Monday, February 19, 2007

OfficeDepot Not Taking Care of Customers

We recently made a new technology purchase at What we purchased and what we paid for it are irrelevant facts in this story. Following are the relevant ones.

We had two options to receive our purchase: next business day delivery or in-store pick-up. We chose in-store pick-up, and made a trip to OfficeDepot today.

When we arrived I went to the register and waited for an Associate who was on the phone with his back to me. When he finally hung up and turned around, he asked if he could help me. "I'm here to pick up an online purchase," I said, presenting the online receipt I printed out from home. Looking at it as if he had never seen one before, he first looked in the area where I assume they hold online purchases for pick-up, then called for a Manager over the Fisher-Price headsets they all wear now.

We waited several minutes, looking at other merchandise while he fumbled around the store looking for our product. This would not have bothered me half as much if I had not called the night before while placing the order and been assured that our purchase would be set aside for us.

When he finally brought our merchandise to the counter, the Associate didn't seem to know how to finalize the transaction without the help of the Manager on Duty -- who just happened to be the same Manager I had spoken to the night before when asking about the online order process. Together, they stumbled through the transaction and presented us with our purchase. Nothing stellar, but not terrible, either.

Then I asked for a copy of the rebate receipt that was advertised online. The Associate looked at me like I had asked him to translate our receipt into Swahili. "You should have printed that online," he said.

That was my first clue that things were going to get worse. Why? Because this "Customer Service" Associate was beginning to suggest that I do his job for him and find the rebate myself online. When I repeated my request for the rebate form (which I had downloaded onto the computer at home the night before), he said he would try to print it for me.

What felt like several weeks later, he returned to tell me that there was no rebate. "That's not what it said on your website," I corrected -- not letting on that I had already downloaded the form at home -- "and it's not what it says on the price tag on your shelf."

He led me to the computer where he had searched for the rebate form to show me that I was mistaken. I searched through the rebates and saw that, indeed, the rebate form I had downloaded at home the night before was no longer available. "It was there last night," I said. "I downloaded it."

"If you downloaded it, then all you need to do is print it out and send it in." I had started to doubt myself briefly, and didn't want to leave the store without the rebate form on the off chance that I had misread what I downloaded.

Instead, I walked to the display shelf, removed the price tag, and returned to the Associate with it. "It shows the rebate right here," I said.

He explained that the rebate was valid for in-store purchases only, not online purchases, then took the price tag from my hand and said, "I'll put this back," walking away to do just that.

When he returned he said I would have to talk to the Manager after he got off the phone. I said, "Bottom line is, we're not leaving here without the rebate form or a refund. But I'll wait to tell your Manager that." Before walking away, the Associate explained that he and the Manager were the only ones working, though there were two other Associates in plain view.

While I waited for the Manager to finish his phone call, I made one of my own to 1-800-GO-DEPOT. It proved to be a waste of time, as one person attempted to transfer me to another and cut me off in the process. In a later attempt to call again, I was informed that to make a complaint I would have to call the corporate headquarters long distance in Del Ray, Florida, but I would have to call tomorrow because there is no one available after 5:00 pm.

When the Manager finished with his phone call, he disappeared into an office out of sight while we continued waiting. And waiting. And waiting. Until finally one of the Associates who was apparently invisible to everyone else asked me if I had been helped. I explained that I was waiting for the Manager, "but he may have forgotten because he went into the office." I asked, "Could you remind him that we're waiting?" Again with the Fisher-Price headsets.

When the Manager finally emerged from the office, he walked the opposite direction, stood behind a display, and had a Fisher-Price conversation with the Associate that had reminded him we were waiting -- which proved that she wasn't actually invisible after all. After being reminded again that we were still waiting, the Manager finally made his way over to us.

I told him there was some confusion with a rebate for an online purchase, and he repeated what the Associate had said, "That rebate applies to in-store purchases only, not online purchases."

"It didn't say that online. I saw the rebate form there," I told him.

"It would be on you to print it out then," he answered, again suggesting that I do the job he was being paid to do.

"You mean if we came here to purchase instead of online, we'd get the rebate?" He nodded. "Can't you return it and resell it then?"

He huffed over to the register and said, "I'll need your paperwork." Thirty seconds later, with a rude "Here you go" dismissal, the rebate form was in my hands and the Manager was walking away.

After so much fuss and stink and making us wait and ignoring us and being rude to us, it took exactly thirty seconds to resolve our issue.

I will be calling the corporate office tomorrow to complain, and the Store Manager (it was an Assistant Manager I dealt with) and the District Manager, as well, to waste their time with my story.

I won't soon be making another purchase of any kind at OfficeDepot, and I wouldn't recommend them to anyone, either.

By the way, when we got home and I looked at the rebate form I had downloaded, I was right -- it said absolutely nothing about distinguishing in-store purchases from online.


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