Office Depot: A Dish Best Served Coldly

I had a bad experience with Office Depot.

This all may seem kind of piddly, but it's frustrating and quite frankly shouldn't have happened.

I've been around the block when it comes to technology deals. I tend to be rather frugal with my purchases. I take advantage of rebates. I'm persistent and will not let a rebate go unclaimed. So when I saw a KDS XF-9S 19in CRT monitor for $137.80 with a $100 rebate, my interest was piqued. I reviewed the rebate form (http://forms.young-america.com/31565_OD4802033-011106.pdf), and it seemed to be acceptable, although I didn't like the idea of waiting 60-90 days. Even better, Office Depot had a coupon for $30 off of an order of $150 or more. So for $12.20 more, I could save another $30. I added the monitor to the cart, and saw that others that had purchased the monitor had also purchased monitor wipes for $7.99, and screen cleaner for $4.99. This would add $12.98, bringing the order to $150.78. I added these items to the cart as well. With the coupon applied, the total would be $120.78, and after rebate everything would cost $20.78. Not bad, I thought.

So I had the shopping cart up with the three items and the coupon in it. Under the coupon was a phrase:"Coupon discounts will be applied during checkout. Click Here to see if you met your coupons criteria." The "Click Here" was a hyperlink. When I clicked on it, it indeed told me that the coupon was valid. From the shopping cart page, I clicked the "Checkout" button. From there, I entered my billing information and reviewed the order summary. The $30 coupon had been split up so that a portion of the $30 applied to each item. This was fine, as the Total was $120.78. I reviewed the rebate form one more time and didn't see anything extraordinary so I clicked the "PLACE ORDER" button that had "This will complete your order." under it.

I was taken to a "Thank you" page that summarized the order... for a total of $159.07. It looked like the coupon hadn't been applied! And tax had been added AFTER I was presented with a Total that I agreed to. I can handle sales tax I guess, though it SHOULD have been presented at the time of the order CONFIRMATION, rather than AFTER THE ORDER WAS PLACED. But there was no indication that the coupon was removed. So I had agreed to charges of $120.78, and was going to be charged $159.07. I didn't like where this was heading.

I called Office Depot's number. The people, while nice enough, insisted that they don't do coupons for technology items. I asked why the coupon showed up on their website, and I was told that third-parties often take advantage of their website and put bogus coupons on it. This seemed absurd, and I pressed the issue, especially since their OWN website VALIDATED THE COUPON and APPLIED THE COUPON TO THE ORDER TOTAL prior to submission. "After you submit the order, invalid coupons are removed." Where on EARTH does that seem like a good idea? And again, their website told me that coupon was, in fact, valid. Ultimately, I wound up cancelling the order, and requesting that they scrub all information pertaining to me and my order from all of their systems. If Office Depot can't even handle PROCESSING COUPONS in 2006, how on EARTH can I trust them to safeguard my personal information, including credit-card info? The woman I was speaking with started telling me things that I thought were a tad bit inappropriate to be disclosing, when I pressed her on this. She told me they did all kinds of things to ensure security, etc. But she went on to say that orders over a certain amount (she disclosed the amount) were processed more closely with the credit card company so fraud attempts would be detected. It's probably nothing, but if they're giving that kind of information out about their policies... I was urged to email "complaints@officedepot.com" with my concerns.

I inspected the coupon I used a bit more, too.
The coupon is comprised of 4 different images. Guess what? All images reside at www.officedepot.com. They are:

So apparently some third-party hacked OfficeDepot.com, posted some official-looking graphics, and modified a web page at officedepot.com to pull all the graphics together. Then, the bandit posted the URL all over the Internet.

The ONLY THING that Office Depot has going for them is the fact that the customer service people were quite polite. I don't think they were necessarily trying to deceive me. Rather, I suspect some significant communications problems within the organization. And some bad programming on the part of the developers of OfficeDepot.com.

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