Beware Staples Internet Site

I am always suspicious when retailers try to pursue a parallel channel model.  Most tend to screw it up.  Office supply retailer Staples gets my screwed-up online retailer of the year award.  We tried Staples online service when a sales person visited us and offered us a corporate discount to try their remote order service.  The first several orders failed to show up on the promised dates, a hardship for a small office where someone often has to explicitly wait around for such a delivery.  Their delivery windows are worse than even those provided by the cable company, promising only to show up sometime between 9 and 5. 

This week, I waited all day for a couple of filing cabinets, which showed up battered and beaten up.   It was clear that the cabinets were damaged just from looking at the boxes.  I hope no one in my company would ever ship something that looked so banged up to a customers without checking on it.  Sure enough, the cabinets were a mess, and I insisted on sending them back.  The driver said, sorry, you already signed for them, I can't take them, call customer service. 

So I called customer service and they did what?  Scheduled another pickup/delivery.  So I again waited all day today for the replacements.  The driver took the old ones, but the new ones were again in beaten up boxes - one had black electrical tape patching it up.  But I had learned.  I said I would not sign for them until I had opened and inspected them.  The driver said I was not allowed to inspect them until I signed for them.  Great.  Well, like an idiot I signed and then immediately upon opening the boxes found that they were both beaten up.  Obviously they had a bad lot of these type cabinets, and I had begged them to inspect my two replacements first before they came out, but no joy.  And of course, the driver would not take them back because ... I had already signed for them.

This restrictive approach to customer acceptance of merchandise, which I would summarize as "you have to accept the merchandise without inspection" stands in marked contrast to how this works in their stores.  I believe that I would certainly be entitled in the store to look at the actual cabinet, rather than the box, before I decided to accept the merchandise.  Heck, I am pretty sure it was my local Staples store that, when they sold me two chairs, unboxed them and assembled them for free.


So tomorrow is yet another visit.  I again begged Staples to inspect the cabinets before they put them on the truck to make sure this third set would be OK, since they obviously were pulling from a bad lot.  The Staples customer service guy said that their warehouse folks don't do that kind of thing.  No shit.

Update: OK, I give up.  The replacements were battered as well.  Why through this no one in the warehouse would have the initiative to check on what is obviously a bad lot they have received from the manufacturer is beyond me.   I have left them on the curb for Staples to get whenever they want them.  They were good about my credit.


  1. Ray G:

    When you do something like hit a thumb with a hammer, do you immediatley repeat the action, just to make sure you won't forget the experience?

  2. Brian Martinez:

    Cancel the order, get your money back, never do business with them again. You're giving them one too many chances to make it right.

    We once ordered a new bed frame from a company in California. When it arrived, we immediately sent it back, as the headboard was clearly damaged.

    So what did the company do? They shipped us . . . the exact same damaged headboard. They didn't even bother to check the returned item; they must have just stuck it back on the warehouse shelf.

    We got our money back and took our business elsewhere.