Office Depot Makes Up Lame Excuse To Weasel Out Of Price Match Guarantee

Office Depot didn’t want to accept Chaz’s OfficeMax coupon for $20 off his $259 printer, so they told him that competitor’s coupons didn’t apply to technology purchases, which is an utter lie. Office Depot’s policy is to accept competitor’s coupons, subject only to the terms and conditions of the coupon, a simple concept Office Depot apparently can’t understand.

Dear Consumerist,

I bought an HP printer (LJ M1522nf) at Office Depot yesterday, for $259.99 after $140 instant savings. I attempted to use an Office Max coupon for $20 off a purchase of $100 or more, because Office Depot’s website says they accept competitor coupons. When I presented the coupon to the cashier, it was refused. She said they don’t accept any coupons for technology purchases.

That would have been fine, but I checked Office Depot’s policy regarding competitor coupons again to check the wording, and it makes no mention of excluding technology purchases. Here is what the website says: “Does Office Depot accept coupons from Competitors? Yes. Coupons are accepted in-store only. Acceptance of coupons from the Competitors is subject to the terms and conditions listed on the coupon. Office Depot does not accept Competitor coupons for free/promotional or non-identical products.”

So today I called Office Depot, and spoke with the Manager on Duty. I pointed out the policy on the website, but he still refused to honor the coupon, citing the technology excuse. I said okay, and asked for the General Manger’s name and when I’d be able to contact him (tomorrow at 8 AM).

This is where the story gets interesting. I called Office Depot’s corporate customer service line (1-800-Go-Depot), explained the situation, pointing out the policy on the website, and asked if it was valid for the store to refuse the coupon. The CSR said he’d need to “research” the issue, and came back in a few minutes. He told me that they COULD NOT accept the coupon on technology items. I asked why the website does not specify this, and he said that the website has “not been updated” and they are “working on it.”

Can Office Depot do this? Don’t they need to honor their own terms as stated on their website? I still have a shot with the General Manager to get the coupon honored, but I was hoping corporate would back me up so that I have ammunition when I speak with the GM of my local store. If the GM does not honor the coupon, is there any course of action I can take?

Thanks,
Chaz


Alright, well let’s look at Office Depot’s so-called “low price guarantee:”

Does Office Depot accept coupons from Competitors?

Yes. Coupons are accepted in-store only. Acceptance of coupons from the Competitors is subject to the terms and conditions listed on the coupon.

Office Depot does not accept Competitor coupons for free/promotional or non-identical products.

Office Depot’s policy says nothing about restrictions on technology purchases. Guess what? That means it applies to technology purchases! Go ahead, Office Depot, change your website if you want, but until you do, shut up and pay up.

Low Price “Guarantee” [Office Depot]
(AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)

Comments

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  1. mbz32190 says:

    I used a $10 off $25 OfficeMax coupon on a printer (tech not excluded per OfficeMax either) and the cashier didn’t seem to care…even though this likely made the printer below the actual store’s cost to purchase it. What a shame that stores cannot follow their own policies. Either follow it, or scrap it all together. Something simple as that should not be open for interpretation.

  2. doctor_cos wants you to remain calm says:

    Office Depot’s own coupons always exclude ‘Technology’ purchases, which is beginning to inlcude everything in the middle of the store (phones, cables, cameras, anything that has anything to do with a PC, etc.). So I am not surprised they would not honor a competitor coupon on ‘technology.’

    Hey, that’s what you sell, isn’t it? Not like the 10% coupons from BB whose exclusions I understand (Bose, Krups, etc) because you’re not excluding half the store from the coupon!

  3. newfenoix says:

    I find it strange that the ONLY company that I have dealt with that will accept competitors coupons is, of all places, Wal Mart.

  4. bvita says:

    I’ve had the same problem with Office Depot honoring their own coupons. About 2 months ago I showed up at the local store to purchase some paper that was on sale. I had a $20 coupon with me that I couldn’t use on the paper since it was already on sale.

    I opted to use my coupon to purchase a heavy duty paper shredder for my office. It was about a $200 unit and the $20 coupon would have been a nice discount. When I got to the register they refused to take it because it excluded “technology”.

    Ok, I can accept that they wouldn’t take the coupon on a computer or monitor because the margins are so low but to consider a paper shredder – a machine with a slot and rotating knives, technology, is a bit of a stretch. I was told by the cashier and later the manager that anything that plugs in is considered “technology”. Wow. That electric pencil sharpener and desk lamp are really high tech.

    Frankly, that experience soured me on Office Depot. I will buy paper from them because of the high shipping weight when its on sale. Anything else, I’ll buy online from someone else.

  5. LJKelley says:

    @newfenoix:
    Yes people like to give Walmart a hard time, but I will say I have always been treated correctly in regards to their policies. That doesn’t excuse them for bad behaviour but its much better than shopping at places like BestBuy that refuse to be held on their own policies or what one person tells you on the phone.

  6. 2719 says:

    Coupons are useless. Stores like OfficeMax always exclude technology. Some other stores do it too. That’s why I never shop there anymore.

    Save 10% in store! Followed by a huge amount of fine print… Oh and let’s not forget the fact they have HUGE markups anyway.

    You need to accept the fact that most coupons are simply there to get you to the store. No real savings anyway. So stop whining about it and move on with your life.

    Oh and the ONLY recourse you can take is stop shopping there! Your other option is to get an attorney and spend a lot more money for that $20 coupon. Companies know this and that’s why there is nothing you can do but boycott the store.

  7. newfenoix says:

    @LJKelley: I agree. I don’t like Wal Mart, but they do stick to their policies for the most part and if you do have some moron that doesn’t, it is usually a very quick fix.

  8. ???/??? says:

    2719, what do you mean ‘attorney’

    What you should do if it concerns you enough is contact your County Consumer Affairs department. They’re the ones that handle all claims of business that operate within your county.

    Then, you can take them to small claims court for the amount difference and for the court cost. It’s an easy win, and more then likely, no one from Office Depot will show up.

    and I have to agree wtih new fenoix, Walmart is VERY gracious when it comes to customer serivce

  9. homerj says:

    Really piss them off by getting 999 more coupons, then going to the customer service desk and try and get your penny for the “cash value” of the coupon.

  10. MonkeyMonk says:

    I’ve had similar problems with using coupons at Office Depot (not to mention some of the worst cashiers in retail) and as a result I just don’t shop there anymore. Why do stores offer coupons and then make them so hard to use? Don’t they realize it just pisses off customers even more?

    Now, I get all my computer paper and computer supplies at MicroCenter and they often beat the prices at Office Depot any way.

    If I was the Chaz I would have left the printer on the register and just gone to Office Max instead.

  11. WindmillTilter says:

    That printer is available right now for $199 after MIR from HP direct:
    [www.shopping.hp.com]

    So forget Office Depot.

  12. Skipweasel says:

    @WindmillTilter: I had to go look up MIR. We don’t seem to have stuff like that in the UK. Is it some sort of US tax avoidance thing? It seems unweildy and just plain tedious.

  13. sleze69 says:

    @bvita: You are doing a disservice to smaller, regional paper companies when you continue to use the large wholesalers like Officemax.

    You would do better going with Dunder Mifflin if you live in the Northeast. Here’s the website: [www.dundermifflin.com]

  14. christoj879 says:

    @WindmillTilter: The reason people are clamoring over this printer is because (and I’m not sure where I stand on it, I don’t want to risk $200 right now) there’s a $200 rebate you may be able to get on it, dropping the price to $60. The OP was trying to get the printer for $40 after rebate. There’s a huge discussion on SlickDeals about it.

  15. @Skipweasel: Haha. Lucky you.

    As far as taxes go, actually we pay more tax with the rebate because we have to pay it on the full purchase price. Assuming an 8.5% tax:
    Total before rebate: $1000
    Tax: $85
    Rebate: $900
    Your Cost: $185
    Compare this to the $108.50 you ought to be liable for in that case. I guess that’s one more reason we have them–lawmakers know it increases their tax revenue artificially.

    The MIR is basically a simple scam that stores use to legally advertise a low price but only have to give that low price to a small percentage of purchasers. Because most people don’t remember to send them in, and maybe half of the ones that do, get “rejected” because they didn’t follow the rebate rules correctly, or more commonly, because the rebate processing house SAYS you didn’t, or that they didn’t get your rebate, and there’s nothing you can do about it since there are no second chances seeing as how they require your ORIGINAL UPC cut from the box, and sometimes the original receipt too. No copies allowed, of course.

    The rebate processors actually advertise themselves to the stores/manufacturers based on how low their redemption rates are. “Use us to offer rebates! We promise only 4% of your customers will get their promised rebate!”

    Can you tell I hate rebates?

  16. Skipweasel says:

    @West Coast Secessionist: Sounds like the Airline Ticket Price scam over here. The advertised price isn’t anything like the one you end up paying – they tack on all sorts of junk as it goes through the process.
    The EU are getting very hot under the collar about it and new rules mean that by some time next year the advertised price must be the one at which you can actually take off.
    Ryan Air are going to hate it!

  17. rellog says:

    @2719: Well, he could file a small claims. Per THEIR terms, they should be accepting the coupon. I’m guessing the store a manager would simply cave before ever wasting time on a $20 coupon…

  18. sn1per420 says:

    This happened to me about 6 months ago. I wanted them to accept an office max coupon, but they refused, giving me the same excuse. So I just drove a bit further to office max, got them to price-match Office Depot’s price, and used the coupon.

  19. I hate rebates. I can’t count how many I’ve sent in over the years and they NEVER pay them. I follow the instructions to the letter, keep copies, and write follow up letters and the companies always find some way to weasel out of paying them… or they just say they didn’t receive it. It’s not worth the time, effort, and aggravation.

  20. shadowboxer524 says:

    This is Chaz. I ended up going to another Office Depot in the area yesterday and used a different Office Max coupon without issue. This coupon was specifically for tech purchases (computers, printers, digital cameras, etc.) and saved me 10% (read: >$20). Needless to say, I’ll be shopping at this Office Depot from now on.

  21. I send rebates certified mail, and take pictures and make copies of all forms before and after i fill them out, makes the entire process much easier

  22. Shrink_Ray_Bandit says:

    This seems related, also from office depot website.

    How does Office Depot calculate its net price?
    Office Depot’s net price is the final price that you pay after using any coupon offers, instant savings, and mail in savings offers. For example, if we sell a product for $10, with a $2 instant savings offer and $2 mail in savings offer, our adjusted “point of sale” price is $8, but our net price is $6.

    So then, if it was already $100 off, wouldn’t that mean they are already beating the Max price, even without coupon? And then wouldn’t qualify for price match because the OD deal was already better?

  23. crankymediaguy says:

    What does “technology” mean in this context? Everything in the store required technology to manufacture it. Is a ball point pen “technology?”

  24. BoomerFive says:

    I worked at OD for 3 years and we always took competitor coupons. This must be a new policy. I understand it in a way though, the margin on technology items is usually much smaller than anything else.@crankymediaguy: I think you know what “technology” items are. “Technology” is a department in OD where they have neat stuff like printers and computers and software.

  25. mike says:

    A little off-topic but I want to see if there others that wonder about this:

    LL Bean has one of the best guarentees:

    Our products are guaranteed to give 100% satisfaction in every way. Return anything purchased from us at any time if it proves otherwise. We do not want you to have anything from L.L. Bean that is not completely satisfactory.

    They’ve been able to make this work. Why is this not a standard practice? Now, businesses, feeling the pinch like everyone else, are trying to cut costs. But lying and making coupons “invalid”? That’s a new low. Be glad that this person was willing to come to the store!

  26. testingdude says:

    Contact corporate:

    2200 Old Germantown Road
    Delray Beach, FL 33445
    (561) 266-4800

    Ask for the Legal Department…

  27. DraconWolfX says:

    And people wonder why OD stock has dropped from over $40 down to $8?

  28. rgoomer says:

    I had this same issue. Had a huge argument with the General Manager of the store. Finally after she gave me every excuse under the book… I had their own terms and conditions printed out to refute every one of her statements… she said she just won’t do it and told me to call corporate. I called and the customer service there said the same thing. They finally forwarded me to the office of the Chairman. I spoke with one of the representatives there and she was very nice and said she would take care of it. I faxed her everything and she said the store should contact me within two days. We’ll see what happens. Its not that they should honor competitor’s coupons, its that they don’t even abide by their own terms and conditions. I’m a paralegal so I pulled out the legal jargon and I think it scared them :P I wanted to use the 10% friends and family Office Max coupon on a laptop I bought a few days earlier.

  29. OtakuboyT says:

    I work at Office Depot and I get customers bringing in OD coupons and don’t read that it excludes tech (my department). I tell them that we take OfficeMax and Staples coupons (since there coupons don’t exclude tech. Heck, I signed up with OfficeMax and Staples just to get their coupons so I use them at work.

    That’s how I got my laptop ^_^.