Saturday, January 18, 2014

Why you shouldn't buy from Staples, or how I learned to love Amazon


Amazon crushed brick and mortar stores in sales this holiday season, and there is a very good reason why they have risen to the top of the rankings: People trust Amazon to do the right thing! Customers swear by Amazon, which is in no small part due to their customer service. Their customer service folks go the extra mile, almost to a fault, to do everything in their power to delight their customers. Staples, not so much...

I bought a shredder from Staples on January 12, 2014. The shredder's price had been "shredded" to a low $19.99 for just one day, and I was quick to pull the trigger on the purchase. I received a receipt in email within a minute of clicking, "Buy", and was provided an assurance of a January 14 delivery.

On the 14th, I received a call from a toll free number. An automated voice asked me if I had received my order yet. I hadn't; I was put on hold for the next available customer service representative. 10-minutes of waiting paid its dividends; the representative came on the line and let me know that there was a slight delay in transporting the shredder to my apartment. I was told that the shredder would be delivered no later than the 15th.

I received another phone call last afternoon, the 17th, from Nova Scotia. When I didn't answer, the Staples representative kindly left me a message inquiring whether I had received the shredder or not. I couldn't call the number she left for me prior to the Customer Service desk closing for the night, so I called them this morning. Mind you, it is the 18th now.

The lady on the line informed me that the shredder was "Missing" somehow even though it had departed the warehouse, and that there were no other items in stock to ship my way. She then put me on hold for about 12 minutes so she could determine the next course of action given the circumstances. Upon returning, she told me that all she could do was:

1. Renege on the order and refund the amount I paid
2. Give me a "courtesy" $50 coupon

Shredders on Staples.com run North of $90. Even with her "courtesy" coupon, I wouldn't have enough to pay for a shredder equivalent in quality to the one I bought for $19.99. Ergo, Staples wanted me to shell out another $20-odd quid for a mistake that they made!! How is this good customer service? What kind of retailer doesn't honor a purchase after charging the credit card? A retailer like Staples, apparently.

There is a lesson in all of this: Don't shop at Staples if the item is available somewhere else. And trust me, it is sure to be available somewhere else!