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Office Depot is looking into allegations of employees lying to customers

Office Depot is currently under fire over allegations that some of its locations and employees were lying to customers about stock levels on notebook computers if they thought the person wouldn't buy one of the companies profitable extended warranties or technology services.

As DailyTech reported yesterday; Laptop Magazine posted a story about the aggressive sales person at one location trying to sell a warranty with a system the publication wanted to buy. That story led to many comments from people claiming to be Office Depot employees saying that some locations told employees to lie about stock levels if the buyer didn’t want an extended warranty.

Today Office Depot Director of Public Relations Mindy Kramer contacted DailyTech and offered an official statement. The statement is as follows:

In response to your article, Office Depot would like to make the following comment:

First, as part of our commitment to providing office supply solutions to our customers, we offer numerous products and services, including service warranties and other complementary products and services for many technology products. These offerings are similar to other sellers of consumer electronics. Office Depot's objective is to offer such products and services to our customers, without regard to whether a customer purchases or does not purchase service warranties or other complimentary products and services. Although we offer a variety of sales promotions, like most retailers, we sell customers only what they wish to purchase. We do not have, nor have we ever had, policies or strategies contrary to this objective, and we do not condone sales practices to the contrary.   

Accordingly, we do not have any policies or sales objectives to limit the sales of laptop computers to only those customers who agree to purchase service warranties. Office Depot has been recognized with numerous awards for our commitment to customer service, so please know that we take this issue very seriously and will take the necessary steps to ensure that we continue to enhance the customer experience and promote quality in our customer-related processes. We are currently in the process of reviewing this situation, and if any associates have deviated from our sales objectives and policies, then they may be subject to disciplinary action, including termination.

If the allegations that some Office Depot employees made claiming that they could be terminated by managers for not selling enough of the service plans and tech services are accurate, things may be getting worse for employees. They can allegedly be fired for not selling enough of the add-ons and can now be fired for not selling the notebooks to customers who don’t want to buy the add-ons.

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By djc208 on 3/12/2009 12:25:32 PM , Rating: 5
Office Depot has been recognized with numerous awards for our commitment to customer service,

Most of them are from ourselves or other organizations that no one has heard of and don't actually have to deal with our customer service, but we have them.

RE: Awards
By Motoman on 3/12/2009 12:44:21 PM , Rating: 4
Make that a 6. So a bunch of monkeys in suits get together and dole out awards. Who cares? There are precious few major companies in this world that I would categorize as having acceptable customer service...Office Depot is not one of them.

RE: Awards
By DASQ on 3/12/2009 12:48:43 PM , Rating: 3
Congratulations, DASQ! You've been awarded Best DASQ of the Year! Customer Service DASQ Award!

I'm better at this than you Office Depot. My customer satisfaction has been 100%.

RE: Awards
By TomZ on 3/12/2009 12:48:57 PM , Rating: 5
Agreed, and to Office Depot, the only "award" that should matter is earning our business as potential customers.

Stories like this coming to the surface, and the subsequenct flood of corporate-speak PR BS that follows, doesn't really help my confidence in Office Depot.

Office Depot, please read and learn:

These markets are conversations. Their members communicate in language that is natural, open, honest, direct, funny and often shocking. Whether explaining or complaining, joking or serious, the human voice is unmistakably genuine. It can't be faked.

Most corporations, on the other hand, only know how to talk in the soothing, humorless monotone of the mission statement, marketing brochure, and your-call-is-important-to-us busy signal. Same old tone, same old lies. No wonder networked markets have no respect for companies unable or unwilling to speak as they do.

RE: Awards
By BladeVenom on 3/12/2009 2:30:01 PM , Rating: 5
Since when does subpoenas by state Attorney Generals count as awards?

RE: Awards
By pxavierperez on 3/12/2009 5:32:30 PM , Rating: 2

RE: Awards
By inperfectdarkness on 3/12/2009 9:47:52 PM , Rating: 2
they're hurting themselves.

laptop sale w/o laptop extended warranty is still a sale.


RE: Awards
By JwSew on 3/14/2009 11:17:08 AM , Rating: 2
It is, but what a lot of people don't realize is that the electronics market is so fierce right now that a lot of retailers actually lose money when they sell a laptop. As a former Circuit City Employee I know the importance of getting add ons, not always warranties, but things like printers, cables, mice, bags, it's where the company actually makes it's money back. So, you can say it's no big deal to just sell the laptop as is, but if you do that enough, it starts to hurt in a hurry.

RE: Awards
By mindless1 on 3/14/2009 3:08:43 PM , Rating: 2
It's not that simple. Before the recent economic problems, consider a car dealership model. They get X # of product, and try to maximize profit on each sale, because they will sell what they have. Technology items, unlike a box of paperclips, aren't stocked by the thousands and depreciate in value so they are ordered on an as-needed and availability basis.

I'm not condoning this tactic, but rest assured they do have a pretty good idea whether or not they're going to lose a sale and have stock left over by telling people it's out of stock. Not per customer, but sales trends in general.

If their prior tactic was to make the profits on the add-ons, ultimately the result of this negative PR could be they just mark up the laptops enough to make the profit off those directly.

By HaB1971 on 3/12/2009 1:50:32 PM , Rating: 4
So as usual the corporate PR machine grinds it gears and comes out with the usual drivel. I hope they actually read the comments posted below the article, but that is wishful thinking.

Associates are pressured and coerced into selling the warranties. True, this is part of their job description and they are free to work elsewhere if they don't like it, but the fact is they are harassed, written up then fired if they don't meet their quotas.
This is true of any company that employs people who are there to sell a product or a service.

This story strikes at the heart of retail sales life that is low paid, stressful (ok I know a bunch of youths huddled in the corner of the building chatting and ignoring customers is not stressful) unrewarding and ultimately soul destroying. They would rather walk a customer than face the wrath of managers or head office who have their asinine (deniable) policies and tyrannical rule over their associate minions.

Retail is hell to work in due to unrealistic demands of the customer and the petty demands of management. Neither can be appeased as the customer wants everything for nothing and management wants everything from everyone for nothing.

Retailers continually fail to recognize that the people who work for them are human and should be treated as such. They all have their bogus mission statements about how they respect associates and that they are their greatest asset yet they fail to show this time and time again.

I see plenty of bashing of low paid sales associates and there are some of them that are lower than pond scum but for those actually trying to make a living their life is a hell that should never have to be experienced by anyone.

Office Depot you along with the rest of electronics retail suck !!! and that’s the award that I have given you.

By kfonda on 3/12/2009 2:53:33 PM , Rating: 2
The sad thing is that electronics retail stores probably can not survive. I don't see how they can compete with the online stores. The margins are so tight that the only way they can pay for the overhead of the B&M store and the employees is to sell the higher margin service plans and accessories. I think it is just a short matter of time before they're all gone.

By TomZ on 3/12/2009 3:32:45 PM , Rating: 3
I agree. Being able to shop via the Internet has forever erased the possibility of the higher prices needed to support B&M stores profitably. I think this is good, since I am for economic efficiency. We have, as a society, found a more efficient way to procure electronics and various other products.

And besides, they never really provided the "premium experience" to the retail customer that could justify the higher prices. In the end, they had higher prices and crappy service - and why should consumers pay extra for that?

People will pay for better service, but you have to genuinely offer and support it.

By Xerstead on 3/12/2009 8:31:16 PM , Rating: 5
I do like being able to browse around a real store and have the convenience of being able to use an item the day I buy it, but the price they charge for this is too much. I needed a new video cable for a second hand monitor. I wanted to set it up that evening so I tried the 2 main electrical stores in the town; Maplin's and PC World. Maplin wanted £15 (~$25) for a basic grey cable. PC World had a nicer looking blue one priced at £20.
I hadn't looked online at that point, but wasn't willing to pay that much. I bought one that evening online for under £3 delivered.

By nycromes on 3/13/2009 9:46:10 AM , Rating: 2
I disagree with the posters above that B&M Stores will go the way of the dodo. Many people don't/won't shop online. You won't see the B&M stores all disappear but the herd will get thinner. I don't know why I'm using the animal references but I suppose they fit. There is always going to be a market for people being able to walk in today and walk out with their product and until we perfect teleporters the online stores can't match that time frame for product delivery.

We're talking about cost/benefit ratios, the cost of a product from a B&M store is generally higher, but the benefit can be higher if you need the product today and can't even wait overnight to get it. Not to mention the cost of overnight shipping frequently outweights the higher price and sales tax.

By TomZ on 3/13/2009 6:20:26 PM , Rating: 2
I don't know about that. Computer stores have gone the way of the dodo; almost everyone orders their computers online today. Music stores are going in that direction, too.

And shipping cost is a non-issue. I can't remember the last time I paid a separate cost for shipping; it's usually baked into the cost of the product, which is still lower than retail even when delivery is included.

For example, I just ordered an HDTV online and paid $999. Best retail price I could find for the same unit, after watching prices for a few months, was $1599 plus tax. Shipping is free - the thing weighs over 60 lbs. That's a huge savings.

By mindless1 on 3/14/2009 3:16:03 PM , Rating: 3
Computer shops are still around, today they tend more towards repair, software fixes, malware removal, and local business support contracts.

Shipping cost is always a factor, there is no such thing as free shipping, that they tell you it's free is the same difference as pricing the product a little lower then also charging an addt'l amount for shipping. One positive aspect still exists for the customer, that if a product needs returned then the customer doesn't have the shipping cost as a loss, except the return shipping cost.

I don't mean to imply non-free shipping would negate online savings, obviously it won't but free shipping as a concept has nothing to do with online prices being lower.

By mindless1 on 3/14/2009 3:11:43 PM , Rating: 2
Putting everyone in the unemployment line (save for a few online retailers) isn't actually "economic efficiency". Economic efficiency is keeping everyone producing something of value, even if someone else does it better.

By g35fan on 3/13/2009 4:44:59 AM , Rating: 2
I definitely agree however the fact of the matter is that people are stupid. To steal a line from MIB:

"A person is smart. People are dumb, panicky dangerous animals."

People will continue to line up in herds for Best Buy's and Walmart's Black Friday sales and trample each other to death. While most us who are tech savy realize those BF prices can be had or even beaten all year long with a little patience and use of online deal forums, the common "best buy target customer" will buy overpriced HDTV's, laptops and cameras at inflated prices 5 to 1 over us online junkies.

The real issue is that only the fit will survive in B&M electronics retailing (walmart/best buy) and Office Depot is barely hanging on at the moment. I imagine their business solutions are nice for those who use them but all I see when I go in there is a bunch of overpriced cheap furniture along with 10,000 lbs of copy paper. Maybe 2 laptops and 3 LCD monitors on the backwall. 30 isles of misc office supply stuff you can buy at walmart for cheaper.

They were busted for something the upper brass frankly doesn't give a darn about. Heck, even though it's negative press they are still getting some brand recognition out of it. They have perfect deniability in this matter and it won't go any further. Managers will still pressure employees to sell and employees will feel the need to do whatever is neccessary to ensure the largest paycheck possible.

By mindless1 on 3/14/2009 3:24:31 PM , Rating: 3
Black Friday has little to do with Office Depot's survival, or demise. Lots of deals can't actually be had the rest of the year instead of Black Friday, and you totally miss the point that waiting for a deal when you want/need something, and spending a lot more time continually monitoring sale prices the rest of the year, is time lost (time=money).

Office Deport is an office supply business. You are misunderstanding their target market. Sure they'd like to sell stuff to average individuals, but it's irrelevant if Walmart is cheaper because the point is one-stop shopping for businesses. Paying an employee to scan ads and drive around to several places with the hopes that the store they go to has everything the business needs (which it won't if it's walmart) , is often not cost effective. Once again, time=money.

If you want to give up your free time chasing a deal, good for you, though a better strategy would be to find a way to be more productive, do more valuable work, so you have more money AND more spare free time instead of pursuing greed.

Blaming The Wrong People
By Verran on 3/12/2009 1:38:16 PM , Rating: 3
A lot of comments on this article and the last sarcastically imply that the corporate folks at OD know about this practice and condone it. I really doubt that to be the case. I bet they do actually dislike and discourage it, because it's bad for their business. Their concern is overall sales, and even without a service plan, a laptop sold is still a laptop sold.

Low-level managers, on the other hand, are probably the ones pushing this. Individual stores are ranked and graded on attach rates. THEY are the ones who would want to enact practices like this because they benefit from it. I know from personal experience that these managers look much closer at attach rates than at final numbers.

Ultimately, it's just a crap business model. All this effort they spend on pushing these service plans costs them money. If they'd just skip all that and make the plans a better value, they wouldn't have to twist arms and lie to customers to move them.

RE: Blaming The Wrong People
By Regs on 3/13/2009 10:23:25 AM , Rating: 3
I find that hard to buy. I lost faith in corporate America when retailers like Wal-Mart buy from suppliers who made products off of child labor over seas and act oblivious to why the products are so cheap in the first place. Even after Wal-Mart was met with the press and investigators and told them that their suppliers were doing it, they still pledged to be oblivious. Rule of thumb for corporate America, if it's illegal or highly litigated, they sub-contract.

Not like we're any better, we still buy crap from Wal-Mart. Though thats mostly because our employers are robbing the middle and working class blinde.

RE: Blaming The Wrong People
By Regs on 3/13/2009 10:32:59 AM , Rating: 2
And god damnit, excusing the lack of corporate accountability is the last thing we need right now.

RE: Blaming The Wrong People
By Verran on 3/13/2009 1:06:57 PM , Rating: 2
I sincerely hope you feel better having gotten those two posts off your chest, but I'm struggling to figure out what either of them has to do with my own...

If you think my post was making "excuses for the lack of corporate accountability", I'd suggest giving it another look. That's not what I was saying at all.

What I -was- saying is that I don't believe corporate is supporting this behavior. I think they're genuinely against it. Corporate doesn't answer to anyone but shareholders, and shareholders only care about bottom lines. Money in the bank. They don't give a rats arse about attach rates for accessories. So corporate doesn't benefit from this behavior, thus my reasoning that they genuinely don't support it.

The store managers are the ones who are most likely creating this nonsense because they -are- measured on attach rates. They are the ones who stand to gain by denying a sale if it won't have a service plan attached.

Corporate may be -indirectly- encouraging this through crappy sales tracking and measurement techniques, but I don't think they actually condone the practice.

RE: Blaming The Wrong People
By Regs on 3/13/2009 5:44:35 PM , Rating: 3
Of course they don't support this behavior but they know it could happen. Upper management has this habit of telling their soldiers that they this is not their policy but they fail to enforce it or enact any controls on it. What are they going to do, fire employees who are trying to make sales and hire skillful and seasoned sales force at a higher wage to do the deed? No they want the $12-$18 dollar employee with a 3 hours of training to do it. This is a systematic problem that roots to other larger problems for big business and their customers. Too much middle management, bad communication between corporate and lower management, and a screwed up hierarchy between the product and the customer.

Have we learned nothing from guantanamo bay?

RE: Blaming The Wrong People
By mindless1 on 3/14/2009 3:37:17 PM , Rating: 2
Corporate America? Hmm, are you implying that it's not the customers who choose where to shop, or that other countries aren't also buying goods from these sweatshops? I'm not suggesting corporations are innocent by any stretch, but their greed is a mirror of the customer greed, once enough people choose to only shop at places selling goods make in the most humane factories at higher prices, then Walmart and others will make the necessary changes in their purchasing.

RE: Blaming The Wrong People
By Alareth on 3/14/2009 4:06:55 PM , Rating: 2
Have we learned nothing from guantanamo bay?

Non-sequitur much?

What on Earth does Guantanimo Bay have to do with anything being discussed here?

RE: Blaming The Wrong People
By Regs on 3/16/2009 2:23:51 PM , Rating: 2
President/Vp/COS saying they don't condone torture or make policy to support it.

RE: Blaming The Wrong People
By mindless1 on 3/14/2009 3:31:37 PM , Rating: 2
You can doubt it, but believe it. Corporate folks like maximizing profit like anyone else, they just don't want bad PR to drive customers away either, overall they have to make calculated guesses about what is best for the business and in the past it certainly seemed that pushing the services was best. As for instances of lying, you have to catch someone in one.

It is incorrect to think a laptop sold is still a laptop sold, there is not an infinite supply allocated to each store, all they have to do is sell them all, which they do whether it be at regular price or a reduced sale price, so the remaining factor is how much profit is there per sale.

If they stay in business, they have to make profits. If not on the add-on services, they'll have to charge more per laptop, effectively negating your suggestion that they make the plans a better value because if the laptop costs more it is the same difference as if the add-ons cost more when a customer is looking to buy both.

Either way, if they advertise a sale price without stipulating that the add-ons are part of a manditory bundle, it is not legal to refuse to sell without those add-ons.

only one way
By MadMan007 on 3/12/2009 1:43:25 PM , Rating: 2
Damned if you do, damned if you don't. The only way to not be damned is to not shop at OD at all.

RE: only one way
By Screwballl on 3/12/2009 2:43:38 PM , Rating: 2
the only time I go in there is maybe for an ink cartridge that I know exactly what I am looking for... otherwise I have no need for OD to tell me what I do and do not need on a computer

RE: only one way
By talikarni on 3/12/2009 2:46:53 PM , Rating: 2
I am not as educated on my technical knowledge but I did not care for how they treated me when I went to buy a laptop.. so I did just what you said, got mine from Newegg for a better laptop and extended warranty for a cheaper price

RE: only one way
By PitViper007 on 3/12/2009 4:36:37 PM , Rating: 2
Sales clerk to Screwballl: Would you like to purchase an extended warranty with that ink cartridge? You know, they are subject to failure at any time, so for a measly extra $10.95 you can protect your investment!

RE: only one way
By mindless1 on 3/14/2009 3:40:22 PM , Rating: 2
Within the context of buying local instead of online (which we'd have to use since that is why someone would buy a high ticket item at OD), can you name a few retailers that treat their employees better and don't push extended warranties and other add-ons? This has been pretty standard at any business for years, when dealing with one that is trying to be cost competitive to lure in customers.

Be reasonable
By BBeltrami on 3/12/2009 6:06:51 PM , Rating: 2
If the allegations that some Office Depot employees made claiming that they could be terminated by managers for not selling enough of the service plans and tech services are accurate, things may be getting worse for employees. They can allegedly be fired for not selling enough of the add-ons and can now be fired for not selling the notebooks to customers who don’t want to buy the add-ons.

Whoa, come on. This is not a big drama.

Employees, sales people CAN BE and ARE fired all the time for not meeting sales percentages on add-ons. Most often they are given a percentage of the contract price, which adds to their paycheck. As a result they WANT to sell them. Similarly, managers who have stores that sell in the high percentages receive promotions, bonuses, etc. Those who don't sell have littler paychecks and don't get promotions. That is not an allegation, it's a standard accepted business practice and is perfectly legal, above board and there is nothing unethical about any of it in any respect.

Conversely, employees being fired for not selling a product to a customer who wants to buy it, because they won't buy the add-on IS a major problem and is the root of the allegation here. That is most certainly a questionable practice. But that's not what's REALLY happening.

Let me give you an example:

You have Joe who is at the low edge of the quota for service plans at 5.5% of his sales. Company Average is say 8.5%, the big performers can hit the low to mid teens, and you are fired when you drop below 4.99%, ok? So Joe goes ahead and sells that notebook without the plan, sending him down to 4.85% and earning him his pink slip because he has fallen below the quota. But, see, Joe can save his job by refusing to sell that notebook, keeping his % at 5.5 AND allowing him the claim that "management will fire him if he doesn't refuse". Which is true, but NOT for the reason he is suggesting. It's because he sucks at selling service plans.

RE: Be reasonable
By mindless1 on 3/14/2009 3:49:04 PM , Rating: 2
You've overlooked a couple things.

1) It is unethical, even if the part you wrote isn't illegal, and it is illegal when they advertise the price then won't sell the stock at that price.

2) Your example of Joe ignores that salesmen still have to meet quotas for products sold, not just service plans. There's only so much space on the floor for salesmen, they can't just let all continue working and pay them less based on percentages.

Office depot is late to the game
By WileCoyote on 3/13/2009 5:15:16 PM , Rating: 2
How do you think Best Buy became #1? When I worked there about 10 years ago we lied about stock inventory if customers didn't buy the extended warranty (PSP). We developed our own language/code to communicate with each other. Customer didn't want the PSP? No problem, I use a code word, and an employee can't find one in stock. We were just better at it than Office Depot.

RE: Office depot is late to the game
By TomZ on 3/13/2009 6:03:30 PM , Rating: 2
Yet another reason I buy from Newegg whenever I can: no BS from guys like you.

Give them some credit
By AntiM on 3/12/2009 1:17:30 PM , Rating: 2
They did at least respond to the accusation. However, you can bet that when they look at a particular store's books and don't see enough extended warranty sales, they will pressure the manager of that store to sell more extended warranties, who will in turn pressure the employees.
It might not be their "policy" for the salesmen to claim an item is out of stock, however the pressure to sell more extended warranties will perpetuate the practice.

About that response statement
By Scrogneugneu on 3/12/2009 1:17:52 PM , Rating: 2
Is it me or does it look suspiciously like the answer the employee got, only with a few more lines in-between?

Notice the wording on this?
By MagicSquid on 3/12/2009 2:43:11 PM , Rating: 2
We are currently in the process of reviewing this situation, and if any associates have deviated from our sales objectives and policies, then they may be subject to disciplinary action, including termination.

This could mean a variety of things. I suspect that Office Depot will gather the names of the people who tried to blow the whistle on that web forum, and fire them , since technically the majority of the guys complaining about being pressured to not sell notebooks to people who wouldn't buy plans are guilty of "deviation from sales objectives and policies."

Why can't they...?
By frobizzle on 3/12/2009 3:02:29 PM , Rating: 2
Wouldn't it be refreshing to see a company (such as Office Depot) come out with a statement such as "Well, yeah, we got caught with our hands in the proverbial cookie jar!"


Best buy
By nightstar007 on 3/12/2009 5:43:12 PM , Rating: 2
Best buy used to grade their stores like this, but I believe because things like this happened they actually changed the grading criteria. About 7 years ago, this was BB's main criteria, a single percentage determined how good your store was. (The PSP % attachment). Over time, they realized this wasn't helping the customers because low level managers would turn into idiotic morons crazed at getting just that number high. Last I saw, best buy grades stores based on overall sales mixed with the profit, which means managers have to understand SOMETHING about business, and selling the laptop is much more important than just attaching the service to it.

By viperpa on 3/12/2009 6:07:19 PM , Rating: 2
The point is mute about Circuit City since they are bust but there employees use to do the same thing. I just bought a laptop from Best Buy and wasn't pressured to buy a warranty like in the past.

I would say that Office Depot didn't condone this officially but I would say they did condone this in the back office. It's so easy to deny when it's not the companies official policy. They got away with it for however long as they did and now they got caught. The only reason why employees will get fired is because they will be made scapegoats.

The chain of command is employees, managers, district managers, then corporate. So the unofficial policy to do this had to come from corporate and not the floor employee themselves.

By CZroe on 3/12/2009 8:23:08 PM , Rating: 2
If the allegations that some Office Depot employees made claiming that they could be terminated by managers for not selling enough of the service plans and tech services are accurate, things may be getting worse for employees. They can allegedly be fired for not selling enough of the add-ons and can now be fired for not selling the notebooks to customers who don’t want to buy the add-ons.

I figure I'd better reprint this, considering that the orginal hasn't been changed and I posted it kind of late there and the statement I quoted above also expresses a lack of understanding (it seems that it isn't the amount they sell, but the percentage relative to total notebooks) sold.
Originally posted here:


"Report: Office Depot Lies About Notebook Stock to Boost Extended Warranty Sales"

They don't lie about availability to boost warranty sales. The only way you could even think that is if you think they are telling customers "you'd better get the warranty because we don't have another like it to exchange for the same great deal if something is wrong." For one thing, extended warranties are for use at the END of your manufacturer's warranty and are considered "fulfilled" and no-longer in effect after the first claim, so such a scenario would have ruined the deal by sacrificing the cost of the warranty rather than claim manufacturer's warranty.

NO. I'll explain what is going on:
What they are doing is determining that a customer does not want to buy the warranty BEFORE going to "get" the laptop for them then, instead, returning with the lie about "no stock" so that a higher *percentage of their LOWER sales* include extended warranties. Assuming that all salesmen will ask/determine this first (for a direct comparison), the lie/trick itself does not increase, or "boost" extended warranty sales AT ALL like the headline implies. Rather, it increases the percentage of laptops sold with an extended warranty purely by depressing other sales. Assuming that supply otherwise meets demand, it's entirely counter-productive for the company and store management because it ONLY benefits the employee who, on commission/production/minimum-quota or not, has an expectation to meet in terms of warranties sold per laptop sold.

Obviously, this kind of situation exists when the quotas for overall laptop sales are low, easily met, or non-existant. Other sales employees are likely to deliberately keep overall sales expectations low in order to preserve the relative ease of obtaining a tight sales ratio with extended warranties, especially if they got off to a good start earlier in the period. With no stand-out numbers proving otherwise, management is likely to consider this as the norm and, rather than push for these attainable sales goals, will look to increse the more profitable sales of extended warranties.

Because the company has no interest at needlessly decreaseing overall laptop sales while keeping the same amount of extended warranty sales, it's stupid to point the finger at Office Depot corporate or management... unless you want to point out the idiots who create this sales environment that causes employees to do what's best for them instead of their company.


Best Buy did this too...
By MatrixPerv on 3/17/2009 7:45:34 AM , Rating: 2
While I was working for BestBuy in 2003, they would always tell me to sell the PRP (Product Replacement Plan) for the laptops. If the buyer was not interested on the extra plan, we were to tell them to wait while we get their laptop from the back. We were to inform the Sales Manager of this and then return to the customer and explain that we were out of stock for that model (even if we had a lot in stock). BestBuy does NOT work on commission, but I'm not sure if the managers did or not. I know they did this to more then just laptops, they also did it to TVs amongst other items.

Who is creating this stink?
By SunAngel on 3/12/09, Rating: -1
RE: Who is creating this stink?
By LorKha on 3/12/2009 12:24:39 PM , Rating: 4
Some sales associate jobs out there don't require you to sign a contract with the company, thus allowing companies to fire you at will and will NOT REQUIRE them to tell you why you got fired.

And even with civl rights, unless you have hard evidence backing your claims, going to court is a waste of money.

RE: Who is creating this stink?
By GaryJohnson on 3/12/2009 2:45:30 PM , Rating: 2
That entirely depends on which state your in. Some states recognize an implied contract.

RE: Who is creating this stink?
By scavio on 3/12/2009 2:47:24 PM , Rating: 2
I don't think people are upset with people getting fired for not being able to sell these add ons. I think it has more to do with:

That story led to many comments from people claiming to be Office Depot employees saying that some locations told employees to lie about stock levels if the buyer didn’t want an extended warranty.

If you don't see a problem with advertising a price then denying people the ability to purchase it unless they buy something else, then I don't know what to tell you.

And yes, if they had advertised that you got the sale price only with a purchase of a service plan (a la the $400 off a computer with a 36 month MSN subscription that everyone offered years ago) then I think no one would have had a problem with it.

RE: Who is creating this stink?
By Xerstead on 3/12/2009 9:13:32 PM , Rating: 2
This story does not surprise me at all. I used to work for two different high street stores which sold extended service plans or waranties along side electrical/computer hardware. Both had very similar views on this. 'YOU MUST SELL EXTENDED COVER!!!' was the message given to staff.
I'm guessing the problem here is what we experienced a few years back.
The commission structure for sales staff required them to have a percentage of sales come from these extended service agreements as well as having a total sales value target.
For example: A sales guy could have reached his target for sales and % cover. Then another customer comes in to buy a computer but refuses to take the extended cover. The salesman would have sold more, but the percentage of sales/extended warranties would drop below threshold. Now his sales are 'Below Target' and his commission payment is cut dramaticaly. Had he refused to sell the computer his sales would have been 'On Target', management happy and a full pay check.

RE: Who is creating this stink?
By gss4w on 3/13/2009 2:21:43 AM , Rating: 2
This might be true, but it is a bad idea from a business perspective. It's like when Circuit City fired all their best employees because they were earning more than $10 an hour. That short-sited decision might have saved them some money in the short run, but ultimately they went bankrupt.

RE: Who is creating this stink?
By mindless1 on 3/14/2009 3:56:44 PM , Rating: 2
You are implying that if they had kept their higher paid employees, they wouldn't have gone bankrupt. That is pretty far-fetched and likely incorrect.

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