I’m convinced that Staples, the office superstore, is a front for money laundering or perhaps other pernicious activities. I’ve been in at least 20 different Staples in New York State resulting in dismal, miserable and time-sucking experiences where I lose my mind.
Trust me, it doesn’t take much for me to lose my mind. And going to Staples, the office superstore, pushes me over the edge. Each time. Every time. At least, they’re consistent with bad service, inoperable machinery and workers who refuse to meet your eyes.
Ever since the first Staples opened, I’ve encountered extreme frustration with their copiers. Each visit entails countless back and forth from self-operated copiers to their customer service. Or rather, customer disservice. In addition, every special copier order I ever made - mostly for presentations - has never been done to spec. I’ve had them redone so many times, always with problems, that I simply gave up and accepted the botched up copies.
Which leads me to believe that copying papers is not their specialty. For hardly any Staples store can perfect that most difficult of paid tasks. Or, if I did it myself, dealing with machines that are inoperable, without paper and toner - usually with instructions and options rarely utilized on this planet.
Armed with a prescription for a brain scan, I ran to a Staples to get it faxed stat. I should’ve waited until I returned home. For, once inside the store, I was overwhelmed.
People swarmed all over the place. Especially the Staples employees behind the counters. I had no idea what they were doing since there were few people on the lines. All I knew was they avoided me at all cost.
At this point, I was deafened by the sound. Loudly, I asked, “Where do I go to send a fax?”
They avoided me. I never saw so many people avert their eyes at the same time.
I asked again. They ran away and went into a huddle at the farthest reach of the counter.
Turning around, I saw a very pretty woman, might I add, African-American, behind me wearing a badge around her neck. “Say, where do I go to send a fax?”
“WHAT THE FUCK?” she screeched. “Cause I’m black you think I work here?”
Even through my deafness, I managed to hear each word. Hell, everyone in Staples stopped in their tracks. Suddenly, people formed concentric circles around us, anticipating a fight.
I leaned towards her, picked up her badge and showed her. “That’s why I asked,” I quietly said.
Chastened, she said, “Oh.”
I peered closer and saw she worked at the Duane Reade next door. Let’s say she and I ended on a happy note to the dissatisfaction of those surrounding us. Incidentally, I eventually got someone’s attention there and they faxed my prescription.
Just recently I entered a local Staples. Even though we’ve a small population, it’s a vast building. Inside, sprinkled around the occasional worker are people like me: trying to operate the copier machines.
I had no intention of entering another Staples and encountering the deep well of misery and dissatisfaction. But I made a mistake. I said in passing to my friend, “I’m going to town to food shop. Do you need anything?"
She nearly pounced upon me with glee. “Can you stop off at Staples and make ten copies of my new restaurant menu? In color?”
“Sure,” I said. Right there and then I should’ve realized I made a mistake. Sometimes I shouldn’t promise on things I can’t deliver. Especially when it concerns my nemesis, Staples. You’d think that over 20 years of never receiving a good result would blind me to the predicted outcome?
She handed me a Staples copy card and some cash. “I don’t know how much is on it, but here’s a few dollars.”
With trepidation I entered the store and walked to the corner where they showcased the self-service copier machines, the Jaws theme song playing from the overhead speakers.
First, I had to set down my pocketbook from which I extracted a manila folder containing the original menu. Then, I rummaged around in one of my side pockets until I found her Staples copy card. The copiers at Staples only accept pre-paid cards.
I placed the card in the slot for the color copier machine to see there was only fifteen cents. One color copy costs forty-nine. I removed the card and went to a huge machine to add more money. I read the instructions where they accept credit cards, debit cards, first born and SNAP, but not cash.
I felt the pit of my stomach drop for I knew now what this would entail. I walked back to my pocketbook which, luckily, wasn’t stolen and placed the manila folder inside. Carrying the bag, I walked to the honored service section of the store where the employees make copies for us common folk, a mere thirty feet away from the self-service copiers. This time, the overhead speakers played, “We’re Off to See the Wizard.” By this time, my hyperacusis drove me out of my mind with a persistent throb of an ear ache. Of course, with my luck, there was a long line moving at a snail’s pace.
This is where I must thank Apple for iPhones. Ordinarily, with this kind of sound and drama, I would run the hell out of Staples. But I made a promise. And a promise is a commitment, something I tend to keep no matter that it would kill me. As you can tell, I got some issues. I went into my twitter app on my iPhone to read the latest masturbation and fart jokes to distract myself.
Half an hour later, I reached the head of the line.
“Can you add $3 to this card in cash?”
“You didn’t go to the self-service machine?”
“Yes I did. They only accept plastic.”
The woman nearly sneered at me in disbelief. In seconds, she added the $3. I trudged to the other side of the store, placed my pocketbook on top of the copier and extracted once again the manila folder. I placed the card in the slot. It registered only a mere fifteen cents.
Picking up my pocketbook and the folder, with card in the other hand, I moved to another copier. Again, it registered a mere fifteen cents.
Carrying everything in one hand, I dragged myself back to the cashier at the service station of the copier section to see a line that wrapped out the door. “Fuck this shit,” I said to myself. I cut to the front and said, “It only registers fifteen cents.”
Without looking up at me, she said, “Try it again.”
“It takes time to re-register.”
“Like, how much time? A week? A month?”
She sighed. “Try it again now.”
I returned once more to the self-service to see fifteen cents, this time on a black and white copier. Returning, I cut in the front of the line. “It doesn’t work.”
“What do you want me to do?”
“Make the copies for me without charging me extra.”
She sighed. “You gottta wait at the end of the line.”
Forty minutes later, once again distracted by twitter app, this time focusing on my catfish’s death threats to me via subtweet, I arrived at the head of the line.
I handed over the once pristine manila folder, now dog-earred and mangled by my clutching hands. “Ten copies in color, please.”
Seconds later, she handed over the copies. While ringing it up, I noticed that the color was off. “Hey, I can’t pay for this!” I yelled. “The colors are blue, black and yellow. I got green, black and red.”
She sighed. “Let me call my supervisor.”
Twenty minutes later, her supervisor arrived. She took one look at the copies and said, “Don’t charge her.”
I handed over the Staples copy card and said, “I’d like to get my three dollars back.”
The cashier said, “We don’t give refunds on cards.” Now I know how Staples makes a profit!
Disgusted, in agony from my hyperacusis I left, got in my car and returned to my friend’s restaurant. Only then did I realize I forgot to food shop.
Customer Service: Negative ★★★★★
Ease of Use of Self-Service: Negative ★★★★★
Turn-Around Time: Negative ★★★★★
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