Scams

by Mike Masnick


Filed Under:
pricing, scams, warranty

Companies:
office depot



Office Depot Employees Blowing The Whistle On Outright Scams

from the reputation-is-a-scarce-good dept

For many years, there have been stories of various shady online electronics (especially camera) retailers (many of whom are based in the same neighborhood in Brooklyn). The main scam is to offer super cheap prices on cameras to get you "in the door" (either online or in person), and then focus on trying to sell you all sorts of massively over-priced add-ons and warranties. If you turn them down, they suddenly "discover" that the original product you ordered is out-of-stock. At times, over the years, various authorities have cracked down on such resellers, though they often pop right back up under a different name.

Still, folks who know the business were well aware of such shady companies and often knew to avoid them... but it's a bit different to find out that some large brand name retailers appear to be doing the same. Laptop Magazine is reporting on a series of whistle-blowing employees at Office Depot, detailing how they pulled off similar scams. The typical "oh, that's out of stock" trick is apparently quite common, but it even gets more advanced, with some employees creating photoshopped price signs, in order to "hide" the price of an expensive warranty add-on in the "list price" for a computer. These practices are quite illegal, and it looks like the report might trigger some FTC interest, especially given the multiple reports, suggesting that this isn't just a few rogue employees.

It does make you wonder what Office Depot was thinking. The obvious answer is: "anything for a sale," but that doesn't tell the whole story. Sooner or later, companies that do this sort of thing are going to get caught -- and when that happens (beyond the fines), the damage to a company's reputation can be massive and debilitating. It just seems like the cost of being outed is so high, it's ridiculous that any company would encourage such behavior.

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  1. identicon
    Lucretious, 19 Mar 2009 @ 7:16am

    Go to Pricewatch.com and check out the huge abuse of that particular system. Getting a placement at the top of the list for, say, video cards and that particular store will get a massive amount of hits (most people are looking to actively buy when they use Pricewatch). One scam is to advertise a certain high-end card but when you click on the link to go to the site's page the card will end up being a lower end model or it'll simply direct you to their homepage. There's so many scams that there isn't enough room here to list them all.

    what used to be a great site has turned into a pit of the worst scumbags.

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