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Nothing Ever Seems Easy.

We had a small disaster the other day here at the world wide headquarters of Raised on Hoecakes.

The office chair in which we sit decided that it had had enough and the pneumatic piston on the base decided it no longer wanted to be associated with the actual bottom of the chair. The weld broke and we ended up on the floor.

Depending on how you look at it, this was fortunate or unfortunate as the chair broke on Wednesday, which meant that although stores were closed on Thursday due to Thanksgiving, we thought we might be able to find a decent chair at a “Black Friday” sale. Finding a chair on sale was a good thing. Going out to get it on Black Friday was not exactly our idea of a day in the sun.

We found a chair at Office Depot and in the late morning hours on Black Friday (after the initial rush of customers who were looking for that “SpongeBob SquarePants mouse on sale) we found the store somewhat busy, but not overly so. We asked a few questions of the sales clerk and were pleased with his helpfulness.

“This is not too bad,” we thought.

We ended up a chair that we like and also paid for an extended warranty that covers the chair from top to bottom if anything (including the base) fails. We don’t normally recommend extended warranties but given the fact the chair is not a high end chair, and the base or pneumatic lift cylinder will fail (not may – will) for $7.99 the warranty was a good deal. The cashier / clerk was pleasant which is not always easy on busy sales days.

From the moment we walked into the store to the moment we walked out with a chair in our grimy paws, shopping at Office Depot was a good experience.

It went downhill from there.

We had been directed by the cashier that we should “register” the chair for the warranty.

We called the toll free number on the receipt and got a mechanical voice that said we could register on the phone or online. We opted for online.

We went to the website and were asked for our name, address, phone and email. Well, we weren’t asked – they were required fields. The email requirement made our hairs stand on end as there is no need for a company to have an email of a customer unless they want to communicate with them. Sure enough, under the “terms of service” you were forced to agree to was a disclaimer that the company would share your information with other companies in order to send you “offers which may or may not interest you.”

In other words, Office Depot was demanding that we give them information from which they could sell to other companies who would basically spam us.

The warranty we purchased came with a pamphlet describing what we had to do and says the purchase of the warranty is a contract. No where on the contract does it mention “registering the product.”

Why?

Because the law does not require you to register the product. The contract for the warranty begins when you purchase the item. It does not begin when the product is “registered.” The registering of the product may make settling claims faster, but there is no court in the land of which we are aware that has ever held that one must register a product as part of a contract for which the company has already agreed and accepted a fee. (We have a little bit of history with this as we used to sell extended warranties for an electronics firm. Companies wanted people to register the product even in those days, but it is not necessary.) Furthermore, a warranty has nothing to do with the selling of private information to another company. Forcing a customer to agree to another stipulation after the warranty has been purchased is not legal.

We killed the online registration and called into Office Depot.

Well, we weren’t calling Office Depot as they aren’t managing the call center or the warranty. Both are being run by a third party. We ended up speaking with a grump named Brandy who told us that registration was required. We asked where that was in the contract. She repeated “it is required.” We repeated our demand for documentation within the contract requiring registration. Her response was always the same “because we say so.”

We are always amazed when people are asked to answer phones and do not have a basic understanding of what they are doing.

This whole thing has soured us on what was a pleasant experience. We were happy with our purchase and the people at Office Depot. Now we are forced to wonder what kind of company hides information from their customer after selling them something. We have to wonder why we were sold a warranty without ever being told in order to “activate” the warranty, we had to agree to have our personnel information being sold to other companies with which we have no business relationship.

Once again, this is a case of a company not looking out for the customer. We’ll see what happens in the future, but as far as we are concerned, we have a warranty.



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