More Office Depot Employees Report Lying to Customers, Changing Price Tags

exterior_nightSince we published our article about Office Depot associates lying to customers last week, the company has issued an internal memo “reminding” employees not to lie to customers about notebook stock. We’ve also heard from and interviewed a  number of additional Office Depot employees from different stores in completely different parts of the country who corroborated our primary source Rich’s account and added more detail, including new allegations that some associates alter the price of clearance items to include the cost of Product Protection Plans or Tech Depot Services. In addition to the myriad e-mail tips and blog comments from different sources claiming to be Office Depot employees, we’ve now interviewed five people (four current and one former employee) from five different states and have been able to verify the employment for four out of those five (the fifth gave us his name and region but said he was too concerned about losing his job to provide a paystub or let us contact him at work). This leads us to believe that the practice of deceiving customers has been common, widespread, and not just limited to one rogue store or region. (Update:  After speaking with a senior official from the Federal Trade Commission, we can also confirm that Office Depot is violating federal law.) “I can personally attest that everything in this article is 100 percent true,” posted a reader who asked to be called Mike. “I have had various managers (including my store manager) insinuate, if not flat-out tell me, not to sell items to customers if they aren’t going to get any attachments … The managers would much rather us sell 3 laptops, a PPP, TDS, and case than a hundred laptops with nothing.”  Though Mike’s comment was posted anonymously on our blog, we subsequently conducted a phone interview with him and verified that he currently works at an Office Depot in the Western U.S. Alex (assumed name), an Office Depot employee from another state, told us that lying about notebook stock was common not only in his store but also in at least a dozen other stores in his area:

One scenario in the tech department: I’m putting signs up … and a customer comes in and says ‘I just came from another store. They said you have this [notebook] in stock.’ So I’ll go and check it real quick and sometimes I will have it in stock, sometimes I won’t—and that is actual information. Sometimes I just don’t have it in stock and the other store lied to them. I’ll ask them first: ‘Where did you come from?’ And they’ll say what street or what part of town they came from, and I know all the store numbers so I pull it up and I can check their inventory in real-time and see that they have them [the notebooks] on hand and then I’ll ask them [the customer] did they talk to you about extended warranties or services and they’ll say ‘Yeah, yeah. I don’t need any of that. I just need a laptop.’ Then I know that’s what they did …

The other store will have it in stock, but send the customer to us, just to get them out of the store like they’re doing them a service. [They'll say something] like ‘Hey, I don’t have it, but they do and I really want you to get this laptop,’ so they can save their own store’s numbers.”

Price Altering Alex claimed that, at his store and others in his area, it’s common for sales associates to add the cost of a Product Protection Plan (PPP) or Tech Depot Service (TDS) into the price of clearance items, without telling the customer. “The out-of-stock thing—that’s small beans compared to the other stuff that happens with the customers as far as price altering,” he said. He added:

We have clearance machines that we still have in a box. They’ve gone clearance. Let’s say the original price was $599. However, the clearance price has now knocked it down to $499. When you print the price up, it’s only going to print the price that’s in our system, which would be the $499.91 or something like that. A tech service is $100. A warranty is going to be a little more expensive, like in the $150 range, so they’re not going to mess with the price that much.

[Rather than post that price,] What we’ll do is that I’ll go to the copy and print center, get into Photoshop, take one price tag that was $599 from another item in the store, cut out that area of $599 and position it exactly where the $499 price is in the current tag and then run that price through some card stock and cut the paper out in the same exact size as what’s called a ‘fact tag’ in our stores. And now that’s the price. It’s legit.

Alex said sales associates at his store are instructed to pitch tech services and warranties with these marked-up clearance notebooks, and that if the customers refuse to bite, they should say their manager is letting them “throw it in” for a current so-called promotion. The customer doesn’t know that they are actually paying the $100 for that service, because they think it’s part of the notebook’s price. What if a customer buys one of these marked-up notebooks and says yes to a service plan? They pay the same $599, but it’s itemized as $499 for the notebook plus $100 for the service plan. “Then we’d say the price [on the notebook] must have dropped, it just went clearance right there at the register,” Alex said. Though Alex said he did the Photoshop work himself, he told us that his boss encouraged him and praised the results:

My manager comes to me and says, ‘You need to do whatever possible. We have a lot of clearance machines. You need to get that price figured in with the clearance models so that’s what they’re gonna get.’ If you buy a clearance laptop that’s on display, you get 10 percent off of whatever the lowest price is that’s on there. On clearance laptops, a warranty is only $80. So if a laptop is $799 and it’s clearance, obviously 10 percent is going to be $80 so they’re going to get a warranty with it. We won’t tell them about the price change. We’ll just say ‘Hey, a warranty comes free with this, because it is clearance.’

Now my boss says, ‘You have to do whatever it takes to get this price in it.’ I go to Photoshop, do it—he comes in and says ‘That’s beautiful. I love it. Do it to all the other ones.’ He then goes to another store manager that he can confide in and says ‘This is what we’ve been doing. This is helping us a lot.’  That store then goes to do it.

Alex said that his store never marks the price up higher than it was before clearance. If the cost of a warranty of tech service they want to pitch is greater than the difference between original and clearance prices, they will pitch the customer that service at a reduced price. So, if a $500 laptop is on clearance for $450 and the store wants to sell the customer an $80 PPP, they will tell the customer that the laptop is $500 and try to sell the PPP for $30. He noted that, while his store and the other stores in his area that learned from them are the only ones he knows of that Photoshops price tags, he believes that it’s common practice to give customers a higher price on clearance items so a warranty or tech service can be included. “So many people do that,” Alex said. “If it’s clearance, then they’re adding something to the price and you don’t know it. Always.” How to See the Right Price Alex suggested that shoppers can use the in-store kiosks to type in the SKU of a notebook they’re interested in and get pricing (but added that customers may only have access to the current price, not the lowest-possible-price information). “In most cases … if I Photoshop the price $100 more and they key that SKU into the system, they’re gonna see it’s $100 less.” The kiosks are not always labeled properly or available, Alex warned. “All the little kiosks in the store are supposed to have a sign around the monitor that says ‘check inventory here’ or ‘shop online here.’  Our store is told not to put that signage up, that it’s just for employees.” Office Depot’s Internal Reminder: Will It Work? On Thursday, March 12, two days after we published our original report, Office Depot issued an internal memo to its employees, telling them not to lie to customers about stock. Labeled as a “Sales Practices Reminder,” the memo informs employees that “under no circumstances should a Sales Associate refuse to sell any product because the customer is not interested in purchasing a PPP for that product” and warned that termination or other disciplinary action could result from a failure to follow the reminder. According to Mike, the memo appeared on the homepage of the internal “store portal” Intranet, but didn’t get much attention at his store. “It only stayed on the front page for about 24 hours or so,” he said. “If I didn’t check the store portal daily (which isn’t usually necessary for nonmanager associates), I would have never known about it. I don’t think any other associates knew it was there since its not really necessary to check there, again the managers were supposed to go over it with us personally, as you can see, but no one had mentioned it to me.” There’s no word yet from our other sources about whether the memo is having an impact or not.

AUTHOR BIO
Avram Piltch
Avram Piltch
The official Geeks Geek, as his weekly column is titled, Avram Piltch has guided the editorial and production of Laptopmag.com since 2007. With his technical knowledge and passion for testing, Avram programmed several of LAPTOP's real-world benchmarks, including the LAPTOP Battery Test. He holds a master’s degree in English from NYU.
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  1. Robert Says:

    This problem of commissions on services was the subject of an article by Joel Spolsky :

    http://www.inc.com/magazine/20081001/how-hard-could-it-be-sins-of-commissions.html

  2. tndal Says:

    I see nothing illegal here. If a buyer is willing to buy a PC for $599 without realizing that there is an included service plan charge, then he must believe it is a good deal. Of course, $519 (the original price minus $80 service plan) would be a _better_ deal, but the original deal is a good one.

    So a deal is made, some profit is made, the user buys an unnecessary service plan but nonetheless is very happy with the price. Aren’t we getting a little Victorian about the profit motive here? After all, the goal of business is to profit and survive, not to give up all your profits in service to the customer. That’s the road to bankruptcy.

  3. joelmax Says:

    Well, it is illegal as it is an deliberate misrepresentation of what is actually being offered (Which is still not a deal, the item is on clearance as they want it out, so by jacking the price back up, even though a ppp or tdp is being added and misrepresenting HOW the price is broken down. If they were to do this and say the laptop is on clearance right now, but it comes bundled with a PPP or TDP, then it would be fine as they aren’t misrepresenting the cost, they are just informing about what is included in the package. (IANAL)

  4. khz Says:

    To ‘tndal’

    Saying ‘we’re out of stock’ when you are not *is* illegal. But barring that, why not just have everything out in the open: say “we won’t sell laptops without the service plan” and let the customer decide.

    It’s like the old mail-order camera stores in New York. Super sleazy. They advertise a low price in the magazines and when you call they ask give you the run-around. Effectively they won’t sell you at the advertised price unless you buy extras (film, tripod, bag, etc). It’s easier to lie over the phone.

  5. Paul Says:

    tndal: You’ve got to be kidding me! You’re saying, then, that it is completely appropriate for a business to flat out lie to a customer? Do you own a business yourself? If so, what’s the name so that I will never do business with you in the future!

    The shenanigans that Office Depot has been participating in is enough to make me think twice before giving them my business for anything but the most trivial “commodity” items. Personally, if I want a computer, I just want the machine. I’m a software engineer and don’t want or need to spend the money for any sort of “protection plan”.

  6. sys admin Says:

    The same thing happened to me at a Best Buy in Canada. I had checked the inventory online and tried to buy a 25″ monitor on sale for $450. The tech told me that they were out of stock. I then decided to buy another unit for $50 more, the box was right there on the shelf behind the display unit. They tried to give me a story. I told them I was going to call their head office. They took my money and got me out of the store as soon as possible.

    What we need to do is to prosecute a few random employees at these stores. When the word gets out that you risk your liberty by following shady orders, the managers and execs won’t be able to convince their staff to lie.

  7. Sam Says:

    Wow. We would go to jail for doing this in a car dealership.

  8. Insider Guy Says:

    Glad this is finally getting attention, but for those in the retail trenches this is hardly new news. Daily occurrence, has been for past 8 years, ever since margins went to zero. If they would make it a competitive package, all inclusive pricing, tossing in some extra deals, you could possibly make it work. But they aren’t that creative, shoving it all after purchase, and resorting to lying and trickery. Staples is actually worse than Depot.

    Even I got stung…Best Buy had the advertised WDTV on sale for $99, but the clerk, incredulously, tried to get me to buy a $70 protection plan something, obviously I said no, he then said out of stock. Yet after wandering around, set of 5, on a bottom shelf with Video cards and TV cards in front. Bad placement for sure, but either the inventory system sucks or I was lied to.

    Staples, Depot and Max make these dicey games their lifeblood, mainly with big ticket electronics. Best Buy is less pressure, just shop, and avoid clerks, you will get the push back at checkout, but easy overcome there. Walmart/Sams, Target and Costco work best, but limited selections. Fry’s is just hunt and peck, avoid all clerks, all the time, more clueless than worth.

    But the Netbook trend is gonna kill laptop purchases more than the usual shell games from Big Boxers. No more “in addition to” more like “instead of”.

    But rule of thumb, avoid Retail, Overstockers and esp. Office suppliers, go Warehouse/Discount/Memberships. If you want cutting-edge laptops, click over brick.

  9. Aaron Hill Says:

    I am glad that The Depot is shaking in thier boots, sending out an internal memo to store portal, too bad no one reads that damn thing.

    to:sys admin
    As a former employee, lets please try to avoid arresting the little people. I am not going into your work and arresting the coffee runners. Arrest the executives, dont make an example of people the company can replace. We are dispensable.

  10. Former Office Depot Employee Says:

    I use to work for Office Depot and I can’t speak for all locations but I worked in one in michigan for about 2 years. Let me clear things up:

    1) Lying about stock:

    I have never witnessed this myself but this is what I have witnessed. My location would be out of stock for a certain item, so we would check nearby locations to see if they have the item in stock. And if they had it is stock then we would tell the customer and THEN call that store to verify that they actually DO have the item in stock then tell that store that we have a customer coming to get it and give them the customers name to hold the item under. I can say that I was at a decently managed store so everyone pretty much would call to verify before telling the customer to go to the other store. Furthermore the inventory system is NOT always right and any employee at office depot should know that. The problem is you get some lazy-ass employees who don’t want to call and check or some lazy-ass managers who do not want to teach the employees the proper way to call another location for an item.

    2) Tech services and Warranties with Clearance Notebooks

    This is true to a certain extent. The example that was explained where the clearance price is $499 but then marked up back to the original $599 with a PPP included, never happened at my location BUT this is what happened:

    Say there is a laptop on clearance for $499 (original $599), they would tell us to offer it to the customer for $499 with a PPP. Meaning that would actually lower the price to $399 and then add the PPP to make it $499. And we would have to TELL the customer, we were told to try to encourage the customer to get the PPP with the laptop but never did we offer it like a deal or no deal type thing. This did not happen too often and it only happened when an item had been on clearance for a LONG period of time. And it was usually items that were on clearance but not an advertised clearance. Some people took the deal and some did not. I have never seen nor heard of the case where a clearance item would get marked up to MORE than the clearance price. Again though I can see this happening at a poorly managed place, plus with the pressure of selling PPP and the rough times that office depot is experiencing I wouldn’t put it past them.

    3) Other stuff

    This is one thing that DID happen at my store, sometimes things would be in clearance so long that the price would drop to unbelievable levels. For example a $199 digital camera gone down to $34.00…I have seen it happen lol, plus I purchased it at the price. In Office Depot’s inventory system in a certain screen you can see at what date the price of an item will fall all you have to do is wait and hope there is still stock left when it reaches that date. I am pretty sure though that there were employees who would hide stock until that date and them mysteriously find it on that day and try to purchase it. Now before you go try to run into office depot and ask them to check how the prices drop…you won’t be able to, it is not the same app that is running on the customer kiosk so for get about it. You would have to personally know someone that worked there or get in real good with someone that works there.

    Now here is a real shocker if an item is left around and not pulled for clearance then the price can drop to even lower levels like 0.01 I am dead SERIOUS, I have seen it. But they would tell us to not ring it up at 0.01 though to change it to like 4 or 10 dollars or something. And yes this was completely wrong and yes I changed it before and sometimes I left it at 0.01 cent just for the sheer fact that it RANG up for 0.01 cent! This hasn’t really been noticed problem because when it happens most customers assume that the system is messed up, I mean when they see 0.01 they are not going to assume that it is actually scanning at that price, they are going to think that it is some glitch when in fact it is not. SO….if you can catch this try to fight and get that item for 0.01 it is only right, plus there is some type of scanner law that you only have to pay what it scans up as and they are not supposed to change it.

    4) Final Thoughts lol

    Office Depot is a big company…well little now LOL, everyone at the store is NOT always out to get you. The employees are just like you, trying to keep their job, doing what they are told TO keep that job. No one is going to be captain crusader and try to fix all the companies problems nor is it their responsibility. While there are some ass-wholes at Office Depot stores the best thing to do when dealing with a employee is to be nice to them, being an ass-whole and a jerk gets you no where. Unless you are 100% sure that if you be an ass-whole you will get what you want, but that is rarely the case. Just be smart about it! Know when to be an ass-whole to get what you want and when not to be! One thing I realized that people seem to think that they are going to get their way if they are rude to an employee, it doesn’t work like that. I personally would not go out of my way to let a customer know of deals if they were extremely rude to me OR other customers. Plus I was not required to tell customers of deals that were not readily posted in the weekly sales paper.

    IM OUT!

  11. Neil Ellington Says:

    before Christmas last year I went to an Office Depot in a town 20 miles from my local one, because I was early to a meeting, so I just stopped to look around. They had an Acer One Netbook that was being sold at my Office Depot and online for $349 selling for $449! When I asked, I was told it was because the town “was more expensive to live in, and taxes were higher!” Needless to say, I haven’t been back to that OD.

  12. Tim Says:

    @Former OD Employee

    .01 pricing means the item is about to be donated to charity, as the tax write-off is higher than the next lowest clearance price. If a customer wants the item, that’s great but a store manager is not going to take a bottom-line cut by essentially donating it the customer who is willing to buy it. Instead he tells you to sell it at whatever clearance price should be expected. Other than that, that’s one of the better responses I’ve read on this subject.

  13. Former Office Depot Employee Says:

    Man I didn’t realize how shallow that first response was….

    tndal quotes:
    March 17th, 2009 at 7:51 am

    “If a buyer is willing to buy a PC for $599 without realizing that there is an included service plan charge, then he must believe it is a good deal.”

    I like your choice of words here….realizing, actually I like how you spun it, you are basically saying that if the customer isn’t smart enough to realize that he is being lied to then it is some how okay?

    “So a deal is made, some profit is made, the user buys an unnecessary service plan but nonetheless is very happy with the price.”

    So you are saying when it comes to buying things you would not mind being lied to as long as you got a good deal. Really though WHO is getting the good deal YOU or the COMPANY.

    “After all, the goal of business is to profit and survive, not to give up all your profits in service to the customer. That’s the road to bankruptcy.”

    I guess when you look at the bottom line and want to say the ends justify the means then okay. I would say the goal of a business is to serve some type of service for those profits.

    tndal….Are you really Piyush “Bobby” Jindal in secret? JK

    LOL

  14. Josh Says:

    When I worked at OD, I knew some good, honest store managers. They didn’t last too long though, after 2005. The company started saying they wanted more and more profits. I knew managers that would tell people to disregard memos from corporate saying to mark something at a specific price point. This was widespread in both the Illinois/Wisconsin area and Florida. The bottom line was getting hit, the store managers weren’t making their bonuses, so they lied and stuff to get their money, even if it meant screwing the regular employee’s bonus which was based off of something else.

    Also, the .01 items, I knew multiple people who were fired for selling them at .01 without upping the charge. Managers would just tell people “When it comes up as .01 it’s being donated to needy children” so they would feel bad if they tried to buy it.

  15. Alan Says:

    As far as the penny items go, it is illegal to sell them because once they show up as that they have been written off as non-taxable donations. It’s not some obscure law or something, it’s simple ethics. You don’t sell things marked as donations.

    In response to this article, I’m somewhat annoyed that you declare the problem to be widespread without citing the locations of the four confirmed sources you spoke with, and only mentioning “Alex’s” cluster of rogue stores until later on in the article. There will always be good stores and bad stores; by lumping them together like this you are only further demonizing the stores with associates and managers who are willing to bear Corporate’s (greatly increasing) pressure to add those asinine attachments in favor of honesty and customer service.

  16. Jabba The Hutt Says:

    Haha @ Office Douchepot! Shop Amazon or Newegg!

  17. DT Says:

    I worked at Office Depot from 1993-1994, helping to build and open a store back when Mark Begelman was president and COO (up through `95). Back then it was a good, fair, and honest place to work, with only the occasional bad-apple manager or employee, and Mark genuinely cared about the employees under him down to your basic red-shirts.

    Times have really changed. Retail had its ups and downs then; it has gone steadily down. The base help gets whipped on by management (sometimes to the point of unethical behavior) to make goals This is because the store management really wants to be district management, and district management wants to be regional management, and the best way to do that is not by showing how well you treat employees, or even how well you run a store, but by numbers alone –how much you grossed, and how much you profited in a given month, and its a repetitive cycle, month after month. Managers who get poor results will eventually be canned as well, so the pressure is on them too. It’s cold, unfeeling, and you are no longer supposed to care about the customer or customer service; you are only supposed to APPEAR to care.

    I was the first employee to earn a Diamond Customer Courtesy award pin at my store (the top honor before you started earning cash, based on customer mail telling the company what a helpful experience you provided) and I earned it in under eight months. That didn’t make a dime’s worth of difference to the store manager who canned me; he didn’t like employees with opinions, he wanted yes-men/women. Only job I’ve ever lost that way (and later, the manager was demoted to another store as a result of similar actions with others). I’m glad to be out of retail, and doing a job that I’m genuinely appreciated for. And I’m glad Begelman went on to other things, since if he were still the COO, my respect for him would now be shame.

  18. dick Says:

    i would like to know why is laptopmag.com so focused on this b**sh**t? I have been in retail for 20 years and i can tell you that what happens in retail has not changed in 20 years and it will never change. I have been employed by office depot for over nine years and i can tell that this practice IS limited to a few stores and that it IS NOT policy to do this crap that these managers are doing. I have a love hate relationship for the company i work for but I can tell you that this pisses me off when employees go behind the back of the company that provides them with a job go and spread bullshit lies…does it make you feel better that you might loose your job over running your mouth? Those store managers that pulled this little stunt should be fired and the employees that helped them do it no matter if they did it being told or not should also get fired. I cant stand thieves nor can i stand people who lie just to make a buck. No, we dont make money off the sale of the laptop, yes we do make money on the add ons and thats it….yes we ask the customer if they want a bag, printer, warranty thats our jobs. If you dont by the laptop and leave thats fine…if a year goes by and it breaks the manufacture wont cover we get bitched at and yelled at because we wont fix it or return it either….but if we offer them then we get bitched at because we did….damned if you do, damned if you dont….So if you dont want to buy the warranty then dont, go to another place and buy it…but stop complaining that we offer them because we offer them on printers,laptops,phones, freaking anything that takes power or batteries…so get over it….and I will say this much…to all those that say I hope depot goes just like cc….kiss my ass this is my job and my life, i do what i have too…yeah i can go someplace else and work but i have invested alot of years here and i enjoy what i do…therefore i stay and work hard…

  19. Matt Says:

    I’ve not personally witnessed such a thing. But I can attest to how hard other retailers push service plans.

    Some are VERY aggressive. They’ll still sell you the product w/o it, but they’ll push it till you basically fall over dead.

    The company calls them good salesmen.

    As far as Office Depot and its business practices go. I’m not surprised really. I’ve been in the local one a few times, and its dead, dead as in, no customers. Kinda like a car dealership these days. You wonder how they can even justify keeping the lights on.

    New Office Depot sales idea: Shut the lights off, give the customer a flashlight, and tell them to scope out a good deal, its like a shopping recon mission. One item in the store is marked at an abusrdly huge loss. And in the process, they tag a PPP to it for X dollars.

    My god, that might work :)

  20. Aaron Says:

    I am an associate of Office Depot. Yes… we do change the prices of clearance items because we add on the protection plans to them…. we take the normal price, knock it down 10% or whatever the difference is becase IT IS CLEARANCE…. if it doesn’t work we’re the ones taking care of the customer by telling them IT COMES WITH IT INCLUDED IN THE PRICE… is that lying… absolutely not. if it doesnt work the plan covers it! wtf is wrong with that?! your paying the same amount for the product and getting a little incentive… thats about all we do. we don’t jack up prices…. we just make it simpler and give out a better deal so you don’t have to pay extra.

  21. Aaron Says:

    Also we don’t deny a customer if they don’t buy a PPP or a TDS service but i’ll tell you straight up.. i bought a PPP accidental plan on my laptop and cracked over my knee just to see if it worked… and it did i got 2 the next week for the same price i paid for that 1. why? cuz i felt like it. the Tech services work too. My sony vaio was slow … it spend it up simple as that.. you come to me asking if someones ever complained and i’ll tell you no… why? because we don’t deny the customer of the truth. fuck the other stores.

  22. Aaron Says:

    if u go to an office depot and it shows up at $0.01 it means it is an item that is required to be sent back to the manufacturer. they use the products and they do give it to charities and people who can’t afford them. I called a few manufacturers to make sure of this. I’m a good christian and I believe in work ethics 100%

  23. ralphg Says:

    Linen’n Things is no longer around, but during their closing out sale they were claiming 20%, 40% and 50% off. Imagine our surprise when we discovered double price tags on items. Peeling one back, we found that the prices on some items were increased 25% before being marked “20%” off.

  24. Chris Says:

    I’ve been working at Staples for almost 2 years. I’m in no way saying I’m more experienced in retail than most, but I have worked retail for 8 years now.

    I don’t know what Insider Guy is talking about, as far as Staples being worse than OD or OM. I know for a fact that when a customer complained about price adjustment or lying about stock. Regional HR was contacted and a full investigation done. Took 2 weeks, and they ended up firing 4 – 5 managers for doing such things. A memo was put out immediately and every store in the region had to have a store meeting about it. If we were caught ever doing this, we could be instantly terminated.

    As far as package deals, they are just put there if you want them, you don’t have to buy them. The sale price is still there. If you just want the computer at sale price with nothing else, just buy the computer. We offer these for people looking to get better deals on other things they might need later. Like software, peripherals and such.

  25. OD Tech Sales Says:

    @ Aaron

    This may not be a problem at your store but it is at others. I can personally attest to including a warranty within the price of a clearance machine, and that is fine. Its the associates that tell customers that they are out of stock on a non clearance item if they are not getting the warranty.

    The $.01 items get either sent back to the manufacturers OR they get donated to charity. its not one or the other, its both depending on the item.

    I agree with you that the warranties are a good idea. They work and provide a good service to the customer. However if the customer wishes not to get it or cannot afford it, that is no reason to not sell them the item. It is just straight up unethical.

  26. ex-Compusa Says:

    yo this is amazingly……….. old school.

    this kind of stuff has been going on for years. when i worked the floor, i wouldnt even wait for clearance items, i would just go to sales circular and see which laptops were cheaper than ours and then start building in services from there.

    but i digress, though the practice is wrong… its like gambling – you win some you lose some, and most the time i won.

  27. Former Commission Salesman Says:

    Stores like Office Depot and Guitar Center has been doing stuff like this for years. I was the victim of this at a local car dealership. When I started working for commission, I realized that the sales industry is what’s wrong with sales, not any specific store. We (in the business sense) are taught that it’s ok, or that we’re providing some extra value.

    This is seriously nothing new.

  28. Matt Says:

    @sam,
    dealerships may be shady and pressure-filled. However, they lay out absolutely everything in the contract. People just aren’t smart enough to read it over. They don’t however, include services you don’t ask for.

    They’re not supposed to charge you $1000 extra for the chrome rims that you never got, because if they do that, it is illegal (and quite a few are greedy enough to do it anyway).

  29. Jon Says:

    I don’t Wanna sound like a goody twoshoes but honestly I’ve worked at office depot for over a year and a half and one they printed that notice out and laminated it for all of use to see right there in the employee breakroom and no one I work with in the tech area is even smart enough to use photoshop let alone do all that sh*t

  30. former office depot and office max employee Says:

    The sad part in all of this is there are Office Depot stores who operate above the board – yes they offered product protection plants and tech services, but in no way were any customers mislead. I was fortunate enough to have worked for one of them.

    Customers have every right to be concerned about purchasing extended protection plans. But I have seen too many examples where customers who didn’t purchase one suffered in the process.

    They are good investments, But there are better ways to do it. Please don’t let stories liek this make everyone think ALL Office Depot stores are acting like this, because they just aren’t.

  31. Freddy Says:

    I am a former OD employee, I can say different things happen at different stores each district always has some store or stores whose manager tells them to lie to customers and alter prices of items. The stores are usually always caught and offending employee’s or management are always let go. They do have signs to print up for clearance laptops and PC’s which mention said warrenty that is offered which are worthless and shouldn’t be purchased unless you like to throw your money out .01 items as said are not suppose to be sold to anyone they are suppose to be held to the side and donated to a charity that comes around once a month. As for different types of lying in the company depends what corporate is trying to push when they were worried about Market Basket or selling any attachment you could with said printer or laptop the store manager’s would inform you to do and say whatever you had to to get them to purchase attachments even been told by managers that they will “work with the price” if you go with some attachments. Now the company is more focused on pushing there TDS services or there Tech Bench services what a joke there. Trying to convince customers anyway possible that they need there new pc serviced before they even purchase it cause it will “optimize and make there pc faster” Or people coming in for the free pc check and being told them need ten thousand different things done to there pc to fix it. Office Depots motto should be we lie, we cheat, we steal

  32. got it for 0.01 (off topic kinda) Says:

    listen folks! this might be off topic but i must say this. A while back when i was at autozone. i grab a few item oil/filter and a car repair manual book etc… After i got the stuff i headed to the register clerk, once he scan the item i thought it was just another day of paying and leaving but not so fast, the repair manual came up to be $0.01 (usd) i was like “WOW!” the clerk told me to hold while he call his manager. a few second later his manager came and said this isn’t right he scan the book a few time it still came up $0.01 (usd) he told to me to wait while he check out the main computer(in the back). a few minute later he came and said yup that book is 1 cent (it was the last book) UNBELIEVABLE paid for my stuff and bone out…my lucky day or what? save me a more than just a few bucks!

    back on topic,
    note:i do not work for O.D

    i’ve seen lots of this behavior from time to time. it will never end.

  33. Long Dong Silver Says:

    I work at office depot and i say this is bologna!!!

  34. Chris Says:

    I also work at Office Depot. This is assumptive as hell. Nobody at our store lies to customers or does shit like this. We’re pretty f**ing honest, no matter how it affects a sale.

  35. OD Tech Associate Says:

    I’m an employee at an Office Depot, and it’s really messed up how some stores do that. At my store, we don’t Photoshop anything. If a laptop first comes out at $749.99, it will usually clearance between $449, and $549.99.

    What we do is set that price tag out, with a Clearance tag next to it which shows the laptops original price and the Product Protection Plan’s original price. On a $749 laptop, a 2yr plan that covers everything but lost and stolen (including battery, power chord, screen cracks, water spills, etc.) will rund around $280. So, the tag next to the $549 price shows that you can get the computer with the 2yr plan for $673. (That’s 10% off the $549 laptop, new in a box, and the newly priced plan that’s $179 for laptops in the 400-499 price range.) So, you can buy the laptop at $549 and get just the laptop, or spend an extra $124 (comes out to $5.16 a month) to cover accidental damage.

    That’s actually a pretty good deal. I know a lot of customers who will wait for a deal like that, then a year and a half later when nothing’s happened to the laptop, they’ll purposefully break the screen and get their $549 back to buy a new laptop. Customer gets a deal, associate gets comish, and store gets numbers. Everything works out.

  36. OD Tech Associate Says:

    I’d like to add one more thing, for the author of the article. I think you should say which states these stores are in. Instead of “Office Depot” in general, you should clarify “an Office Depot store in [insert state here]“. When you simply use the corporation’s name, it kinda seems like you’re accusing EVERYONE. Especially when you only have five stores- four that are verified. I mean, there’s like 20 stores in my district. And each store has different selling strategies. It really depends on the store’s GM and Tech Associates. The regional and district managers usually don’t give a rats ass how it’s done. And the GMs usually ask the techs what they think. So if the individual store has a shady GM, then it’s likely they’ll be doing some of the stuff you’ve mentioned. But if they’ve got strict managers who care more about mystery shops (that’s how the GMs get their bonuses, not through sales), then it’s probably not so at that store.

  37. od associate Says:

    i work in od
    to keep my anonymity excuse my punctuation
    the way people write is very unique
    i would hate to be fired over something so trivial
    i have worked at od several times over the past four years
    before i would hear over our walkies random murmur about sales ppps what have you
    finally when no package or addons was added my manager would and still does say to tell them we are out of stock
    takes no genius to enter the sku to see we really do have the product in stock
    it wasnt until recently i started looking into this
    it is scary that they are able to get away with such matters
    we go through employees like nothing
    when our employees have a bad week with ppps
    they are out the door
    if we dont get our signups we are out the door
    our tech team is shady
    im not saying all stores are this way on all i have listed
    but believe me
    ours is
    and its getting worse

  38. od associate Says:

    in response to my first post
    we actually have someone who uses a phone book
    for signups

  39. Ali Yar Says:

    Even though i hate that dame company and i hope it goes out of business soon or just burns the fuck down because the way they treated me when i got hurt at work.

    I worked for office depot for about 3 years and yes we did the same thing. There is nothing wrong with that practice. The way it worked was we would have a laptop for $899 it goes to clearance to $799 that’s all that the customer gets. The District manager would then give the Store managers the option to mark down the laptop further on the store managers Discretion or sell it at the current clearance price. So what the managers would do to make their store ppp or Product Protection Plan goals is to make a bundle price for a Laptop A PPP Plan and A Bag the manger would then markdown the price of the laptop and add the PPP and bag to bring the price back to $799 which is a great deal for customers other wise they had to pay the full price anyway now they get a replacement plan and a bag for the same price. Its not rocket science its just common sense and basic math plus the customer has the option to return the PPP back to another store or same store. I dont know what the hell is Alex taking about we never used Photo shop or any of that shit each item is ringed up separate so you can return any one of those items.

  40. Big Boi Says:

    I work at OD, i buy PPP’s on everything i buy…….and yeah…….its whatever.

  41. Mike Ogrodnik Says:

    My names mike ogrodik
    I worked at office depot for 3 years. 2003-2006
    I used to live in Delray beach now i live in Boca Raton.
    The main companies headquarters are being built in boca raton and the companies “flag ship stores” all were located in this area.
    I worked at the store off Atlantic and military.. one of the merchandising or some crap stores that created layouts in which the entire company would follow.
    So being in this location was big as you got to see the company expand and evolve.

    why i’m here. down to business lol.
    about the lying, it’s all true.
    I changed prices and added ppp’s to merchandise that was marked lower.
    I lied to customers, told them that we don’t have the laptop and never will get it, as it’s sold out, even though it’s a brand new item, – just because they were old and stupid and didn’t wanna buy a ppp.
    I would constantly throw in ink and toner, hell didn’t ring people up for stuff just to get the company numbers.
    Selling computers and laptops with no attachments was 10000000X worse then having missing products.
    managers would literally pull the computer staff in the sales room yell at you how much you suck at selling, yet when merchandise is stolen it’s oh crap not again and thats it.
    so eventually my store and the stores in the area , just started ripping the company off and giving outrageous deals to customers to bribe them into buying ppp’s and accessories and all sorts of stuff and the managers eventually got off our back and worried more about theft. you had to do this or you wouldn’t keep your job.. the sales goals were just out of this world retarded to get.. and in some locations they had stores with no customers just for the fact that it’s near corporate and that no competition would be able to compete because thats to close to “home” . Home being the main office depot central where all the fat big wigs are.
    back to theft. boy it was great. i remember a manager (in which of my 3 year period changed 6 times) told me it costs 40k per store to run surveillance ( aka install cameras and higher some one to watch like bestbuy). so each store has a given amount of product ALLOWEd to be stolen. they actually include it in there budget. which is completely common for retail but od’s was real high as they don’t try to prevent it at all.
    kinda funny though,that my store abused it, hah , some people i know still work there, still stealing anything they want. ( not my friends, hope they get under fire lol, anyone still there is a complete retard)
    OH my favorite , a lady in copy and print center, brought in big copy jobs that costed 300 to 1000′s of dollars and do the job.. if the customer wasn’t satisfied you have to return the cash.. well lets just say she did a great job, but somehow all the jobs she did were refunded to her pocket… pro tip to the copy and center people who wanna make some real cash. well she got caught afte rshe stole thousands from od and i think her daughter now is stripping. go figure, but these are things that went on . .regularly. people constantly getting hired and fired cause half the staff is retarded, and thats the idea.. office depot wants stupid people to control and yell at so that the managers feel good. for me to survive 3 years in that company was outright insane when i look back on it. hell the only reason i stayed and people i know stayed for long is that there was so much free crap. hell the whole store was yours for the taking. to much about the internal stuff i guess. but yeah i screwed some customers, hell i was so good i got promoted like 5 times and still my pay was like 9.50 . ahhh…, it was a joke to work there.
    i remember some assistant managers snorting coke off there desk in the main office when the main manager wasn’t around. those were good ol days to lol. things i had to keep my mouth shut to keep my job. i would be here all day the more i think about it.
    but yeah, stealing all day.. lying all day. i don’t know how anyone else managed to make a living there without doing it. company would say ok , focus on customers in a meeting , we get on the floor. WTF YOU DOING SELL SELL SELL, Our numbers look like crap. last year was a Great year you suck right now. blah blah blah. back to stealing and lying. every day… every day …
    oh, some one calls out, who ever is working needs to CALL all the people that work with them and finds some one else to cover the floor cause god knows a manager would not come out and sell. it was just terrible. always under fire, always dealing with bs.
    stupid manager chris off of linton and federal, she was a trip. lady been divorced 5 times cause she sucks and ****’s everythign she see’s to get promoted. she would come to the floor scream put this box up do this do that.. Customers need help,what you doing !! all in the same sentence while you got a box and a box cutter in your hand doing something. so you go do it.. she comes back out wtf u didn’t do anything … meanwhile you been with customers for a few hours and no stock was put away cause the other employee’s are worthless as sheit. so you get the box’s in top stock another manager comes by tells you bring them down wtf u doing thats all for a display i making.. so i bring them back down, and she (chris) comes and goes wtf again and i bring them back up. this was regular business in the company. even if you told them whats up. they were just stupid as hell.
    Stupid as f*** more like it. trust me i dropped some f bombs on the whole staff when i quit , but when i look at it the od giant as it is an’t coming down. they’ll just fire and hire till all they got is down syndrome people working for them and THEN . just then they might start making their company as a whole better. until the down syndrome people realize they can walk out the building with what ever they want and not get in trouble. that box cutter each employee gets is like a free ticket to whats in the boxes… not to open bigger boxes and put stuff on the shelf. i swear it was like Christmas every day. and this is office depot. the company this is how an employee thinks. this is why od is such a bad company. all the yelling all the stress, all the money money money.. CEO taking money for his 5 6 7 million + home after the 9-11 crash.. just banking on cash.. everyone forgot that he is only 5 foot tall that short prick. wife looks like a dog to, so im happy im not him.
    oh the training thats funny also. we had to watch stupid videos of people interacting, basically.. and subliminally showed you how to ripoff and sell the customer at the same time. they sure did suck at it, but my point is usually you go on the computer and train in the back room, no you gotta sell to customers as your watching the video cause you don’t get break time… even though a letter went out saying you gotta be in the break room. yeah right . and when you don’t complete the videos .. guess what manager gonna come and say .. get to it or get yelled at for hours and hours on how much your team sucks ect.. funny i think the staff of my store was like 20 people tops , but in the coarse of 3 years i remember about 70- 80 people as so many were hired and fired. i only know of like 2 people who quit the rest all fired . 40 50 of them hahah for stupid crap to. mean while me and my crew just banking, off the place. it really is al lthe motivation to work there is to get free crap cause after all the abuse you get , you might as well. i remember having clsoign shifts one day then openign shifts the next.. but since the store was in such thrash i would be there till 12 at night and back there at 6:30 in the morning.. man thats not even a good sleep man, while i didn’t have dinner or breakfast cause thats unhealthy as sheit to be eating so late. thinks like that wearing you down. some weeks you get scheduled for like 50 hours others u get like 15. part time was torture, u just couldn’t survive on it. OH MY favorite.. you get called in to work . they ALWAYS make you feel like your doing the company bad even though the other a hole called out.. thats my favorite..
    back to the lying hhaha, yeah i sent people to other stores which had no stock, just to get them out of mine. like every day… daily.. didnt’ wanna sell my sheit cause i needed numbers to get. i needed the cheap laptops in my store so i could sell ppp’s. and dood the ratio of laptop sales to ppp’s was stupid .. it was percentage based. so like they would print out a report.. i sold 2 laptops 1 with ppp another with not . so we 50 % ppp for that day .. holy crap thats awesome… meanwhile antoher store sold like 10 laptops and 1 pp so they are 10 % ppp ratio .. all the employees are currently getting yelled at … pushed around on the floor by managers. thats is EXACTLY whats going on .. we all know it.
    customers would come to our store to return product from another.. know what we said.. sorry we can’t take it.. go to that store.. cause it would hurt our numbers of coarse. or i would lie and make up a deal and tell them to go to another store as they have something that we do not. like an exchange.. it was great.. it basically came down to who we can out screw the most.. almost like a game of tag but the customers are doing our running.. sheit was fun. man i can go on for days, oh stolen products missing products.. just throw the wrapper behind the shelf.. let inventory take the blame for miscounting. lets see, the stupid sensor things for the alarm… tell yall what. the key for their alarm system is generic.. buy on ebay and get anything you want.. or hell the access code is enter store number enter and look here, it’s disarmed .. there even is a admin function if u google the unit how to reset the password to 1234 enter to disarm… so all those laptops and cameras and ipods.. are free. we had so many people identified for theft that i swear it was internal employee’s running the theft sting around the country.. or its that od is just that stupid. the onyl reason they bank is the mark-up on all there stock is like some times in the 1000′s of %. i seen desks that cost the store 35 bucks being sold for 200 300 4000 . it’s stupid. and the 10% employee discount is a slap to the face. Best buy is 5% above cost, happier employees = better business, no od’s moto is steal from the people steal form the employees.. bitch slap everyone .. get money.. ( except the people who are saying it are the “jaba the hut” (head up people) who control the districts of the company) i remember one of the managers for a whole year.. longest alsting one that i saw . literally never came out of his office but only for meetings.. in a building with less then 20 employee’s total, how the hell does that work. the assistant managers did all the employee relations when customers are mad, and screamed orders to everyone. lunch breaks are fun.. sitting next to your managers.. hey lets talk about work and what u gotta get done.. how about lets kill you , nope you had to talk back to them . stupid crap like that.. constant under pressure the entire time.. managers would stand right behind your back and watch yo usell and have a smile.. when u didn’t sell , they come at you with .. your approach was bad.. Man the mofo’r came in with 500 dolla and the laptop is 450 .. what am i supposed to upsale, a friggen pencil. they so broke they been declined 5 times on the od credit card and they even told you they going for bankruptcy and you yelling at my sale approach.. THAT kinda sheit.. is why YOU will have the worst sale experience in office depot.. cause the smiels you see are really just lies and lies covered up from the employees screaming GET me the F-ck Out of here.
    i did like how part timers got vacation . that was a + of od. thats about it..
    thank you office depot, for that experience!

  42. Mike Ogrodnik Says:

    forgot to mention. managers would regularly hide laptops even take them off the store counts till they dropped to 50 dollars form 1 grand .. and then buy them.

  43. Scorpion Says:

    Yup, I can believe it.

    I just posted a story about how Office Depot Sucks. Went to buy a laptop, they said it’s in stock and would have it shipped to me. So then I gave them my billing and address info, and then he randomly said.

    OH ITS OUT OF STOCK! WE WILL PUT IT ON BACK ORDER DONT WORRY! I said Ok, and they said they’d call by September 14. Well, the 16th came around with NO CALL! So I called them, they said,

    OH SORRY, WE CANT SELL IT TO YOU (like we said we would) ON BACK ORDER FOR $699, MY SUPERVISOR SAYS NO. ANYTHING ELSE I CAN HELP YOU WITH?

    I said, No… I won’t ever consider buying from you again. Good bye. -And I hung up.

    Bottom line, I got F—ed over by Office Depot. I could’ve bought it from Newegg.com for $689 at the time, and could’ve had it by now, but Office Depot had to be lying asses about their stock, their Back order policy, and their “loyalty” to customers. So yeah. Thanks Office Depot. You’re the Worst!

  44. Shawn Says:

    I work at an Office Depot in upstate New York. Your story said that you “believe that the practice of deceiving customers has been common, widespread, and not just limited to one rogue store or region.” That’s just not true, at least for my store and nearby stores, I can’t speak for the whole region. We would be fired immediately if we did something like this. Perhaps that’s why my store is one of the most profitable stores in the company, because we actually sell products with or without extended warranties or Tech Depot Services.

    The only Photoshopping of price tags that occurs in our area is when we have issues with our price tags, and they need to be corrected.

  45. Onikaze Says:

    Office Depot really needs to get with the twenty first century. I just felt the sting of their antiquated return policy on a keyboard that didn’t work all that well. Stupid me didn’t look at the label to see I could only do an exchange. This was the first (and last) time I had bought a tech item there. The thing that added insult to injury was the clerk told me that was the policy on technology returns just about anywhere I’d go. I’ve bought PC components at Best Buy and taken them back for a refund, let alone peripherals. Her blatant lie was what really lost me as a customer. Were it not for that I would still shop at least for paper and such. One my gift card (how I chose to deal with the exchange) that will be the last time I ever set foot in an OD.
    is used up that will be the last time I ever set foot in an OD.

  46. Current Od Employ Says:

    I personally never saw this happen! EVER, my store always makes there sales, and surpass every week…its the other stores we worry about, but I can say that if we don’t surpass them enough, my store manager will spend the whole day yelling at us over the radio where customers can’t here but we are still expected to keep a smile on our faces.

  47. Gloria Says:

    The reason they want to sell the services, peripherals, and protection plans is because the company actually loses money selling the laptop and desktop computers. I see absolutely nothing wrong with this behavior. Companies have to to what it takes to keep their heads above water now a days. Companies that do what it takes to stay in business actually serve their customers better. The bonus is that the customers’ purchase is protected if they break the item when the protection plan is included. It is doing them a favor by including it. I work at Office Depot. I have never included a protection plan against a customers will and I will never, but I have heard of it happening. Our manager is very up front with customers and would not allow it to happen while he is in charge. I have friends that have worked at other stores that have told me they did this in the past. I would rather a customer choose to add the plan on to protect their purchase… especially on computers, cameras, and small items that are easily dropped and broken.

  48. Mike Says:

    OD has lost me as a coustomer for good. They screwed me on an extended warrenty and other items. I wont purchase anything from them ever.

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