OfficeMax Calls You A Thief For Trying To Recycle

OfficeMax called Chris a thief for recycling empty printer cartridges. OfficeMax’s MaxPerks program gives customers $3 for each empty cartridge they recycle, with a limit of 5 cartridges per customer per day. Chris runs a computer repair business that leaves him flush with empty cartridges. According to one cashier, this makes Chris a thief.

The cashier first claimed that there was a limit of 5 cartridges per week, and then threatened to send Chris’ picture to other stores. Finally, he confronted Chris, saying “I don’t know where you’re getting these, if you’re stealing them… but it needs to cut down.”

Chris writes:

I’ve finally had my first really angering customer service issue. But a little bit of background:

I run a computer repair business. Obviously, I’m constantly buying/selling computer supplies and equipment, and one of the things I get from customers and my vendors are empty ink cartridges. From my vendor they arrive assorted, so I take the ones I need for the models my customers have, and recycle the rest. I also get quite a few when customers upgrade printers. I recycle the empties at Staples, OfficeMax and Office Depot, since I don’t do enough in volume to recycle directly with the ink companies. Each store gives you $3 per cartridge to spend at the store. It’s a bit long to explain where I get them; and cashiers are puzzled when I tell them I run a computer repair business (since I’m only 20 and look young) so I usually say I get them from friends and it’s done. Funny sidenote: once a cashier at Staples read my jacket that says my company name and said “So I guess you’re going to give this money back to your employer, right?” Yep, I sure am.

At Staples, it’s awesome. I’m actually on a friend basis with one of the cashiers, and when they gave out coupons for recycling cartridges, I would use them online all the time. For the reason of them having a robust online store with great prices and rebates, I spent close to $3700 after coupons with them in 2006. This year I’m almost at $1000, so I’m not a once-in-a-while customer. Staples recently changed to put the credit from recycling on your Staples Rewards card, but I don’t plan on ramping down my spending given the great service I always receive.

At OfficeMax, it’s a different story. They’ve never given out coupons, and their prices aren’t that great in store or online. However, instead of recycling 3 ink cartridges for a total of $9 in credit, they allow you to recycle up to 5 cartridges for $15 in credit. This puts their prices back at being decent. Unfortunately, they don’t have great prices in store/online, so I only buy in store with cartridges. I follow the rules, limit of 5/day/person. I have brought my girlfriend or a friend sometimes as well.

There’s a single cashier/manager/something there that has a problem with me. To be honest, I don’t even see him that much, but he feels like I’m taking the money out of his wallet when I use the cartridges for credit. It first started with him telling another cashier in a way to get me to overhear that there’s a new limit of 5/week. BS. Then he outright lied to my father and I by saying that the coupon system was down, forcing me to drive to another store to get memory cards for my dad’s camera.

Today was a new low. While checking out, he walked up to the checkstand and here’s the conversation that ensued (he’s Cashier, but not the one ringing me out, she’s very nice):

Cashier: Excuse me if you don’t mine[sic] me asking where did you get the cartridges?
Me: I get them from friends.
Cashier: That’s impossible, you have too many of them. You come in with these and you come in with your girlfriend or a friend.
Me: (getting angry) OK, well, I’ll go to the [redacted] store from now on.
Cashier: Well, I have you on camera, I’m gonna send your pictures to the other stores so they know to look out for you.
Me: At Staples, they have a box from HP – aren’t you getting money for these?
Cashier: Yes well it needs to cut down.
Me: Let me ask you, am I taking the money from your wallet? Am I reaching in to your wallet and taking money out?
Cashier: No, but I’m in charge of it and it needs to cut down, I don’t know where you’re getting these, if you’re stealing them or-
Me: No, I’m not stealing them.
Cashier: but it needs to cut down.
Me: OK.

Why would he be sending my picture around unless I’ve done something wrong?

I’m getting sick and tired of being treated like a common criminal because I use coupons. I play by their rules and still they don’t like it. If they don’t want to take coupons they should remove the program.


OfficeMax needs to realize that recycling is good, not bad. Try having a calm conversation with the cashier’s manager, and explain your business and that you appreciate having an outlet to help you recycle. If that doesn’t help, call corporate and ask the people running the MaxPerks program why their employees hate the environment.

(Photo: Getty)