Staples Never Thought You'd Actually Try To Buy A Camera From Them

Nessy recently tried to buy a new camera from a Staples store in Burlington, Vermont. She discovered some pretty interesting things about this particular store. For instance, no they can’t put fresh batteries in a floor model! Okay fine, they’ll do it, but it takes a manager and two employees–yes, three people!–to insert fresh batteries. Also, did you know that if a floor model isn’t working, you can just check out a different model from the same company, because everything is the same? No, you say? That’s stupid? Well, maybe that’s why Nessy ended up buying the camera from… oh no… you’ll have to read it for yourself.

Here’s Nessy’s story:

Due either to the fact that I’m a very polite person or the fact that I’m a poor college student (you know, take your pick), I normally don’t have much issue with buying things. Recently, though, I finally saved up some money and went off to buy a camera. I’ll be going to China soon, not to mention I’m starting up a small business, so it seemed prudent. Now, like most young people, I could just go onto the internet and buy one that way… or I could go into an ACTUAL STORE! I uh, chose to go into the store. I headed to my local Staples up here in the frigid northlands of Burlington, Vermont, taking a friend for amusement.

Once there, we investigated the cameras, doing what one does. To my woe, there was one camera that seemed absolutely fabulous- but its batteries were, literally, dead. Aha! I said. I’ll go find a store associate and get them to replace the batteries. I found a gentleman and asked him to do just that, to which he responded that I should just look at another camera of the same company, because the menus and UI were the same. (In retrospect, this is completely untrue.) Not wanting to cause a fuss, I did just that, and found it not abhorrent. But! If I wanted to buy that other camera (a Canon PowerShot SX120 IS), I wasn’t about to take the laziness of some guy as my validation. I wanted to see how the camera looked in action.

I found another sales associate entirely and asked HIM to put new batteries in, eventually succeeding in convincing him to do it. That began a 20-minute period where the store manager came over, along with the ORIGINAL sales associate AND the one I had asked, and together they struggled to change the batteries. In all fairness, it involved unlocking something and somesuch, but. Yes. Apparently the answer to the age-old joke of ‘how many Staples employees does it take to change the batteries’ is ‘three’.

Finally! I was able to actually see the camera I so desired in action. Finding it good, I went to find the first sales associate again in order to purchase the camera in question. While he walked off to go get one, he told me- didn’t ask, didn’t request, didn’t even suggest- that I would buy a memory card for my camera, and to buy a certain one. While my friend and I conversed to each other quietly on the (lack of) customer service in this location (no chance of him overhearing, as I was speaking Chinese and she German), he realized that they didn’t even have the camera in stock. “All right,” I said, “how about you sell me the floor model?” “Not unless it’s discontinued,” retorted the manager.

Thus began another ten minutes of the sales associate trying to convince me to go to a store in a nearby town. “They’ll hold it for you there,” he said. “It’s not an option,” I said. “You’ll still get the rebate if you order it through this store,” he said, making it seem rather like it was a Staples discount exclusively. (There was a $50 manufacturer’s discount on the camera.) “It doesn’t matter,” I said. “I’m looking for a camera this weekend, otherwise I would have just gone online.” “Well, there’s also the store two towns down,” he said. At this point I was completely bewildered. “I can’t make it to the store one town down, how would I get further out?” Apparently he was concerned that I had issues with the staff in the next town down. Nice to know that Staples personnel are speculating on my interpersonal relationships when I come in to buy a camera.

Unwilling to deal with this nonsense any longer, I left, and my friend and I reflected on the sheer inanity of the hour we’d just lost. Ultimately, I went and bought my camera at Sears, and, yes, not only got the discount but was helped by a very nice salesman that was willing to lead my lost self to the pickup zone.

I’m writing not for some sort of action, but to mention the sort of inanity that apparently seems to go on when a college student comes in to buy a $250 ($200 with rebate!) camera.