Any Of These Phrases Should Have Alerted Staples That There Is A Problem Here. None Did.

Reader Karen writes in:

I bought a small but overpriced postal scale at Staples ($22). When I took it home and opened the box, there was a broken, not-for-sale scale in it. I took it back and exchanged it for another one without any problem. But it’s a crappy scale even when it’s functional: it’s not set at 0 and I don’t see a way to resetit.

Seriously, Staples? Do you also send cardboard cutouts of computers to people? How could it possibly be any clearer that this should never have left the store? Commenters, any suggestions?
(Thanks to Karen!)


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  1. chrisgoh says:

    “How could it possibly be any clearer that this should never left the store? Commenters?”

    Who’s saying that Staples opened the box? Otherwise how would they know what was inside? It COULD have come from the distributor that way. Was there any indication on the outside of the box? Is that a sticker that Staples puts on display items, or did it come that way?

    So, not really clear that it should not have left the store.

  2. vastrightwing says:

    Best Buy? Are you seeing this one?

  3. Alex Chasick says:

    @chrisgoh: Good call. The sticker and scale look kind of beat up, so I figured it was the actual display model at the store, unless it was just clunking around the distributor’s warehouse for a while.

  4. sporks says:

    1. Return the scale, get your money back.
    2. Buy one online. The USPS store has a decent digital one for not much more than what you paid for that crappy thing.

    If it’s two strikes in a row, I’d just give up and try something else.

  5. cde says:

    There should be a little knob under the part where you put stuff. That’s what let’s you zero it out.

    I have three different models of the same scale (All free, natch).

    Worst part of them is, if I weigh something by its longest side, it reports one weight, but if I weigh it by its widest side, it reports another weight. (Guitar Hero shaped box)

  6. tkerugger says:

    Oooh…what a scathing story about Staples! Take that, stockholders!!

    Mistakes happen…you got it exchanged “without any problem.” Blame yourself for picking out a shitty scale.

  7. ClankBoomSteam says:

    “How could it possibly be any clearer that this should never have left the store? Commenters, any suggestions?”

    Very simple: Staples’ low-paid employees just plain don’t care. Putting this thing out for sale is an easy way to keep busy under the watch of one’s superiors and, thus, not get sacked for lazing about.

    Honestly, haven’t we all known that guy at work who was happier just LOOKING busy than he was BEING busy?

  8. MightyWeasel says:

    @ClankBoomSteam: It isn’t at all possible this was an honest mistake? One employee puts the display scale in a box (no I don’t know why, but it is possible), another thinks its a sellable item and places it on the shelf?

  9. ChuckECheese says:

    I’ve got an Escali Primo, and it rox for less than $25: []

  10. mrjimbo19 says:

    So lets cover the basics

    Person purchases a boxed product (I assume it rang up without a problem)

    Person takes product home and finds a “display only” that is non-functional

    Person returns product and gets correct “Sales friendly” version


    I don’t really see how staples should be a bad guy in this. If they refused to return it and or gave crap for returning it then by all means but staples is not going to open every product they sell, that would create a major problem for those customers who want the new product feel (or don’t trust the open box things)

  11. I came here to make a drug-dealing joke, but I’m too damn tired.

  12. Shutterman says:

    What’s really sad is, my first reaction was “at least there was a scale in the box.” No matter how low consumer expectations get, companies are always finding ways to lower the the bar.

  13. jcreedon says:

    Since when is the new standard of retail to be perfect?
    Since when is anyone perfect?

    I work in retail and I know that when display models get banged up, we order new ones so they don’t look all shabby on the shelf, but the display versions of these products are not always clearly marked the vendor, so it is very possible for it to get mixed in with the regularly stocked product.

    The employees at Staples corrected their mistake without any grief. I don’t see any real problem. There was no ploy or conspiracy to exploit some hapless consumer. It was just an honest mistake.

    It looks like this reader is just looking to troll about something, and it’s kind of sad that the Consumerist bought into it. Usually they have a high standard for articles…

  14. aCiD says:

    Meh, I bought a $1500 laptop, got home and it already had the “staples” default password setup on it, it was their display model, went back exchanged it for their last new one.

    Reasonable mistake, not worth posting on here…

  15. DJRanmaS says:

    @aCiD: I had to deal with that today. Floor model computers are supposed to be restored before it’s handed over to the customer. -_-

  16. richardrobert says:

    If you can’t weigh your pot with your hand, you shouldn’t be selling pot at all…

  17. Nylo says:

    Gezzz. This is obvioulsy a mistake but I’m sure the conspiracy theorist are gathering.

    Karen, move on with your life!

  18. admiralguy says:

    Actually, the display models of scales are the best deals out there! I talked a manager into selling me one from a discontinued model for $5 (compared to $130) and all I had to do was wire up a 9-volt connector….viola! Perfectly good 125lb digital scale!

  19. modenastradale says:

    Yeah, this story is something of a non-starter. What’s the big deal? Product was exchanged. If you still don’t like it, just return the whole thing.

    What “suggestions” is the OP looking for? *scratches head*

  20. Alex Chasick says:

    @modenastradale: I was asking for suggestions for even less suitable products, like a cardboard cutout of a monitor. I did this because it seems like half the readers like these bad company stories–they’re the ones emailing them to us; and half the readers hate them. Perhaps they’re taking them seriously. So, I figured asking for suggestions would mix it up a little and give them something to write besides “slow news day?” and “why is this on Consumerist?”

  21. modenastradale says:

    @Alex Chasick:

    Must be a slow news day. Why is this on Consumerist?


    Actually, I have to admit, I misread the “Commenters, any suggestions?” as coming from the OP herself. I couldn’t figure out why she wanted suggestions when she wasn’t in any sort of predicament. :-)

    So, as for suggestions of the type you’re talking about: I think not-for-resale postal scales and cardboard cutouts are TAME compared to the poopy shorts Old Navy was selling a while back. I mean really — that takes the prize for “item that never should have left the store.”

    (I also once opened up a Happy Meal when I was a kid, and found a small dead animal inside. That was pretty scarring. Too bad the ‘rents didn’t think about lawsuits… ;-))

  22. Parting says:

    Pleaase, mistake happened, Staples corrected it. If the product itself is crappy, return it. Stop whining.

  23. AMetamorphosis says:


    The merchant made good on what was likely a mistake.

    Move on …

  24. zibby says:

    It was a mistake, don’t soil your drawers. Sure, a little time was wasted, but now the guy has a funny story.

  25. kccricket says:

    I work at Staples. These things aren’t always clearly marked on the outside of the box. I almost made the same mistake with a digital scale.

  26. RokMartian says:

    I think we should all write a scathing email carpet bomb to Staples corporate over this egregious act of dismal customer service/ Then we’ll see if they decide to take this seriously.


  27. chazz says:

    Another useless story in The Consumerists march to irrelevancy.

  28. I heart Staples. This happens from time to time. I bought a DVD burner at our Staples once, got it home, and when I opened it I found a 3.5/5.25 combo disk drive in the box with a little piece of paper that said “HP DVD Drive” on it. The box looked for all the world like all the other ones on the shelf when I bought it – no packing tape, broken seals, or anything like that.

    I suppose it helps if you’re a local customer they just did business with maybe 20 minutes ago, but I had no problem exchanging it. I had to explain to the clerk exactly what that was in the box, because she had never even seen a 5.25 floppy disk in the flesh, let alone a drive that had a slot for one.

  29. ColdNorth says:

    This story seems like the kind of thing that happens when the editors of an otherwise laudable blog have a contractual quota of posts per day…

  30. Jetts says:

    @cde: Is your scale somehow measuring the vertical linear density of the things you put on it? Thats amazing! You are very lucky to have such a high tech scale.

    Or… the balance is WAY off, and its a really crappy scale.

  31. DraconWolfX says:

    I will say this — Sometimes the vendors don’t do a good job labelling these things. I sold a printer before that was supposed to be a display model (it was gutted) and the only indication on an IDENTICAL BOX to the normal retail version was the words “Demo Use Only” in smallish print on the bottom of the box. Come on…At least put it in different packaging or something. I could easily see a normal retail employee putting this on the shelf on accident.

  32. whanghpo says:

    i never yet have had a problem with staples….the one in our area is pretty good………

  33. Javert says:

    I want to be clear…after the Consumerist posted the “don’t blame the ‘victim'” article, I want to take this opportunity to note that I am not blaming the victim, I am blaming the Consumerist. Why would you post this? They exchanged it without issue…so, where is the issue?

    This story is one which makes me think of the posterior end of a rodent with which I could no care.

  34. invader-zim says:

    i call bs. you think the employees did it on purpose to look busy? that kind of stupid mistake reflects more poorly on them than not looking busy.

    *end reply

    if the scale was overpriced, why didnt you buy it elsewhere?

    is this story consumerist worthy? just sounds silly to me.

    it’s a mistake. an unwitting flaw at the very most. nobody is trying to screw anyone over.

  35. ClankBoomSteam says:

    @highland04: I’ve known plenty of goldbricks who were content to do what they felt like, wandering around a store LOOKING like they were working, when in fact they were just passing the time until they were off the clock. I’m betting most of the people here who have worked in retail at some point in the past (or present) have known someone like that.

    As for activity like this reflecting on someone more poorly than not looking busy, you’re assuming that the individual in question will get caught ~ which I would think would be unlikely, since it would pretty much be anyone’s guess who had put out the scale for sale.

    Sorry, but I’m sticking to my guns on this one — especially since I’ve been in more than a few Staples stores in my day, and I can say with unmitigated confidence that the employees just plain couldn’t care less about anything that goes on in the store, unless it affects them or their break time.

  36. Alex Chasick says:

    @chazz: You’ve been threatening to leave since October. We’ve helped you out.

  37. Chris Walters says:

    Hey all of you readers who are only looking for outrageous tales of corporate malfeasance, and who crap all over anything that doesn’t pass your “worthy content” litmus test: sometimes the things we run are absurd or funny and not tragic or anger-inducing. That doesn’t make them less newsworthy. I, for one, frakkin LOVE this photo. What kind of absolute moron misses a sticker that big, with THREE different “do not sale” messages on it? It’s absurdist retail humor at its finest. Where else on the web should it be posted, if not Consumerist?

    The site is stronger for having a mix of content, from insurance companies killing kids through their bookkeepers (not very funny) to ridiculous shipping experiences (funnier than lethal insurance, that’s for sure), and augmented by a lively commenter crowd. But your “snark” is anything but clever when you trot out tired old lines like “slow news day” or “quota post”–spend a week or two on one of the truly snarky sites like Jezebel or Gawker to see some examples of how high the bar has been set for commenter wit. It’s pretty impressive, and those barbs, references, and callbacks actually enhance the post instead of detracting from it. The highest quality comments we get here usually contain useful information that helps out future readers. On a post like this, we don’t really need any help, so just… I dunno, is it too much to ask for some funny? Some of y’all are really funny.

    If you’re not funny, and sometimes get angry at a post but not for any good reason, try just skipping it and not commenting. You don’t have to go all Hot or Not on every damned post.

    I can’t sleep. Argh.

  38. Chris Walters says:

    Correction: some of you left anecdotes and stories that added to this photo, by explaining your own situations. Those are always great comments too because they help strengthen the context and give a bigger picture to other readers (and to us). Yay anecdotes.