Two Extremes of Customer Service – A Company That Goes Above & Beyond & One That Simply Disappoints

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staples customer service

Getting Problems Resolved

As a consumer, I expect companies to provide the product that they advertise and charge for. Last year I had customer service run-ins with a number of companies who didn’t provide a satisfactory product and/or service. Some companies stepped up and fixed things and others showed their true colors.

I have written about issues I have had this past year with Hyatt, SPG & Carlson Rezidor. In their own ways, each of those companies did a good job of resolving my problems. They genuinely seemed to care and made everything right. In the end complaining is not about getting something free, it is about getting what you paid for.

Unfortunately there have been disappointing experiences as well. Staples is an example of a company that really failed. Recently I ordered a laptop from them where the the screen resolution was falsely advertised both online and in-store. Their response to me was that they aren’t legally responsible since it was a typo, so too bad!

I had requested an exchange for a product with the advertised specs, but all they would offer me was a return and the agent made misrepresentations about my refund since I used a combination of rewards and gift cards to complete the purchase. In other words, I was lied to even by their rep in the Office of the President and they simply don’t care. (For full disclosure, they also gave me a $100 Staples eGift card, however all I wanted was the laptop as promised, not monetary compensation.)

While I can’t stress enough how terrible the Staples situation was/is, I like to focus on positivity and have moved on. After returning the laptop to Staples, I found a great deal at Lenovo for a much better product. Lenovo offered free expedited shipping and my laptop was to be delivered by UPS last Monday with a signature required.

The Botched Delivery

staples customer service

I pay for a service from UPS called My Choice. It allows customers to reschedule deliveries or schedule a package for pickup. Since I was leaving town on Tuesday the 23rd, I needed to make sure I didn’t miss the delivery and requested that the package be held for pickup on Monday the 22nd.

Come Monday morning I checked the tracking for my package to find that it wasn’t updated. The package seemed to be in limbo. Not wanting to wait on hold, I hopped on chat where the agent told me they would have a supervisor look into it. Eventually that supervisor called back and said it was on the truck, so I waited at home to make sure I was here to sign for it.

About noon my UPS driver came to the door for an unrelated task, but unfortunately there was no laptop. He searched high and low and it wasn’t there. I then hopped back on chat and over the next few hours I would speak to three more supervisors, each of which told me a different story.

While the first supervisor had mistakenly told me it was on the truck, the second one I spoke to said it was in the local warehouse, the third said it was still in Kentucky and the fourth that it was on a truck from California. Yikes!

A Happy Ending

Finally the issue got escalated to a higher up here locally who was able to see the issue. He did find the package and had it held early the next day so I could pick it up before leaving town. Funny enough, every supervisor had notated their calls with me, so the local supervisor could see exactly what I was told.

This all happened on December 22, which is one of their busiest days of the year. Despite the misinformation, every employee I dealt with at UPS was genuinely trying to help. Once I picked up the laptop, I considered the issue resolved. They found the laptop and I had it before leaving town. No harm no foul.

UPS Takes It to Another Level

staples customer service
Not one, but two bouquets from UPS!

This past Monday while driving home from our trip to San Francisco, my phone rang. I wasn’t able to answer, but the voicemail was from 1-800 Flowers telling me that my arrangement had been delivered and was sitting on the porch. Flowers? For me? Who could have sent them?

After the long ten hour journey, we arrived at home to see the flowers along with a note from UPS. Wow! The next day another delivery came with yet another set of flowers. I am sure the second set was probably a mistake, but I am still blown away!


Some companies like Staples just don’t get how to treat customers and some like UPS do. While the managers made mistakes in conveying information to me, it was December 22, one of the busiest days of the year and they did everything they could to help. I really didn’t expect anything more than that. After all I have had hundreds of deliveries from them over the years without issue.

Since I was dealing with both Staples and UPS at the same time, I guess the comparison between the companies sticks in my mind. While I won’t say that I will never shop at Staples again, I most likely will not make a large purchase there anymore. My dealings with their representative have left a bad taste in my mouth and I have no confidence in the accuracy of their representations.

On the flip side, all I expected from UPS was to find my package and they eventually did. While the experience was frustrating, everyone I dealt with was genuine and there was no need for them to make up for it beyond finding my package, but they did and I applaud them!


  1. Online sales customer service = less than stellar though no MAJOR problems

    In store customer service at 2 of my 3 nearby stores = Amazing and proactive

    Really seems to be a YMMV situation….

  2. ok – I finally had a bad customer service experience (multiple for my issue) with Staples … what has happened with them?

  3. I had to return an external hard drive (because I asked for a wireless one and the rep sold me one that required a PC connection). Even though I had opened it, they refunded the price and they applied my 15% off discount to my new order – even though the 15% off coupon was for the week prior. And no, I no longer had the coupon (because I surrendered it when I made the first purchase). I just stated to them that in fairness, I would have had the 15% off had they sold me the correct disk the first time so would they please apply the discount … and they did it! I was expecting a long conversation, but it was a quick trip.

    Two weeks prior, I received the wrong refill from the .com site and I did not feel comfortable returning it through the site (because it was the free item in a B3G1 free promo). I went to the store and asked for their assistance and they called the online team. They told me to keep the wrong item and they sent me the correct item in 2 days.

    I really think it is the luck of the draw sometimes on what type of service you receive. The people at my location seem to do a better job of arriving at a win-win for everyone. But of course, YMMV.

  4. I agree with pilot, it is all based on each representative. My local store has one of the nicest and friendly managers and will do anything he can to make sure anybody and everybody leaves happy. But there is the occasional, bad fish. Have had similar dealing on the phone as well. Sometime you just need to HUCA and try your luck on the next rep. I had a paper towel delivery that got left in the rain and they replace the whole order next day no problem.

  5. I have always had a good experience with Staples, the store I frequent has an excellent store manager who takes care of any problem and resolve to our satisfaction in store .

  6. I know one person — no, not me — who walked into a Staples location and received poor customer service. The problem was escalated to the store manager and assistant manager; and they tried to turn it into a racial issue. That customer alerted the corporate office of the hostility of the managers; and she was offered a coupon for her troubles. She vowed never to shop at Staples again.

  7. Everyone should boycott Staples and maybe after they figure out their sales are hurting they will then address their poor customer service problems. Staples has a horrible business model when dealing with customer service complaints. It drove me away.


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