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Office Depot Employee — "We Changed Prices Too"

kdawson posted more than 5 years ago | from the following-best-buy-out-the-door dept.

Businesses 492

Avram Piltch writes "Last week, LAPTOP reported that Office Depot employees were routinely lying to customers about notebook inventory, telling them that systems were out of stock if they didn't want to buy extended warranties or tech services. Now LAPTOP has spoken to more Office Depot associates, one of whom goes by the name Alex and reports widespread altering of prices in his region. He says he even Photoshops higher price tags on clearance notebooks so that associates can tell customers that they're getting a free warranty or tech service, when the price has been raised to cover it. LAPTOP also talked to a representative from the FTC, who would not comment on Office Depot specifically, but said that the sales practices described by LAPTOP clearly violate federal law."

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tsarkon reports PHIRST POAST GNAA (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27222669)

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Re:tsarkon reports PHIRST POAST GNAA (-1, Offtopic)

jacquesm (154384) | more than 5 years ago | (#27222823)

I think when you get modded -1 troll your IP should be revealed.

Re:tsarkon reports PHIRST POAST GNAA (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27222937)

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v 4.50.3
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Re:tsarkon reports PHIRST POAST GNAA (0, Offtopic)

TheLink (130905) | more than 5 years ago | (#27222973)

And what if that IP leads to some ad/linkfarm/spam/malware site?

Re:tsarkon reports PHIRST POAST GNAA (2, Funny)

Hognoxious (631665) | more than 5 years ago | (#27222993)

... or it's a dynamic IP.

GP has probably just learned what an IP address is and he thinks it's "kewl" to say things like "I no ur IP lolzor pwned" all the time.

Re:tsarkon reports PHIRST POAST GNAA (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27223005)

Uh, Slashdot already does control based on IP address plus a lot of the worst spam posts are done by bots and through proxies. Showing it will do nothing.

Also, it will create an environment of fear for normal people. Many posts been modded -1 when they didn't deserve it. It happens all the time. Often it doesn't matter if you have a valid point, it's just that people disagree (which is not a valid reason for modding down IMO). Showing their IP address just because they don't agree with the Slashdot heard does not set a good precedent.

Re:tsarkon reports PHIRST POAST GNAA (1, Insightful)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 5 years ago | (#27223111)

I think when the *moderator* applies negative points, his username should be revealed. If you're going to mod some "troll" simply because you disagree with that person (i.e. an abuse of power), then you should do it publicly not anonymously.

Too many times I've seen people express an opinion, and they got modded into invisibility because it happens to be an unpopular opinion. I've grown tired of that censorship. We should learn to tolerate everyone's viewpoint, even if we disagree with it. IDIC.

Re:tsarkon reports PHIRST POAST GNAA (2, Informative)

paazin (719486) | more than 5 years ago | (#27223371)

Funny, your post criticizing bad moderators gets labeled 'Troll' - clearly you're just a sockpuppet bent on causing trouble ;)

Re:tsarkon reports PHIRST POAST GNAA (5, Funny)

Fred_A (10934) | more than 5 years ago | (#27223157)

I think when you get modded -1 troll your IP should be revealed.

His IP is 127.0.0.1, have fun.

Re:tsarkon reports PHIRST POAST GNAA (1)

espiesp (1251084) | more than 5 years ago | (#27223347)

OMG. What are the chances that this douchebags root password is the same as mine!?!?!

I'll show him. rm -r *.*

Re:tsarkon reports PHIRST POAST GNAA (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27223433)

OMG. What are the chances that this douchebags root password is the same as mine!?!?! I'll show him. rm -r *.*

I'd rather you do:
"rm -rf /*"
or
"find / -exec rm -rf {} \;"

In windows you can:
C:
CD \
RMDIR . /S /Q

or a quickie:
cd %SYSTEMROOT%
rmdir . /s /q

thatll do it.

Re:tsarkon reports PHIRST POAST GNAA (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27223379)

Nothing in that post looks like a troll to me.
The poster was stating a valid and what I consider to be an admirable opinion.

They say communism didn't work. Capitalism isn't doing so great either. Black and white systems are doomed to fail. People have a right to be pissed.

Or you could just be a house neegra..

It's just Good Business (4, Interesting)

GodfatherofSoul (174979) | more than 5 years ago | (#27222697)

Sadly, this is the attitude of many in sales in this country. Good Business is how much you can milk from your customers and how fast regardless of the consequences. I sat with a couple of sales guys (friends at that) last weekend who bragged back and forth about how they were literally screwing associates.

Paraphrasing a quote from The Grapes of Wrath, "Steal a tire and you're a criminal. Sell a man a tire with a hole in it and that's just good business."

Re:It's just Good Business (5, Funny)

Tx (96709) | more than 5 years ago | (#27222791)

I sat with a couple of sales guys (friends at that) last weekend who bragged back and forth about how they were literally screwing associates.

But surely their sex lives are perfectly fair game for a bit of bragging?

Re:It's just Good Business (5, Funny)

s1lverl0rd (1382241) | more than 5 years ago | (#27222865)

Of course selling a tire with a hole in it is good business! Ever tried selling a tire without one?

Re:It's just Good Business (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27223091)

This is why stores like Walmart/HomeDepot/Target are thriving with no one to hassle you but associates to help if you need it. Walmart has overtaken most of the electronic purchases in my household with online filling the rest nicely.

Places like Circuit City, CompUSA and the rest have fallen by the wayside, and I'm not sure if Best Buy / Office Depot / Staples isn't close behind. It's not just their prices are expensive compared to say Walmart or Costco or online, it's just that I don't relish ever going there even though they are closer by.

Re:It's just Good Business (5, Insightful)

Dhalka226 (559740) | more than 5 years ago | (#27223147)

There's enough greed to go around, certainly, and I don't support deception--but the consumers love to bitch and moan but they're never willing to accept their own share of the responsibility.

Why is it so important to these companies to push service plans and insurance and batteries, and mark up a cable to $60 and sell you a hot apple pie with that? Because they've slashed their margins on the things you're actually there to buy so low trying to get you in there to buy them. Think about the people you know. If they could choose between Store A which has their product at $300 and Store B that has it at $250 but are going to push as hard as they possibly can to get you to buy their $50 warranty, which are they likely to choose? The majority of people are going to choose Store B and then bitch about the pressure to buy a warranty as if the two things were unrelated.

I don't condone deception or fraud, but it's this prioritization of the lowest price above all else that brings these things about. It's a lot like how people bitch and moan about Wal-Mart strangling out small mom and pop shops that had that friendly atmosphere and great service. They're dead because they weren't willing to pay for that service; they'd rather save a few bucks by going to that Wal-Mart. So be it, it's their right as consumers--but let's not be naive about the choices being made.

Re:It's just Good Business (4, Interesting)

Fred_A (10934) | more than 5 years ago | (#27223283)

Because they've slashed their margins on the things you're actually there to buy so low trying to get you in there to buy them. Think about the people you know. If they could choose between Store A which has their product at $300 and Store B that has it at $250 but are going to push as hard as they possibly can to get you to buy their $50 warranty, which are they likely to choose? The majority of people are going to choose Store B and then bitch about the pressure to buy a warranty as if the two things were unrelated.

Sad but true. Remember that even structures like IBM gave up on selling PCs because they couldn't make a profit on them.
And for having known very intimately the workings of [very large western computer maker (not Dell)], the margins were (it got sold since) in the 1.5% range. It's a nasty business.
Nowadays the "brick and mortar" retailers have to fight the online resellers who have quite an edge on them. So if anything the fight has gotten even more nasty (but then with sales people, what can you expect ?).

It's deeper than that. (1)

Colin Smith (2679) | more than 5 years ago | (#27223557)

There's less money than there is debt. Everyone is constantly trying to cut their costs and ensure future revenue streams because *everyone* has these interest payments to make.

Never wondered why everything is cheap disposable crap these days? It is because a dollar today is worth two tomorrow. We are all chasing inflation.

If money were stable, companies could afford to produce high quality long lasting products and the margins on them wouldn't be a problem, after all they are long lasting. As it is, they can't.

Re:It's just Good Business (4, Funny)

Fred_A (10934) | more than 5 years ago | (#27223187)

Good Business is how much you can milk from your customers and how fast regardless of the consequences.

In my experience "Good Business is how much you can milk from your customers and how fast while staying out of jail". But then anyone who has talked to the sales guys from his company (or who has been on the receiving end of the sales guys of any other company) knows this.

(very) Slightly modified pitch I was delivered a few years ago :
"Oh yes, our router cures cancer, sure."
"And we'll have world hunger as an option next year"
"Would you sign here please ? I'll let you keep the pen you know. It's shiny."

Re:It's just Good Business (1)

smchris (464899) | more than 5 years ago | (#27223245)

In the trenches, it's all they have. It's what they are.

Case in point. My stepfather thought he was being cute getting his "free $1000 life insurance policy" but the fool gave them my name. The letter they sent me was _amazing_. I started with technical issues like the inside address in all caps that didn't close up the second address line and progressed through the spelling and grammar errors to find a dozen things wrong with that letter. Made me do some research to find out whether the company was for real [yes, more-or-less, as life insurance companies go].

Anyway, it took me to a blog of their sales representatives. These people can't write, can't spell, probably never made it past high school. But by the end of the day, by the sweat of their brow, they may have your money. It's all they have. It's what they are. It was really pretty "Death of a Salesman" sad to read through.

Re:It's just Good Business (1)

WCMI92 (592436) | more than 5 years ago | (#27223301)

"Sadly, this is the attitude of many in sales in this country. Good Business is how much you can milk from your customers and how fast regardless of the consequences. I sat with a couple of sales guys (friends at that) last weekend who bragged back and forth about how they were literally screwing associates. "

This sort of thing usually gets the scum in the end though. You can screw someone once on a sale, and make more money than you deserved, but to succeed with it forever you have to make sure the customer never knows he got jobbed.

Which is hard to do, especially when such crap is being done at the level Office Depot is, it will get out. All it takes is one disgruntled employee.

I suspect that Best Buy will soon be in trouble. They do similar things with deceptive practices, for example, putting people who only buy items on sale on a "blacklist" etc. Retailers like that are not destined to the longevity of a Sears or JCPenney. Really, the Wal-Mart model is best, get the product as cheaply as possible to sell to the customer at the lowest possible price. They don't care about add ons and don't try to sell you crap you didn't get to the register with, I've never had that happen even once at Wal-Mart.

At Best Buy, it's pain and torture to try to get out of there with the pair of $16 HEADPHONES I bought without them trying to shove magazines at me, and an extended warranty that costs more than... what I bought.

Pisses me off. Just take my money so I can leave.

Re:It's just Good Business (4, Insightful)

Scutter (18425) | more than 5 years ago | (#27223383)

Sadly, this is the attitude of many in sales in this country. Good Business is how much you can milk from your customers and how fast regardless of the consequences. I sat with a couple of sales guys (friends at that) last weekend who bragged back and forth about how they were literally screwing associates.

I don't think that word means what you think it means.

Not much of a surprise (2, Interesting)

El_Muerte_TDS (592157) | more than 5 years ago | (#27222725)

Well, except that for once sales people admit that they lie to customers.

Re:Not much of a surprise (4, Interesting)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 5 years ago | (#27222927)

Most salespeople will admit they lie if you ask (outside the store). When I worked at Sears I couldn't stand how much pressure management placed on us to sell ripooff "extended warranty" contracts. We were expected to lie and convince customers that it was a good investment, when in reality most extended warranties go unredeemed. Most hardware will last a long, long time after it survives the initial 3-6 month "infant mortality" period... there's no need to extend the warranty, except to pad Sears pockets with free money.

If I worked at Office Depot, Best Buy, or some other place that engaged in illegal tactics like saying, "We don't have that laptop in stock" even though you have several, or creating false price tags, I'd start collecting documentation so I could turn it over to the FTC.

Yes I'd be a whistle-blower. I cannot tolerate corruption. (Of course that also means I'd probably be blacklisted by our corporate overlords.)

Re:Not much of a surprise (1)

GreenTech11 (1471589) | more than 5 years ago | (#27222967)

This is incredibly unethical, but then so is paying workers not on the service the customer enjoys but in how much they make for the company. However paying sales clerks solely by the hour results in sullen, unhelpful staff. Smaller stores are more likely to get the balance between hourly pay and commission right as they cant afford to lose customer bases. Big businesses like the one mentioned aren't likely to care about a few disgruntled customers in a store. In fact they probably wont even notice the lawsuit that's coming if this is true.

Re:Not much of a surprise (5, Informative)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 5 years ago | (#27223161)

>>>Big businesses like the one mentioned aren't likely to care about a few disgruntled customers

Perhaps that's why Sears almost went bankrupt in 2003, and again this year, while customer-oriented JCPenney is booming (relatively speaking). You screw the customer and soon the customer will shop somewhere else.

Another annoying practice Sears had was to offer "rebates" that had to redeemed from the central Chicago office. So customers come-in expected a sale, but instead they pay full price, and have to go through the hassle of mailing stuff to Chicago to get their refund. I had a LOT of customer come-in and complain they never received the check in the mail. At first we simply refunded the money out of the drawer, but then the stores stopped doing that.

Now you have a pissed-off customer who will go-around the local area "poisoning" the market with stories of how Sears screwed them. It's so short-sighted and stupid. I prefer the Penneys philosophy, which is to follow the golden rule, even if that means a short-term loss. Treat the customer the same way YOU would want to be treated, and keep the customer happy so they'll come back next month & remain a loyal income source.

Re:Not much of a surprise (4, Insightful)

Chabil Ha' (875116) | more than 5 years ago | (#27223251)

Interesting anecdote. The wife and I were at a mall and she decided that she wanted to stop by Sears to see about some new bedding. She rifled through the various sheets that they had going, picked out one she liked, and we proceeded to check out. I handed the lady at the checkout stand my credit card which she tried several times to swipe. After those unsuccessful attempts she gave up and handed my card back. I thought it odd that it wasn't reading correctly considering we had just made some purchases with it a few minutes previous, so I asked her if she could manually punch the card number in.

She looked at me as if I were accosting her to do such a thing! She quite reluctantly did so and the purchase went through. It astounded me how poor the whole payment experience was. This experience left an indelible impression that I would not be returning to Sears anymore. If they were going to put up a stink over punching in a credit card number, I would not want to know what they would do if I had a real problem.

Long story, I know, but with all these companies racing to the bottom of 'low price guaranteed!', the biggest differentiator is going to be service. This is why companies like Newegg will always get my business and peer recommendation. I've had some really big problems with them, but in the end they were able to sort things out and make them right. Now if I could only purchase bedding from them...

Re:Not much of a surprise (4, Insightful)

Bert64 (520050) | more than 5 years ago | (#27223305)

The trouble is you are taking a long term view... Businesses these days aim for short term profits and big bonuses because the people running them just couldn't care less about the long term success of the business, they are just in it for the maximum gain they can make in the quickest time, and will then move on. That's why small businesses tend to offer a better service, because the people running them usually are interested in the long term viability of the business.

A couple of years ago banks were making huge profits and paying out massive bonuses, this year they're making huge losses and going bust... All because of short term profiteering.

Re:Not much of a surprise (1)

Bert64 (520050) | more than 5 years ago | (#27223255)

The problem is rewarding staff for short term gains (quick sale now) instead of long term gains (give a good service and the customer is likely to return).. Good service is harder to quantify and many businesses aren't concerned about long term anyway.

Going off on a tangent slightly, what i especially hate are the way traffic wardens are judged... They are *supposed* to ensure that parking regulations are followed, yet they are rewarded based on how many tickets they have issued. The cause of this is that it is now in their interest to encourage violation of the parking regulations as then they can issue more tickets...
If someone goes to park illegally they should be encouraged to move on, but instead the traffic wardens will hide, wait for them to park and walk off, and then dive out to ticket or even clamp them thus making making worse the issue they are supposed to be addressing (traffic blockages etc)... If they were prominently present on the streets and moved people on *before* they parked illegally they would be far more effective at what they're supposed to be for.

So a short sighted set of rewards for staff results in corruption and long term detriment.

Re:Not much of a surprise (4, Interesting)

tomhudson (43916) | more than 5 years ago | (#27223397)

If someone goes to park illegally they should be encouraged to move on, but instead the traffic wardens will hide, wait for them to park and walk off, and then dive out to ticket or even clamp them

So do like I did - one time, the bozo left the keys in the tow-truck while arguing with someone about whether they would be towed or not. The tow-truck operator was trying to shake them down for the $65 towing fee even though he hadn't even hooked up. When they balked, he then "offered to settle" for $25.00 cash ... which we all know would have just gone into his pocket. While they were arguing, I pocketed the tow-truck key, then walked into a restaurant and called the cops about a tow-truck driver blocking someone's car.

Went home, got changed (different clothes, a hat, jacket), went back and sure enough, 2 hours later, the tow-truck was still stuck there - but getting ready to be towed.

I simply don't like people trying to scam (or in this case, outright extortion) other people.

Re:Not much of a surprise (1)

AvitarX (172628) | more than 5 years ago | (#27223151)

Depending on the type of person you are, accidental damage protection on a laptop can be worth it (though usually the manufacturer is a better bet that the store, unless you want really easy replacement). I don't buy it for 1/3 the price of the laptop, but I was also capable of replacing the screen on a laptop I cracked it on, I bet most people would be stuck, and getting a shop to do it cost more than the laptop itself.

Re:Not much of a surprise (1)

CFBMoo1 (157453) | more than 5 years ago | (#27223489)

I worked at Sears after getting out of High School selling computers. That didn't last long and it was amazing what they wanted me to sell extended maintenance agreements on. I couldn't stand anymore.

Sears extended warranty (1)

phorm (591458) | more than 5 years ago | (#27223547)

Actually, they tried to call me up and sell me one of these. I think it was $300'ish for another few years for an all-inclusive warranty. The fine-print that they tried to skip past very quickly though, was that the TV+surround they wanted to "extend" had to be inspected at a regular interval (it was either yearly or bi-yearly). You could have somebody come in to do that at over a hundred bucks a pop, or bring your stuff into Sears and be unable to use it for a few days until they finished inspection.

Most extended warranties are pretty much a scam, but I do remember that Future Shop (now owned by Best Buy, but this was prior to that) was actually really good about their EW when a subwoofer I had warranteed blew. I brought it in, and they swapped it right away no questions asked. Sadly, I know people who have had laptop warranties with them and had a bad laptop spend half the first year in-and-out of the shop before the "three strikes" kicked in and they replaced the defective unit.

I had this happen to me at Microcenter (5, Insightful)

dattaway (3088) | more than 5 years ago | (#27222731)

Apparently the rogue salesman wasn't impressed with my wanting a "cheap Linux laptop" and told me there were none left. Never mind I checked the website half an hour earlier before coming in and there were about 270 in stock at that store. So I went up front to customer service. They checked for stock and had two people help me. One to go back and fire the salesman and the other to get my laptop. That store appears to have stopped the practice of giving salesmen credit for purchases soon after. The salesmen no longer act like vultures. Customers do the store and community great service by reporting the problem.

Re:I had this happen to me at Microcenter (1)

rolfwind (528248) | more than 5 years ago | (#27222783)

I stopped going to Microcenter when they jacked up the price of the simplest cables to something ridiculous.

Just buy electronics online from a reputable source. Save the hassle.

Re:I had this happen to me at Microcenter (1)

Ihmhi (1206036) | more than 5 years ago | (#27223017)

Microcenter is like Toys 'R Us for adults, and I'd rather shop there than a bigger store.

They, like all businesses, do have their problems, though. The phone system for the North Jersey Microcenter is complete shit.

Re:I had this happen to me at Microcenter (1)

skiman1979 (725635) | more than 5 years ago | (#27223437)

Kind of like how retail stores sell RAM for way too high of a price? I could go to Staples to buy a 1 GB stick of DDR RAM for about $40-$50, or buy the same thing on newegg for around $20. Staples (and other retail stores) are targeting people who are either unaware of online sources, or have broken computers (failed RAM) and are unable to shop online, so they go to the store.

It's great... rip of your customer in their time of need. I guess it makes sense from a business standpoint, in the short term anyway. But then if John Doe HAS to buy that expensive RAM, once he gets his computer back up and running, he may just find out about newegg or another cheaper store for his next purchase.

Re:I had this happen to me at Microcenter (1)

Bert64 (520050) | more than 5 years ago | (#27222793)

Yes, sales staff often try to make you buy more expensive products...

I went to buy a mobile phone a few months ago and was told that insurance was mandatory on it and he wouldn't sell me the phone without it. Luckily the law states that you need to have a period when you are entitled to cancel the insurance and get a full refund, which i did... I also sent a complaint at the time of canceling.

Re:I had this happen to me at Microcenter (4, Interesting)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 5 years ago | (#27222981)

Sometimes though "reporting it" does absolutely no good. The damn government which is *supposed* to help the People which created it, refuses to do its job and crack-down on dishonest businessmen. Case in point:

I was staying at a Motel 6 week-after-week, and everything was great. Then about 6 months (and $3000 room rent) later the manager decided to no longer accept the "click to get 10% off" that I had been using via the website. I contacted the national office who said he MUST honor the rate. The manager responded by saying, "I am sick and tired of you. I told you I don't do the 10% off rate, and you refuse to listen so I'm kicking you out of the hotel." He ignored what the national office had told him to do (refund 10% of my money), and even went so far as to call the police and have them remove my luggage from the room. I complained to the Virginia Consumer Protection department, and they didn't do shit other than talk to the manager. The manager made-up a bunch of lies about how I had sex with a maid (false), yelled at employees (I'm quiet and timid, not a yeller), and falsified reservations (impossible; I'd have to hack the central corporate computer to do that). The VA government was completely worthless and this manager is still mistreating customers (I was not the only victim as it turns out).

Those reading this probably think this is non-relevant, except that it is. It goes back to Customer Service, and the lack thereof. Whether the product is hotel rooms or laptops, there is a prevailing attitude amongst Sales people and managers that WE the customer are there to serve them.

I hope the current economic collapse quickly corrects that misconception. Without customers, business can not survive. Mistreat the customer and soon you'll be the next Circuit City.

Re:I had this happen to me at Microcenter (1, Flamebait)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 5 years ago | (#27223019)

P.S. I did get my revenge though.

Once I realized the Virginia government wasn't going to help me, I turned to my Discover Card. I explained the story to them, about how I had been overcharged and kicked out of my room, therefore I was charged $250 for a week's rent that I only used two nights. They reversed the charge and sucked that money right out of the manager's pocket. I bet he was mad. I got two free nights stay, and he got nothing.

Of course he was gay, so who knows? Maybe he enjoyed being screwed by me. (zing)

Re:I had this happen to me at Microcenter (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27223231)

Of course he was gay, so who knows? Maybe he enjoyed being screwed by me.

Don't flatter yourself...

Re:I had this happen to me at Microcenter (2, Insightful)

Shakrai (717556) | more than 5 years ago | (#27223103)

The manager made-up a bunch of lies about how I had sex with a maid (false)

Only in the South would having sex with a maid be grounds to get you kicked out of a motel. Around here it likely wouldn't even be noticed. Did she consent? Was she on her break? Then what's the problem? ;)

The damn government which is *supposed* to help the People which created it, refuses to do its job and crack-down on dishonest businessmen

I don't recall cracking down on dishonest businessmen being part of the constitution. Your story sucks and I'd like to know which Motel 6 it was so I never give them any of my money but at the end of the day the motel has every right to refuse to do business with you for almost any reason they want. They don't have the right to lie to the cops like they but if they asked you to leave and you refused technically you are trespassing and the police would get called at that point.

It's better to 'crack down' on these scumbags ourselves by refusing to do business with them and making sure as many people as possible refuse to do business with them.

Re:I had this happen to me at Microcenter (0, Offtopic)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 5 years ago | (#27223207)

False-advertising a 10% sale, which the businessman refuses to honor, is fraud. That's illegal under Virginia's Constitution.

Fredericksburg. Is that considered "the south"? The manager's name is Bryce, and I recommend you avoid doing business with him or his motel 6. In fact just boycott Motel 6 completely, since when I complained to the central office their response was, "We can't overrule the manager's decision. We can't let you stay there in the future." What kind of corporation lacks the power to overrule its own employees??? That's just pisspoor.

At least Discover was helpful, and returned my money.

Re:I had this happen to me at Microcenter (1)

Sj0 (472011) | more than 5 years ago | (#27223225)

Yeah, it's a constant problem from my perspective: Even when I want to buy something, often companies don't want my money.

It must be nice running a business that doesn't have to make money.

Re:I had this happen to me at Microcenter (1)

Bert64 (520050) | more than 5 years ago | (#27223373)

Was his motel even full at the time?
A lot of hotel managers would rather rooms sit empty than offer them out at a discount... They'd rather make a loss on the room than the smaller profit they would make from a cheaper room.

This happens in all kinds of businesses too, i knew someone who rented a rack full of servers, most of which sat idle because he was waiting for high paying customers, and wouldn't rent them out cheaper on a short term contract (where they would only be using the power and bandwidth he already paid for which was being wasted). Surely it would have made sense to rent those servers out cheaply month by month until you had a very small number left, and then gradually raise the prices and let the cheaper customers pay more or migrate away as you're finding higher paying customers to replace them.

Re:I had this happen to me at Microcenter (1)

Skater (41976) | more than 5 years ago | (#27223563)

Motel 6 is horrible. I like to call them "Motel 666". I used to be in a cycling club, and we almost always used Motel 666 when going to races. There wasn't a single trip that year that Motel 666 didn't somehow screw up our reservations, usually in new and creative ways. I assume we kept using them because they were cheap, but I'm not sure it was worth the aggravation. One quick example of the problems we encountered: one time they lost our reservations, so we booked new rooms, then they woke us at 3 a.m. to ask if we still wanted the other rooms after they found the original reservations.

Ex Office Depot Employee. (1)

meerling (1487879) | more than 5 years ago | (#27222773)

When I worked at Office Depot, anybody doing something like that would be fired on the spot. Of course, that was over a decade ago... (I left because I got a job that paid enough I could stop getting unemployment...)

They can't do this without help from the store. (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27222781)

The managers of these unethical scum are completely aware of what is going on.

Re:They can't do this without help from the store. (4, Interesting)

Hurricane78 (562437) | more than 5 years ago | (#27222885)

Aware? Do you think a employee would actually care about that crappy company, to pull off shit like that?

I bet they even have to tell the employees that they can choose between lying to customers, or getting fired.

Learn how to submit a proper article, dude (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27222795)

"LAPTOP" is not a universally known group, even among geeks. You need to explain who they are. That's just good journalism.
Haven't you ever hung around a person who said "Hey, man, so did you hear about the thing?" and you just look at them dumbfounded because you have no idea what he's talking about?

Indeed. (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27223061)

Just what would DESKTOP and SERVER think of all this? Let alone how NETBOOK would feel about being left out and poor old MAINFRAME in the corner has been all but forgotten.

Seriously though, I can't help but feel there's something inherently lame about naming your group/publication/whatever after a common peice of hardware then capitalising it.

With the random littering of LAPTOP in capitals throughout the summar it read more like an advert.

I know what it is... (1)

jonaskoelker (922170) | more than 5 years ago | (#27223359)

Just like when you play a record backwards you can hear the devil speak---especially rock music or, going from the 50s to the 90s, rap music---the true meaning of LAPTOP is in the reversal:

POT PAL.

Awww, the whatever-it-is wants to be your smoke bloke.

Re:Learn how to submit a proper article, dude (5, Insightful)

afabbro (33948) | more than 5 years ago | (#27223071)

Fortunately, the editors here catch and correct...oh, that's right.

Re:Learn how to submit a proper article, dude (1)

digitalderbs (718388) | more than 5 years ago | (#27223113)

Not to mention that he missed the true story. A laptop was working for Office Depot, let alone the fact that it's sentient in the first place!

Ex Office Depot Employee (5, Insightful)

mosb1000 (710161) | more than 5 years ago | (#27222803)

I used to work there. I can see how their employee incentives would lead to these kind of practices. There's something wrong when your focus has to be selling an "attachment" item over the actual product. And no one ever uses their extended warranty (don't tell me a story about a time you used it, you're the exception, not the rule) It's dishonest. Insurance on an item you can afford to replace is always a bad deal.

Re:Ex Office Depot Employee (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27222883)

For the company is used to work for selling electronics in the UK the statistics for claims on our extended warranty was something around 90% of people claim under within 5 years for laptops, 70% for desktops. These figures were from about 3 years ago so i'm not sure if thats changed now but clearly people do use these things.

I'm not trying to suggest they are good deals or that the price of repairs were much lower than the cost of the warranty in many cases but saying that no one ever uses their extended warranty is just fantasy on your part.

I would also point out that if the laptop i'm typing this on right now were to suddenly break. No i couldn't just afford to replace it.

Also the point on focusing on selling and attachment over the product is that most people actually want the product, the "attachments" normally have a much higher profit margin than the product itself. It's also in a way good customer service to actually make sure the customer has everything they need or want, eg a bag for their laptop or a blank dvd to make the recovery disc etc.

Re:Ex Office Depot Employee (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27222961)

I don't think people would be complaining too loudly if the salesman was pushing a bag and a couple of blank disks at them. It's the warrenties that piss people off, especially when unethical scumbags try to sell them on mice, keyboards and the like.

A former employer of mine discovered our office supplies company had been charging us a hidden 2% "insurance" on all our purchases...

Yes, insurance on tape, staples and envelopes. Honestly. It took a few weeks to get it removed and backdated too, and he now has to call in every order and request it's not added to the invoice.

Re:Ex Office Depot Employee (3, Insightful)

JosKarith (757063) | more than 5 years ago | (#27223523)

And yet you're still buying from them? I'd personally consider a business practice like that one hell of a red flag and look at having nothing more to do with them.

Re:Ex Office Depot Employee (3, Insightful)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 5 years ago | (#27223059)

>>>For the company is used to work for selling electronics in the UK the statistics for claims on our extended warranty was something around 90% of people claim under within 5 years for laptops, 70% for desktops.

First off - consider the source. Citing statistics from the company selling extended warranties, is like citing a cigarette company which claims "menthol" cigarettes improve health. I don't believe the stats, since the "mortality curve" shows most hardware either dies within the first 6 months, or after 10 years, with very low mortality in between.

And even if we assume those stats are real, it's still a very bad deal for the customer. Paying $200 for a 5-year-old laptop or PC, which you could just buy on ebay for $50, doesn't make much sense. That's why extended warranties are so profitable.

I had an extended warranty on my 97 Dodge. The car did have problems initially, but those were covered free-of-charge by the manufacturer, and afterwards I drove the car 120,000 miles without flaws. I never needed to buy an extended warranty; it was just wasted money.

Re:Ex Office Depot Employee (1)

DarKnyht (671407) | more than 5 years ago | (#27223313)

I swear by the HP Extended warranties on laptops because it is a guarantee that they will have some critical failure just after three years. I've yet to deal with a HP Business Notebook that doesn't have system board, HDD, or display issues between year 3 and 4.

Likewise, I generally invest in the accidental damage warranty because users are stupid. So far they have paid for themselves for the number of Coke accidents we've experienced. Not to mention other acts of stupidity or just failure (like power cord malfunctions) that HP considers user wear and tear.

Extended Warranty (5, Insightful)

Samschnooks (1415697) | more than 5 years ago | (#27223077)

...that no one ever uses their extended warranty is just fantasy on your part.

That's assuming you actually can use it. Many times, when you actually try to make a claim, the insurance company that backs the warranty, will not back it up - they'll find something in the fine print of the contract that they'll use as an excuse to tell you to take a hike; which then it becomes a battle. Many times, they don't even have a legitimate reason not to honor the warranty, but they do anyway because they're crooks.

A Consumer advocate's take:

Why extended warranties are a rip [clarkhoward.com]

Why extended warranties are no good [clarkhoward.com]

Re:Ex Office Depot Employee (1)

Bert64 (520050) | more than 5 years ago | (#27223551)

The chance of a given appliance failing, assuming you have quite a few, is pretty slim...
What if you were to open a savings account, and pay into it all the money you *would* have spent on extended warranties...
You will find that before too long, that account has more than enough money in it to replace one or two items if they were to fail, but that most failures occur within the first year (covered by the default manufacturer warranty) anyway.

In terms of those claims on the extended warranty, during the first year providers of extended warranties will just refer to the manufacturer's service but still count that as a claim.

Some devices have longer warranties by default too, especially computing related devices... Memory often has a lifetime warranty on the basis that 99% of the memory sold will be discarded long before it fails, and any that is claimed for years down the line will be so worthless by that time that the cost of replacing it is negligible (and you can replace it with "refurbished" stock that someone else has discarded).

Warranty claims are often denied too, companies will often try to worm out of honoring an extended warranty if you actually dare to make a claim. And often they will place unwanted restrictions, such as not letting you open the device (which you may want to do to upgrade it)...

I was offered an extended warranty (for 3 years) on a laptop recently which cost 1/3 of the price of the laptop itself... The first year is covered by the manufacturer's warranty so you really only get 2 years of warranty.. Once the manufacturer's warranty has expired the model is now a year old and available for half the price... After another year it's now available for less than a third of it's original price and by the third year it's virtually worthless and many people will already be considering replacing it.

I have never purchased an extended warranty, and have had various appliances and equipment...
The disk failed in my macbook pro within 6 months and was replaced for free under warranty (lucky i keep backups)
The disk failed in a Thinkpad 600e after 5 years, by then the laptop was so old i just threw it out.
A motherboard (the sata controller on it) failed last week in a desktop i bought in 2003, i just threw it out.
2 Dell latitude C610 laptops from i think 2003-2004 are still working fine.
Various old equipment from the 90s still works (routers, switches, sparcs and an amiga etc)
My vacuum cleaner still works after 5 years, the extended warranty i was offered at the time would have expired by now.
The oven in my house broke recently, it is 13 years old, the previous owner had a 5 year warrant on it and i have no idea if it had any repairs during that time, it ran fine for 5 years until recently.
My microwave is now 6 years old, the extended warranty they offered would have expired with no claims.
Same for my fridge, tho it's even older.
I have several games consoles, all over a year old now, they are modded so the warranty would have been void anyway.
I have a TV which is over 15 years old, and still going strong.

The only case where an extended warranty would have been claimed on, is an Intel macbook where the drive failed after just over 2 years, but the cost of the warranty would have been much higher than the cost of the new higher capacity drive i bought for it.

And yes, while it may be good customer service to *offer* customers accessories they might want or need, unscrupulous salesmen will often try to convince them they need stuff that will serve them no purpose... Salesmen are not impartial advisers.

you guys are suprised? (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27222809)

I worked for Officemax for 4 months, it was routine for me to lie to customers, change prices, say we didn't have something and stare at it, laughing all the while with my manager. I didn't particularly find it funny, but I needed the money. I quit that as fast as I can like any other respectable person.

Look at it this way though, although they may be screwing their customers, the average person that buys their computers from them have no idea how to use a computer. These are the people from personal experience want to return and or "have us service it in store" at any given time noon or night. I mean honestly how many of you have bought them from the store recently?

Wanna know how to get around shady clerks who don't want to sell it to you? Just go on the internet and have it shipped to the store, that way you can still act like you got it from them, or even easier if you wanna go to the store first just special order it from the warehouse. After I figured out how to do those 2 things at Officemax I had customers tipping me just for being helpful. It really was a learning experience though; working on typewriters older than me.

Re:you guys are suprised? (1)

stalwartPK39 (1105047) | more than 5 years ago | (#27222863)

When is it interesting/beneficial for a salesperson to claim that a store doesn't have something?

Re:you guys are suprised? (1)

dattaway (3088) | more than 5 years ago | (#27223001)

When is it interesting/beneficial for a salesperson to claim that a store doesn't have something?

Some salesmen can often be funny creatures like a guy that doesn't date much. They start to do funny, destructive things much like a sociopath. They are often coached by management with random tips how to improve sales. Wanting to appear smart, they may deliberately pass on the small fish and claim that customer had no money and was wasting time.

Re:you guys are suprised? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27223311)

"Sorry we don't have the cheaper model in stock. We could order it for you... or you could pay just $400 more for this much more powerful machine and you can take it home today!"

or

"You don't want an extended warranty? OK, let me check... uhhh no sorry, that model isn't in stock."

Re:you guys are suprised? (1)

Bert64 (520050) | more than 5 years ago | (#27223583)

When you think you can con the customer into buying a more expensive alternative instead.

Re:you guys are suprised? (0, Flamebait)

/ASCII (86998) | more than 5 years ago | (#27223051)

"I quit that as fast as I can like any other respectable person."

Sorry, no respectable person would do the things you describe.

Quotas (1, Informative)

stupidflanders (1230894) | more than 5 years ago | (#27222817)

Target has a daily sales quota for credit cards and for warranties. It is part of your essential job function. You do it, or else. If you didn't meet quota, management gave you a warning. Two strikes and, well, guess you didn't really want that $0.35/hour raise, did you?

Re:Quotas (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27222893)

That's absolute rubbish. I worked at Target and that never happened.

Profit margins (5, Informative)

AnalPerfume (1356177) | more than 5 years ago | (#27222857)

This type of behavior is all to do with the profit margins. They have to cut their profit margins wafer thin on the products themselves due to competition, but extended warranties are mostly pure profit. Most people who buy an extended warranty on any product (not just PCs) won't need to claim against it within the time covered, and even if they do, no doubt the small print will have something which exempts that particular issue so they'll never have to actually pay out on it. The small minority who do have to claim and have the warranty pay out often find that one claim pays for the warranty.

The thing that many people don't take into account at the time of purchase, is that if the unit breaks in 4 years, do you want the same thing repaired, or do you want newer technology? If you bought an XBOX which needed repairing 3 years later, wouldn't you rather use that same warranty cash (in part) for an XBOX 360?

I used to work for an electrical retailer in the UK, and the pressure on sales staff to get a certain percentage of their sales figures in extended warranties and instore credit cards (where the compound interest rates were horrendous) was immense. They'd rather you had a little sale with a large percentage of the total price being a warranty, than a large value sale which was all product. They even tried to bully us into visiting the area manager to explain our lack of target achievement.....needless to say, I'm not there anymore. As a customer, it is handy to be able to cut the sales staff off with "I used to sell these things, I know the deal, forget it" when the "would you be interested in....." line comes up.

We got told we could offer discounts ONLY if an extended warranty was being bought at the same time, or they were opening an instore credit card. We were encouraged to just tick the "payment protection" box because it saves time explaining what it is, and it's more profit. I insisted in explaining to the customer as I felt like I was cheating them if I decided for them.

This type of behavior does go further than my ex-employers would go (at the time I worked there at least). It's gonna be interesting how many complaints / lawsuits they get from disgruntled customers who never realized something was fishy at the time but suddenly the penny drops that it happened to them. If this does get through courtrooms / inquiry where the allegations are proven true and they are punished for it, it'll be a hellava hit on their reputation for a while to come. Right now no companies can afford to lose customers.

Re:Profit margins (1)

Brickwall (985910) | more than 5 years ago | (#27222971)

On the other hand, when I bought my Chrysler minivan, I did purchase the extended warranty, and it paid for itself many times over when the air conditioner failed three times after the standard warranty had expired. But cars operate in much harsher environments than most electronic goods; if it works out of the box, it will probably operate just fine for years. My Dell has been on practically 24/7 for five years; I reboot it once a month. But here in Canada, I've been offered extended warranty on many household purchases, and I just say "No thanks" and it doesn't seem to be a problem. But I don't shop at Office Depot.

Re:Profit margins (1)

91degrees (207121) | more than 5 years ago | (#27223043)

Cars (and other vehicles) are potentially very expensive so they're a bit different, and have much longer expectation of life. Electrical goods have a manufacturers warranty anyway. After that expires, the extended warranty will cover a decent portion of the replacement cost, and that's in the unlikely event that it does go wrong. If you own more than a couple of pieces of expensive electronics it makes more sense to put he warranty money into a jar and buy a replacement if any of them break. Typically the exteneded warranty is about a third of the cost of the device. The odds of the device breaking after 1 year but before 4 years are much lower than 1 in 3.

Re:Profit margins (1)

Hognoxious (631665) | more than 5 years ago | (#27223041)

I paid extra for an extended warranty on a Gateway laptop (back when a Pentium II 233 was king) and it went wrong with about two months left to run. Called support, it was picked up the next day and within a week they'd sent me essentially a new machine. The only old part was the CD-Rom drive which still had the foam I'd attached to damp the vibration.

So they aren't always useless.

P.S. The machine still works, with RH6.2 on it that I installed to learn about Linux.

Re:Profit margins (1)

rtb61 (674572) | more than 5 years ago | (#27223375)

Cut profit margins, I see you buying into that whole yarn. This is all about maximising profits, this is all about maximum short term bonuses for the executive team, this is about making the companying look as attractive as possible in the short term to maximise share price and of course all about a total disregard for the future, for anything beyond the this financial year.

Lie, cheat and steal as an accepted corporate business tactic, lie to customers, lie to employees and lie to shareholders. This is about spending more on B$ marketing that on providing the customer with reliable services and products, get them in the store, try to rip them off for as much as possible and then have marketing try to fix the problem with more bullshit.

The strange thing is, this is about cops in the 50s and 60s moaning about conmen and bunko artists, saying if only those people put their intelligence to work in business everyone would be better off. Well the cops, wish came true, all those bunko artists and conmen became corporate executives, sure they were better off but every else was far worse off.

Honesty and integrity are no longer seen as being an intrinsic part of a modern society but as an anachronistic hold over and a block to the illusion of unlimited profit.

The reality is profit margins are nowhere near as low as corporations like to make out for tax purpose, between taking out of pointless loans so the capital can be milked out of a company and profits can be hidden behind debt repayments and fudging import prices where a middle man hides the profit in tax havens between the export and retail locations, of course not to forget the grossly inflated wages of the executive team and directors. In all the business I've come in contact with, the difference between rec-retail price and the wholesale discount rate was anything between 30% and 90% and companies would still manage to claim, for tax purposes barely a 5% return.

Hmm (4, Insightful)

ShooterNeo (555040) | more than 5 years ago | (#27222867)

Why the heck does anyone buy electronics from brick and mortar stores any more? Yes, occasionally you can find "deals" compared to online - but those always HAVE to be at a loss compared to online stores.

The reason is that online stores have several massive advantages. Economies of scale are one : newegg.com and the others can supply the entire United States with electronics using just a few large warehouses, with heavy use of automation. The real estate, labor, energy usage, advertising costs, management...it's all cheaper with a few large warehouses.

The second massive advantage is that electronic goods inherently plummet in value very rapidly. The longer something sits in inventory, the less money the store makes by selling it. Again, the online stores need vastly smaller inventories relative to their total sales, and I suspect sometimes work so efficiently as to unload goods from the shipping containers from china and immediatly send it on the buyers.

I know what most of you are going to say : "instant gratification" isn't there. True. Still, electronics are cheap and light to ship. It's cheaper to have a video card overnighted from newegg than it is to pay the usual price the same video card is listed at in Best Buy.

The overwhelming majority of us don't need instant gratification, we can wait 2 days. If we are doing something where high uptime is critical, then it's still cheaper to order a few extra parts from newegg as spares than it is to buy stuff from Best Buy or Fry's. Or just keep your old stuff for spares.

Re:Hmm (3, Insightful)

Starayo (989319) | more than 5 years ago | (#27222953)

Why the heck does anyone buy electronics from brick and mortar stores any more?

Because just like people won't do a fucking google search to answer their questions, they won't shop around online.

Also, the FUD regarding online transactions. "But the hackers can steal my credit card and put it up on the youtubes!" is one I actually heard.

Most brick-and-mortar stores that your average joe will go to deal with the majority of people that just want a computer to "check my email, use word and watch the youtubes". I can't speak for chains, there being no real big computer-centric ones in my country, but most of the computer shops I've seen maintain a small brick-and-mortar store, while simultaneously operating an online store. It seems to work pretty well for them.

Re:Hmm (2, Insightful)

dattaway (3088) | more than 5 years ago | (#27222979)

Because some of these stores are actually front ends of large regional distribution wharehouses. At the Microcenter down the street, they may have several laptops of a certain brand in the retail area, but they often have several hundred more of that model on pallets in back. I know that store doesn't sell them all through the front door as they could have hundreds one day and only several left the next.

Re:Hmm (1)

ShooterNeo (555040) | more than 5 years ago | (#27222999)

That's a pretty clever idea, actually. If Microcenter maintained just one combined warehouse/store in every major U.S. city, they could provide super fast shipping to most customers in the United States AND keep those that want instant gratification supplied with electronics.

Re:Hmm (5, Insightful)

TuaAmin13 (1359435) | more than 5 years ago | (#27222995)

How about demoing?
I would never buy anything of considerable expense (TV, laptop, etc) without looking at a placeholder model. Is the keyboard too crunched, is the screen shitty? What's it look like sitting next to another model you were thinking about? Stuff like that you can't tell online via reviews. I was deciding between a 901 and 1000HE eeePC, had the dimensions drawn out on a piece of paper, but couldn't decide which I liked more. Physically seeing both models helped me pick.

Maybe at that point I might check back online for a better price, but not without going to a B&M first.

Secondly, you underestimate the power of local support. I'm definitely not waving the Geek Squad flag here, but with some purchases it's better to go with a local vendor for faster support.

Re:Hmm (1)

ShooterNeo (555040) | more than 5 years ago | (#27223029)

Good point, sorta. To be honest, I feel like online reviews, as long as I read a variety of professional and amateur reviews from a wide variety of places, give more accurate information than my own 2 eyes. The reason is that even if I physically go to see a demo, Best Buy doesn't have every product available, while online reviewers, especially the pros, have the experience to compare a product to all that are available in the market. Another excellent source of information is message boards : overall, I think message boards provide the most accurate, unbiased information for a particular subject.

Sample bias on message boards? (1)

jonaskoelker (922170) | more than 5 years ago | (#27223443)

overall, I think message boards provide the most accurate, unbiased information for a particular subject.

Really? There's no asymmetry? I'd think maybe you'd have to like a product very much to voice good opinions, but not hate it quite as much to dis it.

I guess if all products get the same slightly more negative or positive (or in other ways skewed) forum feedback, then it evens out. Maybe.

But I think that the motivation to tell the world how you feel is going to make you deliver a more true message than money (reviewer salary), money (get-the-facts advertisement) or money (volunteer reviews for some organization so they can save money).

Aha! An explanation (0)

UnixUnix (1149659) | more than 5 years ago | (#27222921)

Some time ago I picked up a barcode card for a clearance laptop from the O.D. stacks. Right then I received a phone call and I left the store in a hurry without buying anything.

A couple of days later I was at the same store and noticed that the price was higher, $50 more or so. I bought it anyway... went home, and was able to find the old barcode card in the pocket of the coat I had been wearing the other day

Intrigued, I took the card and the sales receipt back to the store. Well, as soon as they heard my story they INSTANTLY scanned the barcode and gave me the extra money back, on the spot, no manager approval needed, nothing!

At the time I did not realize that maybe, just maybe, something systematic was going on and they had good reason to avoid a fuss and end the matter as quickly and quietly as possible!

Re:Aha! An explanation (1)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 5 years ago | (#27223035)

I don't get it. Who says the cost of an item today should be the same as the cost of the item tomorrow.. or a "couple of days" later. And, that said, who says the listed price is the price you have to pay? What ever happened to the haggle?

Not the Only Company to do this (2, Informative)

Russell2566 (1205416) | more than 5 years ago | (#27223027)

I was a commission salesmen for CompUSA for a short stint for some extra cash between jobs. I was amazed when I found out that the same things were going on there, only it was being forced on the salesmen by the General Manager and Sales Manager.

If I couldn't sell a laptop that was on sale without TAP (their protection warranty) we were told to tell the customer that unfortunately the last one just went out. They would change the stock counts so they had full control. Printers, PDAs and cameras were as bad as Laptops; the world stopped and you got a major bitch session if you sold one without TAP.

They even went as far as to reprint their own prices, raising the price of every laptop and some computers and items by at least $100 in the store. If a salesmen was unable to sell TAP then with permission of the sales manager they could "save" the customer $100 of the price of the laptop if they bought TAP... Fictitiously bringing the price down $100-$200.

Re:Not the Only Company to do this (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27223501)

This is what I don't understand. They raise the sticker price ABOVE what it should cost with warranty? Why would they the offer the warranty? From their perspective If some schmoe was willing to pay (lets say) $800 for an item that should be/was priced at $600, why tell him/her that it will only cost him $700 with warranty? Why not say "It's $800. Have a good day"? S/he's already prepared to pay $800. Why would they trade at a "loss" to ensure the customer gets a warranty, surely it's more desirable for him to pay for a warranty but not receive one? Are they selling customer information or something?

Also, I can't picture a sales pitch where the customer is discussing warranties without ascertaining whether or not it's in stock. Surely in a brick-and-mortar store, the customer first has a look at the item before discussing options? If they keep the stock on the floor with refills out the back, then the availability of said item is already shown. If it's done with display models, how is it that the customers' first question isn't "Do you have this in (stock/$FAVOURITE_COLOUR)"? That's always my first question, and not because I'm aware/cautious of this warranty scam, it just seems like an important opening question and I can't imagine anyone not asking it before discussing warranty options (that goes at the end, right?). I would be suspicious if the conversation went:

Me: I would like XYZ, please

Salesperson: Do you want warranty?

Me: No thankyou

Salesperson: SORRY NOT IN STOCK. ARE YOU SURE YOU DON'T WANT WARRANTY, WINK?

Re:Not the Only Company to do this (1)

Russell2566 (1205416) | more than 5 years ago | (#27223591)

It was disgusting to me to witness this. BTW, they push the warranties so much because of the free trips and stuff that the GMs and Sales Managers get. This results in more money to those directly in charge; store profit is not exactly always the motivator.

In CompUSA's case, no stock was kept on the floor and in my experience no one ever asks if something was in stock first. They just always assume.

Fixed Pricing (1)

echucker (570962) | more than 5 years ago | (#27223057)

This is the same reason I car shop at dealers that offer fixed pricing. No screwing around with what is available, and how much it costs. If you have the product I want at a fair price, I'll purchase it. If you don't, I'll walk out without spending a dime.

Re:Fixed Pricing (2, Informative)

park3r (833325) | more than 5 years ago | (#27223413)

I've never understood this. Why would anyone be satisfied with paying up to $10000 more than a car is worth, just because they "simplify" the buying process by not allowing you to negotiate on price. Maybe I'm in the minority, but I always want a deal when I buy a car. Or anything else, for that matter.

It's just business baby... (5, Insightful)

Jackie_Chan_Fan (730745) | more than 5 years ago | (#27223169)

Why am i not shocked?

I'm growing to hate money and all who seek it at the cost of being fair, honest, and humane. Greed is a disgusting thing.

I'm all for public hangings of guilty CEO and politicians.

Not Standard Practice (5, Informative)

apharmdq (219181) | more than 5 years ago | (#27223179)

I work at Office Depot currently, and I can assure you this is not standard practice where I work, and certainly wouldn't be allowed by any of the managers or corporate. With regards to the issue about people lying about laptops being out of stock, yes, there were some salespeople who were doing that. As soon as it was found out, the practice was halted and everyone was informed that under no circumstances was it to be allowed. (And logically, even selling a laptop without the extended warranty is better than not selling it at all.) I so know that if any of this happened at the place I work, the employee responsible would be fired with no hesitation.

It is true that Office Depot does tend to push for these warranties, add-ons, etc, but you'll find that just about every other store, from Best Buy to Fry's does the same. Like it or not, that's how the business is run.
As a customer, it's annoying, but you just have to put up with it and move on in life, just as you put up with club cards, coupons, mailers, and all the other little annoyances that just about every store dumps on you these days.
As an employee, it can be stressful, but it's unlikely that you'll get fired if you don't contribute to the "quota." (And remember, this is retail. Working in retail sucks in general.)

And just as a final word, I'm not a manager, or corporate, or any higher up at OD. I'm just a lowly employee working there to pay for my textbooks because the hours are flexible enough to accommodate for my classes. I don't particularly have much company loyalty, but it does tick me off that people are spreading what is essentially tabloid journalism without giving any thought as to whether it's a widespread practice, or just some individuals who are giving the company a poor image.

Not Illegal. In fact business as usual (1)

littlewink (996298) | more than 5 years ago | (#27223385)

I see nothing illegal here. If a buyer is willing to buy a PC for $599 without realizing that there is an included service plan charge, then he must believe it is a good deal. Of course, $519 (the original price minus $80 service plan) would be a _better_ deal, but the original deal is enough for the buyer to buy.

So a deal is made, some profit is made, the user buys an unnecessary service plan but nonetheless is very happy with the price. Aren't we getting a little Victorian about the profit motive here? After all, the goal of business is to profit and survive, not to give up all your profits in service to the customer. That's the road to bankruptcy.

Another way to look at it is to ask if you would criticize the deal were the additional $80 pure profit.

Another one bites the dust (1)

dazedNconfuzed (154242) | more than 5 years ago | (#27223463)

Belkin.
Dell.
Office Depot.

Just one more company on my short, but growing, list of companies I just won't deal with at all, ever, because of some galactically stupid screw-the-customer policy.

Consumers do have power (1)

Drakkenmensch (1255800) | more than 5 years ago | (#27223515)

Some years ago, I saw a printed ad for some Kingston RAM for sale, pretty cheap too, so of course I stop by the store and ask for that specific model. The sales guy puts a package with generic RAM in front of me, and asks for the 20$ higher regular price on that one. "That's not what's in the ad, or what I asked for at all." I said, to which he replied "That's what you're going to buy." I sneered at him and never stepped in that store again. In a way, I'm grateful he acted that way because as a result of his attitude, I found a smaller shop an hour later that had better prices and technically qualified sales clerks.
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