Sunday, May 1, 2011

Staples - That Was Annoying

I have a loathe/hate relationship with Staples. One way or another, every time I set foot in a Staples location, something will happen that reminds me how much I hate going there, be it the misleading "rebate" policy on items, or as in this last experience, the obnoxious sales pitch for extended warranties on products that really don't need them.

But, I love my mother-in-law, and she needed a new desk. Staples was having a special where if you purchased a desk over $149.99, you got a free chair. It would be a perfect setup for her, as she's been making do with a student desk from probably the '40s or '50s and a wooden stool seat for a while. So, we went to Staples yesterday to look at the desks and see what was what. Joey and I would buy it, and then my brother-in-law and his wife would pay us half back, so the desk would be Mom's Mother's Day gift.

As it turned out, none of the desks at the $149.99 price point and beyond looked like anything Mom would want in her house, and the free chair was pretty crappy. I found a much more comfortable chair for a good price and spotted a nice looking desk on deep discount plus a matching file cart. All together, they added up to the same amount as the other desks, only with a better chair. I was pretty happy with myself at that point, thinking I'd found my mother-in-law a desk she'd like with additional storage and a nice, comfy office chair, and I did it all on budget. Go me!

Then I got to the checkout line, and was forcefully reminded of why I hate going to Staples. When the manager started her sales pitch on the repair and replacement warranty on the chair, I stopped her with my standard question "Have you heard of the Bathtub-Shaped Hazard Function? It means a product is most likely to fail at the start or the end of its life cycle. I don't want the warranty" Granted, this little bit of quality control trivia and the "Five S" method are pretty much all I remember from my quality control class from college, but it's handy for stopping the warranty sales pitches dead, most of the time. Only not this time. The manager kept talking over me and demanding to know what "bad experience" I'd had with a repair/replacement warranty that I didn't want the one she was offering. Aside from the bad experience where an obnoxious manager won't take no for an answer, you mean? Aside from the bad experience that your store is selling things so cheaply that it's attempting to make cash flow from selling me a practically useless warranty on a $100 chair? I'd be willing to pay higher prices on things if it meant that the store employees didn't turn into pushy jerks trying to sell me something I clearly said I didn't want.

So, Staples, thanks for reminding me why I hate shopping with you. I really hope my mother-in-law loves her desk and her unwarrantied chair. If it should fail somewhere in its life cycle, I'll be sure to get her another one - at Office Depot.

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