I had occasion to purchase a new router and a couple of USB network cards from Officeworks in North Sydney a couple of days ago. Total cost: around $285. Not an insignificant purchase -and not exactly small in the ‘bulky packaging’ stakes, either, with each component coming in its own giant cardboard box. Carrying the things around loose was not an option -but neither was being given a carrier bag for the purpose, for at Officeworks, you are told at the checkout that you can “purchase a carrier bag for 20c if you like”.
Having no other practical means of transporting the goods, I reluctantly made the bag purchase, but I emailed them as soon as I could:
Your stupid policy of not providing carrier bags unless you charge an extra 20 cents (on top of the $285 I’d just spent) has lost you a customer for the last time. It’s green tokenism, and very annoying. Change that policy or, slowly, go bust. Your choice.
I wasn’t honestly expecting an answer to that, but today one came in… and a more egregious example of “corporate double-think-speak” I find it hard to imagine:
Dear Howard, Thankyou for your feedback.
At Officeworks we also care strongly about the environment. As result of our commitment to the environment Officeworks has introduced many changes to the way we do business. Where we used butcher paper as packaging within our cartons (for customer deliveries), we now use air bags that are made from recycled plastic that can be recycled with other plastic waste. The air bags use less energy to produce and are more easily disposed of. In each of our Retail Stores we also now sell a recyclable plastic bag made from natural corn starch & soy inks, which are 100% biodegradable. Customers are also able to purchase a blue “enviro” multi use bag, proceeds of each bag sold are donated to the Australian Wildlife Conservancy (AWC) to establish a private nature reserve in one of Australia’s last great natural areas – the remote Gulf of Carpentaria in Northern Australia. We recently introduced “Planet Ark” printer/copier cartridge recycling in all our Retail stores and a pickup service for our Phone/Online Business customers in capital cities. At Officeworks we are continually looking at ways we can work with the Australian community in reducing our impact on the environment.
I hope that I have been of assistance and please let me know if I can be of further help.
I suppose you could feel warm and cosy at the thought of my 20c bag purchase going to help the Gulf of Carpentaria… but personally, I’d just like to get my fairly expensive purchases home from the shop in one piece without being gouged for a charitable donation I’ve not freely chosen to make for myself.
Anyway, my reply:
Dear Shane: Your email doesn’t help at all, and I think you have found some new dictionary definition of the word “assistance” with which I was previously unfamiliar. You’re spouting green-y marketing twaddle when what I want is actual, practical assistance in transporting purchased goods from the shop.
When I pay $300 for a pile of electronic devices that all come in their own bulky packages, a carrier bag is a *necessity*, and to be charged 20c for the privilege of getting one is *insulting*. You can donate what you like to whatever greeny charities you like, but don’t inconvenience me while you’re doing it.
The equation is really very simple: keep spouting this sort of marketing feel-good rubbish, or retain me as a customer (by *giving* me a carrier bag when the value of my purchase warrants it). I fear you have chosen unwisely. (And I get to shop elsewhere as a result).
Or, in the pithier words of this blog post’s title: Get Stuffed, Officeworks! And since they’re owned by Wesfarmers, who also owns Coles and Harris Technology (to name but two), that’s quite a few shops I shall be avoiding at all costs in the future.
(It’s not that I’m anti-green. I just hate tokenism. In this case, the D-Link USB Nano network adapter measures about 3.5cm long -about 1¼ inches. It comes, however, in a box 21cms long, complete with multi-lingual warranty booklets, plastic inserts and plastic shrinkwrap. Plus a full-sized driver CD (with paper-and-plastic sleeve) that consists of just 56MB of actual content. With products packaged so extravagantly, Officeworks is just targeting the wrong people with its ‘no carrier bags unless you cough up the dosh’ policy, as far as I’m concerned.)