Staples Recycles Laptop By Cracking Its Screen

When you trade in your old electronic device for “recycling” while buying a new one, does that device have to work? Staples offered a $100 rebate this holiday season to customers who sent in their old computers after purchasing a new one. “Recycling” is in quotes because computers traded in had to be running, and include the charger, so they were bound for re-use rather than recycling. That was no problem for George, though — he traded in a working computer. Only the screen was cracked when it reached the center, and he didn’t get the full rebate.

George writes:

I just had a horrible experience with the Staples $100 Holiday laptop recycle rebate (receipt ID [redacted]. When I was purchasing the new laptop in store I bought in my old laptop and the Staples rep turned it on and checked the manufacturing date to make sure it qualified.

I sent in a perfectly working laptop to the rebate center but I received an email stating that my rebate would be reduced by $30 because the screen was cracked. This is simply untrue. I called the outsourced rebate center only to be told that nothing could be done.

The worst part was when I called Staples Office of the President she accused me of sending in a damaged laptop. Her argument was that it wouldn’t make sense for me to recycle a working laptop (even though that’s what the $100 offer is explicitly for. I’ve never been spoken to with such an attitude and been accused of lying by a representative. I guess I won’t be shopping at Staples next holiday season.

In this case, it sounds like the executive customer service representative doesn’t even understand how the promotion works — only working laptops were accepted for the rebate program.

Lesson learned: photograph your electronics before sending them out so you have some proof of what was sent in.


Edit Your Comment

  1. bkdlays says:

    Or how about Staples sucks? Not far from Best Buy, Staples also likes to advertise laptops and not sell for the advertised price. Staples will outright refuse to sell the model on sale unless you buy a service plan. No service plan, they tell you out of stock.

    Also Staples has pulled 70% of name brand stuff and replaced it with Staples brand crap. For more money than the name brand stuff.

    Oh and they don’t stock ANYTHING anymore. Ever go and try to grab a “quick wire” or a wireless card, or a adaptor, or ANYTHING? Nope. You can order it had have it “the next day” as they say in the red shirts.

    Don’t even get me started with the copy center. Seriously they find retarded people to work there.

    I personally always hated Staples, but it has gotten so, so, so much worse.

    • Evil_Otto would rather pay taxes than make someone else rich says:

      Hey, let’s be nice to the developmentally disabled. Comparing them to the copy center employees is not cool.

    • George4478 says:

      It sounds like you’re a multiple-year repeat customer who always dislikes the store. They keep treating you like crap and you keep coming back?

      Move on, my friend, move on.

    • msbask says:

      And yet you keep going?

    • Such an Interesting Monster says:

      I’m quickly running out of companies I can patronize. If I were to use Consumerist as a guide I cannot use Staples, Amazon, Walmart, Best Buy, Sears, Target, Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile, Sprint, Bank of America, Chase, Citibank, Wells Fargo, Countrywide, McDonald’s, Time Warner Cable, Cablevision, Comcast, Gap, Netflix, Starbucks, Day’s Inn, Delta, American Airlines, Spirit Airlines, Southwest, United Airlines, Virgin America, 1800Flowers, Whole Foods, Toys R Us, Zales, Brookstone, Lane Bryant, Quiznos, Subway, Quisinart, or any online retailer that ships via USPS, UPS, or FedEx as my shipment is guaranteed to be unacceptably manhandled by the time it reaches me, if it ever does.

      So where the hell am I supposed to shop?

      • larrymac thinks testing should have occurred says:

        Locally owned and operated stores, when you can. For example instead of 1-800-Flowers, find a florist in the place you are sending flowers to. Go to a local coffee shop or deli instead of Starbucks or Quiznos.

        Yes, sometimes local places are more expensive. That’s because real customer service costs money. Yes, sometimes they are hard to find. That’s because they’re disappearing because people chase the almight low price to the bottom.

        • Jules Noctambule says:

          Local places can suck, too.

          • larrymac thinks testing should have occurred says:

            Yes, that’s why sometimes good local places are hard to find. Of course when the bad places go out of business, they’ll blame it on the national chains anyway.

          • Jawaka says:

            That’s because it’s individuals who suck. Both large and small companies have bad employees.

        • xanadustc says:

          I like the concept and as a small business owner, I like things like our local initiative to shop at home, meaning the small business…but unfortunately, in my town, people are so rude I would rather shop online than deal with grouches and pay more for the same stuff…

          Staples? I hate my local Staples. Out the the last five times I went in there, four of the times, the items I purchased were not in the system correct, I had wrong sales put in, and their computer guy has the competency of a BBY GS agent (fortunately I am in the computer business, so I just go there to hear him talk…its funny)…I was never refused a laptop or ANY other item for not buying a service plan, in fact, I was never asked about it until I was at the register with the product. I have, however, bought two floor model computers for a fair discount both of which ending up being great products. But I have to agree…the copy center people are retards, and I have a business copy account that I do not use in my town because their employees suck so bad.

      • humphrmi says:

        Zappos. Hope you need a lot of shoes.

    • Jawaka says:

      Yet another example of individual stores not following company policy. When I used to work at Staples the stores in my area always wanted and tried to attach a warranty but I don’t recall any of them ever refusing a sale to a customer who didn’t want to purchase the warranty.

      If you don’t want people to make generalizations about you then don’t generalize others.

    • HogwartsProfessor says:

      I bought my current laptop there. It was on sale and the associate tried to upsell me the warranty. I said no thanks, I didn’t need it. He sounded frustrated (probably because of stupid quotas) but he didn’t refuse to sell it to me. I also bought a router–that’s what I went in for, orginally; the laptop was an impulse buy–and a bunch of accessories, so he ended up selling me more than what I went in for.

      Also, the Staples brand stuff is mostly cheaper and works just as good as most of the name brand. I buy it for work all the time. The only thing I wont’ get Staples is clear shipping tape. The 3M holds up much better and is worth the extra money.

  2. Mr Grey says:

    Goodwill accepts computers, and electronics – My city even has a Habitat for Humanity ReStore, which accepts computer equipment, and electronics for recycling or reuse.

    I don’t want to sound like I am knocking the OP, I know they were supposed to get a rebate, but there are far more worthy organizations that would do good with a working few more working pcs, or laptops.

    • TheMansfieldMauler says:

      I doubt anyone at Goodwill or Habitat has the expertise or equipment to erase the hard drives. There are plenty of stories about retailers failing to do so. If I was going to donate a machine, I would pull the hard drive myself…but then it would be unusable.

      • Mr Grey says:

        And you believe that Staples will do this 100% of the time?.
        Zeroing a drive is something you should do prior to donating any PC/Mac.

        There are several free disc utilities that accomplish this – I use Active Bits KillDisk –
        The free version will zero a drive sufficiently enough to require forensic software to recover anything, the pay version supports 17 security standards including DoD 5220.22-M

      • Jawaka says:

        You shouldn’t be counting on the Goodwill employee to erase the hard drive for you. Do it yourself before you donate.

  3. Gravitational Eddy says:

    Kind of weird that they state that they won’t accept a non-working laptop (and they make sure everybody in the chain knows this) but when the credit is applied, the OP got a third of what he was told he would get, because his trade-in’s screen was buggered.
    I’d say there is a miscommunication going on at the return center…somehow they think they get to judge what’s broke and what isn’t. Despite the fact that they wouldn’t accept it if it -was- broken.
    It wasn’t broke when the OP gave it to you! By definition, that means someone on your side broke it. Tough luck, too bad, eat the laptop, Pay the OP for his laptop.

    • Loias supports harsher punishments against corporations says:

      This. If your team accepted it, you have to pay for it. Somewhere in the Staples chain an employee made a mistake, be it the person who accepted a broken laptop, or the person who broke it.

      • Cowboy_OK says:

        Not to rain on the “blame the store” parade, but this last promotion didn’t involve the stores at all, other than they were the ones promoting it. People who recycled the laptops were responsible for sending them in (in a package provided by the recycling center, who was unaffiliated with Staples outside of being contracted for this promotion).

        It’s probably more likely that the screen got cracked during shipping, which still falls back on the OP, as he would have been the one that packed it.

  4. Ouze says:

    I am willing to bet you could have gotten substantially more than $70 (or even $100) via Ebay or Craigslist for a working laptop.

  5. pgr says:

    Hmmm, Staples that’s the company that was formed/saved by that great American. Willard (the Mitt) Romney who wants to become the next most powerful leader in the free world… I don’t think so!

    Go Obama

  6. Jawaka says:

    I’d recommend getting the local store manager involved. They wouldn’t have accepted the laptop as a trade in if the screen were cracked so they should be able to vouch for you. Despite what others here may have you believe, most Staples managers are decent people and will likely try to help.

  7. comedian says:

    Part it out!

    Most any three to six year old laptop is worth more on ebay when sold as component parts. Sell each of these in seperate auctions:

    1) Motherboard with processor & heat sink still in place.
    2) Memory
    3)Screen down to and including the hinges, upper case, the cables coming from the screen + any inverter board.
    4) Hard drive with caddy (Boot & Nuke first)
    5) Optical drive assembly
    6) Keyboard
    7) Every screw and panel off of the main case as well as the main case for the lower half of the laptop.
    8) Daughter boards, if any, that are behind switch clusters.

    Donate one laptop and you may save one laptop.

    Sell a bunch of parts and you can save many laptops.

  8. profchaos79 says:

    I own an office supply company. I could tell stories for days about stuff like this that Staples/Depot/Max pull all the time. It has been great for my business!

  9. anon_employee says:

    I’m not defending Staples at all because they do suck*, BUT, the $100 trade in/recycle program is done through a 3rd party. The customer is instructed to go to the recycling website to request a prepaid shipping box and then send the computer to the 3rd party company. I’m pretty sure it’s out of Staples hands at that point. The customer is lucky to have gotten $70, because I figured that he wouldn’t have gotten anything at all, which is what Staples normally does with rebates.

    *I recently quit working at Staples.

  10. krunk4ever says:

    I’m not trying to point fingers, but if I take what Staples claims and what the OP claims at face value, it could only mean that the laptop was damaged during transit.

    Assuming the anon_employee below, the OP would’ve received a prepaid shipping box from Staples. It sounds like a combination of the OP not correctly packaging the laptop correctly and/or the delivery service handling the package inappropriately.

    In situations like these, shipping insurance would be what you’ll be trying to claim your money back from, no?

  11. geopapa says:

    Staple owns Quill. Both are terrible companies.