Staples Charges for Staples!

MrConsumer is not fortunate enough to have a copy machine, so whenever he needs copies, he goes to his local Staples store. They have self-service machines where copies are now 12 cents each. Whatever happened to three-cent copies?

As most users of copy machines know, you have to select the number of copies, whether you want the machine to collate multi-page documents, staple them, etc. Choosing all those options, MrConsumer was surprised to learn that a new charge was placed on his bill.


Staples receipt

For my six-page document that I made three copies of, I was charged six cents for three staples — two cents apiece. Traditionally there was never an extra charge if you wanted your copies stapled at these machines. And yes, there was a manual stapler nearby that I could have used instead. And yes, the two-cent charge was disclosed on the copy machine payment screen for the job.

But the cost of a staple is so minimal that it baffles MrConsumer why any company would charge extra for one — and comparatively, a lot extra. At retail, Staples sells boxes of 25,000 staples for $6.79 — or 0.0002716 each. Put another way, Staples is charging customers at least 74 times its cost per staple.

We asked the company why it was doing this, and whether they thought this was a bit excessive. A Staples media representative responded:

Staples has recently rolled out new and improved self-service copy machines that are focused on ease of use and convenience, and provide a range of services that were not easily available before – scanning, printing from email and the cloud, stapling and faxing. This allows the customer to pick and choose how they want to print something, best fitted to their needs, with add on services such as stapling for a nominal fee, similar to other retailers.

Alternatively, customers can collate and staple their documents themselves free of charge. There are always staplers available and free to use on the counters near the copy & print area.

Here’s my two-cents-worth: I’m sorry, sometimes companies go too far in their penny-pinching practices.

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15 thoughts on “Staples Charges for Staples!”

  1. If this was adequately disclosed in advance, what is the fine print issue?

    Edgar replies: Mark, for someone who only looked at the total on the screen, as most people likely do, the line on the receipt indicating a charge for each staple would likely come as a surprise.

  2. Did you consider that all business services need to make profit, and it is not just the cost of the materials but the cost to purchase, install, and service the copy machine. A copier with a stapling unit costs more than one without, and it needs to be refilled, have jams periodically cleared, etc. Comparing the cost of bulk staples to a stapled page is like comparing a large bag of uncooked rice to the cost of a pint of rice ordered from your favorite Chinese food restaurant.

  3. You mentioned that it’s disclosed on the machine and that they provided a manual one. I get that nickel-and-diming is getting frustrating, but you were notified in advance AND provided with a way to avoid the charge.

  4. I think it’s disgusting that Staples charges for staples. Suggestion: Go up to the copy counter and ask to use their stapler.

    When Staples first opened, they had really low prices. But once they put the mom-and-pop stationery stores out of business, they jacked up their prices and have never stopped. In a matter of only two months, for example, they went up $7 on an item that I buy often. My solution: I now buy it from Amazon for even less than the original Staples price.

  5. Yes, we pay for convenience, and since the machine can staple the items, it’s very simple for people to choose the easiest way to proceed. I guess it can be compared to stopping at Starbucks for an expensive coffee, when it can be made much cheaper at home. It’s true, though, that the nickel and dime stuff is a killer and begins to add up big time, so be aware about extra charges and be a good consumer!

  6. A manual stapler can last 20 years, a powered stapler built into the copier probably requires replacement or maintenance after a certain number of uses, in addition to the labor required to reload the stapler. You seem to disregard the value added, the employees labor and wear and tear on the machine. I’m usually right with you guys on your complaints, but this is baseless and petty.

  7. Much ado about nothing! If Staples really wanted to, they could do away with the free manual staplers altogether and leave you no choice but to use the one built into the machine.

  8. I think the cost of someone stapling your documents for you would be more in line with this cost. But having a machine do it for you, you’d think it would be super cheap. It’s not insanely expensive, just lame. And their explanation is right out of a glossy brochure.

  9. You were doing three 6-page documents, so using a manual stapler could be an option. I’m assuming you’ll do that next time. What about someone doing scores or hundreds of multi-page documents? You want to staple all of those yourself? I agree with some of the other commenters: The stapling mechanism has an initial cost and an ongoing maintenance requirement. The fee was disclosed and it doesn’t seem out of line for the value added. It’s always a little off-putting when a new charge is added for something that formerly was provided for free, but this one seems defensible.

    Btw, I’m not the same Richard that commented before me.

  10. While the boxed staples sold in the store are ridiculously cheap, staples that are used in copy machines, which come in specially designed dispensers, different for each brand of copier, are not as cheap, and also not usually included in the copier maintenance programs that Staples surely has on each machine. Copier companies and their distribution channels generally markup the staples to the point where paying $0.02 each on the end product from the machine is not that unreasonable. It just seems that way at first glance.

    Another factor to consider is that using the stapling feature of copy machines generally causes them to require service more often. While the required repairs are covered under maintenance contracts, the downtime isn’t.

    I’m not a big fan of Staples, but I can’t fault them too much for this.

  11. Just curious, why don’t you have a copier/printer/scanner? I have one that came with my computer. So even if a printer/copier/scanner wasn’t included with your computer/laptop they are not very expensive (where they get you is the cost of ink).

  12. I assume there are lots of logistics contributing to the cost of the automatic staples, and a-la-carte pricing usually surprises consumers in this way.

  13. They’ve charged 2 cents a staple for as long as I can remember at the full-service copy center. I’ve used this to my advantage when I am a few cents short to use a dollar off coupon. For instance, if I have a $25 or $100 purchase, and my items come to $99.99, I’ll add a staple to bring the total to $100.01. That’s my 2 cents worth.

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