11 August 2008

Staples Discriminates Against People Without Phones

Anyone who has ordered anything online is familiar with the requirement to fill in all form fields which are marked by an asterisk (*). Usually, the asterisk is highlighted in red - as in * - just to make sure we don't miss it.

One of those fields is always for one's phone number, with full area code. Since this low-income person hasn't a phone, cell or landline, my ornery response has been to enter 123-456-7890.

Sometimes the auto response doesn't like the three digits I use for the area code. In such cases, I use 250, which is the area code for my location.

Now my workaround has been stymied by Staples, whose online store I just visited to order a $139 computer cart. Staples refuses to accept my order without a legitimate phone number, one which I assume must be mine.

Ergo, Staples is discriminating against their low-income customers who haven't a phone and other persons who may choose to be without a phone for other reasons.

Thing is, I've purchased from the Staples online store before and never had a problem. In fact, the desk I'm replacing the cart with, was purchased that way, as have many other items.

And I've regularly purchased from the store in town.

For large or heavy items, my preference is to scope out the goods in the store and order online, because then there isn't an additional charge for shipping. That is, if I made the long trek again into town - a challenge, given I've a disability -, and ordered the computer cart from the store, I would be charged extra to have them deliver it to my apt.

The price is the same, both instore and online, but the latter includes free shipping for orders of $50 or more. The store in town assumes everyone has wheels with which to drive away their purchases. Thus the issue of shipping is another point of discrimination.

So I'm miffed, which is why I'm posting this for all to see. Rather than get angry, I'm going to get even.

ETA: I hate the disempowerment this makes me feel and am sick of having always to think of workarounds for assumption-loaded policies. Am really feeling down right now. It's like being punched in the gut so hard that you can't catch your breath... Am so sick of the fight.

ETA2: To give Staples credit, their representative has just responded to my snarky response with a workaround. Doesn't change the fact, however, that a phone number is required for their and other online retailers' order forms. From my Staples contact, it sounds like they're dealing with Visa requirements. But who knows? And why would a TELEPHONE be a requirement for a credit card purchase anyway? And is this just an excuse for store policy?

ETA3: Just remembered reading years ago that Visa does NOT require card holders to give their phone number. Has that changed, or is it indeed the case that Staples (and other online retailers) are trying to use this purported requirement to support their own discriminatory policies?

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