A Master Class in Horrible Customer Service from @OfficeDepot [UPDATED]

UPDATE: Progress! See the bottom of the article for details.

I was well and truly excited to move into the new Caffeinated Press office on Saturday. I’ve got a five-day weekend coming up and a metric ton of work to accomplish related to the next volume of the anthology, so on Friday afternoon, I went to Office Depot’s website and ordered a U-shaped desk, a matching hutch and an office chair. Then I requested in-store pickup and was guaranteed next-day availability at one of the local retail locations.

On Saturday morning, I went to the store and picked everything up. Got to the office, unloaded everything, and started work with setup — except, after I tore down the first box, I realized that the desk ships in two boxes. Irritated, I drove back to the store and waited 15 minutes while the clerk searched in vain for the second box. So he took my information — this was around noon — and promised a call back within four hours.

No such luck. On Sunday afternoon, I called the store and spoke with the manager, Fernando, who told me that there was nothing he could do except pass me off to Office Depot’s toll-free number. So I called that number and spoke to someone in, I believe, India, who was quick to “sincerely apologize” but told me the only thing she could do was issue a refund credit on the order so I could re-place it online. They have “no way” to ship me the missing second box, which was all I ever wanted for them to do.

So I reluctantly agree to engage in the song-and-dance about the return and reorder. Except the phone lady neglected to tell me she was issuing a credit-card refund that would take five to seven business days to credit. Apparently, I’m supposed to pay twice for a product the company didn’t deliver and hope that eventually they reimburse me? Track record isn’t so good. And when I can have my card immediately debited to pay, why the bloody hell does it take a full week to reverse a charge? That’s ridiculous.

I used the online chat tool and dealt with two different agents. Both “sincerely apologized” and basically refused to do anything else. One agent offered to escalate the matter with someone at corporate and he guaranteed me a call back in “no more than four hours.”

You can guess where this is going: No one ever called.

On Monday morning, I emailed with my concerns and within a few hours got a reply; the replying agent clearly had no clue what my problem was — it didn’t appear she even read the substance of my note — but she assured me that my credit would be applied “within three to five days.” Dissatisfied, I called the toll-free number again and got yet another agent who told me that the manufacturer of the desk doesn’t allow them to ship partial shipments (newsflash: I didn’t order a partial shipment; I ordered a whole shipment, which Office Depot failed to deliver on). But she assured me that she would escalate the matter about my credit and after offering a “sincere apology” she promised … wait for it … that I’d get a call back within four hours with an update.

(Need I even tell you that the call never came, the credit isn’t processed, I’m still without my desk and I’m staring down a ton of work with no where to work from?)

Here’s what I don’t get:

  • How could a store agent responsible for accepting a product shipment fail to notice that half the shipment didn’t arrive? And then have that store agent give a customer an incomplete shipment without saying anything?
  • Why can’t a national retail giant just ship a part that didn’t make its way where it belonged?
  • What kind of horrible customer service training drills people into saying “sincerely apologize” and “four hours” when it’s obvious that neither statement is true?
  • Why can I be debited immediately for a sale but have to wait a week for a credit? And for that matter, why can’t a credit be applied immediately to my online account with the company instead of pushing back to my card?

My long, sad ordeal is still underway. I’m angry at Office Depot for caring so little about customers and for fundamentally screwing up a long-planned work session. But you, dear reader, can rest assured: Never again will I buy anything from this incompetent horde of disinterested hacks.


A resolutions person from Office Depot’s corporate office read this post and contacted me directly by email. Sent me a replacement desk at $0 (both parts). The delivery driver arrived around 6 p.m. on Thursday and was promptly irritated that he only needed to give me the second box, because he had to give me the box, label the delivery as “refused,” then return the first box back to the warehouse. His irritation wasn’t with me, it was with Corporate; the delivery person was quite helpful.

Anyway, this saga is concluded. I have been made whole. The challenge, I think, isn’t so much Office Depot, per se, but rather the problem of multi-part shipments from warehouses. A friend remarked that he has much the same problem with Amazon — if an order is only partially filled, Amazon is (apparently) at a loss to make up the difference.