Sunday, July 3, 2011

The End of My Retail Career: Screw You Office Depot!

Since 2004, I have toiled away at Office Depot, and that era came to an end earlier this evening.  I was offered a position in a slightly different industry, and decided to pursue a new career. Retail is a job that no one wants to do, but when you have bills to pay, you work where you can. How many children grow up and say, "When I grow up, I want to go into retail?" Surely none, I would hope.

Before taking my job at Office Depot, I worked at McDonald's, and it was my High School job. Believe it or not, McDonald's was actually a pretty cool place to work--when your sixteen. When you are pushing twenty, and attending college, girls aren't attracted to guys who wear paper hats. A change was sorely needed.

So I stumbled upon Office Depot, not because I valued a career there, but I valued the proximity to my home. After an interview I was hired to be a part-time stocker, at a higher hourly wage than I received as a manager trainee at McDonald's. I was pretty stoked to be able to come home from work, and not smell like grease, french fries, and shit.

Office Depot was pretty cool for awhile. They worked around my school schedule, I usually got the time off I requested, and the job required almost no brainpower. When management realized that I possessed the ability to sell, I was moved into the technology department. After a few months, I was offered a full-time position. Then started the discontent with the company.

Obviously, the weak economy took its toll on an office supply company, as payroll was dramatically decreased, which led to the  reduction of hours. Essentially, every hourly employee was forced to take a paycut. Then Office Depot decided that they were going to attempt to compete with Best Buy, with the institution of Tech Depot Services. A customer is supposed to bring in a PC for a "free PC checkup." The associate plugs in the computer to our network, and the computer gives a quick diagnosis of the system. Our job is to then browbeat the customer into purchasing a virus removal service for $199. Hell, even when you perform the service, then run a PC checkup, it still tells you that the computer "is not optimized."

Are you buying a new PC? No problem, we have plenty of ways to overcharge you. Looking at that shitty Compaq for $329? Well, you are going to need your PC optimized--obviously. That will run you $69 to $129, depending on the version of McAfee you'd like. The "top-tier" service gives you recovery discs, something any moron should be able to do. Don't forget about your $119 protection plan, so that $300 laptop is now $600. Not selling these services warrants you a dirty look from your supervisor.

What exactly does having your PC optimized mean? Well, we charge you to delete the trialware. Ya know, the games you don't want, that you should be able to uninstall yourself. Pretty stupid, huh?

I am not blaming Office Depot for these dumb services. Every tech company, like Best Buy offers the same thing, although Best Buy actually trains their employees. Office Depot is just trying to improve their market share. I do not think browbeating and lying is the way to do that.

Shortly before I quit, I was pulling into my managers office for a little pep-talk. Ya know, "How can you improve your numbers," and things like that. He told me that the only way people are going to know about our computer services is through word-of-mouth. I sat there, somewhat baffled. A retail chain, with over 1,000 stores in the US needs employees to advertise for them? Is Office Depot sans a marketing department? Unreal.

My objective as a tech associate is to sell these services, which I feel I did. However, when a customer walks into the building for pens or envelopes, I am supposed to talk to them about their computer. "Hey mister, I see you are buying a pack of Uniball pens. How is your computer working? Is it slow? Bring it in, and we can look at it. FOR FREE!

I don't know about all of you, but if I were there to buy some pencils, and some idiot was trying to get me to buy computer services, I probably wouldn't step foot in that store again. Perhaps its just my antisocial ways, but I think its wrong.

Office Depot is not all bad. They allowed me to work there for almost seven years. I have made a lot of friends, and even met my current girlfriend there. It is not all bad, and I learned a lot, and actually discovered that I have the ability to sell products, a talent that will serve me well for the rest of my life. Office Depot has just lost its way, and I hope they figure it out. I would hate to see thousands of my retail brothers and sisters out of work. 

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