Kudos to Office Depot!

(NOTE: There’s an update at the end of this post.)

Our thanks to Office Depot for being the model of customer service! Our three-year-old, much-used Okidata war-horse-quality color laser printer was pretty worn out and insisted it needed some expensive new drums, so we replaced it with a Lexmark 540n from our local Office Depot. The difference in printer generations was immediately apparent; the Lexmark print quality was superior and the photographs much better. We quickly went through the toner in the “introductory” cartridges and paid a king’s ransom for another set (which is to be expected), and had just installed them—about $280’s worth!

Alas, there was one difficulty. Just 14 days after we purchased the printer (today) I was printing our Christmas letter when the red light came on with a message saying there was a jam and I should open the paper tray. I did so and to my surprise, sitting in the paper tray were a little wheel and a couple ball bearings. Oops! Close inspection with a flashlight revealed that indeed it was not just parts coming loose; a little retaining mechanism had in fact broken.

I called Office Depot. After talking through the problem the fellow on the phone noted that I’d purchased it just 14 days ago—the maximum time they allow for returns for just any old reason. I had purchased an extended warranty and of course the printer was still under the manufacturer’s warranty, but he suggested if I could come in right away, they’d just treat it as a return.

So, we hopped in the car and made the 15-mile trip to Montrose (the nearest city of any size, if you count 16,000 people as a city of any size). Our first thought was simply to exchange the printer for another. But we talked at length with one of the floor folks, Will, with whom we discussed the pros and cons. We decided that the Lexmark might not be the best option, so we went with a Brother HL-4040CDN, a titch more upscale with some additional features that our original Okidata had that the Lexmark did not. The store manager not only processed the return, but allowed us to return the new toner cartridges. We’d barely started on them. I fully realize they’re now useless to Office Depot, but customer satisfaction is high in their value set. We ended up getting all our money back for the Lexmark (and cartridges) and applied it to the Brother (and an extra set of cartridges). And Will stayed with us the whole time and then loaded the (big, heavy) box into our car. All told, he spent about an hour with us.

Our thanks and a tip of the hat to Office Depot! They knew how to solve a big problem for us and get us back in production. Well done!

Update Jan 13, 2010: I guess I should tell you that the Brother didn’t work out. For whatever reason, and believe me we tried everything, the color in the printouts was unsaturated and faded-looking. My wife sells greeting cards (see her site) and they have to look good. And we know of someone who has the same Brother, and they have the same problem, so we think it’s systemic rather than an aberration. So we returned the brother and purchased another Lexmark C540n. The print quality is wonderful, although we’re leery of its mechanical stability. We bought the Office Depot extended warranty just in case, and we’re treating it with kid gloves. Unfortunately, I became addicted to the Brother’s ability to print both sides of the paper, a feature the Lexmark doesn’t have. So when I print a manuscript or a large document, I have to get the print settings exactly right, then flip the pile of paper over and put it back into the input tray. If I’ve been careful, I now have a duplex copy.

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