I believe in the 3R’s, but this is just ridiculous


I was in my local Staples a few weeks back to get a little faxing done, and couldn’t believe what I saw in their copy centre. They’re selling empty paper boxes for $1.49. These are the boxes that the copy centre empty as they use up paper during the course of their daily work. And while I appreciate the sentiment of wanting to give these boxes a good home rather than adding to the mountain of recycling out there, it’s amazing that they actually have the audacity to ask you to pay for their garbage.

Why not just give the boxes away? Grocery store do it. Liquor stores do it. Can you imagine running into an LCBO to grab a few boxes for moving day and being told “that’ll be $1 a box please”? IT’S THEIR TRASH. I can’t state this enough.

Gah.. There should be a law about this sort of thing. A+ for ingenuity, but a big fat F for greed.

49 responses to “I believe in the 3R’s, but this is just ridiculous”

  1. Joel says:

    Well, the label on the box says Usage Multiples or Multiuse 😉

  2. Weeeooojr says:

    lmao. That’s multi-use paper.

  3. itsjustmebub says:

    that’s ridiculous!! Just how broke are they?

  4. Ku says:

    I have bad experience with Staples. I ordered a GPS online and think what, they sent me an open item as new. I went to exchange it in the store, they told me we can’t as you ordered online. WTF?!! You send me an open item product and sell it as new and then you tell me to return it online. Anyway, I decided to take the course. I wasted three weeks of my time and at the ned returned the product. I found their customer service sucks in the store and online. I’ll never buy a single item from them again. I asked my document control supervisor to stop buying any of their products and our company stopped buying office stuff from there. Staples = overpriced = crap = open box products as new = OOS (advertised items with no stock no rain checks). I hope they bankrupt soon!

  5. moongalz says:

    actually those are some pretty nice boxes, if they get the job done for cheap.. why not…
    unfortunately you just sold those boxes to me…. sorry 🙁

  6. Lemdrop says:

    When you saw the empty boxes, did you complain to the staff or store manager? Maybe if they get enough complaints and realize what bad PR this is, to do this, then they’ll stop.

  7. moongalz says:

    dont they have quite a bit of labeling for something they might have used?

  8. funkright says:

    the cost of the paper (or other types of goods) does include the cost of the box. recouping that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. still doesn’t mean I agree with it.

  9. christian&gloria says:

    that’s RETARDED!

  10. Sro Ragu says:

    I have an aversion to using anything which is FREE unless it is naturally occuring. If there is any human labor involved I prefer paying a reasonable price. I don’t see any problem in Staples charging for something that somebody made somewhere. Expecting to get something for free that would normally be thrown away is the same as dumpster diving.

  11. Tanya says:

    At my local store “Office Plus”, they don’t charge for the boxes. If they don’t need them, and someone asks, they are free.

  12. AmberLab says:

    I once worked at Staples (in the copy center). We weren’t allowed to sell or give away. You were pointed to the aisle where they were sold. Actually no dept in the store was allowed to give away boxes, they all went straight into the huge box-crusher and recycled. I’m surprised at this ad. Ugh.

  13. polacco65 says:

    This is ridiculous!!!!!!!!! I get these boxes for free from work. These people are getting more and more greedier by the minute. If we buy these boxes from them, we are telling them (indirectly) that it is alright to do what they are doing.

  14. Lynn says:

    Is it possible, that even though it’s viewed as “their garbage” but when they recycle it, they get paid for their recyclables? Sometimes metal businesses will do just that: pay for your metal that is “your own garbage”. I don’t know, I’m just playing Devil’s advocate. I could be wrong! In their eyes, they’re getting rid of “their garbage” and making a buck either way… no?

  15. Laura says:

    And you don’t find paying $4.30 for lattes is ridiculous? I think a $1.49 box has more uses than some junk people buy these days.

  16. FCL says:

    The cardboard in the boxes are worth money. If they did not sell the boxes they would send it to the paper recycler and get money if it.

    People buy bankers boxes, nothing wrong with selling similar boxes.

  17. TheCountess says:

    What a joke! I hope they realize this is really bad PR and scrap it. The boxes should be free for the asking.

  18. maxmillan says:

    What I find disturbing is that the Michael Jackson’s memorial was held at the Staples Centre in L.A.

    This really demeans it.

  19. Caitfoster says:

    Okay, so I wouldn’t mind paying if I knew the money was going to a sponsored charity. 1.49 for a box if the cash goes to Cystic Fibrosis research? Sure, I’ll pay that. But to just go into their registar and boost their profits at the end of the day? No way, count me out.

    It’s like walmart trying to charge 5 cents for the worst plastic bags on earth. Even a round object like a tennis ball can bust those things. I am not paying for crap. Bring in biodegradable bags and I will be happy to pay 10 cents for them. Double the asking rate of the old ones. If they can sell a box of 45 biodegradable poo bags at the dollar store for a buck I am sure the 10 cent thing would fly.

  20. Sally says:

    Honestly those would be great filing boxes, and those boxes can cost upwards of 10$ for the exact same thing, so would I pay $1.49 for them? Sure why not.

    They are taking up shelf space and shelf space is worth money. Sure some grocery stores give away boxes but these aren’t exactly cheap banana boxes.

    $1.50 isn’t much anyways. Heck I had to pay 50 cents at the local theatre just to get an extra pop cup to use for sharing popcorn.

  21. Christine says:

    I had a horrible experience with Staples as well. At Christmas I ordered a digital camera from their online store. They then sent me an email stating that they did not have the camera and were not getting anymore. I emailed customer service letting them know I felt they should offer a like product for the same price and they did not even give me a response. RUDE. I think they think because they are a huge company it doesn’t matter how they treat their customers because they have a monopoly in a lot of places. I won’t buy from them again either.

  22. L. Wilson says:

    I asked them for paper boxes a couple of years ago for moving and they tried to charge me then, as well… boo.

  23. layniejoy says:

    FCL, I think you’re mistaken – I don’t know of any businesses who are PAID to recycle – you actually pay a fee to have it picked up.

    They also charge you $1 in order to open up a USB drive in order to print something. I’m assuming this is so you create an online profile and upload via the net. The only problem with that is you need to give them SIX hours to print your stuff!!! So if you need something printed on Sunday, forget it! Such a joke. I only go there to buy office supplies for my work, because I’m not spending my money there!

  24. ergo2 says:

    thats insane. why would anyone even buy them? although i’m sure some do.

    i find it sad that canadians are doing more to recycle than our own federal government 🙁

  25. bargain kitty says:

    I get them free from work – they are great, heavy-duty boxes – but I don’t think I’d pay for them.

  26. kathyo says:

    Funny how this just popped up on this site when my sister told me about it Friday. She went to Staples to get what she thought were free boxes, like the ones she got at No Frills, and was told they cost $1.50. $1.50??? They were going to trash them! Don’t they sell packaging/bankers boxes you can label and store properly? I do not agree with this at all.

  27. Shawnsgal says:

    Hey lets face it- if we want boxes from U-haul and other moving companies…we have to pay for them….so all in all….What is the difference?

  28. benji says:

    Personally, I wouldn’t pay for it.

    But some people would…like Shawnsgal said, you sometime buy boxes from UHaul…or if you’re looking for storage boxes and you don’t want to pay $8.00 for a plastic tote/Rubbermaid, this is a better cheaper option.

    So, for those that don’t want to pay for them – don’t.

    Simple enough to me.

  29. mlongboat says:

    I love paper boxes. If my mom couldnt get them for me from her work I think I might buy them. They are REALLY strong and they have lids and handles. Ikea sell “decorative” cardboard boxes for alot more than that. It’s a cheaper way to store files and papers. Grocery store freebie boxes arent usually as strong unless you get lucky.

  30. Jenny N says:

    I think the rationale for stores not wanting ppl coming off the street to take their “garbage boxes” is that they are meant for paying customers. Ie stores like No Frills & Price Chopper. When I was a cashier at Price Chopper & needed some boxes for moving, my manager told me not to take so many because “we want to make sure our paying customers get some”. =S Go figure.

  31. Mark Norris says:

    I also had a crappy experience last Christmas. They had a printer on sale in their flyer. I went to a couple of stores they didn’t have any. They found me a store that did. I drove all the way there and they tried to tell me they didn’t want to sell it to me cause they needed stock for boxing day. I got really mad at the manager and said whats the difference I buy now or boxing day. After almost an hour they finally relented and sold me it and in the process ruined my whole night.

  32. nis says:

    Grocery stores give away fabulously sturdy, file size apple boxes with lids, and cutout handles on the sides for FREE. apple boxes often don’t have holes in the bottom either.
    Liquor stores give away boxes which are perfect for packing books

    you can get good boxes in so many places for free. Reduce, Reuse, Recycle…


    Gimme a break!


  33. MaricrisMas says:

    Ha ha ha…too funny…wonder if they actually sold any…don’t want to give them any ideas…but if they put them buy the bankers/storage boxes they sell…they might sell better!

    BTW…LCBO boxes are GREAT for moving!…not only sturdy…but if you keep the inserts inside the boxes…GREAT for packing breakables like glasses!…

    If you didn’t have the pic…I wouldn’t believe it!

  34. bhlombardy says:

    Although this site is geared around getting deals and the like, I figure i need to chime in here as well: (Ad admittedly repeating some of those posts that came before me)

    1,) Were you getting them free before? and by surprise now have to pay $1.49? If not, then what’s the point? they sell them for $1.49 — whether it’s a used item or it’s new on the shelf is moot.

    2.) The boxes are strong and sturdy, and come equipped with an equally strong and sturdy lid. They hold solid bricks of paper so you know they are more than adequate for filing papers, Christmas decorations, for moving, etc. — they be used and re-used over and over and over again.

    3.) …epecially when compared to banker boxes (as somoene pointed out) which they also sell for upwards of $10. At $1.49, this makes them a steal.

    4.) So are they worth $1.49 to a consumer? Absolutely… AND a bargain in my mind.

    5.) and *if* the $1.49 is going to charity… (and yes, I know that no one actually made that claim) then that’s just a bonus.

    6.) They possibly had a lot of people asking for them, or fishing through their dumpsters or recycle bins digging for them and taking them — and leaving a mess behind. Kudos to your local Staples for seeing a demand for an item, and then able to capitalize on it and (possibly) solving a problem in the process.

    6.) Did I mention the boxes are, afterall and in the end, recyclable? (*if* you ever part with them)

    …I say if you want to complain about paying for a throw-away item, might I avert your attention to your local Loblaws owned supermart and going on them about their grocery bags. (I won’t get started on this, so I’ll digress.)

    Anyway, I see nothing wrong with $1.49 for a used box with a lid. For their functionality and their price comparatively with similar items in the same store. It’s a bargain.

  35. abfab says:

    I used to work for a printer and used to give them away all the time for FREE! I never found them very good for filing or moving. Thanks for the lcbo suggestion, my sister is moving and its hard to get decent ones at my local no frills.

  36. Matt says:

    Maybe someone should Price match this at their local Staples. Tell the manager that the Grand & Toy down the street is selling their empty boxes for free!

    I hope they wont require calling to guarantee stock.

  37. Charlie says:

    I get these free from Safeway. Staples has a management that made me stop going there from years. Really greedy!

  38. Penny says:

    Lucky you didn’t get arrested or thrown out for taking a picture inside a store! It is against either store policy or the law (or both) as other stores could use the pictures in a bad way, at least in the retail store I work at (not staples) we can legally throw people out and take their cameras and delete thier pictures for doing it.

    Anyway, I buy bankers boxes and pay $10 for the pretty designed ones (pack of 2), if I was storing the things I usually do in an out of sight area I would probably buy a couple of these, $3 is better than $10. Grocery store boxes are almost always (at least when I’m in there) way to flimsy to use for books and papers and I don’t drink and so am rarely at the LCBO for much of anything at all. Since they are built so well I think that is why they are given re-sale value, and as another poster said the price of the box is built in with the paper within it and since they wouldn’t give you a box of paper for free why do you expect a sturdy box for free? Simply because you see it as garbage doesn’t mean that it is in the eyes of the people who are paying for it or selling it. Do you feel so entitled to everything that you will call greed just because it is a corporate store? Would you call greed if a mom and pop copy store sold these? They paid for the box so why shouldn’t you?

    As for the stores getting paid for their cardboard this is incorrect. At the store I work at, the guy that owns the cardboard crusher and skip (not the store or the owner, a seperate guy in the waste manangement industry) gets the money for the cardboard and we pay him to have him take it away. So no it is not always the case that they would make money either way. The same with when you get charged the eco fee for paint cans now, the store doesn’t get that money, the government does.

    As to the whole buying online and getting screwed thing, please keep in mind that when you order online it is a transaction between you and the WAREHOUSE depot not any particular store (unless you do the in-store pickup thing, then it IS that store’s stock). It is harder for a store to give you your money back when they as an independently owned dealer store don’t actually have your money, the warehouse in Toronto or Ottawa does, and they won’t get their money back from them any easier than you do. This is just the retail side of things that a lot of people do not understand, and as a person who works returns and gets yelled at all day for this sort of thing I think you should know that just because it is a corporation doesn’t mean that when one store or depot screws you it is your nearest store’s fault.

    As the saying goes one person’s trash is another person’s treasure, so please stop feeling entitled tot hings you see as garbage, if you don’t agree with it just don’t buy them. Why is it any of your business anyway?

  39. Amanda says:

    Actually, my local LC charges about 25 cents a box now. Although when I moved here last year, I got boxes at a liquor store for free.

    I worked at Zellers at the time and got free boxes there, however, it really is up to each store what to do with their left over boxes.

  40. benji says:

    Penny said something that made me think…. “Simply because you see it as garbage doesn’t mean that it is in the eyes of the people who are paying for it or selling it.”

    That’s like a garage sale. It’s all stuff I don’t want, but just because it’s “my trash” doesn’t mean I’m going to give it away. That’s why I sell it…so I can make cash off of my trash.


  41. Jay says:

    Matt: LOL!

  42. Is it really against the law to take pics in a store?! cause I don’t think it is but idk they let me at walmart one time I took a pic of a chair I wanted with my cell to show my sis when I got home and asked someone first they didn’t care. I also took a pic of a sweater in Bluenotes with my cell to send my sis to see if she liked it too before buying it for her since it was the last day of a killer half off the already marked down stuff and they didn’t care either…
    Maybe just certain stores don’t like you to take pics? I want to know though LOL in case I start taking pics in a store that doesn’t allow it or if it is law. I usually ask first anyway and they will probably always say yes if they think you are going to buy something as a result.
    They really can’t stop it though especially with cell phones how do they know you are taking a pic of something or just texting?

  43. Penny says:

    I work at Canadian Tire and it is at least against policy there. I assume it is some kind of a law since our security people can take your camera or phone and delete pictures, we once had a guy who had pictures of the insides of many stores in the area on his camera and we were legally allowed to take his camera, so I am assuming there is some law somewhere in Ontario about it. It is mainly for people like that guy who was using it for theft or for the competition who is trying to use your methods either to out-do you or for a smear campaign. I know that we do not allow people to photograph products (because that is what the online catalogue is for, for stores without one I have no idea) or take souvinier photos in the store, we direct them outside for their photo to be taken in front of the store logo instead.

    You can usually tell if someone is taking a photo with their cell phone as they are holding it outward and trying to focus for their shot, where as texting involves typing. But as long as you are doing it to make sure you want to buy it I can see why other stores allow it. I wouldn’t try it in a CTC though.

  44. Jen says:

    It is pretty sad when a person is moving and needs these boxes even the women from the shelters need these – from time to time and the store charges for them – its like they are are selling used packaging, they are not just selling whats in the box but the box itself. How tacky how sad and how ungiving of Staples to the people that ask for a box. I think people should avoid shopping at a store that does this. How much lower will they go.

  45. Katie says:

    I work at a Staples location and we can barely keep these boxes on the floor! People think they are a great value for the price! If you don’t like it, don’t buy them- we probably don’t even have enough to sell you anyway 😛

  46. Catherine says:

    Just so you know, when you purchase the case as a whole, the price of the box is included. These are not your standard cardboard boxes that you find at any grocery store.
    They are made to be able to hold 50 lbs of paper. A typical case of paper is sold for $52. 10 individual reams of paper on sale sell for $4.99. Add this up, and it equals $49.99. That extra $2 is made up of the box.

    Many companies purchase these boxes to store files and folders in.
    That’s why Staples sells them. VERY similiar boxes sell for $15-$20 for 4 in any other business supply store.
    If they could be recieving high quality boxes for free, why purchase them anywhere?

    Staples is offering a product that customers want; individual reams of paper (500 sheets) as opposed to making customers buy 10 packages all at once.
    Staples opens their paper boxes ($52) to provide customers the opportunity to purchase however many reams they’d like (10 x $4.99 = $49.99) this produces a loss of $2 per case opened.

    That $1.49 doesnt seem so bad. Considering the boxes I get for free at the grocery store fall apart and always seem to smell like pickles.

  47. Catherine says:

    Oh, one more thing. You’re all complaining about the store charging for a box that has MANY uses and is very durable.

    UPS charges for each of these individual boxes.

    Nearly every grocery store now charges for their bags, and had anyone done a little research, they’ll be charging for the boxes soon enough.

  48. A person’s idea just great

  49. Blair says:

    I think you’re completely insane to think anything in this life is free. They charge for the boxes a) because they have to pay for recycling to get picked up and b) because THEY SELL MOVING BOXES there. They’re not going to give you a free box when the company SELLS the goddamn things on the shelf.

    I, for one, have bought these boxes there, and they are perfect for moving small heavy things. $1.50 is a BARGAIN. People like you are what the poor people working in retail hate… The ones who want everything for free. Gah.


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