Shopping Discussion

False advertising at Staples?

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  • Aug 11th, 2019 5:34 pm
[OP]
Jr. Member
Jul 12, 2012
114 posts
69 upvotes
Toronto

False advertising at Staples?

Hey guys, some thoughts and advice would be appreciated here.

Was just at Staples, hoping to buy a tablet with the 15% off in store + 10% off teachers appreciation deal (advertised on their website, but I include screenshots here of the relevant sections).

Manager refused to use both together. First, she said the two cannot be used in conjunction, but I argued that the ad clearly uses a plus sign, which is very misleading if they cannot be used together. Then she said that the 15% deal only applies to office supplies, but nowhere on the ad or the fine print state this. The clerk at this point actually chimed in and yelled 'it says most, and not all!', and after being shown the fine print he claimed 'but not excluded to', which are both preposterous points, as this gives any clerk the right to refuse to honour the 15% to anything.

The manager gave me the contact info of the conflict resolution department, and I've already sent them a message. But what do you guys think? Has Staples screwed up in their ad, or am I misinterpreting? Is this a case of false advertising?
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24 replies
Member
User avatar
Aug 5, 2005
490 posts
242 upvotes
From what you posted ( Ad ) I think you have a point. Though if you look at their website it does state both can't be used. what location was it at?
Last edited by $n00ker on Aug 10th, 2019 4:43 pm, edited 2 times in total.
If they thumb you down I will up it just because
[OP]
Jr. Member
Jul 12, 2012
114 posts
69 upvotes
Toronto
At 375 university in Toronto.
Sr. Member
May 11, 2008
825 posts
363 upvotes
Vancouver
The exclusions in the fine print from the ad seem to be pretty clear.
It looks like the 15% is only applicable to office supplies and furniture and 10% off on technology items.
Ad's basically saying that there's 2 different discounts, I wouldn't assume they could be combined based on their fine print alone.
Deal Fanatic
Oct 26, 2008
6420 posts
2085 upvotes
BC
Staples should have used the word "or" instead of a plus sign in the ad.

That would have prevented the ambiguity. So misleading advertising but not necessarily false advertising.

We all know that margins on office supplies and especially office furniture are much higher than the competitive technology items.
(I would have thought for a Teacher's Event they could have gone to 20% and 15% rather than the 15 and 10 which isn't that special.
But either way, not too surprising that their intent is that they cannot be combined as 25% off technology would have been exceptional.)

I wouldn't waste time fighting this one.
In my experience Staples have always been a bit fuzzy with their promotions and sales and they are not going to change. So I tend to give them a miss.
[OP]
Jr. Member
Jul 12, 2012
114 posts
69 upvotes
Toronto
aznrsx1979 wrote: The exclusions in the fine print from the ad seem to be pretty clear.
It looks like the 15% is only applicable to office supplies and furniture and 10% off on technology items.
Ad's basically saying that there's 2 different discounts, I wouldn't assume they could be combined based on their fine print alone.
Don't want to sound confrontational, but could you elaborate on what you mean by the clear exclusions? I didn't find it clear at all, as nowhere in the exclusion list does it mention electronics. In fact, it says no electronic levies, but not no electronics.
Deal Expert
Jun 30, 2006
19117 posts
7193 upvotes
Toronto
I don't read this as 15+10%. It's 15% off XYZ and 10% off Technology items. They should have added OR instead of +.
Deal Addict
User avatar
Jan 3, 2014
2891 posts
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Vancouver(ish)
MrWuten wrote: Hey guys, some thoughts and advice would be appreciated here.

Was just at Staples, hoping to buy a tablet with the 15% off in store + 10% off teachers appreciation deal (advertised on their website, but I include screenshots here of the relevant sections).

Manager refused to use both together. First, she said the two cannot be used in conjunction, but I argued that the ad clearly uses a plus sign, which is very misleading if they cannot be used together. Then she said that the 15% deal only applies to office supplies, but nowhere on the ad or the fine print state this. The clerk at this point actually chimed in and yelled 'it says most, and not all!', and after being shown the fine print he claimed 'but not excluded to', which are both preposterous points, as this gives any clerk the right to refuse to honour the 15% to anything.

The manager gave me the contact info of the conflict resolution department, and I've already sent them a message. But what do you guys think? Has Staples screwed up in their ad, or am I misinterpreting? Is this a case of false advertising?
The 15% clearly says 'most in-store purchases'. and doesn't seem to have an exclusion for computers. Computers are tech, so yeah...I think you have a point. Discuss with Staples conflict resolution. Or go to another Staples store. Or both. :)

As for the clerk...if you're already speaking with the manager, the clerk should have kept their trap shut.
Proud RFD member since January 31, 2007. Feel free to add 3,034 to my post count.
[OP]
Jr. Member
Jul 12, 2012
114 posts
69 upvotes
Toronto
carmaster wrote: I don't read this as 15+10%. It's 15% off XYZ and 10% off Technology items. They should have added OR instead of +.
Yeah, I can see what Staples meant to say, but we as consumers shouldn't have to decipher the meaning of the ad. We really can only go with what the ad says, which in this case is clearly a +. And if Staples put this ad out there, then unless they issue a correction, don't they have a legal responsibility to honor it?
[OP]
Jr. Member
Jul 12, 2012
114 posts
69 upvotes
Toronto
$n00ker wrote: From what you posted ( Ad ) I think you have a point. Though if you look at their website it does state both can't be used. what location was it at?
Do you mean the part in the fine print where it says 'Discount cannot be combined with associate discount or any other coupons/offers'? Since both of these deals use the same fine print, marked out by the same footnote, I read that as these two discounts operating together, and I cannot use, say, a coupon on top. But who knows. I'm probably picking this apart too much.

Thanks for the thoughts, guys. I sent a message to conflict resolution, and will update on what they say. At the end of the day it's not an issue to lose sleep over - I don't get to spend hundreds of dollars on something I don't really need. But this is rfd, and if it's one thing we value it is a good deal! Plus shady advertising should never be condoned.
Deal Expert
Aug 22, 2006
27826 posts
13425 upvotes
I mean... the technically correct but bullplop answer would be "Exclusions include but are not limited to" and "Additional exclusions may apply" which means they could pick anything they want to exclude.

The layperson would probably read that as 15% + 10%.
A teacher would (hopefully) definitely read it like that.
That's how I read it too.

Also tablets would not be excluded based on the listed list (not counting the bullplop of "additional things")
Deal Fanatic
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Dec 28, 2007
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I read it as 15% on most items plus 10% on tech. 2 separate discounts.
Newbie
Dec 26, 2010
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Ottawa
Whoever drew up that ad should be fired. Its very misleading with the "+". It will cause headaches for managers who obviously cannot honor 25% off a tablet (unless they want to lose money). As someone stated earlier in the thread. Margins on tech are smaller than office supplies.

It would make no sense to give 25% off tech....
[OP]
Jr. Member
Jul 12, 2012
114 posts
69 upvotes
Toronto
death_hawk wrote: I mean... the technically correct but bullplop answer would be "Exclusions include but are not limited to" and "Additional exclusions may apply" which means they could pick anything they want to exclude.
That's basically what the clerk screamed at me. Too bad I didn't get a recording of it. Would have made for a great highlight reel on staples' social media page.
[OP]
Jr. Member
Jul 12, 2012
114 posts
69 upvotes
Toronto
jackrabbit000 wrote: I read it as 15% on most items plus 10% on tech. 2 separate discounts.
See, I read that as 15% on most items (importantly, not excluding tech), PLUS 10% off if you buy tech. I didn't think it would have amounted to 25% off - more like 15% off with the general discount, and then 10% off of the discounted price for tech.

If they had only put 'or' as others have suggested, or put 'office supplies only' under the 15%, which is what the manager said applied to the discount (though note that 'office supplies' appears nowhere on the ad), then I wouldn't have misread their meaning.
Deal Guru
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Jan 9, 2011
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Vancouver
I don't see anything wrong with the ad. 15% off most items AND 10% off tech. It's A+B. Buy an office chair and get 15% off, AND buy a tablet and get 10% off. It doesn't say 15% off most items AND AN ADDITIONAL 10% off tech.
What if the coupon switched the two, starting with the 10% off tech AND 15% off most items? That's saying the same thing. A+B = B+A. It's not an additional 15% off the non-tech stuff.
Last edited by Kiraly on Aug 11th, 2019 1:45 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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macnut wrote: Staples should have used the word "or" instead of a plus sign in the ad.
But It's not "or". It is "and". Buy an office chair and get 15% off, AND buy a tablet and get 10% off. You get both discounts, not one or the other. OP seems to think he can combine both discounts on the tech stuff, which is obviously (to me anyway) not allowed nor the intent.
[OP]
Jr. Member
Jul 12, 2012
114 posts
69 upvotes
Toronto
Kiraly wrote: But It's not "or". It is "and". Buy an office chair and get 15% off, AND buy a tablet and get 10% off. You get both discounts, not one or the other. OP seems to think he can combine both discounts on the tech stuff, which is obviously (to me anyway) not allowed nor the intent.
I definitely did, which is why I looked very closely at the fine print. The 15% off didn't say it couldn't be applied to tablets in its list of exclusions, nor did it specify office supplies only. So that, taken together with the plus sign, led me to believe that both would apply.

You could say that I followed the letter of the ad and not the intent, and I agree. But it shouldn't be my responsibility to figure out Staples' intent.

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