Depot followup

Things have been busy here, and I forgot to post this brief followup to my customer service and security trouble with Office Depot.

When we left the story, I had arranged for payment on the bill my company had never received, and the customer service rep at Office Depot (actually at OD’s credit card provider) told me that the order that had been put on hold would be released. A couple of days went by with no delivery, but I didn’t expect things to work out that quickly. Then there was a weekend and a business trip, and before I knew it, a week had gone by since the problem was “resolved.” I set a reminder to call Office Depot the next day.

The next morning started with an email from Office Depot, saying that the order had been canceled because the problem with our account had not been fixed. I checked with our bank to confirm that payment on the problem invoice had gone through (it had), got together my notes from the previous week’s conversations,1 and called customer service.

After working my way through a couple of departments, I got to the representative who could tell me what was wrong with our account.

“There’s a note in your file saying ‘Mail Returned.’”

“What does that mean?”

“I’m not sure how to say it any other way.”

“Does that mean that you sent us a bill and the post office returned it to you?”


“Well, that explains why we didn’t pay that bill. We never got it.”

“Yes, and since we couldn’t confirm your address, that put a hold on your account.”

“When I talked to one of your representatives last week, he told me the hold was there because we had an unpaid bill and that once it was paid the hold would come off. You do have a record of us paying that bill, don’t you?”

“Oh, yes. Your account has a zero balance.”

“When was this ‘Mail Returned’ note put in our file?”

“Let’s see… February 24.”

“And you waited until May to try to contact us?”

“Yes, I’m sorry for the inconvenience, sir.”

“Any idea why the guy I talked to last week didn’t say anything about the problem with our address?”

“No, sir. I’m very sorry about that.”

There was some more about how they had temporarily confirmed our address but couldn’t permanently confirm it. I didn’t understand any of that and decided it wasn’t worth trying. I also didn’t bother telling her that the delivery of goods to our office should be sufficient confirmation of our address. By this time I knew that the credit people and the store people were completely separate—the credit people would have no record that the store had sucessfully delivered to us the order that was on that February invoice.

“So is our account straightened out now?”

“Yes, sir.”

“And will the order go through?”

“No, sir. Because it was canceled, it’ll have to be placed again. Let me put you through to that department.”

I really should have hung up at this point. I knew our account was up to date and that they knew we didn’t owe them any money. The likelihood of an error-free order was low. But I stuck with it for the same reason people can’t turn their heads away from a car accident.

When the order rep came on the line, I gave her the order number. She confirmed the items in the order—which I took to be a good sign—and then asked, “And how would you like to pay for that, sir?”

“With the same credit card I used on the original order.”

“Is that your personal card, sir?”

“No, it’s our company Office Depot credit card.”

“All right. Can I have the credit card number, sir?”

“You don’t have it?”

“No, sir, it’s not on my screen.”

“It’s saved with our account information. It comes up automatically when I make an order on the website.”

“Yes, sir, but it’s not on my screen.”

“Well, I’m sorry, but this has gone on too long. We’re done. Good-bye.”

After hanging up, I went to Amazon and placed the order in a couple of minutes. I won’t be going back to Office Depot.

To be clear, it didn’t bother me that she couldn’t see our Office Depot credit card number. I see that as a decent security feature. But she should have been able to see that we had one on file and that it was in good standing. She should have been able to place the order on that card without knowing its number.

The postscript to this story came the next morning. I pulled into the parking lot and saw two boxes by our front door. They were, of course, the items in the canceled order from Office Depot.

  1. And I opened ANIAT to the post, which was a pretty good summary. The only thing it lacked was the amount of the previously unpaid invoice.