Self-peeling Labels and Chocolate Teapots


Peelable Irony

On introduction to the world of retail I came to realise the importance of labels.
If you want to display a price you use a label.
Best Before, Use By or Date of Manufacture? Use a label.
Batch Number? Labels.

You see where I'm going here.

So a few months into my first retail job and after picking up hundreds of labels off the floor, I asked my manager why they fell off. The response? Unexpectedly defeatist.

Well they're peelable labels so they keep peeling off.

I couldn't help but laugh at the irony: You want adhesive labels to stick to something reliably, not fall off a short time later.

These labels should be called self-peeling - that'd be much more apt.


Chocolate Teapots

Picking up another dozen labels from the floor I decided that peelable labels were an oxymoron. Like a chocolate teapot or a waterproof teabag. Completely useless with a serious flaw in their design.

So why were they being used? - I asked.

The permanent labels leave behind glue and paper when they're removed, which we have to scrape off when we change prices. Re-printing the labels is a lot faster than trying to scrape off that sticky gunk.

So continually printing and replacing "self-peeling" labels was the cheaper option in their eyes. I wasn't happy that this was the best solution, though management seemed content with paying staff to spend hours every day re-printing labels that had fallen off.

Was there no better solution?


...and then I saw the light

It wasn't until months later that I finally found the source of the problem.

When getting more label sheets from the stock room, I saw sunlight streaming in through the window onto the open carton.

Written on the box:

Peelable labels


Store away from direct sunlight and heat


Guaranteed for one year


Date of purchase:  [5 years ago]

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