Staples - Returns Fiasco
External Hard Drive - Complaint
LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA -- I am submitting this complaint after having contacted Staples’ Office of the President team of customer relations representatives. I spoke twice with Jeffrey [snip] and was promised a call back from his supervisor Ryan [snip] which never materialized. My experience was with the Staples store in West Los Angeles on Santa Monica Boulevard. I purchased a Western Digital external hard drive at a different Staples location and within the 14 day return policy period (8 days) I brought the unopened drive to the Staples store, with my receipt, for return.
The cashier called over a store manager to approve the return. The store manager examined the packaging, which was never opened or even touched by me, and decided he needed to completely destroy the packaging and compare the serial number on the drive case to that on the packaging. When I questioned him on why he found it necessary to destroy the tamper-proofed packaging, he responded that it was policy. The examination of my product took several minutes and was done in plain view of other customers at one of the cashier stations in the front of the store. While the product was being examined by the store manager, I asked him what would happen if the serial numbers did not match as a result of an error made by the product manufacturer. His response was that Western Digital did not make mistakes, so that was impossible.
The store manager’s examination validated that the product serial numbers did match and the return was accepted. My complaint and concern stems from the very real possibility that something did not match through no fault of mine. The sealed product was now very much unsealed, I was humiliated in front of other customers by the actions of the store manager done in plain sight, and I was very angry that I was made to endure this waste of my time. If Staples cannot trust the tamperproof packaging of their manufacturers, they need to take that up with their vendors, not take it out on their customers. Telling me that is was not possible that a mistake in packaging could have been made by their vendor is just plain fantasy and I very much doubt that their vendors would support them in their statement that a mistake is impossible.
The office of the president customer relations representative assured me that he would: 1) forward my complaint on to both the district and regional managers, 2) follow up with me and share what corrective actions were taken and 3) work to make certain that other Staples’ customers were not subjected to the same treatment shown to me. I have no idea if item 1 was completed, but I waited 8 days to hear back from Mr. [snip] before calling him back for status. I told Mr. [snip] I would not be shopping at Staples until I was comfortable that my complaints were properly addressed.
This incident could have been much worse had there been a serial number mismatch, but I do not want to wait for that to happen to me. Staples needs to protect themselves from shrinkage and theft while at the same time respecting and valuing their customers and the customer experience. Staples chose only to worry about themselves in my experience paying absolutely no attention to their customer. I choose to give my patronage to businesses that value me as customer. I was concerned that the store manager might be a rogue employee so I reported my experience to the corporate office. What I discovered is that the treatment I received was acceptable all the way up the corporate ladder.
Bye, bye Staples and hello Office Depot, Office Max, Best Buy and the like.