I am always suspicious when retailers try to pursue a parallel channel model. Most tend to screw it up. Office supply retailer Staples gets my screwed-up online retailer of the year award. We tried Staples online service when a sales person visited us and offered us a corporate discount to try their remote order service. The first several orders failed to show up on the promised dates, a hardship for a small office where someone often has to explicitly wait around for such a delivery. Their delivery windows are worse than even those provided by the cable company, promising only to show up sometime between 9 and 5.
This week, I waited all day for a couple of filing cabinets, which showed up battered and beaten up. It was clear that the cabinets were damaged just from looking at the boxes. I hope no one in my company would ever ship something that looked so banged up to a customers without checking on it. Sure enough, the cabinets were a mess, and I insisted on sending them back. The driver said, sorry, you already signed for them, I can't take them, call customer service.
So I called customer service and they did what? Scheduled another pickup/delivery. So I again waited all day today for the replacements. The driver took the old ones, but the new ones were again in beaten up boxes - one had black electrical tape patching it up. But I had learned. I said I would not sign for them until I had opened and inspected them. The driver said I was not allowed to inspect them until I signed for them. Great. Well, like an idiot I signed and then immediately upon opening the boxes found that they were both beaten up. Obviously they had a bad lot of these type cabinets, and I had begged them to inspect my two replacements first before they came out, but no joy. And of course, the driver would not take them back because ... I had already signed for them.
This restrictive approach to customer acceptance of merchandise, which I would summarize as "you have to accept the merchandise without inspection" stands in marked contrast to how this works in their stores. I believe that I would certainly be entitled in the store to look at the actual cabinet, rather than the box, before I decided to accept the merchandise. Heck, I am pretty sure it was my local Staples store that, when they sold me two chairs, unboxed them and assembled them for free.
So tomorrow is yet another visit. I again begged Staples to inspect the cabinets before they put them on the truck to make sure this third set would be OK, since they obviously were pulling from a bad lot. The Staples customer service guy said that their warehouse folks don't do that kind of thing. No shit.
Update: OK, I give up. The replacements were battered as well. Why through this no one in the warehouse would have the initiative to check on what is obviously a bad lot they have received from the manufacturer is beyond me. I have left them on the curb for Staples to get whenever they want them. They were good about my credit.