Ryman Stationery Is Odd

(this post is less useful than even those misnamed ‘really useful’ boxes)

Look at this. Look at it!  Yes, it is the, relatively unexceptional, website of a stationery company, but look at the product advertised on the scrolling box, right in the middle of the page: ‘Really Useful Boxes‘? Right…

There are a few problems with such a product name, starting with its ambiguity: is ‘really’ an adjective, referring to these products that are uninventively named ‘useful boxes’, or is ‘useful’ another adjective, meaning these products are being branded exclusively as ‘boxes’; yes, the name is functional and some of the most honest advertising in the world, but the marketing department has done little to makes these boxes stand out from any of the other quality box retailers in the UK.

But perhaps the ‘really useful’ prefix is part of the name of the product itself, an idea supported by the fact that on the second Ryman page I linked to, each of these products is referred to as a ‘Really Useful Box’. However, this terming is also problematic: the use of these adjectives suggests that usefulness (and a great deal of it) is an inherent part of the product; that by the very nature of this translucent cube, I will find a use for it in my life.

So what if I can’t use it usefully? What if I don’t have 35 litres (why the Hell are these the units to measure solid objects) of stuff to store in it, and it is only half-full? Then it is not ‘really useful’, as I have only found a use for half of the box. If anything, it is economically inefficient; I dropped thirteen quid on the box, only to use about six quid of its storage space.

And does the tag of ‘really useful’ extend to uses beyond that of storage? I could have a surprisingly large door, that needs an empty, 35 litre, pinks storage box to prop open, as conventional doorstops just won’t cut it. Is the guarantee of great usefulness valid here? If the box is a rather ineffective doorstop, can I take it back to the store and demand a refund on the grounds that ‘really useful’ is false advertising?

This relationship with Ryman itself is another way in which the ‘really useful’ tag makes no sense; if I want to return the product and claim that it was not as ‘really useful’ as the name suggests, how do they go about testing the box’s usefulness? Do they run it through certain scenarios that the customer tried to use the box within, and advise them on how better to use their box? Or do they throw out the claim of unusefulness by dismissing the customer as an uneducated oaf who can’t use a box properly?

A lot of this stems from the ambiguity of ‘really useful’; it may be designed to hold your crap really well, leading to this tag, but it might suck as a doorstop. Does the promise of usefulness extend, therefore, to unconventional uses?

If so, where do we draw the line? It will obviously not work as a football due to its cubic shape, but the generality of ‘really useful’ would suggest it will perform well in any situation, right? This product seems far too vaguely named to have a defined purpose, a purpose which is necessary in relation to practical decision-making, such as deciding whether to award customers compensation.

The bottom of Ryman’s website encourages viewers to ‘Give us a call’ if you ‘can’t find what you were looking for’; I was looking for clarity in names of products, and I don’t think a simple phone call will repair their company’s apparent waywardness with the naming of their products.


Ryman Stationery

35 Litre Really Useful Boxes



2 thoughts on “Ryman Stationery Is Odd

  1. A litre is a measure of volume not weight – that’s why it is used.

    Also, I could write a whole list on how I could use this box so I would deem it really useful. Boxes are inherently “really useful” as a part of their box-like nature.

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