Staples Enforces Loss Leader Limits, Makes Teachers Sad

Teachers in high-poverty school districts like Rachael provide, at their own expense, a lot of pretty basic supplies for their students. They do this with the help of back-to-school loss-leader sales at big-box office supply stores. Staples lets them buy twenty-five boxes of crayons for a penny each, and in return the teachers give Staples their undying gratitude and devotion. But Staples, at least in the Northwest where Rachael live, has stopped easing purchase limits for teachers. Teachers are now limited to two of each loss-leader item instead of as many as twenty-five. And while she understands why the company couldn’t continue this incredible generosity, it makes her sad.

She writes:

I’m writing as a public school teacher in a high poverty elementary
school. Most of my students cannot afford school supplies and our
district has slashed our budget so that we don’t get many supplies
from the school. So where do we get our supplies? Out of our own

I spend my summer perusing the weekly ads at Staples and at other
office supply stores in order to benefit from the weekly penny deals
that each store promotes. Staples has always been supportive of
teachers and would change the limit on their loss leaders to 25 per
day. It was incredibly generous and made a huge difference in my
classroom. I could afford to provide the basics to my students at a
reasonable price (okay, an incredible price). Since they were so
generous, I stayed loyal to their store the rest of the year when I
needed other items.

I fully understand that Staples needed to change their policy. Last
year they made a change that the penny deals were available to those
who spent $5 in the store. It was more than fair and I was willing to
pay more.

This Sunday, I started perusing the ads again because I knew the sales
were starting. I saw that Staples had its usual penny items listed so
I headed over get my goodies, plus a few more items. I filled my
basket with crayons, pens and glue and headed to the register with my
Teacher Rewards card in hand. The sales associate informed me that I
would have to pay full price for all items past the store limit and
that because I am a teacher, the store would put a credit on my
Rewards card for everything I paid above the penny. This isn’t a
rebate. It’s a certificate that can only be used in their store. I’d
be paying $80 for a $.75 purchase and I wouldn’t be getting that money
back except to use in their store.

Until Staples changes their policy, I will no longer shop at their
store. One of their competitors still offers larger limits on deals to
teachers. I want other consumers to know how Staples has stopped
supporting educators.

Again, I understand that their former policy was overly generous,
especially when there wasn’t a purchase requirement. However, this new
policy does not help teachers. I don’t know many teachers who can
shell out $80 a day to buy cheap quality school supplies.