Staples Complaint - Beware Staples Pressure (Possibly Fraudulent) Computer Upsell Tactics
NEW YORK CITY, NEW YORK -- [snip - no names please] The Assistant Manager of Staples (699 6th Ave, New York, NY 10010, phone 212-675-5698, Store Number: 0215) at 7pm the evening of Thursday November 11, 2010, was using pressure sales tactics, including misrepresentation and possibly price fraud on us.
In these stores the evening floor staff are lunks, as was apparent, the guy who attempted to help us knew virtually nothing about the equipment, was inarticulate, and it was up to Nitin to attempt to upsell us, which is his job, and to do which he's received significant training.
It was clearly frustrating to be played, used, abused, lied to and delayed while he lied to us further. The bigger question, perhaps was did he break the law? His behavior was certainly unethical sales practice. To me it seems he misrepresented the product, another upsell product, and committed fraud by misquoting a prices, and his entire reason to cast doubt was spurious.
His strategy was last minute FUD -- fear, uncertainty, and doubt: classic tools of the 'I'll save you from this mistaken choice" upsell technique. The lunkish floor salesman and manager both started by asking if we'd read the reviews, which I said we hadn't. My mistake. This is apparently the new opening to figure out which upsell technique to use. This one is based on the fear that the reviews tell you to do what they say, and aren't you stupid for not having read the reviews, so you're supposed to feel a bit dumb and grateful that they're saving your ass, so you swallow their BS.
Just as we were about to swipe the credit card to buy an HP Pavilion DM4 1160US laptop for $649, Nitin mentioned at the last minute that we should have read the reviews first, because then we'd know that this was a crummy laptop. This was highly fishy for a salesman (or Assistant Manager) to be about to make a sale then bad mouth the product, HP, and implicitly Staples for selling such trash. I had to make him specify where the bad reviews were (on PC Magazine), and what the exact nature of the problem was (a jittery touchpad). He said he'd had two returned for this reason. I wrote his name down, and he chided me for doing so, which just raised my hackles.
His solution: well we could buy it, and had two weeks to return it, or start it up right here. This gave him 10 minutes more time to attempt to up-sell. In that time he offered:
extended support and in-store support
software, particularly MS Office
Explaining that the HP Pavilion DM4-1160US touchpad problems were not being addressed by HP because it was just a transitional, fading model, on the way to the perfected HP Envy, he offered you that, lying when saying it is "just" $200-300 more. On Staples.com HP Envy is listed as $1,049, $400 more, 1.66 times the price of what you were trying to buy before being lied to and frightened.
If you went by the reviews, depending on your budget you'd buy either model, which both get great reviews -- yet both suffer from the identical problem. His sole goal was to sell you at a higher price point and sell you more stuff. The DM4 1160us is an earlier model, and ALL earlier models are, philosophically, steps toward later models, yet he presented it as if the earlier model were a monstrous miscarriage of HP that they were going to allow to die an ignominious death, a disaster you must avoid. When the DM4 1160US was introduced it was priced at roughly the price of the Envy at the same point in it's product lifecycle, but now, a year or so later, it's dropped, and the newer Envy is clearly intended as it's replacement.
PC Mag actually gives the DM4 1160US a very high review, with the only Con being the jittery touchpad -- not experienced by everyone, and only when trying to use multi-touch gestures, which we didn't even know it supported, don't how to use, and probably won't use. And, the feature can be turned off on the control panel, which ends the problem. http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2369674,00.asp
The HP Envy, while getting great reviews, still seems to suffer from the SAME touchpad issues as the DM 1160US, and some reviews say it's really just a matter of learning how/getting used to how to do multi-touch. http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2367488,00.asp.
So, Nitin's entire reason for the fear, uncertainty, doubt, and upsell were based on an issue that both machines share in their review on PCMag.com, feature we don't need to use, and can turn off, thus ending the problem. So he misrepresented the nature and severity of the problem, the difference between the machines, and he committed fraud when he misquoted the price. And he absconded with 10-15 more minutes of our time.
What he did is neither unusual, nor the worst, but to me (no lawyer, but still) it seems fraudulent, pressured, unfair sales tactics.