Most consumers have gone into a retail store looking for a product and only finding out after deciding to buy that the product is not in stock. At the same time most of us have been hounded by aggressive sales people trying to sell extended warranties and other services.
According to a source at Laptop Magazine, Office Depot associates and managers routinely lie to customers about stock levels. Laptop ran a story discussing an attempt to purchase a netbook in Office Depot and the extremely aggressive sales man trying to sell an extended warranty with the notebook and service add-ons.
Laptop reports that when the story ran it began to get email from readers about their experiences and received some emails from people identifying themselves as Office Depot employees. One reader claiming to be a manager at an Office Depot wrote, "At store level, OD puts too much pressure on sales consultants and managers to sell the PPPs (Product Protection Plans) & TDS (Tech Depot Services). I know of several stores in my market that will ‘feel out’ the customer to see if they are the type to purchase these services. If the customer lets on that they only want the computer and no services … then that store simply claims to be out of stock! We are required to sell 30% + on both of these services or we get PIP’d (Performance Improvement Process) (or Written up) and get ultimately fired."
Laptop was later contacted by a person going by the name Rich, who proved himself employed at Office Depot with a current check stub. Rich said, "I have witnessed lying about the availability of a notebook, and have been told to do so myself. Once I was talking to the customer and, while I am actually speaking, my manager comes on the radio and tells me to say it is out of stock if they aren’t getting anything with it. I always ignore him and sell it anyway because lying to the customer is flat-out wrong."
Rich went on to allege that Office Depot employees are expected to sell a quota of warranties and Tech Depot services and that the pressure is so high if a sales person feels the buyer isn't going to purchase add-on services they tell the shopper the product is out of stock.
Office Depot issued an official response to Laptop saying, "We certainly appreciate your bringing this situation to our attention. Our objective is to sell merchandise and to offer and recommend solutions to our customers, without regard to whether a customer purchases or does not purchase a service warranty or a software package. 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. With respect to your inquiry, we intend to look into the situation further, as part of our continuing commitment to ensuring customer satisfaction and consistent selling practices."