Office Depot Reps Routinely Lie about Notebook Stock?

Some Office Depot employees are making the notebook buying experience downright miserable according to a report published by Laptop Magazine. Office Depot expects its employees to sell purchase protection plans, services and accessories with each notebook. When customers refuse up-sells they’re told that the notebooks they want are out of stock.

Office Depot refusing to sell notebooks sounds counter-intuitive, but jobs and bonuses are at stake at if specific goals are not met.

update: I chatted with Avram over Skype about his article and recorded it for your viewing pleasure:

One Laptop Magazine reader commented:

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.”

Of course not every Office Depot employee or store is stooping to such tactics, but these issuses are far from isolated. One Office Depot salesperson gave Laptop Magazine some inside dirt on what’s going on.

Basically they drill it in your head that if you don’t sell PPPs, you’re gonna get fired. It’s gotten so bad to the point where the managers are starting to find loopholes in the system. They would rather sell one laptop with a PPP than ten laptops with nothing. They don’t care,” he said.

If notebook salespeople don’t care about even selling notebooks, how can you expect them to help you choose the right one? This practice is despicable and I hope Office Depot cleans up this mess soon.

This should serve as a reminder to be skeptical about overpriced purchase protection plans and accessories. The reason why retailers push these items so hard is because they’re so profitable. I generally recommend consumers avoid in-store extended warranties and protection plans at all costs.

Thanks to Avram from Laptop Magazine for sharing this article with us. He wrote an extensive article about this problem in this blog post. He notes that his local Office Depot was glad to sell a staff member notebooks without any extras.