An Insider’s Guide to Staples

Pay less and get more at the office superstore. Here's an inside look at Staples' Copy Center, the scoop on EasyTechs and tips on how to save on supplies.

from Reader's Digest Magazine, | September 2011

Copy paper, toner, giant tubs of Folger’s coffee — “Yeah, we got that,” Staples promises. But while the chain may have tons of merchandise, it can be a disappointment to those who haven’t done their homework. To shop it like a pro, take a cue from a Staples salesclerk known only as Dave, who posted on

Take your computer elsewhere for repairs. According to Dave, “tech work is the lowest priority” because it’s not evaluated and rewarded in the same way that other tasks are, so there’s no incentive for the tech staffers to take it on, much less do a good job of it. Plus, tech staff is often pulled away for higher-priority work, and the constant distraction can lead to goofs, claims Dave. (A Staples spokesperson counters that service, staffing, and satisfaction are always high priorities for the company.)

In fact, you might want to buy your computer elsewhere too. That’s because “Staples makes almost nothing, and sometimes loses money, on PCs, especially laptops,” claims Dave. How do they make it up? By doggedly trying to upsell extended service plans, tech services, and accessories. If such hard-sell tactics are a turnoff, go with a competitor or buy online. (Says the spokesperson, “We refer to this as building the right solution for the customer.”)

Use the Copy Center, the most profitable part of the store. To keep the dollars rolling in, employees will make sure you’re completely satisfied with your job, even if it means redoing it or refunding your money.

Don’t assume the EasyTech associate is one. According to Dave, employees earn this distinction by selling a lot, not for any expertise they may have. (For its part, Staples says it has certified technicians with extensive training on staff.)

Talk to a manager. As at any store, he’s the guy with the power to refund your money, honor your expired coupons, or fix whatever problem you may have. What you may not know is that he has plenty of coupons to give out to unhappy customers. Complain and you may get some money knocked off your bill. Oh, and speaking of coupons, Dave says the ones from Staples are almost always available online for those willing to hunt for them. In fact, if you know you’re going to buy something at Staples, search online for both a coupon and a competitor offering a better deal. The retailer will give you both a price match and the coupon discount.

Become more interesting every week!

Get our Read Up newsletter

Sending Message
how we use your e-mail

  • Your Comments

    • Notsofast

      Dave sounds like someone who got some poor sap to believe and write about  all of his self glorifing ”rantings” . Each of his “points” were worst-case senarios and it is clear that he has an ax to grind. I can picture him as the guy who has just ” enough information to be dangerous” and sounds alot like the town gossip. 

    • Leah

      Wish I would have read this before I got my computer “fixed” total rip off.

    • Anonymous

      Dave needs to check his facts.  I work for Staples as a standard employee I know most of this article is fiction not fact.  While it is true that managers can fix a problem, even they are limited to certain things.  There is not some wonderful pool of coupons they can give out and expired coupon are exactly that, expired coupons, and as with any company, a consumer must use them in the allotted time.  Also Staples does not price match online pricing.  You need to read the price matching policy before making that kind of statement.  They will price match for a retail stores but they must verify same item and instock before matching a competitor, like any retailer.  As for our Technicians and Easy Techs on the floor, they go through extensive training so they can give you the correct information on the products you are purchasing.  Our Technicians go through a strenuous training program and have to pass a certification test before being able to work on your computers.  As for the issue with purchasing your computer with Staples, we make the same amount off of a computer as any of our competitors. The difference, we don’t want a customer to be upset with their purchase in 3 months when they get some weird virus and their computer crashes or their harddrive goes out and they find out the manufacturer’s warranty only covers this or that and they are out of luck.  Most manufacture warranties only cover parts and labor for 90 days and then the rest of your “warranty” is technical support.  They also don’t tell you that they can pick and choose what they want to cover.  Then there is the issue of shipping.  If you do need to have your computer repaired, you pay to ship it to them.  This is things that make any consumer upset when the time comes that you need the warranty.  Staples may ask you a lot of questions but it to keep you from having a lot of heart ache later.  My point is Dave, before you give advise, check your facts.

    • Jim

      As a current Resident EasyTech, I have to strongly disagree with the statement about EasyTechs not having knowledge of computers.  First of all, all EasyTechs have required training they must take focusing on the products we offer (ex. printers, computers, routers.)  Secondly, every person in our Tech department has a strong computer background.  And finally, the Resident Easytech’s sole priory is to work on computers, requiring a background check and a certification test to get the position.

    • Katie

      A retailer will NOT honor any online price. A retailer such as Wal-Mart makes that perfectly clear in their price matching policies. As for expired coupons, the particular store will not receive credit from the expired coupon. Why should a retailer take any loss from an entitled consumer such as the author of this article. I suppose the author also believes that the copy center should refund a product even if the entitled consumer makes a mistake or completely changes their mind. I realize this article refers to Staples, but this is just plain ridiculous!

    • Davidbrian86

      I am a previous Sales Manager for Staples and I am so surprised that RD has posted this article without checking their facts.  In the two markets I have worked in the majority of this article is completely untrue.  I would advise doing a little research before bad mouthing a company.  And this is coming from someone who isn’t even employed there anymore.