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Staples – not-so-easy when you want to use gift cards online

February 17, 2010 By: Judy Category: Shopping, W&B

I didn’t realize any stores in this day and age only accept gift cards in-store and not on their website, but that’s what I get for not reading descriptions/fine print carefully and assuming a major retailer knows what decade we’re in.

Our apartment is in dire need of chairmats because our chairs are pulling fuzz bulls from the carpet our computer area. I have tons of points from my credit card, so I used it on a $100 gift card to Staples to purchase such chairmats. Chairmats, btw, are freaking expensive, so I bought a $25 off $75 online coupon off eBay for a couple bucks. I clicked referral links, applied for a Staples rewards card, and got ready to order my chairmat when I discovered there’s no place to put the gift card number under payment information. I looked in the FAQs, no info. At the Staples gift card page, you can check the balance online and buy gift cards no problem. I looked at the fine print on the card and it doesn’t say you can’t use it online… oh wait. “May be used only in Staples U.S. retail stores.”

I guess that means you can’t use it online? How can that be? In disbelief, I googled and found I’m not the first to find issue in this.

Why Can’t I Use Staples Gift Cards On Staples.com?
Staples Gift Card – that was easy
Staples.com Gift Cards Not Usable

But those were a while ago, so maybe they’ve fixed things by now? I called customer service. Maybe I could order with credit card, and then they could apply the gift card over the phone? Or maybe I could do an in-store delivery and pay with gift card there. In the past at other retailers, any features lacking on the website could be done over the phone through customer service. I called the number of the card. I’m guessing they get this sort of confusion a lot, because all the lady on the phone would tell me is that online doesn’t take gift cards and to call some number to complain. Any other question or suggestion resulted in the same repeated answer (and me getting increasingly pissy). Completely unhelpful.

I went back online to see if I could find which stores carry the chairmats I want. Looking at the website: “Delivery only.” *sigh* They have a chat customer service thing, so I used it to ask if there’s any way I can buy this damn chairmat with my gift card. Thankfully, this chat person was significantly more helpful and told me I can go an in-store kiosk and order the chairmat through them. I called the nearest store to verify this is true, and it is. I could even use my online coupon.

So, I did what the guy told me, and as it turns out, you CAN use gift cards for online orders… you just have to do your online order in an actual store. It makes NO sense. The “kiosk” is a desk with a computer on it, and you go through the exact same steps as you would ordering from your home computer. It’s the same website and everything. The only difference is that there’s an extra option to pay at the register. It takes online coupons and will ship directly to your home, just like it would if you ordered at home. When you finish your order, you get a print-out you take to the checkout register and pay there, with credit card, cash, or *dun dun dun* gift card. Service folks in store were nice and helpful, but I’m still overall miffed at Staples’ backwards attempt at getting people in their stores.

I couldn’t help but chuckle as I left the store reading the top of my receipt, which said “that was easy”.

Considering people have been complaining about this to them for years and I don’t know of a single store that still has this archaic gift card practice, Staples obviously doesn’t give a crap about making things easy, regardless of what their stupid button tries to tell me on TV. Outside of freebie gift cards, I’ll stick to Office Depot or Office Max for my future office supply needs. I can’t tell these stores apart anyway.

New thing I learned today: Staples is the world’s largest office supply retail chain. Also, Staples was going to merge with Office Depot in 1996, but the FTC wouldn’t allow it because of the potential for a monopoly.

I wonder if Staples and Office Depot had merged, if the new office supply supermonster would accept gift cards online. (Office Depot and OfficeMax both accept gift cards online.)

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21 Comments to “Staples – not-so-easy when you want to use gift cards online”


  1. Thanks for the post! now I know that it is very inconvenient to use gift cards when purchasing online. :)

    I don’t get them. “Can use gift cards for online orders” but will have to go to their stores?! does it make any sense? *sigh*

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  2. Xiao-Yue says:

    Thanks for your post! I received a warranty service gift-card and had been trying to use the number on the back of the card in the “How will you be paying today?” area after selecting “Staples” as my “Card Type” — stupid thing puts three hyphens dividing four groups of four numbers, after reading this post, I realized that the “Staples” card is a Staples credit card…

    I totally agree with you — this is totally NOT easy. They should hire a better management consulting firm.

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  3. Lisa in Florida says:

    Both customer service reps I got did not speak English well and didn’t even understand what I was asking (or pretended not to). When they finally did understand, they told me (A) no the cards don’t work online and (B) they don’t know how the rewards program works online. Bottom line: I’m going to check out Office Depot and see if they work the same.

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  4. and here we are a year later and you still can’t use their giftcards online… unbelievable

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  5. I think Staples just wants you to go to store and expects you buy some extra stuff while looking around.

    What I did is similar to Judy, buy nothing extra. Spent all gift cards and go to OD or OMax next time.

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  6. I fell for it too. I made the mistake of requesting staples gift cards from my Citi Thank you Rewards. I actually even ordered a second because I wanted to make some pig orders at Staples. I shop online because I work during store hours. And, I will make the trip to Staples to claim my balance but this will be the last trip. Staples will be going the way of Borders if they don’t get with the online times and give up the effort to trick people to coming to the stores. Wish I had requested gift cards from another company (about any other company will let you shop online these days).

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  7. Here we are in 2012 and the technology store where everything is supposed to be easy can not accept a gift card I received for an online purchase. They have a third world country technology.

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  8. And still no gift cards accepted online. Ugh!!!!!

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  9. And still no gift cards accepted online. What a shame!!

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  10. And Staples employees are selling the gift cards in the stores saying they can be used online and when you find out they can’t be used and you call the store, the first thing they tell you is that its non-refundable and we cannot help you and you call the number given on the back of the card – which is useless! This actually amounts to fraud I think.

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  11. I cannot believe this! Just found this post after I spent over an hour trying to figure this out & researching the problem. Thank god I came across this….I’m sure I would have been up for hours completely stumped on how to go about ordering online. Thanks for your help!

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  12. And still… Can’t use gift cards on-line! Staples. You have lost my business.

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  13. These people are loosing business, I have stopped purchasing after adding items to cart because my gift card is not working, will never buy this stupid gift card.

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  14. Same issue here. Thank god I found this blog because I thought I was being silly and just didn’t realize how to apply the gift card. Saved me probably an hour talking to customer service just to figure out what was posted here. Its shameful that we’re now in 2013 and they still do not have this ability.

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  15. It is now January 24th, 2013 and I have stumbled upon this blog because of the same problem. I’m in Canada by the way so staples does more or less have a monopoly on office supplies (at least in my area). Ridiculous…

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  16. Thank you for writing this article. You’re more helpful than Staples was! Unfathomable why they refuse to accept their own store gift cards for use on online orders!!

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  17. I also have Canadian Staples gift card but I live in Belgium. I cant even find a site to tell me what the balance is on the card. Totally frustrating as I can’t just walk into a store to ask. I wonder if they expire…..it wouldn’t surprise me.

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  18. Confirming this is still the case in March 2013. Also used Citi Thank Your Rewards for the Gift Cards. Last time I use Staples for anything.

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  19. Michelle says:

    July 2013…still the case. :(

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  20. Still the case….Sept 2013. Rediculous. I want to order a new tablet for my son using the cash card that I received for the warranty replacement because he broke the first one (that’s why I bought the warranty). I promise to not buy technology from Staples again due to this.

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  21. Screw Staples says:

    It’s nearly 2014 and you STILL cannot use GC’s on Staples.com. I have to assume this is a way for the company to try and get people to NOT use them (which then equates to FREE MONEY for Staples!). What complete f’ing dicks.

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