Dear Staples – You Suck – Bad Marketing Diminishes Return Custom – Editorial by Jamie Gilcig

CFN –  I get emails all the time. Frankly I don’t get a chance to read them all.   I get over 500 per day without exaggeration.

Most are easy to skim into the bin, but I love my flyers for Electronic stuff!

Today Staples sent a blast about their Canada Day event which started today.

That’s cool.  I went last year and bought some External Hard Drives.

This year the same model was on sale for the same price.   Well the others didn’t fry out so let’s get some more!   Last year I bought four of them.   The flyer stated “minimum” of five per store and when I got to my local Staples here in Cornwall Ontario I was told the usual;

You just missed the last one!

As you can imagine; time is a very precious thing for me and I joked with a client offering him a free ad if he’d go grab a few for me!   How many times have we been told that line about missing the last one.  Is that supposed to comfort us?

The clerk; who wasn’t terribly empathetic pointed out they had five just like the flyer stated.  Perhaps if they had written Maximum of 5 per store I simply wouldn’t have bothered to go and get frustrated; but of course that’s why some people would use the word minimum instead of maximum?

That’s very poor marketing.  If you’re going to try and lure busy people like me into the store don’t skin us.  It was the first day of the sale.  There were no line ups.  There barely were many customers in the store.  When I walked in there were two clerks talking at the first cash with no clients.

Obviously consistent marketing like this has its results.    I know how ultra competitive this industry is; but again; if you can’t make a legit offer to the public you’re probably better off not making any offer.  You know, rely on your product and service…..

Marketing is a tricky thing.    You always want a happy client because happy clients are in themselves the best form of advertising.   It’s why some stores throw out the occasional loss leader; to bring in new clients.   In this case Staples blew it.   There was not overwhelming demand.  They sold 5 320 gig external hard disks in about 8 hours that they probably spent more marketing dollars on than the product cost; but in marketing they always say that an unhappy client will tell 3 people.

In this case this unhappy client has probably told a few more, and of course the likelihood of me returning to Staples has diminished the chance of me responding to an ad pitch even less.

See how marketing works?

Jamie Gilcig – Editor – The Cornwall Free News


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  1. They obviously were just using the 5 hard drives as a lost leader just to get you into their store

  2. Good marketing includes good logistics. In this case, bad logistics produces bad marketing. The marketing got you in the door, bad logistics failed to deliver your satisfaction. Overall a successful failure.

  3. It’s not just Staples. Have you ever tried to get flyer items at the TSC store? or Food Basics over by Walmart? Or Canadian Tire? I was told last year, at a clothing store in the mall that they only order the black and white skirts and if I wanted any other colours I would have to go to Ottawa. Now that’s custome service! Send me out of town to spend my money when stores are closing their doors here in town. Sad. To single out Staples as the suckiest of stores in Cornwall is doing a disservice to consumers in the area.

  4. Author

    Now Bella-b I can only comment on personal experience and shared my own. Sometimes it’s good to voice out something as long as its accurate.

  5. I share the same frustration… I’ve experienced this mainly with Food Basics by Walmart. We like to shop early but every single time, they are magically out of the item on sale that we came for, no matter how early we get there… makes me wonder if they ever had any at all. And of course, they don’t do rain checks… I avoid that Food Basics now. I’ll go out of my way to go to Independent instead. Food Basics has lost this family as customers. And I’m guessing we’re not the only one…

  6. @ Milena
    I never have any problem at the east end Food Basics. As for going to Independent, I find just about everything there costs more than the same product at Food Basics or No Frills.

    To be fair to Independent, however, they do have excellent coffee. Try their house blend. The only coffee I have found that’s better is Coffey’s Coffee (at Island Ink Jet). Both are way better (and better priced) than anything Tims sell.

  7. I certainly can empathize with every comment here. In fairness to first line staff, it simply is seldom their fault, then again it isn’t your either.
    Many ads, and I dare say Staples are made up by head offices who order the items from far away places 6 to 12 months ahead of th event. Relying on timely arrivals of sale goods, just in time, anything can go wrong in logistics. Often quantities are not available in all stores and their legal ‘cover’ is in small print at the back of the advertisement. Smaller towns like Cornwall are only shipped the ‘core’ items or only items that they already carry, no exceptions, while the ‘A’ or big city centers will carrry all items in the ad.

    Like it or not that’s just the way it is. Some stores do offer a facility to transfer in from a close up store but not all have transportation for that purpose. This is why they may also offer internet access for the duration of the sale but possibly with shipping charges added unless you can arrange pick up at the store that it was not in stock at…..if it is available on-line that is.

    As frustrating as it is for the client, believe me it also is for the staff who end up facing your rath. Admittedly too at time the goods are possibly still in the back room up on a high shelf in an unlabeled package…no date of event, that kind of thing.

    Also, staff, if not adequetly trained by their management, simply assume all advertised goods are already part of the shelf stock so don’t even bother to double check each advertised item so they can be alerted ahead of time. Signs of acknowlegement of out of stock with apologise shuld be put out. Internal store logistics with staff availability, signage printing etc. add to the problem.

    So as you can see, it is not easy for the store to be 100% up to speed. I am sure Staples and all other stores are regretful, but it still doesn’t cut the musturd when it is a must have item.

    I remember being tied into split buys with larger stores and our quantity would strangly disappear into the wood work. Very dissapointing all around.

    Crazy world isn’t it.

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