Outstanding Customer Service

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If You Claim To Have A Guarantee, You’d Better Honour It


staples.png“The large print giveth.  The small print taketh away.”  Most organizations are moving away from this mentality.  In fact, many of the best customer service organizations go to great lengths these days to make sure people don’t feel taken advantage of or deceived in any way.  One of the biggest mantras they follow is that if something is ambiguous; if it falls into a grey area between what you are offering and what a customer is expecting, you should always err on the side of the customer.

Staples has a printer ink guarantee, it turns out, that falls into the ambiguous category.  They advertise an in-stock guarantee which, I discovered yesterday, isn’t quite as clear-cut as it seems.  When I asked the people in the store, it was pretty clear I was just an annoying customer who didn’t understand Theeir Rules.

I don’t get too upset anymore when I experience a customer experience faux pas.  I more look at it as an opportunity to see how companies are doing, and how well they respond to service experience failures.   So let’s see how Staples responds to this, shall we?

Here is the text of the email I sent them.  (Their feedback portal needs a bit of work as well!)


I went into your Kanata store yesterday. I needed printer ink for an Epson nx420. The gigantic banner across the printer section advertises the in-stock guarantee.

In the little flip-through guide for finding the right cartridge, it identifies a 2-pack of black cartridges. This was my first choice, given that I needed a few, and assuming that multiple packs would be a better price.

This product was not available, so I asked about it at the counter. I was told that they don’t stock the item, and because of that, the out-of-stock guarantee doesn’t apply. (??) I ended up having to buy three singles.

It would seem to me that if you have a guide in the store telling me what SKUs I should be looking for, then it is reasonable for me to assume you carry those. No? I chose not to make a big deal of it in the store, but I was very disappointed in Staples. It’s not so much that guarantee is misleading – which it is, or that I didn’t get the few pennies difference in cost between a 2-pack and a 1 pack, or even that I didn’t get a $10 coupon. I’m disappointed that, for the relatively trivial cost, the Staples response was, basically, ‘sucks to be you.’

I expected more from you.

Stay tuned!



The Belding Group helps companies stand out by providing Outstanding customer service training and customer experience consulting and measurement

Shaun Belding is a global expert on customer service ane workplace performance.  To enquire about Shaun’s speaking availabilities, contact

If You Claim To Have A Guarantee, You’d Better Honour It
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