Use An Online Coupon With In-Store Pick-Up And Get Tossed Out Of Office Depot

Reader Jason writes:

So besides your site, Lifehacker, and a few others, I also follow The other day there was an Office Depot item, where you could buy an office chair, set it for in-store pickup, and if your order was over $50, you could use a coupon to take an additional $20 off. Sweet. I placed my order and went pick it up today.

When my turn arrived, I stated I would like to pickup my order I placed online and the clerk asked for my name. When I gave her my name, her attitude changed from pleasant to “Red team Go, Charlie in the trees.” She actually turned away from me, leaned over, and whispered in their little knock-off FBI headsets. She turned back around and said I could not buy the chair unless I had the coupon. I explained that the coupon was entered online and that why would I bring a coupon if the system accepted it and took my order. I also stated that it did not say a coupon was needed.

So we went back and forth, I maintaining my cherub like demeanor.
She again used her FBI ear piece, this time calling a manager, and he was as helpful as well….he wasn’t.

They could not give me an answer as to why I needed a coupon if it was placed online.
Love not getting what I ordered.
Love being treated like a criminal.

From the looks of the thread over at Slickdeals there were quite a few people who were treated the same way. One guy was accused of calling people and telling them about the coupon. Oh no!

Bloomington, MN manager seemed pretty upset. Wanted to know if I called a bunch of people about this. Ha! Thanks Slick Deals!

Other people had no problem at all:

There were three others sitting by mine with pens/rulers on them when I went to pick mine up. All the invoices said MUST HAVE COUPON. The gal asked if I had mine I said that I didn’t know I needed it. She slid my cc and off I went.

We examined the coupon and it does say that the “original” needs to be present, but since it was apparently an emailed coupon with a coupon code… we understand how people were confused. Heck, we’re sort of confused.

Slickdeals says that Office Depot has deactivated the coupon code… but we suppose you could try to print it? Just for kicks? You might run into the delightful employee described here:

Went to pick up mine today. Asked for the coupon (shown). The sales then proceed to show me some kind of office depot memo:

“We don’t accept that coupon.”


“It’s been posted on fatwallet, I think you know what I am talking about.”

Curse you, Internet!

DEAD (now $40): Office Depot High-Back Leather Chair or Fabric Chair $30 with instore pick-up [SlickDeals]


Edit Your Comment

  1. DMDDallas says:

    So do these companies actually want to sell their products? Rather puzzling behavior.

  2. Jon Mason says:

    What is it with stores that print/give out coupons and then don’t want to accept them? As I said in another thread – isn’t the entire point of coupons/promotions to take a hit in the actual profit in the hope of increasing the volume of customers coming in?

    Unless people are bringing in 10 coupons at a time and gaming the system, what is their problem with just accepting the f’ing coupon.

    You would think that businesses would be aware of the existence of the internet/photocopiers and only give out deals they know won’t hurt them too much.

  3. mantene says:

    Ah, the internet age, where you are a bad consumer regardless of what you do. Use a coupon, get treated as though you did something wrong! I love it. It gives me faith that one day we will end up destroying ourselves and my fantasy of a real-life Fallout 3 will come true!

  4. B says:

    This reminds me of that Starbucks coupon thing. Sounds like they intended the coupon to be just for select customers, but thanks to slickdeals, they got a lot more responses than they expected.

  5. Randy says:

    Doesn’t say anything about being “tossed out”. Misleading headline. Tsk. >:

  6. DeltaPurser says:

    I’m confused…

    The first line on the coupon states you must bring in the original coupon to the store when you redeem it. I’m assuming it’s to avoid people using multiple coupons. Sooooo…. why would this NOT apply to the OP? Even though a coupon code was accepted online, you still have to surrender the coupon when you pick up the item, right?!

    What are you whining about?!?!?!?!??!??!?!?

  7. ClankBoomSteam says:

    What the hell is it with these companies? They think they can advertise sale prices and offer coupons to the public, but when too many people for their taste decide to take them up on what they’re offering, they cry foul or pretend that their offer doesn’t apply to the customer(s) in question?

    HEY, OFFICE DEPOT (and all your ilk): YOU’RE NOT FOOLING ANYBODY. Sooner or later, you’ll be legally forced to keep up your end of the deal, no matter how distasteful you find may it. Until then I’ll simply not spend my money in your stores.

  8. mantene says:

    @CLANKBOOMSTEAM – My guess is that is THAT ever becomes law stores will just stop having such deals or just making really really crappy ones.

  9. Buran says:

    “No, I don’t know what you are talking about. The system accepted the coupon.” (followed by me calling corporate on my cell right in front of them).

  10. ptkdude says:

    So, they don’t want people telling other people about their coupons, but then they want us to tell all our friends about how great their stores are. I’m confused.

  11. bohemian says:

    It was the companies screw up. If they didn’t want the coupon to be used online, but wanted it only used with the physical coupon it was up to them to properly set up the system. IE: don’t put a coupon code on an in store coupon.

    What burns me is that THEY didn’t think through their promotion then treat customers like criminals.

  12. Greasy Thumb Guzik says:

    Office Depot also refuses to let you use any $3 coupons that you might have from returning an empty printer cartridge for a ream of paper anymore.

  13. HalOfBorg says:

    If they’re going to email you a coupon, why doesn’t it have a code number that is tied to you? Your email address maybe. And it can only be used ONCE.

    Problem pretty much solved as long as their database updates fast.

  14. frink84 says:


    the internet doesnt exist, it is just a series of tubes, not meant for the transfer of information

  15. jtheletter says:

    What I don’t understand is why these stores don’t make each coupon code unique if it’s an email-only coupon? I can understand that they may want to make such a discount available only to select customers – a perk of being a big account maybe – but there are ways to do that and yet they don’t. Instead they email out a generic coupon to thousands of people via the internet and are then surprised when it gets posted … on the internet.

  16. Sherryness says:

    The internet doesn’t kill people; guns kill people.

  17. joemono says:

    Who was tossed out?

  18. chemmy says:

    First thing I saw was that you need the coupon when you redeem merchandise or something like that…

  19. tomok97 says:

    If it was an e-mailed coupon, how is there an “original”?

  20. bravo369 says:

    This is funny. They offer a coupon but then try not to honor it because too many people used it. Didn’t a rebate company get sued for trying not to honor rebates after too many people submitted them?

  21. morganlh85 says:

    Why do they make coupons if they don’t want people to use them? They do realize that there are a LOT of people using the internet these days, don’t they?

  22. ClankBoomSteam says:


    I’d be just fine with doing away with the hit-or-miss “offers” these companies make, considering they only honor them about half the time anyway. I’d rather know that their prices, as advertised or posted, is what I would be paying, even if that meant no more sale prices, ever. Getting rid of the frustration, indignation and outrage I associate with a trip to the store (!) would be well worth the loss of an occasional, marginal savings.

  23. SayAhh says:

    I NEVER go into Staples, Office Max, Office Depot, etc. just because I found a coupon. Not that they won’t honor it, but because I don’t want to shop there needlessly: I go to OfficeMax to buy rubber thumbs because it’s right next to my local Trader Joe’s where I often shop. That said, I always have to do a price check at the cashier because the scanned price never matches the one on the shelf…

  24. deleterious says:

    @jtheletter: Exactly! It seems like if they only want certain people to use this coupon, they could easily make the coupon specific to the user’s store credit card/rewards card information.

  25. tom2133 says:

    Reminds me of when I worked for Sports Authority. We used to give out Friends and Family Coupons, and they showed up on the internet, all over the place. Did we complain? Nope. We accepted them. It mean REVENUE. Depending on the mood of the manager, the exclusions were ignored just to get business.

    I was a little pissed off though when someone brought an online coupon code from to use in the store that was the employee discount code for employees. But they did manage to fix the problem, so each employee number is their discount code.

  26. BugMeNot2 says:

    woohoo for fallout 3

  27. Geekybiker says:

    Ummm once they take your CC, isnt that item legally yours anyways?

  28. failurate says:

    @frink84: What are you talking about?!? The internet is a truck.

  29. lemur says:

    I had a similar problem with Pizza Hut. I ordered online for a pickup. There was a coupon on the web site so I used the coupon. There was no warning or information that I had to print the !@#$!@ coupon and bring it with me. We go pick up the pizza and the cashier says I must have the coupon. I talked to the “manager” too and that did not help one bit. The two jackasses were looking at me like I was an idiot for not printing the online coupon… except that anywhere else where I’ve ever used online coupons, you just put in the coupon code when you check out and you’re done.

    As far as I’m concerned, that kind of rigmarole is just another corporate scam.

  30. ahhhh this is a love/hate thing for me. I am a regular on SD and here, and as much as I love SD spreading to more people (in a sense), it pains me to see people use and abuse SD without knowing what and what not to do (i.e. call the store, mention SD to csr/manager (big no-no) , etc

  31. elislider says:

    Slickdeals basically rocks my socks… that plus Consumerist and I enjoy my days…

  32. Phildawg says:

    Yea but these guys on FW and SD really do exploit the system to their advantage. Check out the ever present manipulation thread where you can knock and easy 500 dollars off your HDTV by manipulating several customer service associates.

    Honestly what they do is criminal. Generally these coupons say that they cannot be sold/given away yet it happens every day all day.

    Most feel this is getting back at the ‘man’, and in many cases it is! But we really can’t scream fraud when you don’t have an exactly clean conscience yourself.

  33. XTC46 says:

    @Geekybiker: nope, most places take CC to reserve the time not to actually take payment, just like car companies do.

  34. e-gadgetjunkie says:

    Having worked at Office Depot, I can explain this. Corporate hates it that coupons get spread around. They do all kinds of things to keep this from happening to having special codes on all coupons to having coupons that are only usable at certain stores.
    What drives stores nuts is that online, yeah, you can just enter the code, but the store is also still required to collect the coupon. However, no where online does it say that.
    The second problem is that sites like fat wallet sometimes seem to just post random codes and wait for one to work.Since each store in responsible for earnings, individual stores have to keep an eye on it themselves. fishy coupons cause huge problem for managers and then they get yelled at by loss prevention.
    So don’t blame the poor hourly employees. They’re overworked and underpaid and tend to take out frustrations on difficult customers. Blame the horrible corporation with its inconsistent policy. I could write a book about the horrible policies of Office Depot.

  35. coan_net says:

    OK, let me see if I can get this story correct.

    Office Depot e-mailed a coupon to some of it’s customers.

    This coupon was not transferable, and the coupon must be present to the cashier in the store.

    Someone who got this coupon decided to “transfer” it – share it with the world at a coupon/deal site.

    So right there, the deal of the coupon was broke.

    Sounds like Office Depot was still nice enough to accept the coupon as long as it was presented at the store at pickup. Sounds pretty nice of Office Depot to at least accept the deal for some who obviously should not have gotten the deal.

    Sorry – this sounds like a case of customers trying to take advantage of something they should not have been. It’s people like that who make it hard on us honest people.

  36. rjhiggins says:

    Perhaps I’m dense, but the first line of the coupon says, “Must present this original coupon to cashier in store at time of purchase.”

    Is there something unclear about that?

  37. Zimorodok says:

    “Excuse me, you with the headset. Could you write down your first & last name, your manager’s first & last name, and your store number here? …What for? …Well I’m on hold with my credit card company and they’re going to want that to file the chargeback. …Yeah, you go get the manager now.”

    Sounds like fun!

  38. Bladefist says:

    consumerist, i laughed out loud when I read the title of this article. Sweet.

  39. Jordan Lund says:

    When K-Mart refused to honor the 20% off coupon that was bouncing around I took no prisoners and contacted my state attorney generals office.

    What most folks don’t know is that there are certain legal guidelines for advertising and, yes, coupons are advertising. If the store doesn’t honor the coupon send a copy detailing your experience to your local AG’s office.

    I ended up first getting a call from Sears corporate offering me 10% off. I asked them why I should settle for 10% off when the coupon they are legally obligated to uphold said 20% off? They then asked me what I wanted to buy that I was rejected on. I told them a $500 Playstation 3.

    A few weeks later I get a letter in the mail apologizing and it included a $100 gift card.

  40. lemur says:


    Perhaps I’m dense, but the first line of the coupon says, “Must present this original coupon to cashier in store at time of purchase.”

    Is there something unclear about that?

    Here’s the problem: the legal language on this coupon is clearly designed for in-store transactions but coupon is accepted for performing a purchase online. It is okay for Office Depot to issue coupons that work only in store but if they issue coupons that work in store and online, they have to make sure that their legal language makes sense.

    The way it is framed, the only way to comply with the coupon while putting in an order online would be to place the order while being physically present in the store (bring your laptop I guess) and at the moment you click the final button to place the order, find a cashier to give the coupon to. Because you see, ordering at home and then bringing the coupon when picking up the order is not good enough meet the obligation to present the coupon at time of purchase.

    Heck, I wonder what happens if someone wants the item delivered? Is Office Depot going to call them and ask that they mail the coupon?

    Moreover, I maintain that in this day and age it is not hard to tell your customer when they finish an online transaction that they need to bring the coupon with them when they pick up the item. I really don’t care what the print on the coupon says. If the retailer wants you to bring a coupon but does not give you a big fat notice when you check out that you need to do so then that’s in the same category as mail-in rebates or all the other “gotchas” they establish to wiggle out of their obligations.

  41. jpleonard says:

    I am the guy who wrote the article. Just wanted to clear up some things:
    1 – I understand if I was walking in to buy the item, that the coupon was needed. Heck, I could have had it shipped to me and not had this problem, although the discount might have been different.
    2 – When I placed the order, the system took the coupon, validated it, but it did not state anywhere on the invoice, which lists the coupon used, that I needed to bring it in.

    I see the other side to the story, but if they wanted me to bring it in, even when I placed an order online, then it should have been stated.

    I also sent an email to OP customer service, but you know how those things go.

    What ticks me off is that they still made the coupons invalid, even if you bring it in, before the expiration date. They want it both ways, which is why mos people turn to online shopping with other companies.

    The attitude of the clerk and the manager was the worst thing about the entire situation.

    Thanks for all the feedback, my side or not.

  42. forgottenpassword says:

    YEP! You are thought of as somehow trying to rip them (the store) off in their eyes when you attempt to take advantage of some special fluke of a configuration of coupon, sale, & serious discount!

    I can ttell you how annoyed I get when I & my coupon are scrutinized when I come to get that rare great deal. The cashier always has to call management or just err on the side of caution & tell me that I cant do what I was wanting to do (because of some fictional rule she just made up in her head on the spot to justify her decision).

    About a month ago I had one low-on-the-totempole management supervisor say that I couldnt use a coupon unless I jumped thru some pain in the ass hoops. This is because I had come in before with the esxact same coupons to get the same deal & got it (this was a period of over a month’s time). Somehow they thought I was taking advantage & decided to make up some bullshit rules to prevent me from using the coupon & getting the discount. So…. I contacted their corporate cust. service & made a complaint describing my situation. I recieved a phone call the next day & was told that I was in the right & that the supervisor was in the wrong & that the management of that particular store would be “set straight”. The next time I went in to use the coupon I was treated well & got it.

    Savvy consumers who take the time to find, search to get that extra-special great deal should not be treated as if they are somehow “scamming the system” when they do everything technically right they are supposed to do to get deal. Its like those ladies who use so many grocery coupons in combination with sales, discounts & the stores own coupon-doubling policy & walk out with $100 worth of groceries for about 10 bucks. They did everything legal & if a grocery store decided NOT to allow her to do this then THeY are in the wrong.

  43. jpleonard says:


  44. stevegoz says:

    @Greasy Thumb Guzik: I think they figured out that giving you $3 off or a free ream of paper that they charge nearly six bucks for was leading to people opting for the paper when they brought in their dead print cartridges. Sweet, sweet recycled paper.

    Last time I cashed in a cartridge, I bought what should be a lifetime supply of staples — 25,000 of them. My heirs will get to enjoy them too.

    Office Depot and Office Max have both managed to lose me as a customer in the past few years due to the dopiness and rudeness of their customer service staff. I think this week it’s Office Max that I’m boycotting, but it’s hard to keep track.

  45. KogeLiz says:

    bad headline, pals.

    i don’t understand this either. I never understood when companies treat you like you have the ‘nerve’ to use their advertised coupons.

    Why do they care? Now instead of ‘losing’ a percentage of the sale, they end up losing the whole sale.

  46. Joedel263 says:

    are we sure it’s an internet coupon? slickdeals/fatwallet have a habit of posting anyting that comes their way.. people will scan our printed coupons (retailer omitted purposely) and then I have to deal will all the angry people when i turn the coupon away because they say right on them “Void if photocopied” and a computer scan is, in essense, a photocopy..

    in the case of printed coupons/flyers the retailer bases the coupon savings on two things, number of coupons distributed and redemption rate. coupon redemption rate is pretty much THE SAME regardless of the coupon/deal (arbitrary numbers here, but for example it’s almost ALWAYS that 20% of coupons are redeemed) if the distribution numbers are smaller, the discount rate will be higher. photocopying or scanning coupons raises the distribution rate and thus raises the redemption rate..

  47. Joedel263 says:

    ok, so looking at the coupon again I really don’t see an issue.. the coupon (which is definitely a scan..) says “must present coupon to cashier at time of purchase Photocopies/reproductions not valid” so A. it’s a reproduction and therefore not valid, and B. it says that it must be presented.. Being cheap is not a good reason to scam companies..

  48. BrentNewland says:

    Having worked at Office Depot, I can explain this. Corporate hates it that coupons get spread around. They do all kinds of things to keep this from happening to having special codes on all coupons to having coupons that are only usable at certain stores.
    I just so happen to CURRENTLY work at Office Depot, and have never heard of Corporate hating coupons going around. In fact, given our name (which sounds very utilitarian) we could use the extra foot traffic. And with the new store remodels, customers might just decide to come in again.

    Again, No, we’re not. Once the order has been processed for in-store pickup, all we do is pull the order and give it to them – they’ve already purchased it.

    The second problem is that sites like fat wallet sometimes seem to just post random codes and wait for one to work.Since each store in responsible for earnings, individual stores have to keep an eye on it themselves. fishy coupons cause huge problem for managers and then they get yelled at by loss prevention.
    When it’s in store, then it’s the store’s problem. When it’s an online order, with the website being a different branch of the company, it’s their problem to make sure a customer isn’t using the same coupon multiple times.
    So don’t blame the poor hourly employees. They’re overworked and underpaid and tend to take out frustrations on difficult customers. Blame the horrible corporation with its inconsistent policy. I could write a book about the horrible policies of Office Depot.
    Slightly underpaid, but not that bad. Most people at my store are parents, so obviously it’s enough. The work’s alright, but you get some pretty crappy customers (had a customer yesterday with a late nineties white powered 4-port USB hub, all ports on one end stacked, with a Type B USB connector, loudly demanding that he wanted one JUST LIKE that). And corporate policies aren’t too unreasonable, although being 100% inflexible with item placement, having morons create the merchandise display plans (planograms), and not having an RFID system in place yet are pretty stupid.

    BTW, entering the coupon code is “presenting it” at the time of purchase. If you encounter any problems then just contact OD corporate (based in Del Ray Beach, Florida). Or let me know – my job’s not so important that I don’t mind risking it to make you happy.

  49. Neurotic1 says:

    haha…I swear the same thing happened to me about a year ago over a computer monitor. I paid for a computer monitor online using a coupon that was emailed to me. When I showed up for the “in-store pickup,” the lady at the store literally went berserk. She called up back-up and I was, over the course of 30mins., glared at, talked about, and even accused of stealing. The manager even accused me of “hacking” into OD’s computer system to get the coupon that was emailed to me. (I wish I had that kind of skill)

    I laughed initially, but it quickly became personal. I called corporate and they quickly agreed with me. I put the manager on the phone with them and heard her arguing with them (loud) in front of other customers. I was truly perplexed.

    The guy at the corporate number said there was nothing he can do because each store’s manager has the final say. Needless to say I was pissed. The corporate guy said that he would have one shipped for free. I said that I’d prefer to pick-up at another store which he set up.

    I picked up at a nearby store w/o a hitch and even told them about my experience. They all laughed at the story. And to my surprise, the corporate guy didn’t cancel the shipped monitor so I got that as well for free.

    From that experience, along with others involving rejected ink coupons and rebates, I’ve decided to not shop at OD unless it’s to screw ’em.

  50. Anonymous says:

    @lemur: At least here you have some significant leverage. The Pizza is cooked, and won’t keep very long. You politely but firmly state that if they will not honor the price you agreed to online you’ll go else where.

    To the OP…
    One thing that I’ve gotten in the habit of referencing (when ever I get poor service) is threatening to print up flyers (or something similar) explaining to people “exactly what happened”. When I made this ultimatum to a local business recently the manager stated that it would be illegal because it would damage their business, and he would sue me. I smiled and asked him if he agreed that my telling people “exactly what happened” would damage his business, why not make it right? He was much easier to work with after that, but I’ve never used their services again.

    Note: With the above, I’ve never threatened to lie, I’ve always stated I would tell people what happened. If they feel they’ve done nothing wrong they have nothing to loose by people knowing how their business is run. I’m not falsifying anything, and I’m not revealing insider information.

  51. Rectilinear Propagation says:

    Even though a coupon code was accepted online, you still have to surrender the coupon when you pick up the item, right?!

    @DeltaPurser: But that ISN’T what the coupon says. It says it must be presented at the time of purchase. The item was purchased online and the code was entered at the time the purchase was made. It was only being picked up at the store.

    If the coupon said you had to present it in person for in store pick up of online purchases, that would have made sense. If the system said to take the coupon with you when picking up the purchase that would have made sense. They did neither of those things, hence the confusion and complaints.

  52. loquaciousmusic says:

    @failurate: I thought it was a series of tubes.

    When I gave her my name, her attitude changed from pleasant to “Red team Go, Charlie in the trees.”

    That’s funny.

  53. DMDDallas says:

    How does one ‘surrender’ an online coupon anyway? That only makes sense for originals. Do you have to give them your harddrive?

  54. Joedel263 says:

    so much for trying to help.. posted two comments yesterday explaining in detail why I’m sure (read: opinion) this happened (NOT AN ONLINE COUPON!) and the comments never posted.. surely this website is not filtering comments to only reflect their own views..

  55. OtakuboyT says:

    What’s worse no Office Depot coupons work in one secion I would by 25+ dollars of stuff… TECHNOLOGY!

  56. silyolpooh says:

    I completely understand why Office Depot did this, and although I hate their company, I’m forced to defend them this time.

    The retailer I work for was also scammed recently by Someone slipped SlickDeals a draft copy of a promotion we were considering running and did not. SlickDeals posted the coupon (which was never activated) as though it were valid.

    The biggest problem came in that we had decided to run the sale without needing the coupon (hey, trying to work FOR the consumer, right?). So the markdown had already been taken on product, and then we had customers coming in trying to use an invalid coupon to cut into already reduced margins and not understanding why, if they got the coupon “from the internet”, we wouldn’t give them the additional percentage off.

    Not only did this f-up on SlickDeals’ part cause massive financial loss and customer frustration for us, it also infringed our copyrighted logo (which they printed without permission when they published the coupon).

    For once (and probably the only time), I feel Office Depot’s pain. Companies like SlickDeals really need some level of accountability, and they seem to have none.

  57. Buran says:

    @lemur: The only time PH has made me bring in a coupon was when I’d redeem their VIP program coupons for free pizzas. I don’t get those anymore. I guess it’s because I actually redeemed them instead of forgetting like a lot of people probably did, so they probably conveniently dropped me from the frequent-buyer program.

  58. Buran says:

    @silyolpooh: You can reprint copyrighted materials for purposes of discussion or news reporting. It’s one of the fair use rules.

  59. escapee says:

    I worked for an Office Depot in northern Illinois for 5 years. All I can say is: the company is rotten to the core.

    My managers ran the gamut from crooked to, in 2 cases, psychotic. We were routinely cheated out of payroll hours/holiday pay we’d worked. Most of my fellow employees were either hopeless slackers or hardcore thieves. The company provided little if any training. There was no interest in basic rules of safety or cleanliness. And nobody gave a flying f**k about the customers. The coupons and rebates were a running joke among the staff, as were the extended warranties we were pushed into selling.

    Do yourselves a favor and shop anywhere but at Office Depot. They don’t value your business at all. I wouldn’t go into an O.D. to use the bathroom.

    • silyolpooh says:

      @Buran – SlickDeals is not a news aggregate, it is a business with its own advertising to sell. It, in essence, used our promotion to drive traffic to its website for its business. That is not protected fair use, and we were able to get an uncontested cease and desist order with little effort, as well as recoup some settlement from SlickDeals. I can’t imagine we’re the first.