Will Protection From Paying For Office Depot's Protection Plan Cost You $4.99?

“Who knew that not protecting your purchase would be so costly?” was all John’s e-mail to our tipline said. Attached was this screen capture. When putting an item costing $22.99 in his virtual cart, the site presented him with two protection plan options: two years for $6.29, or no plan for $4.99. Wait, what?

We contacted Office Depot about this questionable pricing scheme, and they never got back to us. Maybe they thought that it was a ridiculous question and that their web site couldn’t possibly be proposing something so silly to customers. That’s what we thought, too, but we tested it on the site with this same product, and there it was. A $4.99 charge to not get a protection plan.

Look closer, though. Selecting the purported $4.99 option doesn’t cost anything. (Indeed, John’s cart total was $22.99.) See that tiny curved line above the first radio button? That’s another radio button, hiding behind the top one. That’s the option for the three-year protection plan. Poor alignment on the site hides this button and its caption from view and misaligns the other buttons.