Saturday, February 23, 2008

Staples vs. Office Depot

At times I have considered starting a blog of Monterey Peninsula business reviews. Sort of like restaurant reviews, but for places we shop at or call on for services. But I don't really shop at that many different places, so the thing would likely not get very far.

But I would like to share my expreiences at the two most prominent ofice supply stores, Staples and Office Depot. I tend to go to Staples because its closer to home, and right along my normal route home. Office Depot is usually out of my way, if only slightly.

Both shops have been in business a good long time now, and I've noticed that they go through synchronistic, but opposite phases of service quality. When one is providing good service, the other tends to go downhill. In their early years, Staples service was distinctly inferior to Office Depot. After a time, the Staples crew improved dramatically, while Office Depot's people got sloppy and lazy. Now the trend has reversed again, and I'm finding Office Depot's staff is on top of things, while Staples people are losing it again.

Case in point: The last few times I've gone to Staples to buy ink for my printer, Staples didn't have any yellow. They didn't even have a peg on the shelf for my yellow. They had full pegs for black, cyan and magenta, but not for yellow. Not even an empty peg.

I brought this to the attention of the staff, and they checked their stock, and said they were out. So I went to Office Depot which was adequately stocked in all colors.

This week I needed yellow ink again. I went to Staples, figuring that after a couple of months they would have a peg for yellow.

Nope.

I spoke with a salesperson who checked the back room stock and reported that the last yellow had been sold, but more would be in soon. I asked if they were going to get a peg for the yellow, and he only said I needed to ask for it when I came in.

Why can't they just put yellow on a peg next to the other colors and be done with it?

I said if it was going to be this much of a hassle, and if I had to make another trip it was going to be to Office Depot. So that's where I went. Their price is a little higher, but at least yellow was in stock and I didn't have to ask for it. While browsing for other items I was asked twice by pleasant voices if I needed assistance. I didn't, except to check out, and the cashier was equally pleasant.

So I guess I'm going to Office Depot for ink in the future. I'd rather just stop at Staples, because its right on the way home, but I'd prefer to just stop once.

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