Jan. 4th, 2017

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I seem to have become curmudgeonly as I age... (become curmudgeonly?)

I'm annoyed with Staples, the office supplies and copy/print place. A couple of weeks back, I was looking for a specific organizing calendar, by request from a friend of mine. This calendar apparently comes in three different variants; I'd found two but wanted the third.

There is a big fancy customer-usable screen/keyboard/mouse setup by the cash registers, inviting one to search for stuff that could be bought. Fancy splash screen, bright red design, kinda cool looking. Neat!

I walked up to it and pressed the Enter key on the keyboard. Nothing happened. Did it again, same result. Waggled the mouse, nada. Waggled further, further nothing.

Well, it turns out that the screen is a touch screen. One must poke the screen to get any sort of response from the system. Seems counter-intuitive to me; shouldn't a user action get some sort of response from a system that is designed to attract user action?

Anyway, got to the search screen.

So I tried to look up the calendar. The system claimed that one of the two calendars that I had in my hand was the only one that existed. The other that I had in my hand, and the other (that was shown on the fancy in-store display) did not appear.

So I went and found a Staples employee, who went and looked in the back to see if they had any of the one that I wanted. Seems to me that the customer-usable computer should have made that step unnecessary, allowing the employee to do other things.

And then...

I tried to place an order for business cards at a Staples store last week, and it was a disaster. The person at the counter was pleasant though not terribly knowledgeable, but the process was ridiculous. We had to switch back and forth from one computer to another (bolted down on opposite ends of the counter) to see pricing, find options, and be able to upload my design. I was quoted one price (regular delivery) but attempted to be charged another (same day service, although same-day service was not available). Uploading my design from my USB stick to the computer in the store took several minutes (c'mon, folks, it's a two-colour business card) and had to be repeated every time we made a change or fixed an error, and to add insult to injury, Staples charges to allow me to supply my own design! After what seemed like forever but was likely only about 30 minutes, I gave up.

When I tried to do the whole thing at home on the Staples Copy and Print website, which by-the-way is not available from the Staples website, I was not able to upload my design. The Staples website requires Adobe Flash, which I do not use on my computer. More annoyingly, when I clicked on the "I can't see your Flash animation" (well, words to that effect) on the initial page, it took me to another page which displayed everything just fine, except that I needed Flash to be able to upload my design to their system. And they would then charge me extra to use my own design.

By comparison, uploading to an online service and sorting out my details took under five minutes from deciding which provider to use to getting my receipt mailed to me. It took under ten seconds to upload my design on my home residential internet connection.

It seems to me that Staples is trying to minimize costs and maximize profits at the cost of customer satisfaction with the user experience.

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