Staples Refusing To Sell To Customers Who Won't Buy Their Service Plan!
NEW JERSEY -- I had an appalling experience in not one but TWO different Staples stores yesterday, and I feel I have no choice but to formally notify you of this matter, as it has made it impossible for me to EVER shop in a Staples store again. I also will be asking my friends, family, and corporate associates to switch to one of your many competitors as well.
Staples featured an Acer laptop advertised in the Sunday newspaper insert yesterday (3/8) for $449. Now. Clearly, this was a very low price on a laptop. This laptop typically retails for the price of $599 at Staples. Upon reading this early Sunday morning, I drove over to the nearest Staples store, which was store 0019 in Milltown, NJ. I was in the store just after the store opened (the store opens at 10:00am, and I was there no later than 10:05).
Upon my arrival, I found an associate who informed me that the laptops were in stock. However, before he would get me one, he proceeded to try to sell me his "protection plan". Now, for a number of reasons, including my own knowledge of computers as well as ready access to free computer repair services, I declined this. The sales associate indicated that it was OK, and then walked away to, I assumed, get my computer. He returned with the store's general manager who again proceeded to aggressively push the protection plan onto me. He was EXTREMELY rude, implying that I was "cheap" and for not adding the plan. He walked away when I finally maintained I did not want it. Then, I heard him call the sales associate over and told him something. Moments later, the sales associate informed me that the laptop was not in stock after all. Just to summarize the timeline...it was available...I declined the approximately $150 protection plan would have boosted the price of the laptop to the regular sale price...then suddenly it was unavailable. They also refused to contact any other Staples stores to help me find out whether it was available elsewhere.
I then went home and called a 2nd Staples store, this one in East Brunswick (store number 1755). I asked the gentleman who I was transferred to in Electronics if the Acer laptop was in stock. He checked and came back to say they were in stock. I told him I live less than 10 minutes away and could be please hold one for me as I was on my way. He indicated that he could not hold a sale item, but that the store had multiple laptops and they should definitely be there when I arrived. So I immediately left...I arrived exactly 8 minutes later at the location. I walked in and found the exact person who I had spoken to 8 minutes earlier. The store was virtually empty. I asked him if I just spoke to him about the Acer laptop and he confirmed that he was the person. I asked him if they were indeed in stock, and he indicated that they were. I then asked if he could please go get one, because I definitely wanted one.
And then, before he goes back to get one, he asks me if I want the service plan.
I suppose I should have lied and said yes and then said no when I had the laptop in my possession, but I did what I thought was the right thing, because I could not imagine that this guy would try to pull this same scam only minutes after implying there was plenty of stock of this item. I responded, "No thanks...I went over this all at the last store, I know what it covers, and I am not interested."
He said "fine" and walked away. 2-3 minutes later...he walks back and, just like the last store, the inventory suddenly has vanished. I angrily confronted him regarding our conversation and, half smirking (obviously knowing that what he was saying had no truth to it), he implied that all of them had been sold in the last 8 minutes. Mind you, when I arrived, the store was nearly empty and no one was checking out buying any laptops.
I was and remain STUNNED at the lack of customer service that is being displayed in both of these stores. For all I know, this type of "bait and switch" is being done at Staples stores across the state and across the country, and as a freelance journalist, I believe that it is a story that merits more investigation. You cannot make it a standard practice to deny people products because they will not pad your profit margin with questionable (and supposedly completely optional) service plans.
I cannot believe that, in this economy, Staples would so readily shun previously loyal customers (I had shopped your stores for years, as its roots, I believe, are in New England, where I am originally from). Our dollars are limited, and there are MANY other places to go for the same items that Staples sells at similar, or lower, prices. To that end, following the service I received at this second Staples store, I walked right next door to the Best Buy, paid only slightly more, got a vastly superior laptop, and was treated with the respect that the sales teams at these two Staples stores could use a lesson in.
I can assure you that none of my friends, family, and work associates will be frequenting ANY Staples in the future, at the very least.