Office Max Apologizes, Actually Apologizes, For Snooty Manager

The condescending store-manager, irked that your request for them to fulfill their contractual agreement has forced them away from a high-scoring session of Snood. Long have consumers suffered under his reign of caprice and indifference. No longer. A weakness has been discovered. The EECB, a modern version of “taking it to the top.” Jim used it and got not only the rare and magnificent personal apology, but a $30 gift card and he was allowed to make the return he wanted to do in the first place. His story follows.

This is the executive email carpet bomb Jim wrote on 8/30/08.

“Office Max Management Team:

I am writing to inform you of business practices that will be costing you our business permanently. My wife and I have given Office Max tens of thousands of dollars in business over the last few years, and due to very unsavory events that transpired this evening our contributions to your eight-tenths of a percent stock increase today ceases. Perhaps if you were to reign your store managers a little more tightly you wouldn’t have a nearly 7% loss on sales as compared to last year’s quarterlies. However, I’m just a consumer. What could I possibly know?

My wife purchased a Brother color inkjet printer via your online store a week or so ago. The merchandise arrived this afternoon; after a set up and test revealed that we were not pleased with the product, we followed your company policy on returning merchandise and took the printer to our local Office Max location. This specific make and model of printer is carried in your store location at 7980 W Alameda Avenue in Lakewood, CO, and was on the shelf when we returned to the store. If I may, please allow me to cite your returns policy, where I have taken the liberty of bolding text relevant to this email:

If you are not satisfied with your online OfficeMax purchase, simply return it to us in the complete and original packaging (together with all accessories and manuals) with your original sales receipt within 30 days of the date of purchase. We will gladly replace or repair the item, or return your money. Max Choice furniture and any assembled furniture cannot be returned. Electronics items, software, digital cameras, computers, PDA’s and business machines must be returned within 14 days of purchase. Computers, PDA’s, digital cameras, monitors, projectors or software can be returned for a complete refund if the item is in the original, unopened package. Defective items can be exchanged for an identical item only.

We returned the printer to the store, all accessories and packing intact as required, and reached the returns counter where we encountered “Lindze,” a cashier, who informed us that we had to take the printer out of the store again and call the number on the bill of lading so someone could come to our house to pick up the printer. Lindze wouldn’t budge on this, and the printer is in a very large package, so I asked for her manager. It didn’t make sense that we had to return home so someone could pick the printer up there. The store manager of the aforementioned location, named “David,” was dispatched at my request after an obviously off-put Lindze refused to help us with our return. I handed David the bill of lading from the package, informed him of our dissatisfaction of the product, and he stated that this was a “special return” that they didn’t carry in the store. We informed David of the product’s location on the shelf, and he returned after checking our information. David then stated, in an overly condescending tone in front of other customers, “I’ll let you return it this time. This is why we don’t buy things over the internet. You can’t touch them.”

At this point, my wife and I were appalled, offended, and quite shocked that we were just publicly condescended by your store manager. My wife and I have four degrees between the two of us, and frankly, if we wanted to be treated like unintelligent criminal garbage, we’d be pouring the tens of thousands of dollars we have provided for Office Max into Wal-Mart.

After a few minutes of Lindze attempting to enter in our information, she tried to give us store credit for the printer. Neither my wife or myself has any plans on ever giving Office Max our patronage again after being treated like stupid people who are trying to pull a fast one over on Office Max. I informed Lindze that we didn’t want the printer or their store credit, and that we wanted our money back. We were then informed that a “no receipt return” only warranted store credit. But with both of our iPhones displaying the receipt and the bill of lading in the store manager’s hands, we couldn’t understand why we can’t return the item. David then told us “well, if you want your money back, you need to go home and call the number listed on the receipt.” David pretty much passed us off at this point, so we collected our merchandise and left the store. Now we have two more problems – a store manager who recognizes we had a receipt but will still not relent to our request, and the inconvenience of having to waste a half hour of our time travelling to the store, a half hour dealing with David and Lindze, and the three hours in research and writing that went into finding your very elusive email addresses and informing you of this incident.

My wife and I used to shop at Office Max because your stores were relatively convenient to us; we often surpassed more convenient selections of Staples and Target to visit your stores. We’ve been so pleased with Office Max in the past that we have overlooked your inflated prices to shop there. We also both bill several hundreds of dollars for our time, which was wasted by your practices, management, and low level employees. We want this solved right away, and no excuses will be accepted. We have a printer in our possession that does not meet our expectations, no way to return this printer due to the rudeness and blatant disregard for customer concerns that David expressed, and our money in your possession that we want returned to us post haste. I have included all pertinent information as a PDF attached to this email and copied it at the bottom; you might also recognize that even though our printer was delivered and we tried to return it, the shipping status still says “pending.” That confused us very much as well. Let’s hope we don’t receive two of these or get double charged. That will only lead to an immediate BBB complaint and as much consumer advocacy press that I can possibly generate. My wife and I are both heavily involved in online consumer advocacy. We’re beyond appalled by this colossal waste of our time and resources.

I want a call from your executive customer service department promptly and immediately. After that call, which needs to include an explanation of your manager’s actions, rude behavior, why he thought it would be a good idea to publicly condescend us and deny us your own policy, I want to be given specific instructions on when and where this printer will be taken from us and our money refunded. I am copying the online consumer advocacy group The Consumerist as well on this post, and formulating our Better Business Bureau complaint. I will hold off for 48 hours from Tuesday morning at 8am before filing my complaint and contacting every one of our friends at various regional and national consumer advocacy groups across the country about the details of this incident. I refuse to be treated like this by anyone, especially by a company that has been given as much money and time as we’ve given Office Max.

We are patiently awaiting your response. Please don’t waste your time trying to run us in circles; you’ve wasted enough of our time already with this ordeal.”

This is the letter Jim wrote me on 9/07/08:

“Well, I was right. Office Max’s policy is exactly what they wrote on their website, and this was all confirmed. Store 1192 was wrong when they wouldn’t process the online return.

After sending Office Max the EECB, I received an email from the district manager, Kevin, who asked that I call him. A day went by, and I received another email from the district manager asking if he would hear from me that day. I called him the following morning.

Kevin was extremely apologetic, said he was dumbfounded and sorry that this had happened, and that he was having a personal meeting with the “store” manager (whom we later found out was not in fact the store manager). Kevin said he could not believe that the manager and cashier wouldn’t process my return, he was sorry for my trouble, and said that we experienced some “training problems” with a manager who was pretty new in his job. He then asked me what this was all worth to me, and as all I wanted was an apology, I said that I would leave it up to him. He said that he was going to send a $30 gift card for our troubles, and that he was extremely sorry for the whole thing.

Sure enough, I got a $30 gift card, and a hand signed apology from Store 1192′s management. It reads:

Dear {redacted],
My sincerest apologies for your bad experiences at our store. my managers did have a training issue with what to do for online returns. They have been well informed and when the situation arises again we will not make the same mistake. I hope this experience does not completely turn you off from Office Max altogether. We at store 1192 try to pride ourselves with great customer service, but we are only human and do make mistakes and our goal is to learn from them and never make the same mistake twice. My understanding is you are getting the credit back from the printer and here is a $30 gift card for your gas and time spent at our store.

Respectfully yours,

Office Max
Store 1192

Score one for the EECB. Thanks Ben.”

(Photo: Maulleigh)

Comments

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  1. Zephyr7 says:

    “Actually”?
    “Acutely”?

  2. starrion says:

    That appears to be a pretty good response from Officemax.

  3. ??v???ë???v? says:

    “$30 gift card for your gas?” OfficeMax sells gas?

  4. 1,250 words to say the store wouldn’t accept the printer return.

    Just saying.

    Also, am I missing something or does the return policy not mention anything about being able to return online items to the retail stores?

    It sounds like OfficeMax is agreeing they do this, but that’s not what I would get from their return policy as quoted…

  5. gc3160thtuk says you got your humor in my sarcasm and you say you got your sarcasm in my humor says:

    Actually that is a pretty cool end result. The 30 dollar gift card and the apology letter from the actual store’s management is pretty impressive and seems like the proper response. The OP EECB letter could have been shorter but hey it had the desired affect.

  6. EmperorOfCanada says:

    I would imagine they meant the gas he burned driving there. This guy sounds a little self important.. but good on him. Score one for consumers.

  7. lightaugust says:

    Hate to be, you know, this guy, but I’m thinking that an EECB about being condescended to should be a little less, well, condescending. I pretty much stopped reading this one at the second mention of “10s of thousands of dollars,” and “4 degrees between us.” Don’t get me wrong, glad you got your printer returned and all, but I guess I kind of revered the EECB as a formal way to go. Just don’t wreck it for the rest of us, eh?

    • m4ximusprim3 says:

      @lightaugust: @dveight: Thirded. Being wronged does not make it ok to be a douchebag.

      That being said, glad you got it taken care of and all that.

    • homerjay says:

      @lightaugust: @nuttish: SECONDED!
      The OP is a pretentious asshole.

      That being said- he’s still right.

    • kerry says:

      @lightaugust @Elvisisdead: Agreed. I’m impressed by how well OfficeMax handled this, especially considering the condescending tone of the complaint letter. I certainly hope that OfficeMax doesn’t care how many degrees you hold or how many dollars you can bill for your time. Surely every customer should be treated with respect, regardless of their education. Or does this mean that my measly bachelor’s degree and $18/hr wage disqualify me from being treated like a valid person at OfficeMax?

    • MyTQuinn says:

      @lightaugust: That’s about where I stopped reading too. Having the letter read aloud by Jim Backus (Thurston Howell, III – Gilligan’s Island) would just make it perfect! “My wife Lovey and I recently visited your store…”

    • cjdmi says:

      @parkerjh: my thoughts too..

      His letter makes me feel sorry for the manager. So much for treating the customer service with courtesy and respect.

  8. dveight says:

    I am glad to see that Office Max responded quickly and this was taken care of promptly. I cannot see how managers in retail continue to act this way. I can understand when there are times when companies need to stand their ground, but the OP was doing everything within Office Max’s policy. How hard is it for managers and workers to look up their own stores policy?

    Congrats on the EECB working.

    On a side note, lets leave the comments such as “wanted to be treated like unintelligent criminal garbage…into Wal-Mart” off your letters, since there are people of intellegent people do shop at Wal-Mart. FYI, my fiancee also have 4 degrees between us and we occasionally shop at Wal-Mart.

  9. dveight says:

    Oh, forgot to mention in my last post, the OP also writing “wanted to be treated like unintelligent criminal garbage…into Wal-Mart” and stating that they have spent tens of thousands dollars, and having 4 degrees is the one sounding snooty.

    • Elvisisdead says:

      @dveight: Well, for 4 degrees, they suck at math. I’ll take “several hundreds per hour” as $200/hour each. He’s claiming 5 hours wasted, total. That’s $2,000 of billable time flushed down the crapper over a printer that was probably, at most, 1/6 of that amount.

      The other important thing to note is that your personal time isn’t worth what your billable rate goes for, jerk. Personal time is free to you, and unless you were postponing or otherwise not doing work that you were scheduled for, then it cost you exactly dick. The hourly rate thing only works if you’re self employed, anyway. If someone else employs you as a consultant, you only see a percentage of that. I swear, in my time, I’ve seen more AnderPriceDeliotouchebags sound off about their hourly rates when they bring home 25% of the rate. The flipping plumber and electrician make more than you.

      If anything, it’s the opportunity cost of not being able to do something else with your free time. Fro that, $30 is fair compensation.

      • dveight says:

        @Mr. Guy: Don’t think so, last time when public opinion was against a rude OP (see this story: [consumerist.com] Roz came out with the ban/censor stick.

        @Elvisisdead: More like 1/8 the cost of their “time” since the most expensive Brothers ink jet from Office Max online is $229.99

        @JadedScientist: Beat me to it, but yes, Office Max website does state:

        “Products that are purchased online may be returned to an OfficeMax store location for a credit refund. Products may be exchanged if the originally purchased product is in stock at that store location.”

        Gotta love when people try to only use part of the policy when they make a stink.

        Again, Office Max responded great to this, but I now change my stance, Office Max had every right to refuse a refund, and only offer a store credit.

        Jim, don’t try to tell the half truth, and with hold information, because that is just as good as lying.

        • ellastar says:

          @dveight: Though, it doesn’t specify whether it’s a store credit refund or just a refund to the credit card, since online orders can only be payed with some form of credit (credit card, gift card).

          • JadedScientist says:

            @ellastar: Yes, when reading the OfficeMax.com policy regarding returning an item purchased online to a physical store, I can see where the OP could interpret the policy as authorizing a refund, while the store could interpret it allowing a store credit. The store cashier did ultimately offer them a store credit, which they refused, and so it all began.

  10. katiat325 says:

    I never worked at Office Max, but I did at Office Depot, and returns like these were pretty easy to deal with, granted that the item is carried at the store. As for training, knowing people at both OM and OD, training is a joke in most stores. New employees are hired and thrown on the floor the first day, without anything too formal. The EECB was great, but next time, just demand the names and phone numbers of the District and General managers, along with e-mails if can be, and deal with them.

  11. nuttish says:

    How big exactly is the chip on this guy’s shoulder? Does it bear any relation to the size of his ego? The surface area of his diplomas? So they wouldn’t take his return. And there was clearly a training issue in the store. And they were rude to him and his wife. So he spends what looks like it must have been hours writing one of the longest letters I’ve read on this site. And through all of it, he manages to come off as one of the least sympathetic consumers I’ve seen in a while. I’m not “beyond appalled by this colossal waste of our time and resources,” just a little weirded out by people who think the number of degrees they have should dictate how they’re treated.

    Consumerist, I humbly submit that this stuff doesn’t serve you well. There is no shortage of really great stories, both of abuse and great resolutions, involving truly sympathetic people that I sincerely doubt publishing letters from arrogant grievance collectors like this paints the right picture of your consumer advocacy mission. Who threatens a nuclear attack when it’s clear just contacting the right person will solve all your problems. Just sayin’.

    • picardia says:

      @nuttish: I agree that he’s huffy, but the fact is, he was right and the “store” manager was wrong. This is worth printing because it shows Office Max upper management responding quickly and correctly to a problem, not because the OP is Mr. Personality.

  12. steve says:

    Right… I’m glad he was reimbursed; it’s only fair. I just don’t understand why people feel the need to point out that they have a pile of degrees and would otherwise be getting paid a kingly sum for their wasted time. Sorry that not everyone can live up to those standards.

    • samurailynn says:

      @steve: I think the point is that if you typically make $150 an hour, and you spend two hours driving to a store, arguing about whether or not you can return a product, and driving home without returning it, you could have just worked for two hours and made $300. I know that there have been plenty of times that I’ve had to spend way too much time on the phone with some company’s customer service in order to get something straightened out and wished that they would pay me my hourly wages for my wasted time. And I don’t make anywhere near $150 an hour.

      • lightaugust says:

        @samurailynn: So, by that logic, he should have just worked the two hours, bought a new printer at the closer Staples, and pocketed the other 150?

      • steve says:

        @samurailynn: well I get the point, and I actually refrained from getting into cost benefit analysis on my last post, but here goes…

        if someone can get $150/hr, but chooses to spend upwards of three hours researching email addresses, writing this letter, etc, it can only mean two things: either that person does not have work available to do at that rate and as such has free time (which is unpaid, and therefore the person should not talk about the cost of time wasted), or that the benefit of getting the matter taken care of is greater than 150 times x hours spent (i.e., the refund is at least $450, based on your example)

        so I have to assume that this is an expensive printer, which leaves me no other choice but to rip on the guy for being able to afford such a thing

  13. gc3160thtuk says you got your humor in my sarcasm and you say you got your sarcasm in my humor says:

    dveight definitely have to say I agree with you on the whole Wal-Mart bashing deal. I work there and I have my B.S. and am approx. 2 years away from having 2 more degrees if and when I decide to head back to school. But that neither makes me better than anyone else that works there nor does it make me any better than my co-workers. Job market is bad right now and this is a stable and well-paying job. So anyways thank and pz to all!

  14. gc3160thtuk says you got your humor in my sarcasm and you say you got your sarcasm in my humor says:

    anyone else that works there nor does it make me any better than my co-workers.
    Should say:
    anyone else that shops there nor does it make me any better than my co-workers.
    sigh…guess I’m a bit sleepy ;)

  15. VA_White says:

    “to condescend us” ???

    To be condescending, to condescend to us, to belittle us, to chastise us, to scold us, take your pick.

    His letter is twice as long as it needs to be. He is not practiced at self-editing. It’s obvious his two degrees aren’t in English.

    I am glad he got his money back. But before he charges someone else with being snooty, he needs to peek in the mirror first to get a good view of what snooty really looks like.

  16. tom2133 says:

    I agree – the OP was wronged, but some of his language could have been a little less harsh, IMO.

  17. blainer says:

    Since my wife and I only have three degrees between us, would we have gotten a gift card? Perhaps it would have been prorated to $22.50?

  18. LoriLynn says:

    Wow. That letter was unnecessarily mean and, dare I say it?…condescending. Good they got the money back after all the huff and puff and blow your house down. Office Max was crappy, but geez…

  19. egosub2 says:

    Apparently four magnificent degrees doesn’t save you from publicly exposing yourself as a crumb.

  20. nicemarmot617 says:

    I met plenty of jerks like this guy when I worked in retail. I wanted to tell them no, they can’t have their return, but I never actually did it. That being said I don’t see in that return policy anything about returning online items to stores. At least at B&N circa 2000, such things were not allowed as the stores ran on different databases.

  21. deadandy says:

    Agreed that letter was over-the-top, far more so than the actual situation. By time I was done reading it, I was feeling sorry for the poor sap that had to field the letter and then go down to the store to figure out why the hell “David” wasn’t properly trained.

    Chalk one up for lessening the effectiveness of the next legitimate EECB someone has to send to OfficeMax.

  22. smallestmills says:

    One of the best managers I ever worked with was at OfficeMax. He was a very smart man who understood that pissing off customers over little things like internet orders and returns was not the way to run a business. Too bad he didn’t rub off on the rest of the company.

    As for the customer, yikes. Think of what his personal life must be like to cause him to fire off a complaint like that. I’m very happy that a $30 g/c was enough to placate him. His wife must walk around on eggshells.

  23. SkokieGuy says:

    Because Jim’s letter generated results, does not mean is should be a template for a succesful EECB.

    To state that you are never patronizing a store destroys any reason for wanting to assist. If the receiver chooses to assist you anyhow, you’re making them feel like an ass for helping someone who has made it clear that their assistance will be meaningless in terms ‘saving’ a disgruntled customer.

    An educated and cultured person never flaunts their advantages over another. Your spending, your shopping preferences, your degrees, these only serve to lengthen the letter and distract from the main point.

    Since you will likely be corresponding with someone without your same education and background, you are using your complaint letter to make clear you find them ‘beneath’ you, economically and educationally. Jim, this is especially pompous of you when your letter contains spelling and grammatical errors.

    And despite this huge disgorement of words, never do you indicate an actual reason why you are dissatisfied with the printer or your reason for returning it. While that is not required, it might generate a bit of sympathy. It might also dissuade anyone receiving your EECB from thinking you’re a ‘retail renter’ who simply needed to do one night of volume printing.

    An executive, who is not part of the customer service team, receiving an unexpected mass email from an angry person wants to quickly assess the problem, its validity, and a solution.

    • JulesWinnfield says:

      @SkokieGuy: “Because Jim’s letter generated results, does not mean is should be a template for a succesful EECB.”

      I think your comments should be a template for what is contemplated by the comments code. That said, I also think that, in view of the circumstances, none of the comments here runs afoul of that code. The criticism is justified.

      Oh, the irony! A man complaining of condescension shows how condescension should be done. No reason to trot out how many degrees he has (my wife and I have 4 degrees between us – BFD), or gratutously insult people who choose to shop at WalMart. On the other hand, he’s angry, and righteously so. But it’s that vitriol that is the source of what many in this thread find offensive about his letter.

      Here’s a suggestion: write the letter when you’re angry, print it, then put it away. Read it again in a few days. If you see still nothing wrong with it, hand it to a dispassionate, uninvolved friend and invite him or her to critique it. Had this been done here, I think a lot of the crap would have been toned down or omitted. And the final result would have been no different.

  24. coren says:

    Good result, but an overreaction

  25. Mr. Guy says:

    interesting here…. people calling this guy a douchebag, crumb, jerk, huffy, chip-on-his-shoulder, condescending, snooty, etc.

    yet no reprimands from comments moderator roz. no dismevowelment. could the consumerist comments code operates on a sliding scale, where “Don’t attack people. Assume good faith” does not apply when the person is clearly a tool?

    • gc3160thtuk says you got your humor in my sarcasm and you say you got your sarcasm in my humor says:

      @Mr. Guy: Clearly that has to be the case bcuz really now are we all going to come here, read posts, and reply nicely and constructively to pretentious tools? Ummm probably not. As far as I can tell everyone here said great that you got what you think you deserved and they took care of the perceived issue but you my good man are a pretentious tool who thinks he is above many others in this world :) So yeh how can they argue with the correct logic of 25 or so posters ;)

    • SkokieGuy says:

      @Mr. Guy: Funny, I was actually going to ask what you asked. I do agree that sometimes a person needs to be called out on their inappropriate actions or expectations. Merely having a story posted on Consumerist should not confer automatic sainthood for the ‘victim’.

      So, I struggled to comment along the lines of the code and without calling him names (okay I did use pompous), but I framed my comments as a discussion of his EECB letter and tactics and what better strategies I feel would better serve him or anyone attempting to use a EECB.

    • lightaugust says:

      @Mr. Guy: @gc3160 – that homo that u know:

      Honestly, I don’t think it’s so much about calling this guy a tool as it is discussing the general point that when escalating to that level, being a tool is neither necessary nor helpful, and kind of dilutes the pool for everyone else who uses it.

      • gc3160thtuk says you got your humor in my sarcasm and you say you got your sarcasm in my humor says:

        @lightaugust: exactly and the point of my post was not about calling him a tool but rather when the entire posting body of a blog such as this determines that the OP is full of crap or a tool, then how can we can not call them on their crap and I think the rules make concessions for that. Just my guess.

      • Mr. Guy says:

        @lightaugust: You’re right, the comments mostly do (and should) focus on the fact that a stern but not overly mean/haughty letter is the most effective one, but it does seem that some peoples’ reaction here has been simply “wow, what an self-important ass”.

        @dveight: that may be so, but the ban/disemvowel button hasn’t been wielded yet in this case, and there does seem to be plenty of comments that could have elicited a rebuke. In truth, I hope that they are tolerant of people’s honest reactions when somebody writes an effective EECB but also comes off as a completely unsympathetic jerk in the process (just being honest, please don’t ban me, consumerist overlords!). As Skokie Guy said “having a story posted on Consumerist should not confer automatic sainthood for the ‘victim’”

        • dveight says:

          @Mr. Guy: I really hope that is the case, but I’m willing to wager that Roz just has not gotten around to reading this thread yet, and that we will be seeing the ban/censor button used soon.

          But I do agree with you and Skokie, just because someone is a “victim,” it does not make them a saint, and as now pointed out, this guy pretty much lied/weaseled his letter by omitting (and I would say knowingly doing so) part of the return policy.

  26. cromartie says:

    That’s fantastic. I’m still waiting for an apology from those cocksuckers at OfficeMax for yanking their corporate headquarters and 1000 jobs out of Cleveland for no good reason. (Needless to say, like Circuit City, they don’t get a dime of my money).

  27. dlynch says:

    nicely done, jim. cost you some time and patience, but the next guy along certainly won’t have to go through the hassle you did…. at least while this current crop of employees are at store 1192.

  28. gc3160thtuk says you got your humor in my sarcasm and you say you got your sarcasm in my humor says:

    So he forced them to alter the rules for him after all then? Ughhh…I usually don’t say that the consumer is a tool or shouldn’t win but in this case he shouldn’t have gotten anything because the store was clearly following their posted rules. Unless there is a second set of rules they have to use for pretentious tools. Grrrrrr!

  29. gc3160thtuk says you got your humor in my sarcasm and you say you got your sarcasm in my humor says:

    Oh and btw…I meant to add since I work in customer service and have been forced by management to do returns for pricks like this that were against policy but they threw hissy, bitch fits and got their way, it particularly chafes me that this guy did the same thing. Then the ones who understand rules or are quiet and wouldn’t make a scene are turned away when asking for the same concessions. That is such utter bullshit on so many levels!

  30. dohtem says:

    I’m glad the guy got to make his return and was compensated for his trouble. But his letter has to be one of the most pompous condescending things I have ever read.

    Not to insult anyone, but if you actually met someone that spoke like that in real life, you’d refer to them as a douchebag.

  31. Hogan1 says:

    A more down to earth letter may have gotten them more from OfficeMax in terms of compensation. I honestly believe this email was too rude to merit an article. There are better and more effective ways of handing an EECB.

  32. SunsetKid says:

    I had a similar bad experience with a manager. An external hard drive was on sale. I spoke to someone at the store and asked him to hold it for me. I said I would pick it up the next day. When I arrived at Office Max, there was no hard drive. I spoke to the store manager who told me that the person should not have held the item for me since it was on sale. I said that since it was promised, it should have been held for me. In the meantime people were literally screaming for help. I too spoke to the district manager who apologized, had the item shipped to me, and sent me a gift card.

  33. retailguru says:

    This nut has way too much time on his hands. The basic rules of effective complaining are as follows.

    1. Never claim to spend thousands of dollars in a retailer unless you really do, they know the customers who throw around that kind of cash.

    2. Don’t be an a## right out of the gate. Most of the time calm, rational, professional behavior will get you much further with a policy quoter.

    3. Don’t state you’ll never shop there again. EVERYONE says that and 99% of the time they are back a week later.

    4. Realize that you alone are not going to put a multi-million dollar corporation out of business.

    5. They really don’t care who you know or what groups you are a member of, the bottom line, make you happy, throw the cheapest offer at you, and get you back to shopping. You are simply a dollar figure to large companies, probably worth about $2500 per year and thats all they care about.

    That being said, I would bet that apology letter didn’t come from the staff. No HR department in the world would force them to sign it. I suspect the District or Regional VP probably put it together to satisfy some wacko!

    Some people are educated beyond their intelligence level.

  34. mannyv says:

    Whether the letter was haughty or not, it had the elements of a great customer complaint letter. To wit:

    * it said what happeened,
    * it said what should have happened,
    * it said what the customer wanted done to fix the situation.

    And lastly, it worked. There are people who do things on principle, and it sounds like this guy is one of them. It’s not the money that matters; it’s that he was betrayed by a store that he liked and trusted.

    My guess is that he’ll never shop at that particular store again.

  35. Monoplex says:

    If I received an e-mail like this from a patient, I’d send him a refund along with a letter to go find a new dentist. Sorry but IMHO some people’s business isn’t worth putting up with them.

    This writer reminds me of people that want to be addressed as “doctor” in social settings.

  36. dakotad555 says:

    “But with both of our iPhones displaying the receipt and the bill of lading in the store manager’s hands” is my favorite part of this letter. Is 1 somehow better than 2?

    • nsv says:

      @dakotad555: “Look at meeeee! We own TWO iPhones! We’re twice as cool as everyone else!”

      I own no iPhones and still expect to be treated well as a customer. But then, I print receipts and bring them with me. I assume this guy didn’t want his iPhone kept as proof of purchase. And they’re fairly hard to staple to return receipts.

      But they don’t have a printer, you say. They tested the one they bought to see if they liked it. Perhaps they could have printed the receipt then.

      I’m more than happy to pick on incompetent managers, and I don’t like Office Max. But in this case, based on the tone of the letter, I’m not sure the blame lies entirely with the store.

  37. y2julio says:

    iPhone’s count at receipts now?

  38. Roundonbothends says:

    Gee, several hundreds dollars per hour for their time… both have iPhones… they probably have matched Priuses, too.

    When is the world going to wake up to the fact that brick and mortar stores don’t want the crummy returns that their company sold cheapskates over the internet? They don’t WANT it. You, by choice, were NOT their customer, so why should they bend over backwards to help you?

    I can see the store manager’s position. Geez! If they’d purchased at the store and didn’t like the product, the store would have been happy to take the return.

    This is a type of weaker story we sometimes see on Comsumerist. Oh, the indignation! Oh, the inconvenience. Oh, the wrath!

    All stores with websites should make it clear that the return policy only applies to the same conditions in which the sale was made. If online, follow the return policies online. If on-site, follow the return policies at the store.

    It’s not rocket science.

  39. parkerjh says:

    Hmmmm….

    A small problem with attitude and customer service.
    A HUGE problem with an ass hat who thinks he owns the world because of his education, car he drives, phone he uses, etc. Bet if they acted better they would have been treated better. Get a grip loser.

  40. juniper says:

    Yes, definitely a wordy complaint, but…

    If he’s written something simple and used poor grammar and spelling and capitalization, higher-ups may not have even read it or taken it seriously. Realistically, showing that you’re are (over)educated puts you in a constituent bracket that tells them that you have both money and influence. I wouldn’t have gone this far, but he got what he wanted and probably a few burst blood vessels, too.

    I thought the apology sounded sincere, and not a form letter. Bravo.

  41. wellfleet says:

    My favorite is the use of “post haste”. That phrase is really not used enough in everyday parlance.
    But let me get this straight, if my husband and I have 5 degrees between us, shop at Walmart, but do not have iPhones, how much will our gift card be?
    I would never lose a customer over a few bucks, but like another commenter said, some customers are not worth the trouble.
    I tend to not be as disgustingly sweet to people who condescend TO ME! I hate taking online returns because we see none of the revenue and all of the return.

  42. John Gage says:

    Yes, OfficeMax was wrong in how they handled this attempt at a return. However, to mention their large billable hours and four degrees was WAY overboard. That is equally condescending as OfficeMax was to them.

    Their letter could have been much more “short and sweet”.

  43. DanGross says:

    “I want a call from your executive customer service department promptly and immediately…We are patiently awaiting your response.”

    Mmmmkay…

    Someone who understands how to do an EECB, but missed the Post on letter-writing. At the very least, he should have slept on the letter first before hitting (pounding?) send.

  44. mariospants says:

    oh but “frankly, if we wanted to be treated like unintelligent criminal garbage, we’d be pouring the tens of thousands of dollars we have provided for Office Max into Wal-Mart.” is so touché.

  45. Consumerist-Moderator-Roz says:

    Just a reminder, folks, that calling the victim names is not allowed. Constructive criticism is fine – ‘douche bag’ is not constructive and will not be allowed. Folks that cannot post civilly will not post.

  46. austinchu says:

    I love how companies buy you off with gift cards. Yeah, they got their money back, now they have to go back and spend the 30 dollars. I expect to hear another story! I say Office Max got the last punch on that one. Lindze and David are probably stoked to see them again.

  47. lol_wut says:

    What is wrong with shopping at Wal-Mart? I buy my groceries there, and yes sometimes my clothing as well. It’s cheap, it’s fast, and the staff is usually friendly. Honestly, I hardly deal with the staff but in the times I have there have been no cause for concern. (YMMV)

    In reviewing the EECB to Office Max, it seemed pretty angry in tone. I’m sure if I spent the time and money, and put in the obvious sweat equity into obtaining two degrees I would be a bit miffed I walked into a store and was treated poorly. But like a criminal? It has nothing to do with your education and moreso with your intent. Even those with high levels of intelligence commit crimes. We are all only human, and bound to make mistakes. Someone could have very easily read this letter and been put off by it – the holier than thou attitude that could be inferred (whether accurate or not) – and responded accordingly.

    I’m glad the customer got the result they wanted, it probably could have been handled differently, with fewer threats and less emotion in the letter.

  48. tortcat says:

    Well I agree with many of the posters…the OP def has some kind of a chip on the proverbial shoulder.

    After reading their policy I also am “unclear” as to whether or not a online purchase can be returned at the store. Personally if I was the op I’d have taken the return that they were offereing and simply not give the store any more business

  49. brent_r says:

    I can’t believe I’m about to say this.
    (I hate “blaming the customer”.)

    But, to be quite honest, in this letter … the customer sounds pretty damn “snooty” to me.

  50. SuperAdge says:

    Wow. You’re lucky that 1) you belong to a 2 iPhone household and 2) that your household’s 4 cumulative degrees allowed you to write an email condescending enough to get a gift card from a major corporation. I know this is redundant, but coming late to the comments, I still want to say my piece.

    Coming from a retail background (and, um, taking classes to get my 3rd degree, thank you very much), I can say that I would gladly give you a gift card to get out of my store and not perceive yourself to be smarter than me. Most stores, unless they OWN their online store, do not allow for online purchases to be returned in-store. I don’t know (nor do I care) if this is the case at Office Max, but if you spent more time reading the fine print and less time disparaging the people who work there, maybe more commenters would be excited that you “won.”

    In this case, you just make all of us who strive for consumer justice look bad. Ass hat. (Roz – you can delete the vowels from the last two words… sorry, I just got riled!!)

  51. Anonymous says:

    As an Office Max employee, I can see where both the consumer and staff had problems. Both the cashier and the manager (presumably on duty) were not sure how to enter the receipt information for the return into the computer to process the return. (The ‘normal’ receipts have a bar code to be scanned which has specific transaction header information.) This lack of training in no way should punish or affect the customer. I do wish that time was spent better training staff in the actual running of the register program, however, since they pay next to minimum wage for a thankless job of dealing with an irate society, they get what they pay for.

    In turn, the consumer could have effectively circumvented the whole situation by either doing research on the product he was buying or by actually going into the store in the first place to ask questions about the product he wanted to buy. Printers are on display for ‘test’ drives and the staff is actually well versed in sales (unfortunately not the same training with actually running registers…).

    Did I also miss in the lengthy complaint that the consumer complained to Brother for the unsatisfactory quality of said printer? No, I didn’t think so…

    “He who complains loudest gets his way” is not good karma…