July 3, 2004

I made $4.24 buying a laser printer, I should do this professionally

Some background:

  1. Staples, the office supply superstore, was selling a Konica Minolta laser printer for $179 with an $80 mail in rebate
  2. Fry’s had an add for the same laser printer for $79.
  3. Staples matches prices with competitors ads. Actually, they don’t only match prices, they beat prices, they’ll subtract 110% of the difference in prices between Staples’ price and any advertisement you bring in.
  4. Staples matches the price before the mail in rebate.

So I figured, if everybody follows their corporate policy, I should be able to walk in to any Staples, show them the Fry’s ad for the $79 printer, and walk out of Staples with that printer for what ends up being $69, since they match 110% of the difference ($179 minus $79 equals $100, 110% of 100 is $110).

Now, I really didn’t expect anybody to actually follow corporate policy as that might set a rather unwieldy precedent for corporations everywhere. But dammit, I was going to try.

Lauren and I walked into a Staples we’d never been into before with the Fry’s ad in hand, we picked up one of the printers up, and asked for a price match, ready for a good fight, having never tried such a thing before. An unexpected hitch in my plan was that a Fry’s in our area had to have it in stock. So we ended up calling 5 different Fry’s, talking to 12 absolutely clueless Fry’s employees, and receiving about 142 evil glares from the Staples employee who was watching Lauren and I make our calls before we finally found a Fry’s with one in stock. The employee sighed and rang us up for $69.99, which came out to $75.76 after tax.

However, we still had a mail in rebate that was valid. A mail in rebate valued at $80. Now, to be honest, I didn’t expect anything back, I figured either there was some loophole or they’d see how much we paid for it and just ignore us. Either way, it didn’t hurt to send in the form.

I sit here with a check for $80 from Staples in my hand. That’s $4.24 and a laser printer of pure profit. Considering gas prices, I probably broke even after driving there and back, but I still figure it’s a pretty good deal. And yes, the laser printer is awesome, unbelievably fast, and I’d recommend it to anybody who needs four bucks.

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