). Keep the box and packing materials for at least 30 days or as long as the store’s return policy. If the item is defective, returning it to the store is quicker than dealing with the manufacturer, but this usually only applies to the first 30 days (or less) after purchase. It’s a good idea to keep the packing materials longer if it’s something large and fragile and you may have a move in your near future.
  • Keep the receipt for the duration of the warranty. It’s a good idea to establish a file drawer or box for manuals and receipts. I staple the receipt into the inside cover of the owner’s manual. Some receipts are printed on thermal paper, which fades in a matter of months or even weeks. If it’s an important purchase, make a photocopy of the receipt before it fades away.
  • Keep the owner’s manual for as long as you have the product. Modern products are not nearly as easy to figure out as older devices. If you sell the product, having the owner’s manual may make it sell faster.
  • Check the packing material very carefully before panicking over a possible missing part. Some manufacturers get very creative with their packing methods. Unfold any cardboard packing to make sure something isn’t hiding between layers.
  • If batteries are included, and are already inside the device, look for a small plastic tab protruding from the battery door. This tab needs to be removed before the unit will turn on.
  • Look for a “Quick Start” guide. The product manufacturer knows you’re eager to plug it in and play with it, so they often include a short guide that’s just enough to get you started.

This post has been adapted from my new book, “Deciphering the 21st Century,” Available now! Click here to read all about it.

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