Office Depot Rewards


Another technology innovation gone awry.

Click for AUDIO version.

For years, I have been going to the nearby Office Depot store to purchase basic office supplies, mostly paper and computer printer cartridges. As many of you know, they have a recycle program for the cartridges which earns the customer cash rewards. For several years, I received reward coupons through the mail for use at the store. Recently though, this all came to an unexpected halt.

Last week I received a new coupon from the company. Frankly, I didn’t read it carefully, but I did observe that “You’ve earned $20.00,” so I figured everything was okay and I took it with me for my next purchase. This is where I made my mistake.

When I presented the coupon to the cashier, I was told I couldn’t use the document. She then showed me that it wasn’t a coupon at all, and to get my coupon, I was instructed to login to and register myself. After that, I could either print a coupon or have it sent to my smart phone, which I do not have (as an aside, people laugh at my tiny cell phone, but it suits my needs).

Basically, the company decided to save money by not mailing any more coupons and let the customer bear the expense. This has become rather commonplace these days, such as airline tickets, bank statements, newsletters, and now coupon generation. However, I suspect there is more to it than this. For example, people such as myself who do not want the hassle of logging in to obtain a coupon and, by not doing so, the company will save considerable money, not just from not printing and mailing coupons, but by people forfeiting their rewards. When I pointed this out to the cashier, she admitted I was probably right.

It is these little, seemingly innocent, technology foibles that get under my skin. No, I will not be returning to my local Office Depot store anytime soon. If they want me to go on-line, I will do so but will visit other web sites where I can find the same products at less expense. The only reason I stayed with Office Depot was because it was nearby and I could easily drop in to buy supplies. However, whenever I go in, it is like a cavernous barn with few customers inside. Perhaps their new approach to their rewards program will finally force them to shut their doors.

When it comes to shopping, I get the uneasy feeling companies want to only process on-line orders and close their stores. This might be good news for companies like UPS and FedEx, but what about the people who want to “touch and feel” a product before deciding to purchase it?

Oh, how I miss the twentieth century.

Keep the Faith!