Did I Steal $55 From Staples?

4a85d889-a6e1-404b-bacf-ec681e64bcfbEarlier this month Office Depot had a good sale on the Microsoft Surface Pro 4.  I’ve been keeping my eye on Surface Pro 4s for some time thinking they would be a good resale opportunity.  However, they seemed to rarely go on sale. When Office Depot had their sale I decided to leverage that with Staples.

The Surface Pro 4 usually sells for $999.  Office Depot had it for $50 off.  At the time Amazon was selling them for $995.  I asked Staples online to price match the sale at Office Depot and they did, plus they added another 10% for a total of $55 off.  $55 off would allow me to break even upfront.  I would earn profit using a shopping portal, credit card bonus, and Staples Rewards. Unfortunately, things did not work out as planned.

As soon as I got the item I went on Amazon to add it to my inventory and get it ready to ship.  However, to my surprise I find out that not only had the price dropped by $95 but Amazon itself was now selling them.  Thanks but no thanks. That meant there was only one thing to do.  Return the Surface Pro 4 back to Staples.  I noticed, however, that my receipt showed a sales price of $999.  I checked my credit card online and it showed I was billed $944.

I wasn’t exactly sure what to do in this situation.  When I return the item to the store do I say something or not? I decided not to say anything.  At the time I was thinking that it would probably work it’s self out.  It can take a few days for a return to be processed by the company and put back on your card.  So I guess I assumed that it would work out. Only it didn’t.  It took about four days for the return to hit my credit card but when it did I was credited $999 or $55 more than what I paid.

Did I steal $55 because I failed to say something up front?  It sure feels icky. What would you do?


To add a post script to this, I did call Staples customer service and they seemed not to really care.  That or the lady did not understand what I was telling her.  I told her I paid $944 and they returned $999 to my credit card.  She told me that she could not see it in her invoice so there was nothing she could do.  She also said that the $55 discount was an inconvenience discount and not to sweat it.  Not sure what that means but I feel like it absolves me of any guilt.  I did my part to get the money back to them.  Staples, I will be happy to return the $55 to you, just let me know how.

7 Comments on "Did I Steal $55 From Staples?"

  1. Would you initially speak up if you had been shorted $55? True, guilt (or avoidance of it) is a big motivator. It’s hard to say no to the smiling Girl Scout selling cookies, right? But the woman in customer service clearly has discretion to allow you to keep the $55. Many of their calls are recorded. And even if her decision was in error your situation will help Staples in the long run anyway.

    See? You did a good thing after all.

  2. Maybe give the difference to charity?

  3. LOL. I did a similar thing.
    I bought a couple things in Portland, OR (0% sales tax) in H&M on Christmas discount 50% off. I returned them in NYC (because some didn’t fit my girlfriend, or she didnt like them) – as example, a Blazer I paid $24.49, got credited in my card as $49.99

  4. I think the thing to do is say something. I ordered a micro sd from staples. they shipped 2 and it was easy to see how the error occurred in the way it was packed. My concern was that this was unaccounted for inventory and methinks someone at the store just got a free micro sd chip in the way they did not give me any documentation for the error but took the sd card just the same.

    I also think that you should say something. Most times, I have been able to keep things. And I also get something out of it as well: I have found it helps to restore people’s faith in humanity. I like seeing that and being a part of it.

    Once, I had a roadside “fix it on the street next to the auto parts store” or call a tow truck situation. At the time, things were super tight so fixing it there was the answer and I bought a bunch of stuff from the auto parts store. The next morning, I looked at the laundry list of everything I bought and saw a gas can or some kind of container wasn’t on the receipt. I called the store and told them what happened. The guy on the phone was like what? wait? tell me again. So I told him again and asked if I can give him my credit card number over the phone or drop by after work? He was like you are joking? and he laughed at me and was like noooooo! He was so thrilled that someone actually called in to report an error and said it made him happy and to keep it. The phone call was worth every cent lost.

    It made me feel better knowing I didn’t steal it and tried to correct the error and it gave me joy being able to let someone become happy from something trivial like that. I mean, at the time, money was tight for me, I had an unexpected expense, and the extra dollars for something I only needed to use one time hurt so not saying anything would have worked for me… except it didn’t. When it comes down to it, it is really easy to dehumanize the whole thing. But I couldn’t. Store losses add up and eventually enough of those errors might put the business in jeopardy, or maybe prevent someone from getting a nickel or quarter raise (those people really deserve better than minimum wage) and so basically, it is just better to be honest… I just find that I have been rewarded more times than not and in many ways unexpected. Honesty is the best policy and lets you sleep at night.

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