According to LAPTOP mag, Office Depot has implemented such a stringent sales quota program that the company has essentially broken the in-store laptop buying experience. If you don’t buy accessories and extended service plans, many associates will tell you the laptop is out of stock. Of course, this doesn’t happen at every Office Depot, but LAPTOP writes that they were surprised by the number of similar reports they received of it happening at multiple locations.
They spoke with Rich, a current Office Depot associate, who said it happens all the time at his store:
Rich said that he was always honest with customers but had been instructed to lie about notebook stock both by one of his four store managers and by a district manager.
“I have witnessed lying about the availability of a notebook, and have been told to do so myself,” Rich told us. “Once I was talking to the customer and, while I am actually speaking, my manager comes on the radio and tells me to say it is out of stock if they aren’t getting anything with it.
The company also determines commission based on overall store performance, not individual sales, providing further pressure to game the system as necessary. “One [Product Protection Plan, or PPP] could make or break how the entire store gets paid for commission that week,” says Rich.
According to Rich, the district manager once visited his store and told all the associates to lie.
“We did get told by the district manager one time to talk to the customer, figure out what they want, do your normal sales routine, and figure out what they’re going to get,” he said. “Offer them the PPP. Offer them the TDS and then, if they’re going to get it, go check to see if we have it in stock and, if we do, bring it out to them. If they’re not going to get anything with it, just go check to see if we have it and then come back and say ‘oh, we’re out of stock on it.'”
LAPTOP makes a few suggestions on how you should go about buying a laptop from Office Depot now that you know about the inventory trick, but we think the best approach is a combination of two of them: first use the in-store kiosk to determine for yourself whether or not the laptop you want is in stock, then lie to the associate and say you want a PPP, and change your mind once the laptop is where you can see it. Or just buy your laptop somewhere else.
Read the full article, which has lots more dirt on Office Depot sales practices, along with a “we take this very seriously” non-comment from Office Depot, at LAPTOP magazine.
“Source: Office Depot Associates Routinely Lie about Notebook Stock” [LAPTOP Magazine]