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Kenneth Cleaver 

Consumer Correspondent

Staples Inc. Attn: Customer Service 500 Staples Drive Framington, MA 01702

Dear Staples:

I am responsible for managing a small office and in recent months have ordered copy paper, binder clips, seven file folders--all from Staples. Last week, the ink cartridge ran out during a crucial fax. I replaced the cartridge within seconds, and the fax transmitted without delay. If the nightly news had featured office plays of the week, I would have been on it.

When I have finished placing my order, your operators inquire whether I need candy and coffee, pens and copy paper. I politely decline. I do not think your operators mean to be rude. I do not think they wish to suggest that I am incompetent, that I am not thoroughly abreast of the state of my supplies. I presume your marketing analysis finds that such reminders, however irksome, increase revenues significantly. I do not possess the arrogance to suggest changing your policies to suit me, only that you incorporate my needs into your current practice. Unfortunately, the competency with which I manage an office does not extend to my personal life, which is a ceaseless carnival of angst. Thus my request is that Staples matches its marketing pitches with my personal growth challenges. For instance, "Are you sure you don't need any pens or notebooks?" would be followed by "If you both recognize the relationship is going nowhere, why are you still sleeping together?" Or, "Are you all set with folders and copy paper?" would be matched with ""She's a happily coupled lesbian living in Europe; it was a fling, get over it."

I will continue to purchase supplies from Staples and stomach your cajoling pitches if you will return favors with my own. I scratch your back; it is only fair, and good business sense, that you scratch mine.

Sincerely, Kenneth H. Cleaver

Dear Mr. Cleaver,

We are in receipt of your letter and appreciate your feedback; we take our customers' recommendations very seriously.

I would like to assure you that your comments have been shared with our marketing department, as well as our call center management team, where such information is used to provide our customers with the best catalog shopping experience possible.

Thank you again for your comments and for shopping at Staples.

Respectfully, Devon Whitney-Deal Customer Relations Manager Office of the President

From the September 20-26, 2001 issue of the Northern California Bohemian.

© Metro Publishing Inc.

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