Source: Office Depot Associates Routinely Lie about Notebook Stock

od-exterior-iTimes are tough—apparently so tough that some associates at Office Depot are willing to turn notebook customers away if  they aren’t spending enough on extras. According to several LAPTOP readers, including a current Office Depot employee we interviewed, the retailer’s sales staff are under such intense pressure to sell such “attachments” as Product Protection Plans and Tech Depot Services, that many will tell customers who turn down these services that the computer they asked for is not in stock, even when it’s sitting right in the stock room. We first became aware of this problem a few weeks ago, when we went to our local Office Depot, looking for a Gateway LT1004U netbook. We were surprised by how aggressively the sales associate tried to convince us not to buy the system and then, when we said we still wanted it, how aggressively he tried to convince us to buy its corresponding tech services. When we posted about our experience on the LAPTOP blog, some surprising comments starting coming in from several different readers claiming to work for Office Depot. Readers Raise the Alarm “Not only do [we] sales people depend on the extra cash we earn from add-ons, if we do not sell them and make a quota, we get the shaft from our bosses and their bosses and their bosses,” reader Chris H. wrote. A reader going by the moniker Office Depot Employee was more direct. This commenter wrote, “At store level, OD puts too much pressure on sales consultants and managers to sell the PPPs (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.” Another reader using the alias OD tech sales Manager wrote, “Unfortunately, what you all have been commenting is very close to the truth of the matter. But not all Office Depots practice this unethical decision making … I don’t hesitate from selling my laptops even though they deny wanting these services. Why? Because like you said before. (sic) the quota is 30% so I can lose out on 7 laptops but get 3 and be okay still.” Current Salesperson Spills the Beans While e-mails sent to these first three commenters went unreplied, we were able to make contact with a fourth reader named Rich (last name withheld), who was willing to talk to us and even provided us with a pay stub to prove that he currently works at an Office Depot. In an extensive phone and e-mail interview, Rich said that he was always honest with customers but had been instructed to lie about notebook stock both by one of his four store managers and by a district manager. “I have witnessed lying about the availability of a notebook, and have been told to do so myself,” Rich told us. ” Once I was talking to the customer and, while I am actually speaking, my manager comes on the radio and tells me to say it is out of stock if they aren’t getting anything with it.  I always ignore him and sell it anyway because lying to the customer is flat-out wrong.” Sales Quotas for Associates, Percentages for Managers Rich told us that although lying about notebook stock is not official Office Depot policy, the chain’s tough quotas lead many managers and sales associates to game the system any way they can. Rich said that store managers are held to a strict minimum “attachment rating,” which is determined through a complex formula that weighs the value of “attachments”—services such as warranties and service plans or accessories like printer cables—against the number of tech products sold. If a store’s attachment rating falls below 30 percent, the manager could face disciplinary action from higher-ups. Sales associates like Rich, however, are not held to a percentage, but to a weekly dollar amount. Rich said his current dollar amount is $200, and if he doesn’t hit that number, he faces warnings, and then termination in short order. “Basically they drill it in your head that if you don’t sell PPPs, you’re gonna get fired. It’s gotten so bad to the point where the managers are starting to find loopholes in the system. They would rather sell one laptop with a PPP than ten laptops with nothing. They don’t care,” he said. Tough Weekly Goals Determine Commissions In addition to the stick of losing their jobs,  Office Depot sales associates have the carrot of commissions for themselves and all of their co-workers if the store reaches or exceeds its attachment sales numbers. According to Rich, each store has its own daily sales goal for PPPs ($200 for Rich’s store; as much as $450 for others he knows). The daily goals are determined by a number of factors, including that store’s previous performance. At the end of each week, the commission rate for all of the store’s sales associates is determined based on where the total amount of PPP sales stands in relation to the store’s goals for that week. If the store achieved more than 120% or more of its goal, all associates get 15% commission for the previous week’s sales. If the store achieved 100 to 120%, they get 10% commission. Eighty to 99 percent nets a 5% commission for associates, while falling below 80% of the goal means that associates get no commission at all, no matter how much they sold as individuals. “One PPP could make or break how the entire store gets paid for commission that week,” he said. “That’s why they put such an emphasis on it.” According to Rich, the price of a PPP ranges from $100 on the low end to as much as $495 for a multiyear plan on an expensive notebook. Rich told us that Office Depot typically charges $125 for extended protection on a $300 netbook.  Tech Depot Services vary widely in price. A local Office Depot associate tried to sell us software installation on an optical-driveless netbook for $30 per program, but Rich told us the most common services for notebooks are trialware removal, “optimization,” and a year of McAfee Anti-Virus. All three services combined cost $99, though trialware removal alone starts at $29. The Tech Depot Services are an especially vibrant profit center for Office Depot, with little cost and effort involved. According to Rich, some services are performed by remote workers who do little more than push a few buttons to install software. “The software installation the associates do. We will install everything,” Rich said. “The service where we install McAfee and get rid of all the trialware—the way it works is that we hook it up to our tech bench and a remote person will take over the computer and then they’ll basically run a little uninstall wizard that does everything for them. They’re basically just clicking a few buttons and it just does it.” Why Associates Lie Rich also told us that there is no commission at all just for selling a notebook without any attachments. So there’s no financial incentive for salespeople to help customers who don’t want protection plans or tech services. Considering that the manager is held to a minimum attachment rating, but the associates are only held to a total dollar amount, we wondered why the associates would lie to customers and tell them a notebook was out of stock when it neither harms nor helps their individual stats. Rich explained that sales associates are both concerned about the store’s attachment rating and about losing the opportunity to sell each an individual laptop to a PPP or TDS-buying customer. “Ideally, they want every single laptop to go out with a warranty, so  if you sell one, that’s one opportunity that’s gone,” Rich said. “They figure if they don’t sell it, someone else will come in and get it, especially if it’s a laptop that’s in the ad that a lot of people are going to come in . . . They figure they’re going to sell it eventually. You might as well do it to someone that’s going to get something with it.” Rich said that a typical Office Depot has at most one or two of each regular-priced notebook in stock at any given time, with a maximum of 5 units for sale circular items. He told us that employees aren’t too concerned about running out of stock, because a truck comes with new supplies at least three times a week, more frequently during peak sales times such as back-to-school. The Scope of the Problem Without doing a comprehensive survey of dozens or hundreds of Office Depot employees, it’s difficult to tell just how widespread the problem of lying sales associates has become. We know from our reader comments that the problem is not limited to Rich’s store alone, but we hear from Rich that not every associate lies and not every manager encourages their sales people to lie. “As far as not-selling, I’ve heard about it from other stores. The original one [store] that I worked at, it wasn’t really too bad. They only time they told me not to sell something to someone was a customer who came in once a week and bought a computer and then returned it two days later. Other than that, that store was pretty good,” Rich  recounted.  “This one [the manager at his current store], his thing is to really get the warranty, to get as much as possible. He’s told me repeatedly to not sell a computer if you’re not getting anything with it.” According to Rich, the district manager once visited his store and told all the associates to lie. “We did get told by the district manager one time to talk to the customer, figure out what they want, do your normal sales routine, and figure out what they’re going to get,” he said. “Offer them the PPP. Offer them the TDS and then, if they’re going to get it, go check to see if we have it in stock and, if we do, bring it out to them. If they’re not going to get anything with it, just go check to see if we have it and then come back and say ‘oh, we’re out of stock on it.’” We tried more than once to investigate this very claim by visiting a local Office Depot branch here in Manhattan, but were told that the laptop we wanted was in stock when we sent a LAPTOP staff writer undercover to purchase a notebook without any PPP or TDS plans. So either our local Office Depot is an honest branch or we got an honest sales associate. Office Depot’s Response We contacted Office Depot corporate and shared some of the things Rich had told us, along with our other reader’s comments. Their response in its entirety is as follows:

We certainly appreciate your bringing this situation to our attention.  Our objective is to sell merchandise and to offer and recommend solutions to our customers, without regard to whether a customer purchases or does not purchase a service warranty or a software package.  Office Depot has been recognized with numerous awards for our commitment to customer service, so please know that we take this issue very seriously and will take the necessary steps to ensure that we continue to enhance the customer experience and promote quality in our customer-related processes.   With respect to your inquiry, we intend to look into the situation further, as part of our continuing commitment to ensuring customer satisfaction and consistent selling practices.

Update: Office Depot has issued a more detailed response. How to Get What You Want So what do you do if you want to buy a notebook at Office Depot, but you don’t want a protection plan or Tech Depot Services? You have a few options:

  • Be honest with the sales associate in telling them you don’t want the services and hope that they are being honest with you about the stock. There’s a good chance they are.
  • Lie to the sales associate, tell them you want an extended warranty, and then pretend to change your mind after he brings your notebook out of the back room.
  • Use the store’s own inventory computer to check stock. Rich says that there are computers throughout the store that associates use that are also meant for customer use. If you grab the merchandise ticket for the notebook you want and enter its 6-digit SKU number into the item lookup box on the inventory computer, a screen will appear that shows whether the notebook is in stock. If the number of items in stock is either 1 or 0, it’s out of stock because item #1 is the floor model.  Of course, it’s always possible a sales associate could still lie to you and tell you the remaining notebooks are on hold for another customer or that the computer is wrong.

Follow Up We’re continuing to follow this story. If you have worked at any retail chain (not just Office Depot) and witnessed someone lying, lied yourself, or were advised to lie about what’s in stock, please drop us a line at tips@laptopmag.com.

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. Phil Says:

    Two instances come to mind in my experience with Office Depot.

    The first, I was purchasing a floor model Acer Aspire One on clearance. The sales associate asked if I wanted the setup package, which features the crapware removal, etc. I said I didn’t, at which point he offered it to me for free. I accepted, even though it was something I didn’t need. At checkout, he offset the price of the service by lowering the price of the unit. I didn’t think of it then, but now it was obvious that this was just a means of getting a service on their books.

    The second was this past weekend. I wanted to purchase a notebook, on behalf of my boss, for his daughter. I brought the inventory slip to the register and the s/a went to the back to get it. After more time than what I would have thought necessary to find the unit, he came back to me and asked if I wanted a PPP. i said no, and off he went, again. This time he came back with the product, and I completed the purchase. Now, it sure looks like they were debating making the sale or not.

    Office Depot used to have pretty good deals, especially with their coupons. But now, between two or more rebates needed to achieve a published price and their coupons not qualifying for use on technology items, I tend to only buy their tech items on sale.

  2. Kuis Says:

    This article was a super eye openner!

    I don’t think this problem just happens at Office Depot. I had exactly the same experience at Staples! The store is located off College Avenue in San Diego. I originally went to my local Staples store at National City, CA and when to asked for the affordable Acer laptop for $445.00 back in september, 2008, they saleclerk said they were out of stock, but he said that he would call others stores if i was interested. i say yes. He called couple of stores and finally found one at the Staples by College Ave, San Diego. I drove over and went to pick it up. I went to the computer section and told the sales clerk at the computers that i had a laptop on hold for me. He went to the back and got it. And yes, he offered me the extended warranty, and other side products and services. I told him, thank but no thanks. then when it was time to pay for it, I think it was a shift mananger who ended up helping me to charge up the laptop, the shift mananger asked me again if i needed the extra protection, i said no. he told me how expensive repairs are and the warranty would protect any accidents. I still said no many times.

    When i gave him my American Express card and he ran it through the credit card machine, he said, your card is no good. i told him to try again, which he did, and same thing, “your card is no good.” (note to readers, I have a Platinum American Express, and I been a memeber for the last 19 years! My card is good, and I too, have worked in sales and know that there is a 1800 number when credit machines break down. ) I told the shift mananger, “I tell you what, you go back into your office and find the 1-800 number to American Express merchant support number and get a verbal authorization – I am not leaving without that laptop” He took about 15-20 mins to get the authorization!

    After reading your article, I am furious that the Staples may treat custormers like this. My family was waiting in the car even wonderered what took so long to buy a single product!

    I am willing to go on record along with other of your readers to file a complaint against Staples. It’s may not be just Office Depot, try visiting a Staples, go try and buy a laptop without any extras, then pay with credit card and be ready to get the same lame excuse I got.

    When I return from my military deployment overseas, i will take this to the regional manager and file an official complaint against the shift mananger (if he is still there). I have the receipt with the employee ID, date and time of transaction.

  3. seth1066 Says:

    “and then pretend to change your mind. . .” Why pretend? Guy brings the laptop out, hands it to you and you thank him and say you’re passing on the warranty.

  4. SLEZE Says:

    This is fantastic. I will be linking to this article. It looks like Office Depot is on track to becoming the next Circuit City.

  5. Retail Employee 3 Says:

    First off, I must say that I’m appalled by these stories (and by laptop magazine for posting this without doing research on more ODs)… maybe I just live in a more honest part of the US but I’ve worked for all 3; Staples, OfficeMax, and Office Depot and in my stores you wouldn’t think of doing this. My employees don’t get “Records of Discussion” or “PIPs” for not selling service plans but I can guarantee pulling this shit they would. EVERYONE puts a lot of pressure on their “Extras”, plain and simple we make more money on the dollar than a PC/Laptop. Here’s the problem… an un-researched article like this is going to spark a panic and now EVERYONE is going to be like “oh, this is what is happening to me!” Here’s the thing about the Service Plans – Customer’s think that they are “always right” – BS – EVERY RETAILER has hundreds if not thousands of cusotmers a year that think that the Store where they bought the product OWES them a return if the product breaks down after 6 Months, Year, etc… The customer was the one who was UNWILLING to purchase a service plan in case this were to happen. It’s not the stores fault the product broke and you didn’t want to spend a little extra to cover it after the MFR warranty ended… it’s actually the Manufacturer’s or Customer’s fault it broke. If you are offered a service plan, sure the associate gets money, sure the store gets more money, but if something happens to your product YOU are the one who gets the benefit… is it a gamble? Sure, but as a customer myself at times I’d rather gamble that I’m going to be taken care of than gamble that I’m going to be SOL. As an employee, if you don’t buy a service plan, I owe you nothing after our return policy ends; your problems belong to the manufacturer. If you buy the service plan – We sold you something, you deserve to be taken care of for taking that gamble. I would expect the same treatment if I walked in and refused a service from a store I was buying something in. (By the way I do purchase service plans on just about everything I buy – do I buy them all the time, no, but I know that I’m not going to be taken care of if something goes wrong). So, go aheaf, come into my store and turn me down for a service plan… you aren’t going to stop me from asking, you aren’t going to be told that I don’t have the product, but don’t come crying and being an ass to me in a year if your product breaks.

  6. Josh Says:

    This happens at Best Buy as well. OFTEN
    Many times when they advertise a notebook cheap they’ll sell 10 or so and then tell customers they’ve sold out..only if you say you want the warranty they magically find one.

  7. Retail Employee 3 Says:

    Not saying that there’s not possibly any truth to this but I might also add that I had heard somewhere that OD just released a lot of it’s management staff… it’s possible that this is just a pissed off former manager that’s trying to stick it to his former employer. How old was this guys pay stub, that was used for proof. Again, just playing devil’s advocate.

  8. Retail Employee 3 Says:

    I’m sorry, just read the article again… Rich is talking about everything in the past tense and is not talking about “we want” it’s “they want” and he even says “the store I worked at”. Obviously a former employee… not a current employee as the article states – probably showed a pay stub from his final paycheck. The “Tech Sales Manager” says he doesn’t do this but has heard about it and even Laptop Magazine themselves said that they didn’t come across the same thing – I’m sorry but it seems to me that this is a very poorly researched and PUSHED article with no real weight to it. At least not in the fashion that LM is making everyone belive. This same type of thing happened with OfficeMax a couple of years ago too… do a google search for “OfficeMax Sucks” and click on the first link… it’s one person’s opinion that sparked panic for everyone else. I think LM needs to post a new article with more factual information – in reading my posts I realize that I’m not in any danger from my comments but just to make everyone aware that I’m not biased, I currently work for Best Buy so to Josh – sorry you had that experience… we do run out of some ad products quickly but as I said in my first post, if you were in my store and this were to happen, the associate would no longer work here.

  9. Mal-2 Says:

    I had a similar experience when I was trying to buy a Wii console over a year ago, except they were honest enough to come straight out and say “we have ONE, and if you want it you will have to take the warranty.” I negotiated for the Wii Play pack (I needed the extra controller anyhow) and ended up paying only about $15 for the warranty after all was said and done.

  10. Bob Says:

    I got my wife a new laptop last year at Best Buy. All of the models that I would accept they only had in stock in “pre-optimized” configurations with their anti-virus installed, and all the trialware garbage removed. I talked to the department manager about it and asked about what percentage of laptops they pre-optimized. He said about 50%. First off, I hope that 50% of the people out there are not that stupid to pay $130 (I think that was the price) for anti-virus software and the other stuff. He said that was about the percentage that normally got them pre-optimized. Then I asked him, if that was true, why did they only have the pre-optimized computers on hand?? I got him to sell me one at regular price after their software (which my ISP gave me for free) was removed. He did not like me pointing out that his percentage must really be off since they were out of the “regular” laptops. I was willing to wait the extra 45 minutes to do something that would take me 15 minutes at home and save the money.

  11. Peets Says:

    There’s a bit of astro turfing going on here. The article clearly says it is NOT based on single statements of someone who is or was an employee – the volume of comments from various sources was what triggered the investigation.
    I doubt anyone would write such an article based on a single event – their publication would be mincemeat after the lawyers got hold of it. RE3, I suggest you focus on finding the rotten apples and get rid of them instead of trying to discredit the article.

  12. Matt Says:

    Sadly, I can’t find this to be as putrid a practice as I should.

    “Rather sell 1 notebook with a PPP than 10 without”
    The margin on that notebook is negligible. Maybe OD is making $10 on each. The PPP is high margin, netting $150 profit. It’s just good business to sell the 1, especially considering the overhead in purchasing, delivering and stocking the other 9.

  13. David White Says:

    I used to be a store manager at Office Depot. I know for a fact that this practice happened in stores around my area because I would get customers in my store who came from another OD looking for a laptop that the other OD said they were “out of stock” on. We are able to check other stores inventory and I routinely saw that other stores in my area were lying to customers because the computer would show 2, 3,4 laptops on hand at that store – and believe me, it is highly unusual for laptop counts to be off – and this happened regularly. (Laptops are physically counted weekly by managers). Also, this happened on other categories also such as digital cameras. ‘Market Basket” (a measurement of add-on percentages for tech items) was a big thing – and if you couldn’t add anything to a camera it could really hurt your market basket on a slow day.

    Also, beware of “deals” being made so you will purchase a PPP or TDS – I’ve seen “managers special” signs in one store and I’ve heard of %off discounts if you purchase a PPP or TDS. You may actually benefit – but the store is actually giving away its profit to make that “high profit” sale.

    I never allowed this in my store by the way. I would rather take the heat on a conference call than scam my customers. This is one of the many reasons I left OD. I was tired of doing my job honestly and getting in trouble, while other stores cheated like crazy and got rewarded with conference call praise – and bonuses. Its no wonder OD is falling apart. The pressure on its store employees is absolutely rediculous and unfortunately there are some who will resort to cheating and/or lying to stay out of trouble.

  14. rox0r Says:

    “Obviously a former employee…”

    Now why would they fire someone who doesn’t lie to their customers?

  15. bbonia Says:

    “So what do you do if you want to buy a notebook at Office Depot,”

    Why would anyone do that? You *know* for a fact, that they are going to try and put one over on you. So this article suggests ways around it? How about this way: Don’t buy from any company that would pull these kind of tactics. Don’t try to trick them, just don’t shop there.

    The only way companies learn is when it hits their bottom line. If enough people stop buying from them, they will change their methods, or go out of business.

  16. OD Employee Says:

    I am a currently employed as a”consultative sales specialist” (tech salesperson) at an Office Depot in California. I can personally attest that everything in this article is 100 percent true. 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. It didn’t used to be so bad, but now there’s enormous pressure coming down on us from our store managers and district managers to meet certain requirements. All they are concerned about is the attachment rate of items and how many PPPs (Performance Protection Plans) and TDSs (Tech Depot Services) we sell. I am threatened by my store manager constantly that if I do not perform, that I am expendable and can be fired and replaced, even though I have been with the company for longer than he has, and am a very knowledgeable tech associate. I guess none of that matters unless I meet some ridiculous requirements set by some corporate morons. The managers would much rather us sell 3 laptops a PPP, TDS, and case than a hundred laptops with nothing. Also, since we switched recently to a variable commision based on what percentage of services we sell, a great sales person that sells tons of plans and services can be punished because others in the store sell nothing and bring the stores commission down to 0%. There are no rewards for personal effort in selling plans. I hate Office Depot….

  17. jason Says:

    Lying is what sales and marketing is all about. Try working somewhere that has sales people, then work 6 other places with sales people, then u will see they all lie – everywhere. Next you should try being the technician who has to deliver on those lies and tell the truth to the customer … like me. Then you will know true frustration.

  18. Arby Says:

    Matt: Im sorry but if the profit margin is so damn low (you claim $10) then why sell them at all?

  19. jason Says:

    Arby is right. Their retail model is fighting hard against OEM direct sales, they simply can compete. They should not sell computers without an exclusive OEM deal. All the retail stores need to put the hurt on the OEM’s and threaten not to sell any of their computers.

  20. cody Says:

    i worked at compusa for quite some time and some of the same types of things happened there. salespeople had quotas. some of the quotas included overall sales dollars, attachments and upgrades. but the one focused on by management from every level was the percent of sales that were sold with protection and/or service plans. we didn’t get commission from sales but we did get commission from service plans. so it there was no incentive to “waste” time finding the right computer for a person if they did not intend to also buy the service plan. now, i was never a salesperson. i worked in the repair department. but if i was on the sales floor and a customer wanted to buy a computer or some other high dollar item i would not spend my time with them, but get a salesperson to help them. i did very little selling from the tech shop, so if i sold a two thousand dollar computer and didn’t sell the service plan my plan % would be close to 0 then i would get reamed at the end of the month by management.

    i think the main problem with these situations is that the store level management realizes what happens but they have no control over store policy. they have the pressure coming from upper level management. it’s one of the problems with retail.

    everything i see in any establishment that mentions customer service is a priority makes me laugh. it’s complete bullshit. customer service is only important when the store benefits. don’t get me wrong. there are lots of people in retail that provide great customer service, but the philosophy of management at any level never includes customer service for the good of the customer.

  21. JD Says:

    You forgot bullet point #4 on How to Get What You Want: Buy from another retailer. Why on earth would anyone buy anything from Office Depot knowing in advance this is the crap they pull? Like there aren’t a million other alternatives to buy laptops?

  22. Sum Yung Gai Says:

    Simple. Just don’t buy from Office Depot or Staples or any other company that acts like this. Instead, try buying from a smaller outfit that treats you like a human being, like ZaReason or System76. Very nice side benefit: you totally avoid the crap trialware in the first place.

    –SYG

  23. Another OD Employee Says:

    I am a former employee of office depot and can also confirm that this did happen all the time when I was there (it has been 2 years or so). When I was there, contests were held where incentives were given based on PPP’s, I don’t know if they are still doing this or not, maybe someone current can answer that. Not only was I told to lie about items being in stock, but I was also told to lie about what the warranty covers (ie, the basic cheapest warranty is _basically_ just an extension of the manufactuers warranty). Basically someone would want to get a laptop, and we were told to tell them that the basic warranty will cover screen damage etc to sell the plan and let someone else worry about the customer complaining in the future. This seems like it would be pretty bad for OD, but they have been doing it for years and they are still going…

  24. PO Says:

    I had the same type of issue with them. We purchased a chair through the OD website for a very good price and chose to pick it up at a local store. The store we went to had them in stock but they refused to give it to us – told us it was out of stock but the CS on the phone said it was in stock. We had to deal with customer service again to determine which other store had it in stock – drove 20 miles to pick it up and they gave us the biggest hassle to get it.

  25. Former od employee Says:

    What kind of crooked districts and stores were you guys working for?? In my district we had pressure to sell these things but we were never pressured into lying for the sales. Oh and to the couple of people who attest that we made more than $10 on computers – Not so – actually the original post was wrong. Laptops, especially, are sold on average at -10% margin. This is usually due to the sale prices retailers have to give to get customers to come in and buy things and be competitive with other retailers. That’s why there’s pressure to sell the services and attachments. On average a store would make more money off of a $25 laptop bag than the laptop itself. I’m not saying it can’t happen but those of you telling people to go somewhere else – it isn’t going to help… EVERY retailer has complaints about them.

  26. chris Says:

    this is exactly why places like newegg and amazon flourish(which is exactly why the laptop im on now and my wife’s eee came from newegg). No BS hassles. The one time in the last 6 years i bought a pc at a retailer(for my inlaws) i got pumped for geek squad this or that no less than 10 times. These places suck, and i hope they all get driven out of business by these “used car salesman” sales tactics.

  27. Works @ Staples Says:

    I just wanted to reply to what Kuis wrote in the 2nd comment. Back in September of ’08, the manager would not have run the payment as CAT (“through the machine”) when there’s a perfectly good card reader on the side of the POS monitor. If the manager did run the payment as CAT, for some odd reason, the denial stating “alternate form of payment required” or “invalid response from bank” would’ve appeared on the monitor and the credit card device. The former would indeed mean there is a payment issue while the latter would equate to a possible connection issue when checking for funds. Please don’t confuse either of these issues with “they wouldn’t sell me a laptop because I refused to buy a TSP.”

  28. big tuna Says:

    honestly, i’m sure instances like this happen all the time, in any technology retail store, because the margin on tech items like computers horrible. even though it does happen, that doesn’t mean it’s condoned. i work at one of the retailers mentioned above, and i have never once been told to lie to a customer by a member of the management staff on any level, straight up to the regional vice president, whom i met with today. some general managers might be unethical, as will employees of any business, retail or otherwise, but you can’t fault everyone for it. the majority of them have nothing to do with it.

  29. big tuna Says:

    actually, “works @ staples” is right. and i’m surprised they made the customer drive all the way to another store. unless it’s specifically listed as “while supplies last” they can have it shipped from the other store to the one nearest the customer.

  30. Works @ Staples Says:

    Absolutely right, “big tuna.” If you ever visit a Staples store and they are out of stock on a particular non-WSL product, you can have items shipped to that store or a location of your choice for free. The only exception is clearance or final status merchandise.

  31. Former BBY employee Says:

    I used to work for Best Buy as a Computer Department Supervisor. I worked for 3 different stores. One in Missouri and 2 in Chicago. I can say that out of all three stores I never once had to lie to a customer about stock (or anything else for that matter.) We have everything in a cage that was visible to be seen. We would run out of the cheap laptop in the ad every Sunday morning that we couldn’t get people to buy the service plans for. That’s OK; when your computer breaks you usually go back to the place you bought it anyway. You did not get the $250 service plan? Sorry, you must now pay Geek Squad service fees to have your computer fixed by us. Guess what? $250 service plan covers that worn out keyboard, the loose monitor hinge, the overheating because you left it under a pillow, the battery that always needs to be replaced within 2 years, the one that overheats because of the dust, the one you just toss in the backseat of your car but doesn’t actually break and a lot of other things. Want to know something else? Even if you THINK something is wrong with it you could bring it in and have hardware tests on it, and software tests on it, and even have a conversation with someone who could help you fill in the holes on the other things you do not quite understand (no extra charge.) I would always try three times to get people to get the service plan or replacement plan (yes there are 2, know which one you are getting before you hand over money) and my tone was always indifferent. I have had difficult conversations with customers over what they got. No the MANUFACTURERS warranty does not make us responsible for your accidents. We can fix it for a price. You can contact the manufacturer. I would even give them the number we had from them to give to you.

    It is your choice as a customer to buy the service plans or not, but it is your RESPONSIBILITY to do a little research into the consequences of your actions. I no longer work for Best Buy. We definitely did not part on good terms, but BS is BS no matter where you look. Government, churches, professional sports, schools, retailers, and even at home. If you look hard enough you can find it anywhere.

    Peace
    J

  32. Aaron Hill Says:

    I too am a former Office Depot employee, I worked as a Technology sales associate for a couple years (recently quit, thank god). This was by far the worst job anyone can have. When ever I did not sell a PPP (Product Protection Plan) and it happened to be something I needed out of Lockup (the stock room for expensive electronics and software) I had to radio a key caring manager to let me in so that I could get the item that the customer wanted. If My general manager happened to be working I would have to face his “playful” bulling, and listen to him lightly scold my for not getting anything with it. Well, needless to say I was under so much pressure from him that I eventually cracked. I started giving unauthorized mark downs to sell plans, or I straight out told people that I would be fired. I hated talking to my boss (and for that matter, I hated him) because it was such a crooked thing to do to someone that does not want any of these add on’s.
    I had one coworker that no body liked, and she would flat out lie to people about what the PPP covered and what the TDS would do. I told my GM about this and he pretended not to care. She was his little “pet,” she sold lots more plans than me and you know, a lot more of her’s came back. She was dishonest but since all the company was looking at (at the time) was how many we had gotten though the door , not how many stayed in the hands of consumers. I just want to make it clear that I had a very good sales staff and that the rest of them never begged borrowed or stole to make a sale. It felt so good to finally quit, I tell you the same, if you work there quit, drop the reins and quit. It is a terrible company and it is failing. Poor business practices and low ethics are making the company a hole for crooks like my boss.
    Sorry this was a bit of a rant, just wanted to blow off some steam. I really enjoyed seeing this article really made my night.

  33. Adam Says:

    Once again, we see the problem in corporate America.

    If the bottom-rung sales people don’t defraud their customers, they will lose their jobs!

    Idiotic management is driving companies into the ground, but the CEOs and upper management will just move on to the next company to ruin. The regular employees lose their jobs and see their companies run into bankruptcy by rich morons.

    We need to change the system so it is management that loses their jobs over stuff like this! Same with the US automakers. Management is making the incredibly stupid decisions for decades, not the workers. Management needs to be fired or laid off, not the regular folks doing their best on the sales floor or factory.

    The millionaires running Wall Street too. They get commissions and bonuses when their investors do well, and they get commissions and bonuses when they lose everything. There need to be consequences for those at the top, not just the working and middle class victims who will find themselves unemployed and broke.

  34. Aaron Hill Says:

    Also wanted to metion the reason I quit. Managent pressure. I hated being screwed for be an honest sales person, and hated to have to manipulate to get the sale. Oh and forgot to comment on the margins. Well if the technology item was on sale then OD will most probably be losing money. If you want to I can log into a machine and tell you the markup on just about anything in the store. If you are a current employee, goto the inventory screen and in the store number field, after you have the screen brought up with the current stock, prices etc. Enter a foriegn carachter into the store number field. I usually erase my store number and enter a ‘!’ 4 numbers will appear. Cost and sale price are in the 4 numbers that show up. e.g. a Gold plated 10′ USB cable retails for about $45 it cost ~$15 so you can see the markup there. And as far as all these people talking about this article not being true, You are basing YOUR assumption that this article is bunk on the fact that you have only been to one store. With all these posts by former and present employees its hard to refute the evidence. And by the way my store number was 168 in Fort Collins Colorado intersection of College and Horsetooth, and my manager was a douche Jason Jones, please go in and say hi to him for me :)

  35. Mondo Says:

    I worked for OD for 4 years until 2003. During that time the PPP’s were touted as having an average profit margin of 80%. There was a lot of pressure to sell the PPP’s, but I was never asked to lie about them. Cables are also a huge profit item. 6′ parallel cables were sold for $24.99, cost was $3.99. When USB caught on it was the same. We were very much pressured to sell the gold plated cables, sold at over $30, cost was $4.99. I think it used to be a well run company. These days the inside of an Office Depot store is a very sad place. There aren’t any employees in the building, and customer service has been thrown out the window. When I worked there we had at least a dozen employees in the store at any given time. Now when I go in there I only see one cashier, one sales associate for the whole store, and a manager running around.

    I don’t know why Office Depot even bothers trying to sell regular consumers technology items. They should stick to office supplies and their business service division. The BSD is probably the only thing keeping the company alive at this point.

  36. Winston Says:

    Everything reported in this article is exactly the same things we did at Circuit City. Whenever we had a laptop on sale we would lose $100-$200 on each sale if we didn’t sell the attachments.

    Circuit City did it because Best Buy did it. Now it looks as if Office Depot does it as well.

    That said, I just bought a desktop at OD. I was offered the extended warranty at the register but there wasn’t any pressure and I didn’t take it.

  37. Nathan Says:

    It’s simple and fun to do… when the clerk says its out of stock go over to there computer and right there in front of them order it and have it shipped to the store… that way there is no shipping and handling fee… then turn around and tell the clerk you’ll be in to pick it up… Then he has lost a sale and you get to rub it in!

  38. Bueller Says:

    I love the ethics, it’s okay to lie and waste their time because they’re lying to you.

  39. A realist Says:

    I will start by saying that I currently work at OD as a department manager. Have I ever seen this practice first hand, no. Does this practice actually happen, yes at OD and every other retailer in America. The profit margins on technology products are so small every add on dollar only benefits the retailer and its shareholders which encompasses a large number of the complainers on this blog. I recently bought a new fishing reel at Bass Pro and the first question was if I needed them to spool it with new line for me, add on. Everyone reading this needs to think the last ime that they bought something new and weren’t offered a add on item or warranty. From new car warranties to even your local Wal-mart every retailer is guilty when it comes to these type of services. The retailer does make more profit from a warranty or service but this doesn’t mean it isn’t beneficial to the consumer. I don’t care what Consumer Reports tells you about an extended service plan not being worth the money, ask the customers replacing a faulty unit I see everday. I do not think that Laptop Magazine was irresponsible for running this article but I do think it is irresponsible for targeting just Office Depot. Take a company like HP that I’m sure spends ALOT of money advertising in this publication. They train our associates every year with the latest products and yes even on how they offer start up inks in their printers so retailers can add on ink to bolster sales. Funny didn’t mention HP anywhere in this article. Look, be real America, retailers are out to make profit, should they do so deceptively, no, period. I’m sorry this takes place but to call out one retailer when everyone who is in business for profit is just as guilty is totally irresponsible. Maybe we should ask some former Laptop magazine advertising reps some of these questions,hmmm…..

  40. Ren Says:

    Listen these guys are not the only store that does this. I worked at Best Buy and they do the same thing. Its called “walking the customer.” So while these guys are jerks for doing this they are not the only ones. In my opinion its even worse at Best Buy.

  41. admin Says:

    @A realist – Thanks for your comment. It’s not our intention to single out Office Depot per se as it is possible this happens elsewhere. We had readers telling us about Office Depot and we got a source who would commit to an interview there. Our hope is that, as a result of this post, we will get more employees and former employees at different retail chains to talk about the selling practices they witnessed, positive and negative and, if we have credible sources who will talk about deceptive practices at OD’s competitors, we will publish those too.

  42. JC Says:

    I used to work at Best Buy and was considered a very high performing employee for the computer sales department. They employ the same tactics to sell laptops with PSPs (Performance Service Plans), or install software such as anti-virus and anti-spyware and charge $129 for it! They would even take a large stock of the most popular laptops, and pre-install the software packages on them. Then, when customers would come in, looking for the $450-550 laptop, they find they can only buy it with $129 of add-ons. I’ve even seen them send customers to other stores for laptops we had, simply because they wanted it with no PSPs or software services. Sorry to burst everyone’s bubble, but this is just the way things are at electronics stores now.

  43. OD Emp 3 Says:

    I’d like to say that this doesn’t happen at every OD store. Sure, we’ve got large pressures to sell plans and services, but if we don’t, we’ll lose favor with the upper management. That’s how they’re gauging which stores they can keep around now. But most of the stores owned by OD DON’T pull that crap. I’m supposed to “follow a script” whenever I offer something like this, but I usually don’t. Following a script really doesn’t work in practice, you have to work it into the conversation. I’m always honest about stock, and my managers are too. I even show the customer the screen for stock in the area if he or she wants to see it. My store would never try something as stupid as lying to the customer. We’d all quit immediately.

    I simply go with the “think of this an an insurance policy you have a one-time payment for” way of doing things for plans. This is really the best description possible. If they don’t go for it, Oh well. Ring sale, hope they enjoy the computer. The TDS stuff is there for people who don’t want to fool with removing stuff and adding anti-virus. Sure it doesn’t take long, but the customer is happy because he or she didn’t have to do any work to get the computer to be set up. It’s just get laptop, have it set up, battery charged, go-go-go.

    I get plenty of customers who just want to get in and out quickly with a laptop and move on. Unfortunately, we do have to ask these questions. If I’m turned down, I let it go.

    …Also, if you’re planning on lying just to get a laptop, PLEASE don’t. Chances are you won’t run into dumbness like that.

    @ Mondo: Yeah, we’ve been pretty cut down. It isn’t nice.

  44. Foremer DDS Says:

    As a former employee of several retail outlets, “Big” Buy, and “Sell” Direct Stores (DDS) I can attest to these practices, though not the exact same in each location but similar in effect. I started working in the retail field roughly five years ago and have seen requirements raise tremendously on these services, at one point it was required by DDS to sell $150 worth of services PER machine, yes that is $150 of warranties, installation, data transfer, etc. this does not include other requirements such as attachments E&A. At this DDS store I was a floor rep. and its manager. I did not promote “running away” customers or saying items were out of stock, though I do know of instances where people who were on a disciplinary warning, one month short of being fired, would pass off customers or “wheel and deal” toss in discounts or extras if people bought these services. I could not fault the reps. they were doing what was necessary to keep their jobs, as such these actions would not be reported. “Big” Buy had similar, though less intense policies. I remember clearly what one of the floor managers told me once, “grab a cart go through and toss anything in it they could need, want, or may not know they want when you go to get the system, if they don’t want it they can take it out at the counter.” And of course we were informed to always promote Dynex, “Big” Buy brand.
    So, to the point. This is not limited to Office Depot, and please don’t take it out on the floor staff, they are only doing what they must to keep their job. Some will say, “but they make commission on these services.” First, “Big” Buy doesn’t do commission they get a crummy $8 an hour have relatively high quotas in the tech departments and what do they get for hitting them, nothing, they get to keep their job because they know there are dozens of people ready to take the job tomorrow. DDS no longer exists, big shock due to the policies they put into place, they ran away their customer base.
    But, to get back onto topic, these are people doing what they have to, not want to. Also, these policies are not limited to this store, it is a fundamental flaw of the top down society we have moved toward. The lower you are the more expendable you are, bottom on that list to the CEO’s at the top who look for ways to pad their wallet with 100% margin services.
    And on a side note, if you are tech savvy at all try building your own machine, generally you get more for the money, and you get a five year warranty on almost any part from the proper manufacturers. This is how services are 100% margin the warranty is there, they are charging you for connection to the manufacturer.

    Enjoy Reality.

  45. Chris Thompson Says:

    I work for Office Depot and this is all true. My store hasn’t as yet done these things but the pressure is mounting. I don’t want to work for Office Depot anymore because the pressure is not only not balanced by adequate praise, and is unreasonable and unfair.

  46. Barbie Says:

    This is for Former BBY Employee, who said:

    “when your computer breaks you usually go back to the place you bought it anyway. You did not get the $250 service plan? Sorry, you must now pay Geek Squad service fees to have your computer fixed by us. Guess what? $250 service plan covers that worn out keyboard, the loose monitor hinge, the overheating because you left it under a pillow, the battery that always needs to be replaced within 2 years, the one that overheats because of the dust, the one you just toss in the backseat of your car but doesn’t actually break and a lot of other things.”

    I would never let the morons/amateurs from Geek Squad touch my laptop. It was insulting enough that they wanted over $100 to “install Windows” when it’s just a question of booting the machine, feeding it 3 blank dvds, and rebooting … and no, laptop batteries don’t die after one year. This isn’t 1989. And laptops shut down automatically if you block the air-flow. As for throwing it in the back seat of the car, today’s hard disks are rated for 300g when the laptop is shut down.

    And yes, to the poster who said that they bought a Wii and ended up getting the warranty at a reduced price – I bought (Future Shop) a Wii last month along with extra controllers and a few games, refused the warranty, and was given Zelda in return for taking the warranty. Then, a week later (Best Buy), when buying a Wii Fit and a half-dozen more games chargers and controllers, in return for taking the $15 warranty on the Fit, got a free Wiimote.

    Moral of the story: Buy a bunch of stuff, refuse the extended warranties, and they’ll adjust the price of something else so that they can “sell” the warranty. End result – the sales people make their numbers, they get their commissions, you get a warranty that costs you nothing – everyone wins.

  47. Robert Says:

    I had a similar experience with best buy during the holidays. I went in to buy an Xbox 360 and they told me they didnt have any in stock that weren’t set up by geek squad which cost $30 more. I didn’t want it but bought it anyway. A couple of days later I was back at best buy and asked customer service what was up. Apparently they had Xbox 360s without the geek squad setup and the sales guy lied to me. Luckily, the girl at the counter corrected the problem and refunded my money.

    I think this type of thinking is the result of putting ivy league MBAs in charge of our corporations. It looks good on paper but is damm stupid in practice.

    (Morgantown, WV)

  48. Nick Berg Says:

    Hey seth1066, a little slow in the brain today? The pretend part is that you pretend to have just now decided you don’t want the warranty. In reality, you decided before you got in the store that you didn’t want any warranty.

  49. Andrew Says:

    Having worked in Office Depot’s technology department for a bit more than a year (about a year ago) I have indirectly seen this process take place. We were down to just one HP “Slimline” desktop computer and the sale that was currently going on had been very popular for that model. A manager came to me and told me that we were saving the last unit for any customer that was going to get a “full market basket”(the protection plan and 2-3 accessories). I simply told him that I wasn’t going to take part in his plan and continued my day as usual.

    You should have seen the pressure they put on the workers in there to get the protection plans though, I had seen and reported many instances where my fellow workers would lie to the customer to get better numbers and commission. I had enough and quit the job.

  50. former officemax employee Says:

    This same practice goes on at Office Max too. An associate will be working with a customer on selling a computer, and ask a manager to check to see if its in stock. The manager will ask if there are any attachments or protection plans. If not, then the manager says ‘if thy get a protection plan, we have one in stock, otherwise, they can do an order’

    and its not anything new, this process has been going on for years.

    Its bull, and I wouldn’t participate in that. Maybe thats why i’m a former employee…

  51. Jeremy Ervin Says:

    This actually has happened to me at Best Buy. Went to buy a laptop that was on sale, they asked me if I wanted the extended warranty and I declined it. Then all of a sudden they were out of stock. Luckily I had checked the store inventory online before coming in and I told them. All of a sudden they somehow found one in the back, weird.

  52. Howard Says:

    I’ll add to this, It seems to be common with all stores that sell computers but the same basic principle is the same. To compete with online stores laptops and desktops are sold at or below cost, In order to recoup that loss attachments have to be made on the laptops to bring the margins up. The service plans help that by making the customer come back to the store for repairs which the store get’s reimbursments for parts and labor.

    I’m not putting it past any company to do this sort of thing in these economic times, Your either making money or laying off.

  53. roadster Says:

    When pressured to take additional warranty I used to ask, why you doubt about this machine, is this good or not? When I might consider to buy the extra warranty I always ask straight forward, which is not covered. If the coverage is too narrow I am prepared to cancel the business altogether.

  54. Leslie Says:

    OD does more than this. When in an OD in South Carolina on Black Friday last year my Mom and I were looking to get a laptop. Of course the 75 people in line prior to our arrival when the store opened all had tickets to get the few laptops were in stock. But, they had someone with a legal pad a the front of the store taking names and phone number of individuals interested in certain laptops. Being a somewhat educated consumer and business analyst for retail eCommerce systems I was astonished that they would do this. The claim was that the employee was going to call other local ODs to find the customer a laptop. It was BLACK FRIDAY! All the laptops OD was selling for under $500 had to be gone before 6:30am in the entire state. Just another way they were misleading customers…

  55. Peteris Says:

    Hey, you cannot say in one post that ‘these plans are good value for money, I see people using this warranty all the time’ and ‘we get 80% profit margin on them’.

    If for a pure “insurance” type product there is 80% profit margin, then that means that for each dollar people pay for this warranty, they get only 20 cents back in actual usage – and that’s it. It’s a pure win-lose deal, where every single cent of this warranty markup is earned by the store and lost by the customer.

  56. Former Tech Sales Says:

    At the store I used to work at, most managers were honest. Especially, the store manager. However, there was one manager that did lie to customers or had honest employees lie. I remember one incident in which the certain manager, we’ll call him Carlos, had an employee lie about the stock of a printer, just so the market basket % didn’t go down.

  57. Anonymous Says:

    I’m sure that what the article described occurs … and I’m equally sure it’s not true in all cases.

    I worked retail at EB Games and the amount of pressure put on me was incredible. I was working for minimum wage, for goodness sake, and once I was held after work unpaid to receive a lecture on being a team player because I had been unable to quote exactly how many items I had sold from a certain quota (“at least 2, maybe 3″). It wasn’t my direct manager that was the problem though. He had to work at least 65 hours every week to keep us staffed. I, paid hourly, often ended up staying after work for more than an hour *unpaid* every night — I had to in order to ensure that my checklist of responsibilities was completed. I left after they offered me a management position — I turned it down so they hired and trained a replacement and I went to a different, much nicer job.

    I don’t like being pressured to buy a warranty. On some items I will buy one–EB used to have a fairly good warranty program on consoles, though I don’t know what GameStop is doing these days. But you can get a laptop for under $600 and then pay, what? $200 for a 2 year warranty? In two years your hardware will be vastly out of date, anyway. Buy a new computer. In two years it will cost less than it did, anyway. So over the course of 3 years you’ll spend $1000 and have up-to-date hardware versus spending $800 to ensure you don’t have to pay service fees to keep your laptop (which is a time bomb anyway, losing value every day) in working order. I wouldn’t pay to repair a laptop — the only thing I might pay for would be professional data recovery in case of a horrible HD failure. And in the case of a desktop…I can repair it myself.

    But anyway, my point was that these kinds of tactics don’t surprise me… I currently work for a web company that provides online services. I constantly had problems in the customer service side with my customers being “oversold” — a cute way of saying “the sales person lied about what the service would do.” Now that I’m out of the customer service department, I get to hear about other “product development” plans that sound utterly unethical to me.

    Maybe I’m overly idealistic in thinking that honesty is the best policy and that good service is a goal that will ultimately reap the reward of profit (rather than being a threat to the profit margin like my superiors seem to think).

    I’m starting think this might just be corporate America’s idea of good business, no matter what company you work for.

  58. Chris Says:

    Just posting to inform people that didn’t already know what a rip off these are. When I worked at Best Buy we were pushed hard to sell them because they are 90% pure profit for the company. It is without question the single most profitable thing they sell. And while not all stores have a commission plan with these your merit increase at Best Buy was directly tied to how many of these you could sell. So, yeah, the 16 year old kid is being annoying as hell because he has to be or it’s his job. Another wonderful business practice brought to you by your friends at corporate America (you know, those honest folks you invested all your non-existent money with).

  59. Timmay Says:

    I’m amazed that peteris is the first one to point out how bad a deal these warranties are.

    The few people saying how ‘some customers just want the peace of mind or to not have to worry about installing A/V themselves’ are so brainwashed it’s comical.

    Extended warranties are almost always not worth it. Unless you PLAN on abusing a system of course (get the guaranteed full replacement no-matter-what plan – IN WRITING). If the warranty was such a ‘great deal’ then companies wouldn’t push them so hard and the profit margins wouldn’t be nearly as high.

    I don’t know why this comes as a shock to anyone though. All kinds of salesperson jobs have been doing this for years. Car dealerships are notorious for this and more…and that’s AFTER laws were passed to cut down on the BS they could pull.

  60. Jabba The Hutt Says:

    I agree with chris @ March 11th, 2009 at 9:58 pm. Why on earth would you ever buy any tech item from a place like Best Buy let alone a place like Office Depot or Staples when there are places like Newegg and Amazon???

    In that respect, are you telling me that these retail stores actually discount their tech merchandise to a negative profit margin to attract customers so they can make money on the extras when you can buy the exact same products at Newegg and Amazon for cheaper than at any retail store? Are you trying to tell me that Newegg and Amazon sell all their products at a negative profit margin also even though they do not care about selling the extras? Do you expect me to believe that Newegg and Amazon are getting that much better price cost than a major retailer such as Best Buy?

  61. Works @ Staples Says:

    Re-posting from another article due to relevancy:

    @Chris — I have a couple of things I would like to address in your post.

    The first would be how you write that service plans are a rip-off. Is it a rip-off when the customer comes back with the laptop in pieces and they’re handed a brand new one? Is it a rip-off when the backlight goes out and it doesn’t cost the customer the standard $599.99 for LCD replacement? Under a service plan at my store (which is actually through an insurance company called Assurant — https://w2.assurant.com/StaplesESPHome/) you’ll get parts and installation for free. At least 75% of the time a customer walks in with their computer, a problem, and the service plan, it would’ve cost them well over double the cost of the service plan for the parts and labor. Buying a service plan isn’t beneath an “educated individual.” Read the terms of the service plan; talk with the sales associate about different scenarios that could arise and what the solution would be under the plan.

    Second, please don’t go around quoting margin statistics when they can easily differ from store to store. I’m not going to say how much margin my store makes on a service plan, but it isn’t anywhere near 90%, 80%, 70%, or 60% for that matter. If you want to talk about high margin items, lets take about copying, faxing, and tech services. Point is, just because one company has a specific statistic doesn’t mean all companies share it.

    Lastly, is that sales associate really annoying you that much? Unless his or her actions are disrupting the flow of the sale, you’re not losing anything aside from some potentially good information. The same thing happens when you go out to a restaurant. How often do you get asked if you want an appetizer or dessert along with your meal? We ask because, like every other company in existence, we have to make money to stay in business.

  62. I despise salespeople Says:

    Former BBY employee Says – and your so called stellar “Geek Squad” employees can also copy all of the files off of my computer and wipe it in the process and blame it on me. Your $250 replacement plan is a crock and not worth it. If I am buying your $1000 computer, adding in your replacement plan will actually cost me $1250, or another 35%. However, in 2 years I am lucky if the computer is worth $400. If it fails, I am better off replacing the broken part myself or using that $250 towards its replacement.

    Don’t sell us on your crap. I’m not even going to get into the “premium” cable garbage they try to push either. I heard one of your so-called techies telling a customer that the premium ethernet cable would allo for a faster network connection. That’s as bad as the hdmi cable ripoff.

  63. John P. Says:

    This exact same thing just happened to my mother at an Office Depot in San Antonio (the Walzem location). The associate tried to determine if she was interested in any protection plans or add ons and she declined them as I had advised her. Then he went in the back to check stock and of course they were out. He also checked stock in all 16 area stores and said they were all out too. But a quick online check showed that that store and 2 others had that model in stock. And a phone call to one of the other stores confirmed that they had 6 in stock. He almost came right out and said that if she were getting a bundle that he could get her one. So she’s heading back to the store armed with this article and a print out of the stock check. From all the comments here and elsewhere, it certainly seems like this practice is wide spread.

  64. Tim Says:

    I am inclined to believe everything in this article, as I quit CompUSA years ago because of similar unethical practices. The absurdity of the whole thing is that often the replacement/repair plan costs more than buying a second identical system would!

  65. Odin Says:

    On the profitability of service plans: If a laptop is sold at or near cost, and the only profit margin is the add-on of a service plan, add it up (Only applies to what I know of one company (Check the fine print)) .

    Laptop @ $600 let’s say $50 profit margin (and that’s a pushing it with a laptop), add the service plan at let’s say the $150 option). Now, let’s say the service plan is %100 margin at the time of the sell (I’ll explain how that works in a line or two (see below)). [From the customers viewpoint] $150.00 profit deduct the replacement battery (you keep the original) at about $125.00 that leaves $25.00. So, for $25.00 you get to come back to the store instead of having call India, you get your laptop/PC cleaned, and the hardware tested – even if you only suspect there’s something wrong. Any hardware failures are repaired and if the hard drive is replaced, Windows is installed on the new one (otherwise, software is not covered – and that’s across the board)

    %profit at the time of the sell does not calculate the cost the retailer pays for the insurance that backs the service pans. And does not include the costs associated with honoring those plans months and years down the road. Besides – if not used – check with the retailer on the return policy.

  66. ZachE Says:

    This practice is certainly not limited to OD. I was with some friends at a Best Buy, and they went through the exact same thing.. Despite the fact that the laptop was most certainly in stock (in fact, it was VISIBLE in an under-counter cage), the fact that my friends firmly declined to purchase ANY of the add-on services was clearly the reason why the BB associate told them it wasn’t in stock.

    We walked around for a little while, formulating our response, which was to find a different salesperson, indicate to them that they WOULD take the “extended warranty” (but not anything that would require BB to open the box and DO anything), and then “change their mind” at the register. Suddenly, the MIA laptop was “in stock”. The visible consternation on the face of the salesperson when the checkout person informed them of the “change of heart” about the warranty was proof enough (as if we needed more) that the tactic was exactly as it appears.

    To be fair, this tactic is NOT limited to just laptops. Just try and get a high-demand LCD or plasma TV at one of these big-box stores without agreeing to pay $100 for a “Monster” HDMI cable (which is no better than a $5 monorpice one, but oddly the only ones they stock), and watch what happens.

    The reality is that some laptops are sold at a loss by the large chains, as a “loss leader” in the hopes that they get you to purchase high profit margin “extras” to make up the difference.

  67. DG Says:

    I’ll tell you what – I typically buy what I need from compgeeks, newegg, cdw, or amazon. I rarely, if ever, walk into OD, Staples, or OfficeMax. I never every go into WorstBuy. Circuit City? Good riddance. When I have had to go into a retail store that plays these games – I just tell the Floor Stooge “sure, I’d love to have that” – can you get that for me while I get a few other things I need? They cheerfully say yes.

    Then look like I’m going to grab some pens, or paper, or toner that I need. When the laptop is brought up to the counter. I go up there, and tell the cashier that my boss called me – I can’t buy the TSP or “Optimization” – just the laptop.

    It’s sitting right there – I can see it. I pay for THAT item and only THAT item, and I leave. If they try to give me some grief, I just blame it on the “Boss”….

    … and yep – I own the company. I have no qualms about any of this – one good turn deserves another. I don’t have time to debate the morality of it. I’m busy. I bill by the hour. If I need equipment, then I’m going to do what I have to do, to ensure that I can buy it with a minimum of hassle, as quickly as possible. If that means that I have to resort to the occasional mindgame because of some sort-sighted store policy – so be it. I’m not risking my time and client needs on the possibility that some Store might play games, and some might not…

    Eventually all these game playing stores go out of business and get replaced. Witness Circuit City – I stopped going there as soon as they became schmucks with the Service Plans. I stopped going to Best Buy for the same reason. The sooner these stores realize that their failure to have a decent business plan is not my problem, the better off they’ll be. If that means that they have to charge more for the laptop – fine. If someone else has a lower cost structure and can charge less, that’s competition folks. Figure out how to lower your costs so you can compete, or get out of business… But the game playing is just silly…

  68. Jack Says:

    I am a Sales Associate with OfficeMax in the Denver area and this is going on there too, but it just started recently when the economy started going downhill. As of this time we are being threatened with write ups if we don’t meet out goals on MaxAssurances (our PPP) and CtrlCenter (like geeksquad but done remotely). However at least at my location I don’t know of anyone who lies about inventory if the customer does not get an attachments.

  69. Josh Says:

    I recently had an experience of Office Depot employees lying to me to try to sell extras. I was helping my dad buy a new printer. We piked up a Canon m620. First the sales associate kept telling us we needed to purchase a usb cable, says right on the box that a cable is included. Then he tried selling us ink, claiming the cartridges that come with the printer are only filled 2%, for those familiar with these kind of canon cartridges would know they are clear and you could clearly see the they were completely full.

  70. screwedbyod Says:

    I had similar situation happen recently at OD. Since my company has a corporate account with OD, I was asked to purchase 3 laptops and to go pick them up at the local OD store. I called to verify they had them in stock and asked for the employees name (As I always do). I got to the store and requested to speak to the associate (who I was told is on break). I proceeded to request the three laptops and the employee went to get them. A few minutes later another associate approached me asking if he could help me. I told him I was waiting for the laptops, he then proceeded to ask me question at which point told me (He did not offer or suggest) that i should purchase the service plan and a bunch of other junk, at which I declined. He then said he would check on the status of the laptops and left. A few minutes later he returned and inform me that they did not have the laptops in stock. I informed him i called and spoke to an associate who said they did have them in stock. he apologized and that associate was wrong. I asked to speak to that associate and he told me they were not available, at which point I ask for a manager. After politely threatening the manager and almost an hour of being in the store, the laptops mysteriously appeared in stock. Apparently there was glitch in their system….

  71. Big Guys at O.D. Says:

    “We certainly appreciate your bringing this situation to our attention.”
    Oh Crap. They’re on to us.

    “Our objective is to sell merchandise and to offer and recommend solutions to our customers, without regard to whether a customer purchases or does not purchase a service warranty or a software package.”
    Of course objective is such a subjective word. In this case it means something we’d like to avoid like the plague.

    “Office Depot has been recognized with numerous awards for our commitment to customer service, so please know that we take this issue very seriously”
    Look at all our shiny medals! Leave us alone!

    “and will take the necessary steps to ensure that we continue to enhance the customer experience and promote quality in our customer-related processes.”
    In the future, we’ll be delivering the “it’s out of stock” excuse in song.

    “With respect to your inquiry, we intend to look into the situation further, as part of our continuing commitment to ensuring customer satisfaction and consistent selling practices.”
    We intend to mercilessly grill each manager on their business practices. Of course, by “manager” we don’t mean the actual managers. We mean small clay dolls we’ve fashioned into the likeness of each manger.
    In the event that the small clay dolls do not offer an acceptable response, we’ll be writing a stern letter to all associates, putting it into a bottle, and tossing it into the pond out back.

    Job done!

  72. lee tom Says:

    at the AT&T Store on Capitol Hill, Seattle, during the first day iPhone sale, they made everyone that waited hours in line buy 2 accessories, or they would take your name down and let you order one – to be fulfilled at a later date. I told them that I wouldn’t leave without an iphone with no accessories, or I would be on the phone to the AG’s office. They complied.

  73. Previous staples employee Says:

    Quoting “Jabba The Hutt”: “Why on earth would you ever buy any tech item from a place like Best Buy let alone a place like Office Depot or Staples when there are places like Newegg and Amazon???”

    Not everyone out there is tech savvy enough to know what it is they need, let alone to know if it works with their system. I personally worked in Staples stores years back and would get tons of small business people that weren’t tech savvy and needed devices for specific uses, or a variety of uses.

    If you got someone like myself that knew what they were talking about, I got them what they needed without selling them something that was way more than they needed, nor insufficient for their needs. I would ask about a protection plan, but wouldn’t hound them on it; no fuss, no muss.

    I know at the staples stores, they don’t get commission for sales or protection plans, though there are bonuses if so many are sold by the store in a certain time. I personally worked in 2 stores over 3 years and never refused a machine to someone, nor was ever told to do so. I’m sure it can happen in any retail environment, but the very practice is career suicide if discovered by corporate. I’m not necessarily surprised that you would see it as high as DSM level, but higher than that I would be truly surprised.

  74. Alan Says:

    Having worked for Office Depots warranty dept, the salespeople also lie and mislead people on the level of covreage for the warranty. Exaterations have includes quotes like “you can drop it off a building and it’s covered” when in fact the level of coverage the saleperson sold was manufacturers defects and normal wear and tear. It was very hard to communicate with these customers and I had to set an Office Depot manager straight on how the warranty worked!!

  75. sheila Says:

    I purchased a Desktop computer yesterday, and was charged the 99.00 for a year of the McAfee Virus protection. I will be returning to this Office Depot for a refund!

  76. Jason Says:

    It’s entertaining and sad to read this article because many of the retailers have gotten wise in our area. The answer to the basic question “Does this happen everywhere?” is a resounding “no”, especially in tech-heavy cities like Huntsville, AL. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve gotten into debates with retailers about ALL OF THE ISSUES stated here but it’s been years since I’ve had to. They ask if we want “this or that” and a simple “no” is all it takes. They don’t ask again! I’ve witnessed dozens of employees and mangers of Best Buy, Circuit City (rest in pieces), OD, OM, et. al. getting slammed by tech savvy customers because the fact of the matter is, roughly 20% of our community is either an engineer, scientist, or some other sort of high-speed geek. Your odds of encountering a rocket scientist here are very high.

    My point? Get smart. Know what you’re buying. Research everything associated with what you’re planning on spending a great deal of time with. You wouldn’t drive a car w/out knowing how to change a tire, would you? Remember taking driver’s education? Why buy a computer if you aren’t going to know how to take care of it? Why buy ANYTHING if you don’t plan on knowing any basic preventative maintenance, checks, and services??? Ignorance is the reason we’re in this mess to begin with…

  77. Works @ Staples Says:

    Previous staples employee is absolutely correct. Brick and mortar stores exist to offer same-day convenience and real people that you can talk to about products or problems. While the majority of the people posting on this site are savvy enough to surf the internet for the best bargain, that doesn’t necessarily represent the majority of people in general.

  78. Office Crapola Says:

    A lot of Office Depot policies go contrary to what they preach for the sake of the public. I used to work for the company, I ended up quitting one day because of the unequal treatment which is received by employees. As a woman, I felt that there was ample discrimination and high turnout of women that quit the company because of preferential treatment towards men. Women usually made less than men, they worked in the company for 7 or eight years and not received a raise beyond a certain amount of money (I heard a story of a woman in a nearby branch that was making the minimum amount after so many years of working in the store), there was an uneven ration of men vs women in the store, and there were sexist comments made against women. Overall, the pay sucks, the amount of work you have to do is excessive, and customers that were not well dressed or looked a certain way were watched. There was emphasis on selling as much as you could, and you should investigate the fact that they try to sell ink as much as their laptop protection plans by telling you that starting ink cartridges in new printers were half empty when is not true. The sales for office depot are: Paper, protection plan, accessories such as bags, batteries, et al, ink, for chairs chair mats, for furniture liquid cleaners, etc. Additionally, those black sale deals that you see during black Friday were realistically only good for things like thumb drives et al.. The rest of the stuff is priced the same as the deals you usually find in the store for every week.

    Overall, nothing is as it seems in retail… Is mostly deceptive and out for your money

  79. IrishDaze Says:

    @Jason –

    You feel my pain, brother. I am at the end of the food chain, 4-outsourced-layers separated from the customer/end-user standing in front of my face heaping abuse *and* their laptop my way. Every layer before me has refused to tell the honest procedural truth about the user’s responsibilities as users and our abilities as technicians within the customer-corporation’s locked-down computing environment. As a result, I’m held responsible for every omission, outright lie, delay, and failure of every other person and every process at every level of every other company involved, including those of the customer -corporation for which the end-user works. I stopped feeling frustrated two years ago, now i’m filled with unabashed rage.

  80. Office Crapola Says:

    Response to Alan:

    The reason why employees lie to people about the warranty is because they don’t know what it is. They are meant to train on computers for it yet they are so busy with excessive work they have other people do the training for them. Therefore, they are selling without knowing. Additionally, the managers know this and look the other way. So basically, they are getting their training from their inexperienced co workers and their superiors cues.

  81. bobby DIGITAL Says:

    Why is it that a district manager threats another manager about selling protection plan? Ill tell you why, office depot is bullying customers into buying a product protection plan. I had a friend go into a northern VA store, and they would not sell my friend a laptop because he did not want the protection plan… when retail stores do such a thing, it makes the competitor that more interesting, why does things have to be this way, especially in today’s economy. All Office Depot is trying to do is up sale, which is fine, but if a customer does not want the darn plan, let them buy their item and leave happy, money is tight these days, so if somebody wants the item they drove to get, LET THEM GET IT AND LEAVE!! (How much is gas now?) Who cares about their stupid market basket, make the damn customer happy so they can continue to shop with the company, instead of making customer drive an extra 10 miles out their way to go to Staples! I’m so glad I sold my stock in Office Depot before all the pooh hit the fan!!!

  82. proud2beod Says:

    Much of this sounds like sour grapes to me. I have worked for Office Depot for more than 8 years, and I must say that it is the BEST retailer I have ever worked for. I have been a retail manager for over 25 years, and have worked for most of the companies mentioned (Best Buy, Office Max and Office Depot). Posters are correct when they say there is NO margin in computers, under 10% on a computer/laptop at regular retail. If you add in a sale computer/laptop with an instant or mail in rebate retailers LOSE money. I have worked for 6 District Managers, 2 Store Managers ( I am a Store Manager now), and 3 Regional Managers, and NEVER have been instructed to lie, decieve or circumvent a sale. They have all been a “True” messenger of the company “Vision”. I have never met anyone higher than an RVP, but I will tell you that emails, messages and memos have been nothing but “above-board” messages and meaning in everything we do. I have learned much from these people and I believe “They Deliver” from the CEO on down. I have been in the Chicago market in the last 5 years, and have NEVER been held to a number, or face discipline because I could not meet that number. I know many other Store Manager in Chicago and they would say the same. The only things that Managers are held to is Integrity issues, and store conditions with merchandising and instock positions. These are issues that affect CUSTOMER dissappoints. The company FOCUS is customer satisfaction. If people do their jobs and take care of our customers, and they are in stock to the best of their abilities, and they OFFER the solutions that we provide (Product Protection Plans, Tech Services, Worklife Rewards offers, and accessories needed to operate the customers purchase to the level the customer expects) then there is NO pressure. There may be people that go off on their own tangent, but they are NOT following the company message. Customers come into my store and talk to my tech staff, my ASM or myself about technology items (computer/laptops, printers, digital cameras, MP3 etc.) to get information, because they CANNOT get help at WalMart, Target, Costco and even Best Buy. They may buy from us, they may not. But hopefully those customers who come to us for knowledge and buy elsewwhere will remember where they got the BEST service and come back to us if they have an issue. Do we offer Service Agreements and Tech Services, YES! Many retailers do. It’s the “RIGHT THING” to do for the average customer. They offer “Peace of Mind”, and a “solution” to customers who may not be tech savvy. They also reduce customer dissappoints. Just remember, that everyone who says that these solutions are not a value may not be as “tech savvy” as you. As a Store Manager, I would partner with our HR department to have a Manager, Department Manager or any associate terminated for violating Office Depot’s Vision and Values. If someone doesn’t want to buy a PPP or Tech Service, then that’s okay, we are here for you, we want your business. But please don’t diminsh our associates for offering these solutions to you as we don’t know that you are as advanced as you may be, and please don’t call our associates or any other retailer employees “Stooges” or any other degrading name as we are trying to make a living like anyone else in this country. I would fire an associate for treating our customers like 2nd class citizens, there is no reason to treat our associates or any other retail associates like that. If you don’t want to buy any of the “solutions” any retailers offer, then don’t. Please realize we are trying to be here for you as we realize your time is valuable. Nobody should have to “trick” ANY retailer for anything. If anyone has an issue with any store, please contact the company’s “Customer Relations” personnel, we all have one. More than likely you will get your issue resolved. At least I know at Office Depot you will. One last thing, I don’t want to diminish anything any poster has said, but, there may be some people who are not with the companies they are posting about because they are not as innocent as they want people to think. Maybe they were the one’s who were comprimising the company’s integrity and got caught.

  83. Macgirl Says:

    God, this happened to me at CompUSA (OBT, Orlando, FL) when I tried to buy a laptop a few years ago. After I refused to buy the product protection plan, the Sales Rep told me that he only had one model in stock and it was on hold for a lady who was picking it up at 1:00. Evidently, this moron couldn’t tell time, because (as I pointed out to him) it was actually 2:15. I then demanded to see a Manager. At first I was told there wasn’t one available, then finally someone came out of the back. I told this guy if he didn’t sell me the damn laptop, I would be back in 30 minutes to put up a picket line on his store. That worked. The Manager even helped me carry out my purchase. Thank God we now have two Apple stores in Orlando, and I don’t even know if CompUSA is still open. Sounds like there are a lot of these retail losers!

  84. manages OD Says:

    I am an Office Depot store manager and am very frustrated with your article. Office Depot has never encouraged us to lie to any customer. Yes, we are encouraged to sell warranties. Yes it is just like insurance. Yes it is a profitable item for OD. Yes it is a benefit for the customer IF they have to use it. I have seen many people get their entire purchase price back when there machine goes bad. Why don’t you poll some of your readers and ask them if their machines have broken down? I recently purchased a laptop myself and purchased the services and the warranty. Reason Why? My kids broke my last one an it was replaced because I had the accidental damage and handling warranty. I have NEVER and would NEVER tell my associates to not sell you something if you are not buying anything with it. I will ALWAYS offer these items to you and explain its benefits and downfalls. One thing you fail to mention is that not everyone is capable of working on a laptop, not everyone is technilogically savvy. We receive calls daily from people who need us to walk them through all kinds of things from burning cd’s, to downloading software, to how to replace ink cartridges in a printer. We are not a toll free tech support hotline, yet we help these people because they are our customers, and we appreciate their business. I invite everyone in my area to shop with me or to ask my customers if I treat them fair and ethically. WILL YOU POST THAT? I am in High Point North Carolina and I am proud to work for Offce Depot!

  85. MagicSquid Says:

    I’ve seen more than one poster say that they’re going to fake being interested in the service plan in order to get better treatment. Please don’t do that, people. That is downright dishonest. Instead, say that you’re not interested in the service plan, and if you feel you’ve been treated unfairly, file a complaint with the regional manager, or something along those lines. Or heck, post a blog about it, which can cost the company millions in bad PR. Pretending to be interested in the service plan ends up hurting the poor sales associates at the bottom of the retail food chain, who are just doing their best to squeak by on minimum wage, and also inconveniences other customers who might need the sales associate’s time which is being unfairly used to serve someone who they think is interested in the service plan.

    In short, don’t fake interest in service plans!

  86. OD Manager Says:

    @manages OD: In part your right. Yes, a lot of the warranties ARE worth it. Yes, a lot of things can happen to the products you have purchased and yes getting a free laptop for throwing it against a wall right before your warranty expires is nice. With that being said, you cannot tell me it has NOT become more than just weekly slaps on the wrist from Mr. McGoldrick. Yes, the warranties are good – but this isn’t an article on weather or not to take the gamble of a PPP. It’s an article on the pressure mounting for us to sell PPPs and TDS – or be replaced. Store managers are even getting threatened with PIPs. And if a store manager gets pip’d, then everyone gets it. Not everyone can be a Miles.

    Office Depot released an official notification on our Store Portal (area for company wide communication) what we are to have every associate sign off on a sheet of paper stating that we will not turn customers away if they do not want PPPs or TDS. While this is all well and good, and its awesome that my store does not lie (we just have some fairly good luck when it comes to selling PPPs), that doesn’t mean the pressure is not there.

    Recently, with all of the store management changes occurring, our store has literally been stripped of coverage. We used to employee in my store alone 30 people. The break down USED to be: 1 store manager, 2 assistant managers, 2 department manager (sales floor), 1 copy and print manager, 1 full time copy and print associate, 2 full time tech associates 1-2 full time supplies associates and 1 full time furniture associate and the rest were part timers (at one point we even had a full time cashier included).

    As it stands right now our store has 1 full time tech associate, 1 full time copy and print associate, 1 full time supplies associate, 2 department managers (with an opening for a third), 1 store manager and 1 assitant manager. From there I run 3-5 part timers, depending on who leaves because of the poor pay and minor hours. And, we’ve been told as a company, if our full timers quit – that’s it. We have to replace them with part timers. Replace them with people that couldn’t care less about the store because they’re not here enough to put forth effort – again because of the pay and little hours (I have one part timer that gets 10 hours a week, and sometimes less).

    So what’s changed? Used to selling was fun. Used to it was fun to see who could sell the most PPPs, who could attach the most. It was a game. Hell, I even remember holding down our radio buttons during a PPP speech to show off because we were that confident in selling them. But there wasn’t THIS much pressure. NOW its not fun. Why? Because of the pressure. Because its a horrible thought to wonder if I’m going to be able to feed my family, and have a job tomorrow, if I don’t sell enough plans today. It has literally gone to that.

  87. VM Says:

    Here’s another bit of advice…you CAN always RETURN the warranty! Buy it with the warranty and then come back within the stores stated return period and cancel the warranty. It’s that easy.

  88. Kuis Says:

    It’s encouraging to know that other people are speaking against unfair customer treatment. I hope that small blogs like these gets the attention of business out there. I have really enjoyed many sincere inputs that unethical behavior does not happen or is actually encourange by the companies mentioned here.
    To MagicSquid, thanks for your suggestion not to fake interest in the service plan, the salesperson are simply doing their job, and with this blog, hopefully, the managers or higher ups will take notice and begin retraining the employees, or empower customers to bring a copy of this article when buying a laptop and suddenly “out of stock” and file a complaint. I agree MagicSquid, let complaint against the bad apples and not have a blanket statement against all OD or other stores in general.
    The current issue here is, if we don’t buy or mention we want the service plan, the laptop is “magically” not in stock. But I do have a question about the Service Plans. Does anyone who actually bought a Service Plan have anything positive or negative to say for or against them? It might be worth knowing if when the time comes to get something repaired, the warranty actually replaces or repairs the items as promissed.
    Remember to buy from your local merchants, many of our friends, and neighbors are employees of many local businesses. One business going under affects more than that, it begins to impact the larger and larger community. Like some slogan i’ve seen, “think globally, act locally” or something like that.

    To the higher ups who may be reading this, and I mean the real higher ups, if you support treating the customer with respect, like imagine you do, place some of those “comment cards” at registers and have us customers, the opportunity to send them (prepaid, ofcourse) directly to you guys/gals and complaint against bad employees, but at the same time, it’s an opportunity to praise those great employees that demand our respect and thanks for helping us out. This way, this blog brought a great issue to your attention, and at the same time, we are giving your companies an opportunity to address it and provide a solution.
    How about it everyone, provide some suggestions and solutions how to remedy this issue.

  89. LordOgre Says:

    I will gladly fake interest in the service plan or anything else needed in order for the sales person to actually tell me the truth about the in store stock. If they are truely out, then fine… if not, then I want the damn computer that is on sale in the ad, plain and simple. If it takes me feigning interest in the service plan to get the associate to tell me the truth, then that’s what will happen.

    You guys do know that the maker of the laptop, be it Acer or HP or whatever… usually offers their own warranty extentions right? And typically they are for much cheaper than what you can buy from the retail store. For example, when I purchased my wife’s laptop a year ago, I was able to go directly to the manufacturer’s website and extend the warranty for another 3 years for $99 bucks. Now that didn’t include accidental damage like from dropping the damn thing, but it sure includes everything that typically can wear out via everyday usage. Much cheaper than the $250 service plan the BB/CompUSA/CircutCity wanted to sell me.

  90. Josh Says:

    I used to work at OD from 2003 to the end of 2007. They pulled this crap off and on all the time. It wasn’t prevalent in the earlier years except during sales competitions. For those who talk about what a “good deal” it is, as a manager at OD, we were told that, on average, less than 10% of people use the PPP, and of the others who try, many are accidental damage (spilling coffee on a laptop or running over it with the car) that are not covered. So, in reality, only about 2% of the plans were redeemed through the insurance company. I don’t know how accurate this is, but that’s what I was told. Near the end, on conference calls with regional managers (almost the highest level of store management) we were told that “in certain cases” it could be warranted to lie about the benefits of a PPP because “we will take care of the customer” if it’s not actually covered. Which was a lie, as they would always tell the customer “Oh, the person that sold that to you with that promise has been fired for lying to customers” even if they were just on break…

    On another note, I’ve had good luck with local Best Buys. Went in to buy a big LCD TV, wasn’t offered any cables or service plan til the TV was brought out. When we asked about it, we were told, without being told about any extras, that there were a “bunch” left from the sale that started that morning. The spiel about the service plan and cables barely registered, and were silenced by saying “Oh, we’re replacing a smaller TV and have all the cables. We don’t need anything since our old one is already past the extended warranty date.” Took all of 10 seconds, was quite nice actually. Same result when buying a Wii, though they weren’t sure about stock when I asked, and they didn’t even mention any service plan before going to check. Bought a game and something else with it, after the Wii was already gotten out.

  91. Josh Says:

    In response to “proud2beod” I had my store manager in the Chicago area get fired for not making “Market Basket” numbers consistently enough. And also been on a conference call with my store manager (I was a Dept Mgr) when he was berated by the RVP for letting so many laptops and such go out without MB, and also berate me a moment later for the same thing (I was tech mgr). He used very strong language that if we used on the sales floor we could be fired for easily, and told us “Well maybe you shouldn’t give out the computers to the salespeople so easily. Make them convince the customer, and don’t give them the computer until they’ve succeeded.” Also, had a district PPP meeting, the DM was there, the top seller in the district was there telling us how he did it. “Tell them the PPP will cover anything they ask about. If it doesn’t cover what you tell them, the store manager will make them happy.” and the DM agreed with him. So he told us to lie to customers.

  92. Jude Says:

    I’m not a frequent Office Depoter, but I just bought a Toshiba Satellite with very impressive specs for under $400 for the wife. No one tried anything crazy with me. I had no problems and I would shop there again based on this experience. Goes to show you opinions are like assholes… Everyone’s got them, some of them write articles bashing one bad experience.

  93. proud2beod Says:

    To Josh…you are full of garbage. Your Store Manager NEVER got fired for not making Market Basket. I know every DM in Chicago and the RVP and that NEVER happened. There have been Store Managers terminated, for INTEGRITY issues, not for missing metrics. Your DM never told you to lienor did the RVP. You certainly may have been on a conference call for failing to meet metrics, but those are used as a training tool, or “Best Practice” sessions. My guess is your store failed to meet any metrics, and OTHER things as well, which is why you are LYING on this post…..Sour Grapes

  94. proud2beod Says:

    To Josh…The reason I KNOW you are lying is that there are many Store Managers who were NOT meeting those same metrics and they STILL have a job. I am sorry you have such a bad taste in your mouth about working for Office Depot, but I suggest you get past it and move on.

  95. OD Still the place to buy Says:

    The salesperson that resorts to lying to their customer to sell these services is not very good sales person in the first place. I am a current OD Manager and I can tell you the goals set for stores are not unreasonable by any means. Yes margins on computers are low and yes ALL retailers rely on add ons to help make up that margin. That’s business 101 folks. The point many seem to be missing is the inherent value these services have for the customer and any salesperson worth their salt that can articulate the features and benefits of these services will make their weekly goals with ease. No high pressure tactics, no deception, just good honest salesmanship. So for the “former” OD sales people that claimed to have been pressured for not making your goals, my guess is sales was not the right line of work for you to begin with and perhaps you should find something more suited to your talent. Maybe start a blog on how your failures are everyone elses fault but your own. For current OD sales people that can’t make your goals, well your just not trying. OD provides all the tools necessary for you to succeed and you need to take responsibility for you own performance and if you can’t hack it…good luck, because Office Depot is one of the easiest companies to succeed in. It just takes integrity, a good attitude, and a drive to succeed!

  96. OD Store Manager Says:

    To proudtobeod,

    You are absolutely correct in that the DM’s and RVP’s will never openly tell you to lie to get a metric. Now I have been often told by my DM to “Do whatever it takes” or “Make sure every clearance laptop has a service or a PPP on it”. While many stores won’t break policy they will exist in a kind of discretionary gray area that is neither in or out of policy. It is these gray area of individual discresion that are being called into question because in a lot of cases the smaller $3 million dollar stores are held almost to the same standards as a store that does $6-7 million dollars. The differences are marginal at best. You are also further correct in stating you will never be fired for having a poor score on the service metrics, but you are naive to think that you will be given the same favor as the Store Manager who consistantly hits the mark in or outside of that gray area.
    Also if you are a store manager or higher you will remember the stack ranking that we had to do a few months back in which on a numeric scale we had to tell our bosses how our management staff scored and they did the same for us. Now with the considerable amount of emphasis on these ridiculous measurements of metrics if you can exist in that discretional gray area and keep your job then you will. Office Depot needs to utilizes the protection plans and services for exactly what they are and that is optional. Upper management has failed to answer the calls of not only its stockholders by not replacing the board members when asked but they no longer seem concerned at having caring and competent people on staff. I also predict that OD will go the way Circuit City has because the board has become a stagnant pool of bad ideas and policies.

  97. Harada Says:

    I want to address what “Rich” said about Tech Depot workers. We are more than just a bunch of automatons who push buttons.

    Most of us are CompTIA and Microsoft certified (I’m currently working on my Cisco). I also have my own business doing warranty work on PCs, laptops and HDTVs.

    I have to deal with customers that barely know the difference between the mouse and the keyboard as well as OD Associates who don’t even know basics like ipconfig /release & /renew. Now some of the stuff we do is simple like installing McAfee or uninstalling trialware; but we also clean up infected machines, set up wireless networks and do system backups for our customers.

    We also spend quite a bit of customer time using some Dale Carnegie cleaning up the mess created by the ODAs cuz they don’t know what they’re talking about 3/4 of the time.

  98. OD Still the place to buy Says:

    Geez…All the current OD employees complaining about too much pressure must never have had another job. The pressure and standards set at Office Depot are nothing compared to many of the other companies I’ve worked for. You are simply asked to do the job you were hired to do, with integrity, which in most cases is to sell. That’s what we do in retail…sell, drive revenue. My goodness is everyone so naive to think that a company, any company, doesn’t exsist to make money? I’m sure when you interviewed for your job, and you came to Office Depot, Office Depot didn’t snatch you off the street or kidnap you from your curent job. I’m sure you bragged on and on on how you give 100%, how you’ve got the selling skills to succeed. Well quit whinning about how hard it is, grow up and do you job! The job you’re lucky to still have in this economy. If you have issues with the integrity in which your store is run there are avenues you can take to annonamously report these situations instead of griping about them on blogs. If you’re not part of the solution you are the problem.

    And “OD Store Manager” – It’s obvious to me you have no business being a store manager and my guess is your store hits none of it’s goals. You sound as though you believe the services we offer have no value to the customer…they do. I could site numerous times where customers have thanked us for selling them the added protection and piece of mind their ppp purchase provided them when their limited manufacturer’s warranties failed to correct their issues. Regardless of store size the goals are attainable and the stores making their goals are not doing anything devious or underhanded. Those stores, unlike yours, simply have better leadership with better skill sets. Why would you as an underperformer expect to receive the same “favor” as a store manager that acheives their goals?? In what world would you reward the worst along with the best? There is no gray area, it’s black and white. You’re either a winner or a loser. You either make things happen in your store or make excuses why you can’t. In my 8 years with OD I have NEVER been asked to do anything unethical by the company. In a company with 40,000 + individuals working for it I’m sure there are some bad apples among us, but again, if you know of it and do nothing you become one of those apples! Learn how to sell, teach your people how to sell and take care of the customer and you’ll be surprised just how easy it is to succeed…and succeed with integrity!

  99. OD Tech Sales Says:

    The services that OD offers are not bad services. They are in place to help the customer as well as generate profit from the customer. This article is not debating if the PPP/TDS services are good or not, what it is stating is that OD is not giving their customers a choice in these services. None of the employees are complaining that they don’t want to do our jobs, what we want to do is perform our duties with honesty and integrity. I have never and will never lie about stock of an item to a customer, as it is unethical. The company needs to seriously think about how they want to treat their customers or they are going to end up like Circuit City. No wonder their stock is trading at below $1/share.

  100. brad Says:

    Office Depot is not the only one. As a former manager for Office Max I can certainly say there is tremendous pressure to sell extended warranties. There is no profit in electronics, so make it up in the high profit extended warranties.
    We even had some managers fired for buying warranties themselves to make the numbers. Talk about pressure!

  101. Linda Smith Says:

    Yes, I have a huge COMPLAINT about Office Depot.
    I bought I HP Notebook dv9000 and it was on sale for about$899.00 with a sign and agreement, for a 24 month payment plan with NO Interest… Yeah right…. So I was paying every month on time.
    On the 20th, yes I said 20th, month I got the next statement and about $300 was added right at the 21st month. I owed at the time about $200, and now my new total was over $500 …. So I decided to call the credit card company, and they insist that it is for 20 months not 24. went to the store and had the manager call the credt card company and the manager verified the 24 month plan with the credt card company….. they would NOT remove the extra fees. So I stopped paying for the whole thing.. yeah I’m getting calls from the credit card companies….. and I am NOT paying another dime till I get all the late fees and extra money they charged me removed totally…. I DON’T CARE if it has harmed my credit ,,, I am not playing their game and WIL NOT BE SCAMMED BY OFFICE DEPOT or the credit card company.

    SO YOU READ THIS OFFICE DEPOT………….. YOU ARE LIARS……………… AND I WILL NOT PAY A DIME,
    except what I agreed to pay…….which is about $175.00

    BUYER BE AWARE….
    the store I bought it in is in Stuart, Florida……..

    thanks, Linda Smith

  102. Rose Says:

    I bought a computer @ O.D. in 2006 and bought a 2 year “extended” warranty for around $129. The sales girl insisted that this warranty kicked in AFTER the manufacturer’s one year warrant. Well guess what? Big fat lie! We even asked the clerk and she repeated our extended warranty started in 2007. Well, fast forward to Feb. 2009…my piece of crap Gateway monitor, keyboard, and the Cannon printer/scanner that I thought was covered…is NOT. (And right now they need some repair or replacement work.) The man at the OD warranty number informed me that I purchased the “day one” warranty…whatever the heck that means. I have been in contact with a customer service lady at Boca Raton, FL who is at least listening to what I am saying about the warranty that I don’t have. Oh, yes, the man at the OD warrtanty said the manufacturer’s warranty “ceased to exist” when I bought the OD one. BUT…in the first year Gate way replaced the monitor AND the keyboard under their warranty. What are we supposed to do with situations like these? We need our computer systems…and these stores know that….:’(

  103. proud2beod Says:

    To ODStoremanager….You are NOT ready to accept the challenges in today’s environment of business. Office Depot’s objectives FAVOR the lower volume stores, and if you don’t know that by now you are a fool. The goals are based on percentages, AND media, ink and toner which are high ticket items are NOT figured into each stores objectives. percentage-wise, a lower volume store sells MORE tecnology than a hiher volume store that allows you to sell TDS ans PPP’s on that merchandise. YOU ARE FOOLING YOURSELF, YOUR ASSOCIATES, AND THE COMPANY if you don’t remove blank dvd, cd and ink/toner from your sales to get your percentage. Those categories and software are NOT taken into consideration when coming up with your goals. SO, if you are a lower volume store, YOU ARE BENEFITTED. Bottom line, you and your staff are clearly not prepared to SELL. Since you can’t sell addons, TDS and PPP’s to AT LEAST MAKE THESE CATEGORIES PROFITABLE (and by that I maen .01% and above) I would suggest you SHUT UP, SIT DOWN, AND LEARN FROM YOUR PEERS WHO HAVE BEEN CARRYING YOUR ASS for as long as you have been a Store Manager. Let me tell you a few things to EDUCATE YOU and the public…….1. We offer Product Protection Plans, AND TDS as Office Depot asks us to do. They are “PEACE OF MIND” merchandise, and if you or your staff are not able to take care of the customer, then PLEAES, find a new line of work, and STOP taking jobs from people who DO wish to serve the customer. Office Depot NEVER asked YOU or anyone else to deceive ANY customer, if you did that YOU decided to do it on your own and blame the company. Remember Office Depot’s liberal goals are geared for mid to lower volume stores , WHY DON’T YOU APPRECIATE THAT. yOU ARE HELD TO A PERCENT, NOT DOLLARS, AND IF A LOWER VOLUME STORE WAS HELD TO DOLLARS, THEN THAY WOULD GET SLAMMED. sO, APPRECIATE YOU STILL HAVE A JOB, AND please STRIVE TO SERVE THE CUSTOMER AND QUIT COMPLAINING!!!!

  104. ron Says:

    you may not realize it but in this crazy time,they all are doing it.All the stores are offering these services
    and some do it correctly while others do whatever it takes to make management happy and get results

  105. Ken Says:

    I worked for Radio Shack and sure enough, something nearly the same occurred there. We didn’t NOT sell an item without accessories but were encouraged to sell items we didn’t want to sell that had a better commission.

  106. Robert Says:

    Here’s an interesting article about the problem of commissions :
    http://www.inc.com/magazine/20081001/how-hard-could-it-be-sins-of-commissions.html

  107. Dick C. Flatline Says:

    Typical business practice for the modern American corporation. Big Business running roughshod over the law (which only applies to the little guy, not to the giant corporations and their paid political flunkies). This isn’t one company, they’re ALL doing it.

    REVOLT, you spineless jellyfish!

  108. Timothy Says:

    It is just me or does ignorance (by the consumer) play a huge role in how they feel they are getting treated by OD, BBY, or other Big Business. So many of these comments have the “oh poor me” tone. Come on, these businesses are here to make profit, they are doing their job so if you are a consumer start doing yours.

    Here are a few tricks. First, do your research! How hard is it to type a few keywords into Google and actually search for the product you are looking to buy. Every single website has a customer comments section. Listen to what others are saying.

    Second, no impulse buying. Anyone paying for a big ticket item on credit obviously cannot afford it in the first place. Don’t get all angry at the store or CC company when the bill arrives, you dug the grave now lie in it. Or, be smart, pay with cash. How to do this? Anticipate that the purchase is going to happen at least one year before you need to make the purchase. Save ahead.

    Third, all service plans, extended warranties, extras, etc are designed to be pure profit for the store not the consumer. Here is the big tip, I make money on every single big ticket item I purchase. How? Again, I anticipate the need to repair or replace from the moment I buy something. I pay myself every month a “fee” to own the product. This fee goes into a high yield savings account (ING works well for this because they allow you to have as many savings accounts as you want!) and when something needs to be repaired I pull the money out of there (it’s my own protection plan, making me money!) and in a year or two I have already budgeted the total replacement cost of my NEW next big thing!

    Lastly, stop being the victim, take control of how you want to live your life. Image for a moment not needing to call the credit card company because you can’t make the payment. Image walking into a store with the confidence to buy a new big screen with cash knowing that you alone have the control over the purchase not some kid getting screamed at by his boss to make the sale to some “soft” customer. Time to grow up people, it’s your money, take control of it, don’t let the money (or BBY or OD…) take control of you.

  109. Michael Says:

    I love all the OD employees who think that the way the business operates is good, and that it equates to “serving the customer.” I worked at a Micro Center (smaller computer retailer) for 5 years, first in sales and then service. I can tell you that the emphasis on “protection plans” was the same there, and that the margins on those products when I was there was actually 50%, as opposed to 10% for laptops, desktops, LCD-TVs, laser printers, high-end cameras, etc. The statistics on how many people actually used the “protection plans” were very favorable for the stores, to say the least. Less than 10%, to be sure.

    For those keeping score at home, this means that employees’ compensation is dependent upon selling a product that’s worthless for over 90% of the customers who buy it. And how is this talking care of the customer again? There are other issues to consider, like when your retailer switches providers for the “protection plans,” and all of a sudden approval times for covered repairs go from 24 hours to three weeks.

    Thankfully, salespeople at Micro Center were HEAVILY educated as to what “protection plans” covered, and got in trouble if they misinformed customers. If they didn’t want to sell a product without a protection plan, they would just tell the customer to go somewhere else (as happened to a buddy of mine who made a sale for ninety-six $1100 flat-screen TVs, only to be told that he couldn’t sell them without plans). Lying about stock seems needlessly icky, and if I were an executive at OD I’d be embarrassed as heck about it.

  110. The Truth Says:

    I worked at OD for 5 years, just quit two weeks ago..and this stuff HAPPENS. Maybe not in all stores to this degree but trust me, it does. In my store, I was nervous asking mgt. to pull a computer if I wasnt “getting something with it”. At Office Depot, they would rather hit their service/PPP goal than hit their total sales goal (last years sales). The lower performing stores would be on weekly regional calls getting yelled at if they did not hit their service goals…never a word mentioned about overall sales. It was ridiculous. Also, corporates response was the most politically correct bunch of bull**** I’ve ever seen. I’m sure it happens at most retail stores, but I have first hand experience at OD and it is laughable. I really do feel sorry for the management there as they are based solely on computer ad-ons. Also, good luck getting anything on time and correct in their printing department as they just did away with the manager over that department!

  111. I hate my job Says:

    I have worked at OD for a little over 3 years now. Every day we are expected to sell 75 dollars per person in extended war.. err.. “Replacement Plans” and Tech Depot Services. If a customer came in and wanted any high ticket item (computers, GPS, Cameras, Printers), and didn’t want anything, we were directed to tell the customer we were out of stock and send them to another store. We kept our attachment rates sky high with that. Also, beware of the “Red Tag Clearance” signs. We have been instructed at my store to take the price at the register, add the PPP (sometimes on a 5 dollar item) and sell it that way. I have actually seen digital cameras marked down to 15-20 dollars just to add a kit (Warranty with cheap accessories) to it.

    I never felt comfortable doing this. I end up every Monday in the manager’s office getting scolded and threatened to be written up because I won’t lie or cheat my customers. If someone calls on the phone and asks for an item, if we have them in stock, then that’s what I’ll tell them.

    I am thankful I only have a few more months of that place until I move. Getting rid of the DPS employees / management was one of the dumbest moves I’ve seen in a while. I’m not cleaning up the mess untrained employees are going to do with my copy jobs.

  112. CA OD Mgr. Says:

    @OD Manager Says: you’ve been told by the company that if your FT associate quits to not replace them?? BS I say! you have a store staffing model to use as a guide and it sounds like your store, like most other retailers in this economy, is suffering. Quit crying about losing an ASM. The number one controllable expense you have is payroll. You should be happy. giving up one ASM is going to free up enough payroll $$’s for about 4 hourly associates, that can in-turn help more customers… You only need 5 key carriers to cover the opening / closings of the building. Use your DPS mgr. more!!

  113. true and funny Says:

    This is so true and funny all at the same time. I agree with the comment a couple spots before me. Office dept will be the next circuit city!!!! There is compitition out there and they have to lie just to get on there level. lol I hated working for office depot this whole article is so true.

  114. Susan Says:

    Same thing with Office Max. We were going to buy a laptop on the spot at their store in Key West, FL. They played this tacky little game so we chose to drive 50 miles to the Office Depot store in Marathon, FL. They didn’t play any of these games with us at that Office Depot store and walked out with a laptop 20 minutes later.

  115. ODAssociate Says:

    I work at OD but thankfully the store I work at has been honest. Given the huge pressure the store is under to sell PPPs, TDSs, and Market Basket, though, this article does not suprise me in the least.

  116. OD EX Manger!!!!!!!!!!! Says:

    Well I agree working with this company they do put alot of pressure on the managers and the associates and some will mislead customers who cares if the customer does not buy a warranty or a tech service but it is totally true I have seen some of the best let go for not meeting a number! I have been a witness to some underhanded stuff that other stores do to make a number The company needs to relook this strategy for selling but some markets are able to sell these services some are not but if you don’t you may lose your job along with all the 122 stores they will close next week!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  117. Bill Nye Says:

    I am replying to this post because my supervisor just told me not to and I wish to be cute and rebellious while doing no real damage so that no one is upset. :D

  118. Joe Schmoe Says:

    I am currently an Office Depot employee and I can attest that everything contained within the article is true. There have been senior people (DM’s and above) within the company that have said these things lately. Even if you doubt every post that myself and everyone else has placed onto this site, look at the politically correct response that Office Depot themselves have issued. That in itself would raise the question as to whether this is actually happening or not. Office Depot knows that they put to much pressure on their employees to produce results, and no they are not above threatening your job because of it. But like I was recently told,” Do what we tell you to do, or have fun looking for another job?”

  119. OD MGR Says:

    I am a OD Manager in the same state their corprate offices are , and I can tell you that this does and continues to happen daily. My store is one of the stores that does not bonus and is under fire for being an under preformer and has to under go constant confrence calls with RVP’s and various higher up’s who constantly call you out and verbaly abuse you in front of your peers and say that it is all management short commings that you cannot reach these ludicris numbers, that some asshole in corprate making way too much money to come up with these numbers. Then blame the stores for the company’s downfall. It’s like they don’t remember that it is the stores that are making the money that provides them with their six digit income! Like I said my store is not reaching these goals BUT we DO NOT refuse a sale just because they are not buying a add-on items (PPP’s TDS) but we do get alot of customers who were at another store who stated that they do not have the item in stock, but their inventory states they have 2,3 or more in stock and they were sent to my store to buy the item because they were not going to buy a service , I will not refuse a sale and therefor my numbers tank as a result. This issue has been brought to the D.M. and RVP, But it is still my problem. While they will tell you thay have never fired a manager for not reaching these goals some how they will find a way to get rid of them, I have seen this first hand, they say that they did not have an action plan in place or some other bullshit like that. So yes it does happen and I hope that the higher up take this notice and change the enviroment they create and change their ways and make Office Depot a better working enviroment and inturn will create a better experance for customers and they will return! The services are worth it if you really look into them, But corprate should be happy that they are selling and stop being so greedy and shoving these crazy “goals” and putting good managers in the cheese line for this bullshit.

  120. Aloof_Buyer Says:

    When buying from these outfits OD, Best Buy, etc.. I have not experienced a sales associate forcing me to buy Protection plan. They ask if I would be interested then I simply ask what is covered and how much. They answer the question then I let the associate get the item from the store room. You see I never answered “Yes” !. Then once at the cash register they will ask again and I just say NO! That is the end of the story and they back off. Normally you have 14 days to decide whether you like the extended warranty. Tell them that you will come back in 14 days, to buy the warranty, after you used and like your laptop. Remember it is a chinese fire drill at Office Max to return an extended warranty. Office Depot did not give me trouble though. Therefore it is best to wait 2 weeks. But I still do not buy warranties to often.

    If you miss the 14 days then you can still buy extended warranties when the Manufactures Warranty is about to expire usually after a year and I like the item. Often you get a card or email reminding you of that fact. You have to register your product though. Many times I do not end up taking these either because a) The Manufacturer already fixed the item under normal warranty b) You got sick of the unit and are about to sell it in ebay.

    One of the few times I bought a warranty at best buy in Boca Raton, Florida, was on a Mitsubitsi DLP TV. But I actually got it for free since a competitor BrandsMart had the same TV for a couple of hundred less. So they offered me the extended warranty at reduced rate but tried to sell me a monster power surge protector for $300. I kept going back and forth between the monster and they wanted to to charge $180 for the extended warranty. I still told them that this was not acceptable and i wanted to return the unit. At the end of the haggle the manager ended issuing a credit for the difference in competitors price, gave me a free warranty plan, and on top of that gave me the monster cable for free. Go figure ? I think there was a loop hole in the policy. The manager did sell his extended warranty. Best Buy is so hung up on extended warranties and it did not matter to them that I was already refunded the difference in price already . ON the books THEY SOLD THEIR WARRANTY!! (but for free since I was not charged).

  121. DL Says:

    There is no reason for this kind of sales ploy. A customer can verify the quantity for the sku at any store computer. If a manager or associate refuses to allow the customer access then I would recommend contacting the district manager. Everyone loses when stuff like this happens. If the quotas were not there the stores would not profit and so goes the downward spiral. Until the stores can stop requiring the associates to make quota in what is called a “market basket” of profitable items, warranties and computer repair services there will always be dishonest associates, managers and district managers pushing their agendas.

  122. CSSIII Says:

    Wow, this really opened my eyes. When we first heard about this at my store, we were somewhat shocked. Sure, there is pressure out there from the higher ups, but in our location here in Washington State, we have never been told to lie to a customer. There are even a few ex-employees that I know that I am friends with (we’ll see for how long) that I KNOW were lying to customers, not just about what the stock on hand, but about what the warranty covered.

    @ Alan- We (or at least myself) are always calling your company to make sure that we are up-to-date with everything that is covered for any of the products that we sell.
    @ Former BBY- I agree with you, these are offered to help the customer. If you take them or not as the consumer, that is your choice. Just don’t come back to us complaining that you spilled coffee on your laptop while writing your memoir a year after you bought it. Our ADH (Accidental Damage from Handling) covers liquid spills. Call the Manufacture to see what they will cover for you, good luck with that.

    Now the question is this. Based on my position at OD, I have just finished my management training and am getting ready to fill a Dept. Mgr that was let go during the “restructuring” of OD….. Do I go forth, knowing that this is not happening in my area, but happening company wide?? Or do I reject the offer and continue doing what I am doing and leave gracefully?

  123. john Says:

    I work at Office Depot and im a tech there. Ive worked at two different office depots and both of them we do not do what is said in the article. However, it is true that we work off of commission when we sell you a product protection plan or tech service. I dont push the tech service that much cause its to much work for me to set up the computer and its a true rip off unless your computer is really messed up. The plans on the other hand are good because i always sell mine with ADH or accidental damage from handling. Basically that means no matter what you do to the computer we will replace it. My managers at least will not fire you if you dont sell a computer with an attachment. They might fire you if you do not even talk to a customer about a plan or service. At my store if we avg 1200 a week for a month in ppp or tech service sales we get 15% of what we sold. So if i sold 1000 like i did this week im gonna get 150 extra on my pay check if we stay at the 15% level for the month. However it can go down to 10% if we go below it and then 5% if we go below say like 500 avg week and if we go below that we get nothing. I do have a couple of tricks that i get alot of customers on though. One is saying that laptop is the last one i have no matter how many i actually have. Its called fear of loss people want what they cant have and ive gotten many sales because of this. I always use the “jones” effect saying that i sold that computer to someone the day before and they got a plan on it because they figured it would be a good deal becuase if something happened to that computer they wouldnt have to buy a new one. Sometimes i make up the story and other times im telling the truth. Another trick i use that works really well when people are buying printers is to check staples and best buy prices. Ill be nice to the customer telling them i will check our rivals prices and if they have it cheaper ill give it to them at that price. However, it makes it much easier for me to sell a plan to them cause im taking money off the printer already. It really only works with printers because no stores ever carry the same exact laptops. Best Buy makes sure the manufacturers like hp or toshiba change the model number by one number or letter so that other stores cant price match their products. But the biggest problem i see with customers is the fact that they are just not very smart. Ill sell a camera say on a saturday for say 150 bucks. Well if the guy just went online and checked our sale for tomorrow which is posted every saturday he would know its gonna be 25 dollars off tomorrow. I would say 95% of the time that guy does not come back in to get the difference even though he very well could within 14 days. I see this happen all the time and people wonder why our economy is so bad. And for people who dont like office depot just go straight to best buy and see what happens when you want to return that 1000 dollar laptop that you just bought. They will charge you 15% restocking fee. That means you have to pay them 150 bucks just to return a laptop and they are real strict about it.

  124. Re: michael Says:

    “For those keeping score at home, this means that employees’ compensation is dependent upon selling a product that’s worthless for over 90% of the customers who buy it. And how is this talking care of the customer again? ”

    Its called insurance and peace of mind. SO just cause everyone has car insurance and pays a monthly fee does that mean they actually have to use it for something? Or if someone has home owners insurance and nothing happens to their house where it is not needed does that mean it was useless? No one is holding a gun to these peoples head who buy plans and tech depot services. Yea sometimes people push but other times people actually tell you that they want to get a plan or a service without me the OD employee having to do anything. So it the numbers about how many people who use it mean nothing maybe just maybe nothing happened to their computer where they didnt need to use it ever think of that? And if they lost the paperwork or forgot they had one its not our fault people are just too stupid sometimes…

  125. The Taminator Says:

    Wow, I know this article has been out for a couple of months now, but I just now stumbled on it & wanted to comment. I worked at a Best Buy owned company for several years and the pressure to sell these extended warranties was tremendous even in the good economy at the time. They don’t just offer them on low-margin electronics like laptops, but on everything from a $9.99 MP3 player on up. The warranties are worthless unless they offer true accidental damage replacement/repair– and the fact is that accidental damage is what’s most likely to happen, especially if you’re clumsy or unfamiliar with how to handle electronic equipment. The amount you spend on the PPP/whatever is better off sitting in a savings account accruing interest, so in 2 years when what you have is outdated you can get the next biggest thing. I do not doubt any of the stories have read here about the pressure all of them face with these service plans– and these days with jobs on the line, I do not doubt that employees are doing whatever it takes to make the sale, including lying. It’s one reason why I buy direct from the manufacturer and on places like Egghead and Amazon. It’s not just warranties either– cables as pointed out by others here are a rip-off often marked up 4-5 times cost. Watch out for the way Victoria’s Secret tries to get you to sign up for an Angel Card. Their staff promote it as a frequent buyer card, but it is really a credit card. They will not tell you that you are signing up for a credit card and you won’t know until it comes in the mail. Corporate HQ can spout off all they want about ethics in these public statements, but we all know that now more than ever it’s a dog eat dog world out there, especially in retail right now. As consumers the bottom line is be aware, educate yourself about what you are buying, read the fine print, and caveat emptor.

  126. Edward Ringwald Says:

    First and foremost, I deal with Office Depot extensively as a customer, both work related and personall related. I am very outraged at how Office Depot treats its customers and this article on how Office Depot is being deceitful to customers when it comes to selling laptop computers in Laptop Magazine very well proves the point.

    If you want to see more of how Office Depot treats its customers, go over to ConsumerAffairs.com and search for “Office Depot”. There you will find a plethora of complaints as to how Office Depot treats its customers. One good example is a person who was a frequent user of Office Depot’s copy and print center (every Office Depot has one) and one day was told that the person was permanently no longer welcome at Office Depot; the general manager did not even give an explanation.

    Another example is when you call Office Depot at their 800 toll free number. You end up speaking to someone I believe is overseas; I have had this issue a few times when I called Office Depot at work to discuss issues with our account. Some of the customer service representatives I have spoken with on the phone speak broken English to the point that I could not understand what the representative was saying.

    All in all, lying to customers is not only unethical, it’s illegal no questions asked. The way Office Depot treats its customers Office Depot is well on its way to becoming another Circuit City.

  127. Herschel Everett Says:

    This is one of many reasons why e-commerce is winning customers over retail brink & mortar store’s. I would suggest the retailers to have 2 sets of prices for products. Mark up the in store products and discount the products if the consumer purchases online and goes pick the products when they are shipped to the store. The retail store would saves money on transportation for inventory they are not carrying. The consumer decides if he or she really needs that products now and if they would pay a higher price for that service. Discontinue the extended warranties. Is this a better solution? I don’t know but it is better than there current selling practices.

  128. J Office Depot Tech Employee Says:

    I am an employee for Office Depot, and I find this article to be very bias. I’d like to know which office depot you were looking into, my store manager, and the rest of other department are very professional people, and we are asked to do our very best to help our customers needs, even if they don’t buy extra services. I am extremely offended by this article, that you put the blame upon us tech guys shoulders simply by just basing it off of a few very bad employees. There bad apples in every company, and very bias ones in others (hint) Our company like every other company in the U.S. is trying their very best to keep afloat. My stores associates routinely go out of their way to make sure the customer gets what they want. If we don’t have it in our store, we always find someone who does. That particular Office Depot should be reported, as our rules are clearly stated pressured selling is against company policy.

    J.

  129. Sarah Says:

    Oh, wow. So I came upon this article before I was about to head to Office Depot to purchase a laptop. To be honest, I didn’t really think they would NOT sell me the laptop just because I wasn’t willing to purchase all the accesories that comes with it. But this article was completely true. Fortunately for me, I was able to buy the laptop because the guy working there accidently let it slip that there was one more available. Then he started informing me about how great their protection plans were, and when I said I wasn’t going to be in a protection plan, he let out a sigh and left to go get the laptop. However, while he was supposedly getting the laptop (which took nearly 10 min. same situation as Phil), another employee stopped by us and started informing us about the protection plan AGAIN. What made me angry was that he was talking to me as if I absolutely had to get it, and he went on and on even though I made my answer very clear the first time. (He was even sweating trying to convince me to buy it…ugh) I know I may have been rude, but I think I started to chuckle a little bit after a third person came to talk to us about the plans because I realized then that this article was so true. When we went to checkout, the employee at the cash register tried one last time to convince us, but he sounded really ticked off because we weren’t buying it. So there I was, making a $700 purchase, but being horribly treated. Yay for Office Depot!

  130. Sarah Says:

    Oh but on a second note, I guess it’s better for OD to rely on PPP’s for more profit than to increase the prices of the laptop itself….

  131. OD workerbee Says:

    i’ve worked for office depot for about 2 years now and everything in this article is 100% true. When i first started, the whole focus was about taking care of the customer, now its only on PPP and tech service sales. Managers constantly talk over the radios about PPP and “market basket” attachment rates. The customers needs are no longer the focus of the company. Every since “under performing” stores started closing, the remaining stores are fighting to stay open. Employees who dont attach enough lose hours or worse.

  132. od employee Says:

    managment is responsible
    by Office Depot employee
    I worked for Office Depot in Eugene, Oregon for a little over a year before walking out due to the unprofessional approach taken by management. Although some of the more extreme sales tactics were not used in my store, I can see how employees could be bullied into turning heads and using unethical sales tactics. Management would say they were not interested in pressure sales, only to turn around and threaten to fire you if you were unable to meet your product protection plan or tech services sales quota. I applied to be a stocker, sales was never in the job description. Bogus competitions were devised to stimulate sales, but after numbers were posted in the break room they felt more like ways for long time employees to shun people who were not as sales oriented. Management would encourage taking advantage of ignorant customers by withholding information, or flat out selling people stuff they had no use for. I can remember one instance when a customer was not buying any attachments with a laptop, the employee helping the customer was told to try to steer them away from buying anything at all, only to save the market basket attachment rating. My first day working for Office Depot I was told that we were a team. I did not realize that I had just joined a team of crooks!

  133. Peter Says:

    hey sarah…how does a guy accidently tell you he has a laptop in stock?? haha wow!

  134. Ryan Says:

    I recently started working at an Office Depot store as a sales associate in the technology department. After reading this page, I my heart dropped. Fortunately this is not the case at my store, and I hope that it has died down since the time of the article. My fellow sales associates are honest and do their best to help customers. I got chewed out once for forgetting to offer our TDS to a customer, but that was because I neglected to offer it. Hopefully down the road I don’t see things like this pop up in my store.

  135. Milo Thatch Says:

    I just stumbled across this webpage and read a few lines from the front. I don’t know what happens at other stores, but my stores number one goal is sell sell sell. We always sell all of our stock. We’re pushed to give out plans with everything, mice with laptops, cases with cameras, surge protectors with desktops, stuff that makes sense, but that the customer might already have. Never have either me or my associates been told to withhold anything because a customer didn’t want the plan or any extras.

  136. valerie Says:

    I work at a ODS and this is a bunch of crap. Who ever Rich is, may have got fired because he couldn’t sell. Well went tech guys are hired they get more money then any other person starting out. Because they said they can sell. My tech guy are not pushy they are respectful to the customers. And if they sell they get a fun size piece of candy. WOW I now that is a lot of pressure. The service we offer are great for your computer, and personally paid them fix my home computer. Office Depot has been taking care of the poor management that has been practicing some bad behavior, Like firing them RICH sound filmier. If you only get one side, then you didn’t get it ALL.

  137. Ryan Vann Says:

    I wonder if the folks espousing the merit of these service plans would also recommend that you pay insurance in a hand of blackjack? Everyone should either implicitly or explicitly know that insurance is a sucker bet. Unfortunately I’m not in the retail biz, but I would love to see the probability tables on these plans.

  138. Michelle Says:

    I am currently employed by OD. I have worked in two different stores in two different states. In my original store, we were a lower sales store and although the pressure for selling market basket items and TDS was on, no one lied about stock. In the store I currently work at it is a high volume store and the Tech Manager told me directly that he lies to customers about stock if they don’t want a PPP or TDS. I’m unsure of the rest of the managers practices, however I know if we’re busy and there’s phone calls/questions about stock, the answer is usually no. The store I’m currently at is terrible, ranked 96 out of 100 in the region. I don’t know how the store is even still open….we have terrible customer service (partially because we are so understaffed – payroll won’t allow much excess) but also because of the pressure of selling these add-ons. If the customer doesn’t want these add-ons, they’re considered a waste of time. Regular employees only start off at minimum wage, and what is asked of us is ridiculous. I actually just got written up because I failed to greet the mystery shopper (I work in the DPS, I was the only one working, and was already juggling multiple customers. HR here I come!)

    In conclusion, lying does not happen at every store, but it does happen.

  139. Scott Says:

    Here is my take on this as I am a tech consultant at OD. I do not get a bonus for sales volume. I get a bonus for all of the add ons. I also get written up for not selling attachments and warranties. This is tracked by how many I sell vs how many I sell with add ons. So the only way I can control my fate is to lie about stock if the customer doesn’t want the add ons! My manager may not be 100% on this program with me; however, he does have a “Well they weren’t buying an attachment anyway” attitude. Even my District Manager Al, wil observe me talking with a customer about a laptop, and ask me how the sale went. When I say they weren’t interested in an add on and didn’t buy it, he sort of shrugs his shoulders and snickers and says “Oh well!”.

    This is a way of life here at OD. If you want to survive at OD, this is what you face everyday you work at OD!

  140. kent clothier cash buyer system Says:

    Brilliant website we will bookmark it and return later.

  141. Spencer Says:

    I worked In retail for over 10 years and 2 of my jobs were as a computer salesman. It is in no way dishonest to refuse to sell a computer if the sale is going to cost the company money to make the sale or if they only break even on the price. What every one seems to be over looking is the fact that if the company doesn’t make a profit then it goes out of business and then what is the point to start a company that doesnt make money. What is dishonest is when a salesman lies to the customers when they have taken the time to come visit them when they could have gone somewhere else. This may sound weird to some of you. Let me explain. From a customers stand point they either forget or don’t know that the computer has a small mark up on it. They also don’t stop to realize that it costs the company money to pay the employees and money to run the facility. Companies could just start to raise prices more then they already do or customers can be more understanding and sometimes a more responsible buyer to help so that the company can sell the product at the listed price without any hitches. Let me explain that too. If a customer paid with cash rather then with cards when they can then the retailer doesn’t have to worry as much about selling the add ons because they will be getting the full amount of the mark up on the product and the customer gets what they want. Credit card companies and the card processing companies charge the retailers a percentage of the total purchase to pay for the card services. This means that if the computer is sold alone then the retailer may lose all of the profit on the sale to the card company. So why would they want to waste time just to lose money. That’s very bad business. People also don’t realize that American Express tends to charge the highest fees to the retailer to process their cards. So if you are getting a great deal as a customer and you try to pay with an American Express and the retailer doesn’t want to make the sale then its not the retailer that is being rude or dishonest its the customer who is. Just because they advertise a product doesn’t mean they have to take your credit card to buy it. There is no law or moral obligation that requires the retail to lose money simply because the custom chooses to pay with a certain type of card or with a card at all. As card holders we all need to understand that it comes with risks to use them and they may not always be accepted. We have become spoiled and whiny. We think we can go anywhere and buy anything just because we have a credit card and that no one has the right to refuse it.
    Now back to why companies don’t always want to sell a computer without add ons. If the company sells accessories then they can offset the cost of running a credit card, (since most people pay with them now days) and paying the employees salary because they can put a higher percentage of mark up on the accessories and still sell it at a good price since the manufacturers sell those things to the retailer at a better price then they do a computer. The reason that retailers love to sell extended warranties is because if you buy it then the retailer gets to split the price of the warranty with the manufacture or the warranty company. Then If a computer ever breaks down and it is brought back to the retailer to be repaired or replaced then the retailer still gets to keep the money he made from selling the warranty and the retailer gets to fix the computer and then bill the manufacture for the cost of the repair and for the labor that the retailer had to pay to his repair tech. The manufacturer or warranty company then pays the retailer back and that usually costs the manufacturer far more to pay the retailer back then they made on their portion of the extended warranty when it was sold. This means that the retail gets a second chance to make money if the computer should ever fail and you bought the warranty from them. This also means that you saved a lot of money by purchasing the warranty rather then paying for the repair. This is of course is depending on how much a retailer is charging for the warranty. A well priced warranty means that the customer can afford to purchase it and it also means that the retailer can sell mass quantities of them and their fore the profits from the warranties can easily cover the cost of the high priced repair work that is needed on the few computers that do fail. So basically its exactly like buying car insurance. Buy your electronics from companies that sell cheap warranties and that sell good product as well they need to have a good reputation for getting the warranty covered repair done in a timely manner with the least amount of problems. So shop around like your buying a car and car insurance. Be a responsible customer and remember that no company wants to be pressured into sell you something if its going to cause them to lose money. Salesman also need to be more honest about these issues and point them out to the customer when they arise instead of lying to the customer because they are afraid to explain the situation to them.

  142. Steve Says:

    I used to work in technology at Office Depot in Charlotte, NC and all of the accusations put forward are 100% true. The district manager put extreme pressure on the store managers and sales associates to sell Product Protection Plans. He said he did not care how, just sell them and meet your goals. That included associates “discounting” a computer the exact amount of the PPP and attaching it to the sale with the customer thinking he was getting the PPP for free. The thought was either sell it with a PPP or don’t sell it at all. So any associate that “lied” did so out of fear of retribution from the district manager.

  143. marc2296 Says:

    Retail employee 3, remember the undercover story done on the news about this pratice and the ex-manager spilling the beans?
    I wonder, are you a district manager?

  144. formerodassociate Says:

    As a former OD associate, I can say that the accusations of Associates being under intense pressure to sell warranties is exactly correct. ALL OD Associates are under intense pressure to sell PPP with EVERY eligible item. In my former store, the manager insisted that we sell them, and Associates received very sarcastic remarks over the radio from him if we failed. I was personally never written up, nor do I know of any other Associate who was, for not getting attachment items with the sale, but the general working environment was made pretty hostile and caustic when laptops, desktops, printers and cameras went out with no PPP attached. I think that the degree to which Associates are pressured varies greatly from store to store and district to district. A manager who wants to advance has to have attachments on eligible items. I think that much is certain.
    I have read a lot of the posts here, and the Office Depot strategy of pressuring customers to buy a PPP is a failure. It tends to alienate customers and drive them into the arms of the competition. I could see it in the eyes of the customer as I spoke to them. Retail is about service, and service should be the first priority, but Office Depot seems to have lost sight of this.
    One thing I can attest to in Office Depot’s defense concerns Associates lying to customers about inventory when the customer did not want to purchase the warranty. I personally saw the memo that said that ANY Associate who lied to a customer and told them that a computer was out of stock because the customer did not want to purchase a warranty would be terminated. I can also say that my manager NEVER told any associate to do this and made it clear that the warning in the memo was not just empty words: ANY associate who pulled that unethical crap would be fired immediately.
    Having said that one thing in Office Depot’s defense, Associates are under way to much pressure to sell PPP. It was almost like we were supposed to be insurance salesman, instead of customer service employees. Like I said, the strategy is a failure.
    One final thing, most Office Depot associates and management are honest and unethical. We were all under intense pressure to sell attachments, especially PPPs, but we were instructed to do so ethically. It made for a miserable and insecure work environment, but actual unethical practices were, I believe, few and far between. Associates knew that part of their job was to sell warranties. Any who were unable or unwilling to do so were either eventually fired or quit, but that is not unethical. It sucks, and it shows the total lack of good sense that upper level management at Office Depot has, but it’s not unethical.

  145. formerodassociate Says:

    CORRECTION: Last paragraph is supposed to read “Most Office Depot Associates and management are honest and ethical”, not “unethical”. Sorry bout that

  146. alan Says:

    about two years ago got a rewards card from Office Depot. filled out their form, got their card and made purchases.
    some time later turned in about ten used ink cartridges for credit giving them my card number at the time.

    time goes on. on 5/5/10 turned in sixteen more cartridges. having heard nothing of credit for returns or purchases contacted O.D. cust. ser. and was told that I had just authorized my account early in July and that nothing was credited to my account until I had done so over the interned (which I had to do to access my account). After several minutes on the phone the rep. did find the 5/5/10 cartridge returns and said that they would be credited to my account.

    today my account shows zero! called cust. serv. again and was told that until I made a purchase equalling or exceedin the returns, my account would remain zero.

    I have several of these reward-type cards in my wallet and they all (except O.D.) start as soon as you get the card having filled out the form in the store.

    why doesn’t O.D. operate this way and why don’t they tell you about it?

    answer. they keep the money!

  147. Harley Gal Says:

    I would like to tell EVERYONE out there that reads this…..DO NOT EVER BUY A COMPUTER OR PRINTER from Office Depot and DO NOT PURCHASE an extended warranty. The computer I purchased came with a 1 yr. warranty but the 2 yr. extended warranty I purchased for $119.99 the same day also started that same day. This is FRAUD! And Office Depot are THIEVES! Unfornately, my computer broke. Called to see how do I go about getting it fixed. They directed to their other FRAUDULENT company based in Louisiana Barrister Global Services! Right off the get go they said I physically damaged my computer and my case was closed! What tha hell? After arguing with them for 3 weeks, they finally send a tech out and he determines that my tower did malfunction and needed repairs. 2 weeks later my parts finally arrived and the tech installed them. But………but………my computer is still not right. According to Barrister and Office Depot, they only have to install hard or software. It’s up to me to fix any other propblems!!!!!! I said NO! Absolutely NOT! YOU guys are to fix my computer back to the way it was the day I bought it from the store. They said nope. I have now filed a complaint with BBB in Fort Worth, Tx. and Louisiana against Barrister. I have also contacted Good Morning America, The Today Show, CNN, and my local news stations. If they choose not to fix my computer, then I choose to exploit them so the public will have knowledge of these thieves.

  148. WitnessNthDegree Says:

    Yes, they lie and encourage associates to lie. I work there, but my numbers are not high because I refuse to try to sell things dishonestly to customers especially some of the tech services that aren’t needed. PPPs are offered, I explain what the brochure says they should cover although I’ve been given a script that sounds dishonest. I try to veer as far away from that script as possible and let the customers see the book upfront if they inquire. They get a copy of what the warranty covers, but some are too quick to just some lying associates’ word on the PPP quality instead of reading the book with the contract number used to register the product under the warranty. A lot of smart customers figure out with reading the standard extended warranty information that the PPP is useless or that the PC will be outdated anyway within 2 yrs. Laptops are becoming very disposable these days. I would not buy the PPPs unless it’s some cheap product like a calculator or router with the plan like $22 or less. The place I would is very unethical and a very toxic workplace in terms of stress and how things are run. Turnover is extremely high. If the employees didn’t need a job, they would be gone and some quit inspite of needing the job.

  149. former ODA Says:

    It is very true but not limited to just laptops. Even in copy and print, which is not a ‘sales’ position (as we didnt make commission), would have to up sell chair mats if a customer was buying a char or be faced with warnings/firings. I eventually quit because of this and left copy and print the same day i made a 2000 dollar sale.

  150. David Says:

    I currently work at Office Depot, and this article is true. It does just depend on the salesman who sells the pc to you. If it is a shady cat, then you will be lied to. About the kid who was talking about how they marked down the floor model for him to get the plan, this is just a tactic they use. If you buy a display model, then it is on clearance, and you automatically get 10% off. If the product was used as a display, you get 10% off no matter what, it is our policy. The tactic they use is, if you get a plan or service with this, I can knock 10% off this computer. Sort of shady, but not dishonest. He can knock 10% off regardless. This is why I have told my manager many of times that I want to stay in supplies. You don’t get paid as much, but you also don’t have to be so shistey. This is why commission is a bad idea, and most stores have done away with it.

  151. I hate my job at OD Says:

    I hate Office Depot!!! I work here currently and i hate my job and the department manager in the copy and print counter… when she closes she makes me do her closing duties and bitches if she has to do something her self even if it is 10 feet away from her…her name is Amy Baysinger and she works at Office Depot in Webster, Texas! the store number is 2796!!! So if you go in there and see her then kick her in her nasty ugly cunt…. i hope Amy Baysinger sees this and goes home crying…lol

  152. Common2cents Says:

    Working as a tech, now, with OD, I must say that in an area with numerous OD stores, the tactics to preserve market basket percentages and overall attachment numbers have evolved over the last few years. Now, stores will force PPP’s on customers through pushy sales tactics and tell the customer to just return the PPP if they still do not want it in a few days. When they attempt to return the item, the store will inform the customer that they do not accept returns at their location and will claim that returns are only allowed at one of the other locations in town. This became known to myself and fellow co-workers after another store, which had been doing particularly well, was discovered to have been perpetrating such actions. After about $1500 in returns from a particular store, within a matter of days, we finally encountered a customer who was curious as to why our store was the only store (out of the 5 local locations) that accepted returns. We found out shortly after that this was not the first time the particular store had lied about where PPP’s could or couldn’t be returned.

    After “solving” this issue, the particular store began to utilizes a new tactic. If the customer is not interested in purchasing attachments, they will become incredibly pushy and rude in an attempt to drive the customer out of the store. This results in the customer going to a different OD location, where they end up driving the other stores numbers into the ground. If a customer encounters this situation, the best thing to do is to demand the laptop and refuse to speak to the pushy associate any longer. That way they punish the employee for their lack of professionalism and scrupulous nature. If a customer wants to really get back at them, go to a different store, buy a laptop with the plan the associate at the other store was attempting to push on them and then return the PPP to the store which mistreated you.

    At one point, our store was required to undergo special training, because our PPP and market basket numbers were too low. So, they sent the pride of the company. His store always achieves the maximum percentage for attachment payouts, which is supposedly because of how great of a salesman he is and how well he trains his staff. When our training began, he proceeded to engage in a sequence of role-playing scenarios in which a Utopian type of interaction occurs between himself and his protege (associate from another superstar store.) After carrying on about how every interaction with a customer will just as fruitful as his mock scenario, so long as the associate does their job properly, he proceeded to demonstrate on a newly arrived customer. Of course, he picks out an old, naive woman. He then sells her a computer that is completely over-the-top (3 core phenom – enough said) as well as a $120 service a PPP (I don’t recall the price, but in convincing her to purchase the ridiculously over-priced PC he then caused the PPP to be significantly more expensive) and a year subscription to our tech depot services, which will get rid of any viruses she may encounter. Funny thing is, the woman did not have internet, nor did she want to get internet, and she didn’t plan on taking the laptop anywhere to access the internet. He, however, convinced her that she needed virus protection and additional services in case she somehow contracted a virus.

    Please forgive any typos; I don’t feel like like doing any proofing.

  153. An OMAX employee Says:

    I have never seen this happen during my time at OfficeMax. Yes, I personally, and the store as a whole, are held to account for attachments, particularly to technology items. However, ethics are stressed constantly on both the corporate and store level, not only to build the trust of our customers but because we want to do what is right, and we know that is the way to genuine success. Reading these comments, maybe that is part of why CompUSA and Circuit City are no longer around to compete with us. I’ll be honest — I hate to sell a laptop without anything attached and sometimes I cruse under my breath when I get it out of lockup — but I always get it out, if it is there. I am glad I work for a decent company and a decent manager that wouldn’t tolerate anything else

  154. Current Employee Says:

    I currently work at Office Depot as a sales associate in Tech Depot, and what this article says is pretty true. Store associates are held to a certain attachment value per day for the entire store. So all associates who sell things that get plans all add up together. When someone isn’t selling plans on things, they do get talked to by management, though I have seen that this talking to does actually usually help (Our store now has an inter-associate policy: We announce when we’re getting a plan on something. If it’s not announced, or the customer doesn’t come up to the register with a brochure with an associate’s ID in there, it’s free game for the cashier to get it.)

    I’m lucky in that I’ve never, ever had to lie to a customer about stock, and possibly even luckier that I’ve never had management tell me up straight to lie. I don’t doubt that it happens, though. Our store hasn’t made commission in months, and the last one was just 5%. So I guess the good guys do come in last.

    I will say this, the best route to find out if it’s actually in stock is the computers. Please, PLEASE don’t lie to us. It just turns the day into a downer – even moreso than just saying ‘no’ initially. While normal stock (paper, pencils and such) is usually off due to theft, computers usually have less of an error. Sure, there will be some issues, but if you see a ’5′ in the system saying it’s in stock, it is.

  155. Od employee Says:

    If anyone ever comes across this b.s. and really thinks its true, it’s because it is! We’re so scared to lose our jobs in this country it’ll only get worse, besides auto mechanics have been doing this for years, need an oil change, your spark plugs are going suddenly.
    If you don’t like beig offered a plan or think upselling is annoying?
    BUY IT ONLINE AND STOP RUINING OUR SALES!
    P.s. my last job was at blockbuster, you people had no problem jumping aboard the Netflix and other streaming services putting 100,000 people out of jobs. Don’t worry the Internet or some robot will take your job too one day, you’re not special. You’re just needed a little more than we are…for now. As soon as I hear about a new way to do something, that doesn’t involve humans, I’m there…just hoping its one of your jobs that is taken like mine.

  156. Corey - OD employee Says:

    I do not know about back in 2009 as I just began working for OD earlier this year, but if this was true then it absolutely is not now. In the past several months the company has done a complete overhaul of their business philosophy. Prior to 2012 I have no trouble believing that much of what people are claiming here is true. Sales Associates were very poorly trained so most employees didn’t know what they were talking about with the Protection Plans specifics, i.e. when does it start, what does it cover, etc. This has changed. Associates are much more knowledgeable than before. Also prior to this change, store’s success WAS largely based on the selling of Performance Protection Plans and add-ons. Under the new company business philosophy, store’s success is measured by the percentage of daily traffic through the store that actually makes a purchase and our customer’s feedback. Our goal is to listen to customers’ needs and recommend the product that would best fit those needs, not push products or add-ons based on our own agenda.

  157. ODAssociate Says:

    Agreed with the above poster — I am a current associate and while of course we are under pressure to sell these plans to customers, I have never been told to lie to a customer by anyone, and we recently began a new program to focus on customers in the store.

  158. Devin Says:

    Okay, so attachments and so on are how we make money on the product you buy. but if you leave without virus protection, its 149.99 to fix the virus you procurred and thats cheaper than any Best Buy or competitive retailer. So spending the money with us instead of running to make a deal for yourself by buying on the web, a product that protects you from buying on the web is not only idiotic but problem causing. Now we have the same consumer that wanted nothing in our store, Asking for a refund because he just destroyed his computer within a year. What’s worse is he went through his limited manufacturer warranty and was declined and now I’m feeling guilty for this guy not protecting himself. So now I’m being paid by a company to try and help a customer that thinks that just because he bought a computer from this store with no kind of “attachment” I owe him a service. ON THE COMPUTER WE ALREADY LOST MONEY ON! It gets real old sitting here dealing with this DAILY. Of course I help people and hope they buy the service next time. But if I keep doing it why would they? Not only that, but now that ive worked in tech and see what goes wrong. I buy a protection plan with everything. So you can flip this on us and make us look bad. But when you need the protection dont come crawling back, you had your chance and you you used it to badmouth us. Think of computers like cars, their not steel anymore, theyre fiber glass and ive seen manufacturer dates from 2003 being sold in 2013 by the manufacturer themselves. So keep being smart

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