Office Depot Reluctantly Selling Gateway LT1004U Netbook

ovrview_ltseries_cEven though Acer’s Aspire one has been a global hit, its sub brand Gateway wants in on the netbook pie. Though the Gateway netbook’s availability won’t be widespread customers after a Gateway branded mini-notebook can pick one up at Office Depot brick and mortar stores or on the Home Shopping Network. Apparently HSN’s Gateway Joe will only be offering a limited supply. After reading that the an Engadget tipster had seen the LT1004U selling at Office Depot, we paid a visit to out local branch and found a display unit sitting on the shelf right next to an identically-configured Acer Aspire One. Looking at the two systems next to each other, it was clear that the Gateway is nothing more than rebranded version of its Acer sibling. Both sport identical Atom N270 1.6-GHz CPUs, 1GB of RAM, 160GB hard drives, 8.9-inch screens, and 3-cell batteries. The only differences are minor and cosmetic: the LT1004U has a gray and silver color scheme, a felt palm rest, and a Gateway logo on the back of the lid. The color scheme does make the Gateway look a little bit more solid and sleek, but does it justify the $30 difference in price between the $349 Office Depot is charging for the Aspire One and the $379 it is asking for the LT1004U? Perhaps the retailer doesn’t really want to move any of its LT1004Us. For some reason, when we flagged down a salesman and told him we wanted to purchase the LT1004U, he did everything in his power to try to convince us not to buy it. “Are you sure you really want this,”  he asked, before telling us that it “has no CD drive” and it has “only 512MB of RAM” (this was inaccurate as it actually has 1GB). When we said “that’s ok. We want it anyway, ” our salesman also said it was “filled with crapware, but we can get rid of that for you,” presumably for a price.  We politely said that we wanted the system as is and waited a few minutes for our salesman to retrieve it from the back. He came back a few minutes later to tell us that they didn’t have any in-stock, despite the fact that there were no less than 10 merchandise slips behind the price tag. He suggested we get the Acer Aspire One as “it’s the same thing,” but we said we’d try again tomorrow. Considering that Acer, which owns Gateway, is only releasing the LT1004U at Office Depot and at HSN, we have to wonder how badly the manufacturer wants to sell these netbooks. Our question is this. If you don’t want people to buy it, why bother releasing it?

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  1. chris h Says:

    At office depot, we are paid a low hourly wage. however we r paid 10-15% commision on pc optimazation and protection plans, not only do us sales people depend on the extra the extra cash we earn from these ad ons, if we do not sell them and make a quota, we get the shaft from our bosses and their bosses and their bosses!!! So please folks if you buy electronics from any retailer and the salesperson is selling warranty plans and optimazation services, it’s cause it’s required of us to sell, we are salespeople btw, and we can get an extra bit beyond our 7.50-10.00 an hr wage. Really have you ever lived on that knida money?

  2. www.fabuloustalk.com Says:

    I’m going to get myself a dell laptop soon, just wondering if dell is a good buy? or acer? Currently I am using a toshiba ones. Been using before IBM, HP, Dell and Toshiba laptops for the past 6 years.But I guess Dell ones is ok with the cheap promotional price they are offering now.

  3. Daniel R Says:

    I agree with what chris h has to say. The only thing i prefer about the gateway is that it looks sleeker. maybe thats why the price is a little more. And we do get paid little and nothingcompared to circuit city and bestbuy

  4. Rob H. Says:

    I think the gist of the article is Office Depot’s reluctance to sell this product. Speaking from personal experience this does seem to be the case. I went in to the local branch not 30 minutes ago, grabbed a tag from the shelf and tried to buy one, only to be told “we dont have any” but that I could buy the display. Considering the amount of scratches on it, I opted out. I then came home and loked up stores in the nearest large city and called them to inquire about this product. Three phone calls later and there doesn’t seem to be one that is not a display item in my part of the state. Are they REALLY that popular? That no store me has one in stock? Or, as the article states, is Office Depot dragging their feet selling this thing?

  5. Office Depot Employee Says:

    Here is the real jist on what is happening with this notebook computer:

    Office Depot simply does not purchase more than 1-2 units per store for any laptop sku (except for the cheap advertized ones on Sunday). OD relies upon its replenishment system from the crossdocks. If we sell one…. in theory we should get another one back in on the next truck (after 24 hours). So within 2-3 days after selling the laptop, we will be replenished. Alot of times the crossdocks are out and we just end up with the display unit for a while. It is very frustrating at store level.

    Also, at store level, OD puts too much pressure on sales consultants and managers to sell the PPP’s (Product Protection Plans) & TDS (Tech Depot Services). I know of several stores in my market that will “feel out” the customer to see if they are the type to purchase these services. If the customer lets on that they only want the computer and no services….. then that store simply claims to be out of stock! We are required to sell 30% + on both of these services or we get PIP’d (Performance Improvement Process) (or Written up) and get ultimately fired.

    Selling services on 30% (or 3 out of every 10) laptops may sound easy…. but it’s not! The Sunday ad always has a $350 to $399 laptop for sale. Who wants to pay $100+ for TDS and another $119+ for a PPP??? Heck, that almost doubles the price of the laptop! Fortunately or unfortunately, OD stocks their stores with 6-10 of these laptops. We almost never sell any services with these so we have to make it up with the other ones we sell. I’ve worked on a Sunday when a customer told me that this was their third OD store visit that day just to get a certain laptop because every other OD store was “out of stock”. When I checked the inventory screens for the other stores the customer visited…. they had more than 2 in stock… meaning they lied to the customer! After selling the customer the laptop (with no services of course) I called those stores. I was told “they were on hold” for another customer. I followed the stock levels at those stores for the next week and it was obvious they were not on hold!

    It’s really sad when we, at store level, would rather not sell a laptop if the customer is not buying the PPP or TDS! This is probably one of the contributing factors for OD’s financial woes and closing of stores. The pressure put on us to sell services is actually making us not sell!!! HOW IRONIC!!!

  6. OD tech sales Manager Says:

    Unfortunately, what you all have been commenting is very close to the truth of the matter. But not all Office Depot’s practice this unethical decision making. I personally do 75% of the service sales at my store. Majority of the time I am able to convey the importance of a TDS and PPP service to my customers. I don’t hesitate from selling my laptops even though they deny wanting these services. Why? Because like you said before. the quota is 30% so I can lose out on 7 laptops but get 3 and be okay still. It’s a percentage game. Me personally. I don’t like net books thats why I don’t go out of my way to sell them. They have limited capability and especially since our stores have better laptops for 50-100 dollars more I up sell them to a real computer. Net books have a single core processors meaning they are laptops we used to sell years ago… also it has limited RAM. most people don’t notice it but the Acer model is maxed out for its RAM… 1 GB!!!! Honestly I would never use a computer with less than 2 GB. There is a reason for this too. (Contracts prohibiting the manufacturer to produce products with more capability.) As a secondary computer… heh.. why not if you have the money to burn… but many people come in looking for the cheapest computer many of them buying a first computer… I go out of my way to educate them on what a “real” computer is… So please understand… not all Office Depots are the same… some do not apply the same basic principals as the rest… but many of the stores do follow a guideline of ethical principals… and offer the right computer for the customers needs… but it is the responsibility of the customer to understand what they are really getting… and if they don’t know they should ask.

    P/S: to the OD people: I work in a 4 million dollar store, in a low income residential area across from a high school. We don’t get many “big spenders” in our store but I still manage to sell an Average of $750 in services in a week. Customers know me by my first name. Shake my hand after we talk and call my store whenever they have questions about Technology. If what your doing is not working try something else.
    (lol Don’t they call that “insanity”? Doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result…)

  7. Kay Says:

    Thanks for enlightening us about what’s going on with OD.

    Anyways I really like this netbook, it has more of a premium feel, kinda like the HP Minis. It almost looks like it has an “edge-to-edge” screen (HP and Apple style). But the biggest thing is the graphics chip is a 4500MHD, which is better than the previous gen X3100 and a HELLA better than two-generation-old GMA950s found in the Aspire One and most other netbooks.

  8. Rich S Says:

    Being an Office Depot employee, I know what it is like dealing with the netbooks. Personally I love them, I have an HP mini 1000 myself. If they are used for what they are supposed to be used for, that is a secondary machine in supplement to your main computer, they are great. It’s the people that think they can use them for everything that don’t get it. Whenever a customer asks about them I explain the difference between a netbook and a notebook. It’s not until then that they decide what they need.

    As for the services and items in stock, sadly most of what has already been said is true. I have been told many times that if the customer isn’t going to buy anything then tell them we are out of stock. First off, that’s just plain wrong. Second, I’m not going to waste my time as well as the customers time selling them a product and then saying “whoops, looks like we don’t have it!” All of the BS that goes on in that store is ridiculous. My store manager tries to cheat the system all the time by finding ways to make the PPP dollars go up when they really aren’t. I sold roughly $700 in PPP/TDS one week, and everything was legit. My manager the next week sold almost $900, but most of it was through a loophole in the system with the kits we offer. He tried telling me that I needed to start doing that, but my response was that I value my job and would rather have a 0% attachment rate than cheat the system like he was. No wonder the company stock is trading below $1/share.

  9. To the Manager Says:

    Netbooks have a purpose.. they are for travel!! I use a Netbook for checking e-mail, browsing the web, word, excel, and power point. That is it.. and you only need a single processor to do these. The Atom processor works great! You get more battery life with a single processor than a dual! These Netbooks are so much better to take with you while on the road, than carrying a Notebook. You are right that Netbooks aren’t desktop replacements, but the do serve a purpose.

    DO is doomed to fail with their stupid service policies. Quit selling your customers these stupid services.. you should be ashamed for taking advantage of people that don’t know better. Anyone can remove software and computers don’t need PPPs.. cheaper to send to repair shop or buy a new one… if you use Google you can find how to fix yourself. Why not tell your customers that? I’m sending this thread to my local news and paper.

  10. OD Employee (number 2) Says:

    The amount of merchandise slips by the price tag rarely represent how many of an item we actually have in stock. We tried to keep a 1-1 matching of merchandise slips to actual product in stock and it was a maintenance nightmare. Customer’s take them home to research more before buying, kids come by and take them out by the dozen, and other things. When we kept a 1-1 matching of slips to product, we spent our entire time counting slips and product, rather than helping customers or cleaning or organizing or any of the 100 other things we could be doing that are way more worthwhile. It was just too much work to keep up on, for way too little gain.

  11. OD Tech manager Says:

    What they’ve said was true.. for the most part. Used to be that we would always drive numbers, but its only been recently that our job depended on us selling plans and tds. Honestly? I hate it. I’ve been with office depot for years but up until recently I’ve loved my job. The thought that I may not be able to support my family tomorrow, because some lady working 2 jobs with 4 kids and trying to buy her oldest son a laptop for college won’t shell out 200 more dollars for a PPP she can’t afford – is ridiculous. Thanks, OD, for wasting my time and making me despise waking up to go to work.

  12. mp Says:

    We would never do that at the store I work at. If we have it we sell it. Also just an FYI the stock screen that customers can go into is not real time so any sales for the day are not out of the computer screen, it shows what was in stock when the store opened. We are required to inform customers about the service plans but it is their opion to buy or not. Just don’t complain when the product breaks. Call the manufacturer.

  13. DougC-3 Says:

    At one local Office Depot I was told that none of the netbooks were any good because they were too little.

    At the other one I just went in to see what they had in stock, and a very aggressive girl pounced on me and grilled me with six or eight questions about what I wanted to do with my laptop. She assumed (a) I was buying a laptop now, and (b) I knew absolute nothing about computers and she knew everything. She then proceeded to tell me I needed their biggest laptop because it was the only one which came with 3 GB RAM, which I needed to store my movies!

  14. CharlieB Says:

    I’m a Staples easy tech associate. I think this is hilarious. I don’t know if OD works on commission or not, but I know that at Staples, NO ONE is on commission. We push our plans so that people don’t call us up pissed off that they can’t understand anyone from the HP or Gateway tech center, or that they’re actually getting charged for tech support. We push the plans for superior customer service, we get nothing out of it.

  15. Mike Says:

    Yeah, I also work for Staples Easytech and we do -not- get commission. Exactly what CharlieB said, we do it so that we can help the customers that need it without paying associates to do it for no income to the store. It’s also very frustrating when time and time again, customers who refuse the service plans (because the manufacturer’s warranty is enough) have a problem with the computer, (after the return policy) and then are calling us on the phone expecting free tech support or trying to get us to repair it for free or return the computer. All because that manufacturer’s warranty that was enough is too inconvenient to bother with.
    I also, time and time again, watch or hear of customers spending a bunch of money having their computer repaired or getting assistance with computer problems and alot of the time on the very first go they end up spending as much as they would have on the service plan. Gee, seems to me that it would’ve made more sense to purchase the damned thing in the first place and if you’re plagued with problems you’d save money and have a more convenient way to get your computer issues taken care of.
    Some people who state that “anyone can take care of alot of these computer issues” are correct, if the person is technologically inclined. Most of our tech services I get are customers who purchased a piece of software, printer, component, etc and turned us down to do the service up front. Then, they are returning to the store to have us do it for them because “something must be wrong with it, I can’t get it to work”. Nine out of ten times this happens, it is entirely user error and any of our techs can get it accomplished completely on the first attempt.

  16. Annemarie McCutcheon Says:

    Went to Office Depot to look at external hard drives; walked out with new laptop. Why? I was told by sales assoc. that all new external hard drives did not work with Windows 98 or XP anymore. I am self-employed musician, and I need my pc to work with, so I purchased Acer Extensa with Vista. Three nights in a row; up til 7 a.m. trying to load all my programs to no avail. Sales assoc. was informed of all programs I used, and of course, Patrick McCarty said the programs would work. Wednesday, called Mgr. at OD where sales assoc. worked; told him situation. Richard (Mgr.) told me to bring in laptop on Thursday for full refund (absolutely nothing was downloaded or added to laptop). Thursday; went to Office Depot; Richard did not come to front of store; sent other Mgr. instead. Scott (Mgr.) told me he would not give me refund. Spoke with Richard on Friday, and of course he apologized for giving me wrong information. Receipt says 14 day return policy! Why would I purchase a laptop that would not work with my former programs in the first place? They figured they’d take advantage of a woman with absolutely no idea about all these new Windows programs. They must have been laughing as I walked out the door. Now I get a call from a Tech who said he’d help walk me through setting up my laptop. I don’t even want anything to do with Office Depot anymore, and I just want my money back! Also, I saw an Acer laptop on Radio Shack website that has Windows XP!!!! Just the Windows program I need! After Office Depot says that XP is no longer in any of the new laptops! Been in touch with Customer Svc., and can’t get anywhere with Office Depot. PEOPLE BE WARE! DO NOT DO BUSINESS WITH OFFICE DEPOT! YOU WILL NOT GET YOUR MONEY BACK, EVEN THOUGH THEY HAVE A 100% MONEY BACK GUARANTEE!

  17. Office Depot Customer Says:

    For those who are frustrated with OD being “out of stock” on netbooks and notebooks…just order them online. No pressure to buy the extended warrenty, etc. and they are delivered to your door for free..often the next business day. I have purchased both of my full-feature notebooks this way, and will soon buy a netbook.

    For those Office Depot employees who say that their tech support people are easier to understand than the manufacturer’s tech support people…what planet are you on?? Even the folks who answer the 1-800 number for Office Depot are working from a call center in India, and have such thick accents that I can’t understand them at all.

    When I tried to order my second notebook, the Office Depot 1-800# call center put me on hold for 40 minutes, hung up on me, and when I called back and asked for a supervisor, hung up on me again. I spoke with 5 different people, and they all spoke very poor English. I usually do not have a problem understanding people with accents, but this was impossible.

    Finally I wrote a complaint letter addressed to the president of Office Depot. They sent me the computer I wanted, and honored the sale price. They also sent me a $100 Office Depot gift card, which is the ONLY reason I will buy my netbook from them.

  18. Vincent Lazano Says:

    Office Depot needs to be completly shut down. Look at Circuit City!! They went out because of poor customer service. We consumers won’t be lied to. Besides I can get everything I need or want at much cheeper prices than Office Depot. I just know wher to do business. Sometimes I choose to even pay more somewhere else just because I enjoy good customer service.

  19. A Says:

    “He came back a few minutes later to tell us that they didn’t have any in-stock, despite the fact that there were no less than 10 merchandise slips behind the price tag. ”

    Take-A-Tickets in their holders doesn’t say we HAVE IT IN STOCK. The associate should’ve checked their onhand on the computer to tell you right away. If there are 20 take-a-tickets in the holder doesn’t mean we have 20 in stock! they are printed for customers to take home or up to the register for an associate to check to see if we have it in stock. Seriously the Acer was cheaper when we carried it and its the SAME computer built by the SAME company. If you want to spend $30 more on the same netbook i guess thats your choice but the smart person would’ve just bought the acer. The acer was $299.99 when you posted this and the gateway was $329.99. I memorize these prices for a living and our Tech depot services are an awesome service for people who do NOT know what they are doing.

  20. Denise Says:

    I bought my 1st computor, laptop at office depot. I was sold the 3yr warranty. Weeks after buying it I could not do some programs I wanted to do so I brought it up to office depot and they said there was nothing wrong with it and sent me on my way, with no help. I had a friend that knew about computers and he did something and got one program to work but others did not. About a month later it was not working and I brought it back to office depot and as I expected I did not get help and was sent on my way, no supprise to me. During 1 yr I bought 2 batteries and 3 chargers. It kept destroying the. The CD did not work also. I accedently dropped it and cracked the screen cover so I sent it in. When I got it back they did not give me a new battery the CD did not work and the screen cover had a crack the screws were over tightened and stripped. At this point it did not recognize the ports also. I talked to customer no care and they said it went out working. I had my friend look at it when he could and he said if they do not want to fix it I would have to reboot it. I called again and again and got no where. I had him call in acting like my husband and the person said it needed to be replaced. Two days later I get a call from warranty department saying they are not just going to send me a new I have to return it they deem it bad and fix it or replace it. I said that is what I am trying to do and they then have me go on hold give me another person who wanted all my info and was rude not helpful. Made me repeat my self for 30 min. Till I got pissed off and wanted a supervisor. Then of course I had to repeat everything and he said it sound like you need to get a disk from Toshiba and if that does not work call us back. I said I just want a box to send it to you guys. He said oh well I can order you one but I recommend you send the disc with it. He said you need to call Toshiba. So when I got off that hour plus long call I called Toshiba. The 1st person I talked to was not helpful and rude so I asked for a supervisor and told her my name computer serial number and she said the disk had already been given for the computer and I would have to pay for this one. I said who do I need to talk to and she gave me to another person and I gave him my name and serial number. He then asked how are you related to Katrina __ _. I said who and he said her name again and said she registered it about 1 yr before I bought it. I asked so is that why I could not use certain programs? He said if they needed registered. He then said you have a complaint with office depot. I then called customer relations in FL and got a Mike and told him what was going on and he said if you have your receipt send it to him with the computer and he would give me a full refund. So I do and he calls me back promptly after receiving it and asks if I want the gift card sent mail or email. I asked if I could go to office depot and let them print it explaining again to him I could not print. He said no problem. So I agree to email and he said it would be there in 24 hrs. The next day I look on my phone and did not see it so I call him back. Of course I get an answering machine and leave a message. Do not here back from him. The next day I think I did not look in my spam folder so I look in there and sure enough I see his email so I go to office depot and using their computer open it up and it is a pachail

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