This thread is an attempt to consolidate all of the basic information on "Stapling", and to provide a single thread where general questions can be asked/answered and people are free to engage in general Staples discussions that may be OT from the current week's deals. The information is presented for the benefit of those who would like to participate in the weekly deals, and so may have a tilt towards information that may only be applicable to in-store transactions.
OP is meant to cover just the basics. As with any thread, others should feel free to add content to the wiki for more "advanced" or specific topics.
Here is a list of acronyms that are most commonly used in Staples threads, most of which are used throughout the SD world but some of which are specific to Staples:
AC = after coupon
AR/ASER = after rebate / after Staples Easy Rebate
BR = breakroom
BTS = Back to School
FAR/FAER = free after rebate or free after easy rebate
FARew (or FARewards) = free after Rewards
HM = Hammermill paper
MIR = mail-in rebate
MM = money maker
MP = Staples multi-purpose paper
OOP = out of pocket
PP = photo paper or paypal, depending on context
SER = Staples Easy Rebate
YMMV = your mileage may vary
Staples' weekly deals run from Sun to Sat each week. Ads for the following week are posted on Staples.com every Thu morning at 10AM eastern time. There is almost always a thread for each week's deals posted at that time, and sometimes even a few days sooner if someone happens to get a copy of the ad beforehand.
A Rewards account is needed to take full advantage of Staples deals. Rewards membership is free. There are two ways to earn Rewards – purchases and ink recycling (see next section). Primary benefits include
5% back in Rewards on all purchases and
free shipping on all purchases at Staples.com. [As of 8/1/14, there are three tiers of % Rewards back. See details below.] There are promotions throughout the year to earn even more Rewards. Examples include 25% Rewards on purchases (subject to exclusions) or FARew items, such as Duracell batteries.
Rewards are treated like coupons at Staples and have no cash value. Rewards can be used on purchases of almost anything sold in Staples stores or at Staples.com, with the main exclusion being gift cards. For in-store purchases, Rewards vouchers can be used twice. Any amount not utilized the first time will be issued as a balance coupon that prints with the receipt. The balance coupon must be used in full. For online purchases, a Rewards voucher must be used in one shot.
NOTE – Rewards do not "roll" and should not be used to purchase FARew items, as doing so will reduce the Rewards you earn on the FARew item, e.g, if you use $10 of Rewards to pay for $13 FARew batteries, you will only get back $3 in Rewards on the batteries.
There are three levels of Rewards membership – Basic, Plus, and Premier. $500 of purchases must be made during the calendar year to reach Plus status, and $1,000 to reach Premier. Plus and Premier membership lasts for the remainder of the calendar year plus the following calendar year.
Rewards are typically issued on the second Tue of each month following the month the Rewards are earned, as follows:
– earn 2% on OOP for most purchases. Rewards are issued on a monthly basis if at least $10 in Rewards is earned during the calendar quarter. The $10 minimum applies for each calendar quarter, and any balance <$10 is rolled over month to month until the end of the quarter. Any Rewards <$10 are lost at the end of each calendar quarter. Rewards expire on the last day of the second month after the month the Rewards were issued. E.g., Rewards earned in Mar are issued in mid-Apr and expire at the end of May.
– earn 3% on OOP for most purchases. Rewards are issued on a monthly basis if at least $5 in Rewards is earned. The $5 minimum applies for each calendar quarter, and any balance <$5 is rolled over month to month until the end of the quarter. Any Rewards <$5 are lost at the end of each calendar quarter. Expiration is the same as for Basic accounts
– earn 5% on OOP for most purchases. Rewards are issued on a monthly basis if at least $5 in Rewards is earned. The $5 minimum applies for each calendar year, and any balance <$5 is lost at the end of each calendar year.
Rewards for Premier members expire on the last day of the sixth month after the month the Rewards were issued. E.g., Rewards earned in Mar are issued in mid-Apr and expire at the end of Oct.
UPDATE AS OF 8/1/14 - Expiration on Rewards for Premier members is the same as Basic/Plus for Rewards earned beginning 8/1/14. (i.e., no longer worth it to hit Premier unless you want the extra 2% back on purchases)
Sign up for a Rewards account at a store or by clicking this link [staplesrewardscenter.com]
Additional details can be found at these two links:
About Staples Rewards program [staplesrewardscenter.com]
Staples Rewards Programs Terms & Conditions [staplesrewardscenter.com]
Please refer to the wiki for additional Q&A on Staples Rewards
The basics of ink recycling at Staples are that you need to have made $30+ purchase(s) of ink within the previous 180 days to qualify for recycling. You can purchase ink and recycle on the same day in store. For online ink purchases, you should wait until the ink order is shipped before recycling. The $30 purchase requirement is based on your total (pre-tax) out of pocket expense after the use of coupons and Rewards. Out of pocket includes cash, credit cards, and gift cards.
NOTE - If you are using any coupons in a transaction that includes ink purchases, it is advised to buy the ink in a separate transaction, as coupons applied to other items will prorate to the ink for Rewards purposes and may drop your ink spending below $30.
You will receive $2 per recycled cartridge with monthly recycling limits of 10 cartridges ($20) for basic Rewards members and 20 cartridges ($40) for Plus/Premier members. Staples accepts pretty much any type of cartridge for recycling.
For more details on ink recycling at Staples, see bpvh's master recycling thread for Office Depot, OfficeMax, and Staples
The best deals at Staples involve the use of one or more coupons. The use of coupons varies from store to store. Some stores are very lax and allow several coupons to be used in a single transaction ("stacking") while others only allow a single coupon, even when there are multiple items in a transaction. Some stores accept competitor and manufacturer coupons while others do not.
Staples coupons always have 5 or 16 digit codes. 5 digit codes are general use coupons and can be used multiple times and by anyone. Depending on the coupon, 5 digit codes can be used multiple times in a single transaction if the cashier allows it. 16 digit codes are unique, one-time use codes. Staples coupons usually have a grace period of 2 days past printed expiration for 5 digit codes and 7 days past printed expiration for 16 digit codes. This is definitely YMMV, as the register will accept the coupon but the cashier may not allow it. The issue should never be pushed if the cashier refuses, as it is meant as a courtesy, not a rule or right to use past expiration.
There are several types of coupon types that Staples generally issues - general $ off coupons ($5 off $25 purchase), general % off coupons (10% off entire purchase), product specific ($3 off photo paper), category specific (15% off furniture or $20 off $75 purchase of BR supplies). Other coupons may be for special events, such as having to use a coupon during their 25% back in Rewards promo in order to receive the extra Rewards.
NOTE – Staples occasionally issues "coupons" to trigger rebates on certain products. These coupons use codes that are 6 digits and are referred to as a NI-SKU (non-inventory SKU) which should be entered by the cashier as a product/SKU, rather than a normal coupon.
The stacking of coupons at Staples stores is an art form, and the rules can change with each new coupon that is issued. Your success with stacking can change from one cashier to the next, from one store to another, and even depending on the time of day. The best way to figure it all out is to read through the threads and try it yourself to see what works. While you want to maximize coupon use, you should never push the issue on a cashier or manager. No point in becoming "that guy (or gal)" over a few $, and also risk a crackdown over the long term because everyone acts entitled. Simply step away from the transaction politely and save it for another day/store/cashier/etc.
There are several sources for Staples coupons:
1. Go to http://www.staples.com/coupons. New coupons for the week are updated on Sun morning.Rebates
2. Sign up for Staples emails. There is a link at the lower left on the Staples.com homepage. You can also sign up at this link [staples.com].
Email blasts are usually sent on Mon night with the new coupons for the week that are already available on Staples.com. The coupons sent in these blasts will have barcodes, while the coupons obtained via Staples.com do not. The email blasts will also include any special coupons for the week, e.g., $100 off Windows 8 computers, that are not initially released on Staples.com on Sun morning.
Some lucky people get the always popular $ off coupons sent by email, such as $25 off $75, $30 off $90, etc.
3. Check your "Coupon Wallet" at StaplesRewards.com. The Coupon Wallet usually only has all of the weekly coupons (with barcodes), but you'll often find unique coupons here as well.
4. Staples issues product catalogs several times a year. There is a general office supplies catalog that usually has a coupon for a free item with purchase, e.g, free duffel bag with $150 online purchase. There is also a cleaning and breakroom supplies catalog that has a coupon for $20 off a $75 cleaning and breakroom supplies purchase and will include both an online and in-store coupon.
These catalogs can be obtained at a Staples store or requested at this link [staples.com]
5. Some other lucky people receive coupons in the mail, usually a $25 off 75 coupon in the form of a postcard.
6. Beg or trade for coupons in the Staples coupon beg/trade thread
If coupons are the bread of Staples deals, rebates are the butter. Most rebates for products purchased at Staples are SER's that require nothing to be mailed – no UPC, no receipt, no envelope, no stamp. It really is easy. Occasionally there will be a traditional mail-in rebate, the most common being McAfee rebates.
FAR products are a good way to reach Plus or Premier status without actually spending any money. With the right use of coupons to offset tax you can add "spend" to your Rewards account with little or no OOP (or even turn into a MM).
FAR products are also the best way to "cash out" Rewards. Buy $40 of FAR products, pay with Rewards, and have $40 cash in your pocket 6-8 weeks later. As mentioned above, coupons can often be used to create MM deals, e.g., buy $40 of FAR products, use a $5 off 25 coupon, pay $35, and get back $40 in rebates = $5 MM. Use Rewards to pay the $35 and you cashed out Rewards while making a few $.
Submitting your rebate
SER's can be submitted at the Staples Easy Rebates site [stapleseasyrebates.com]
. Please note that for kiosk orders paid for in store, the "Ordered at a computer terminal in store" option should be selected.
Rebates usually take 4-6 weeks to process, which includes 2 weeks to account for the return period, plus another 2-4 weeks to send the payment. For in store purchases, the rebate submission should update with the quantity purchased and amount of the rebate about 4 hours after the purchase was made. For kiosk/online orders, the rebate should update on the estimated delivery date of the order.
Answers to frequently asked questions about rebates:
1. Staples coupons do not reduce the rebate amount. The exception is the BTS pass (see BTS section below), which does reduce rebates. Using competitor coupons may reduce certain rebates.Please refer to the wiki for additional Q&A on Staples rebates
2. Using gift cards do not reduce the rebate amount.
3. Using Rewards do not reduce the rebate amount.
Staples.com will price match select online retailers and Staples B&M stores. Staples will match the price after the use of coupons and rebates. E.g., if the price on Staples.com is $200 and you use a $25 coupon, while Amazon's price is $150, you will only receive a $25 price match. Some reps may allow the use of coupons after the match, but this is YMMV.
Staples B&M stores will price match competitor B&M stores and Staples.com. The use of coupons after price matching at a B&M store is also YMMV.
See full price-match policy here [staples.com]
Back to School season
Staples BTS sales typically run from mid Jun to mid Sep. During this time Staples sells their BTS Savings Pass for $10, which gives you a 15% discount on school supplies such as notebooks, backpacks, paper, etc. Some cashiers will push very hard to sell the pass, and even tell you it is free if you are making a purchase >$67, as the 15% discount will offset the cost of the pass.
Be very wary of the BTS pass. For most SDer's, the BTS Savings Pass is a complete waste of $10, as it will reduce rebate payouts and prevent the use of other coupons.
DO NOT BUY THE BTS SAVINGS PASS UNLESS YOU ARE VERY EXPERIENCED WITH STAPLES DEALS AND FULLY UNDERSTAND HOW THIS PASS WILL AFFECT YOUR REBATES AND OTHER COUPON USAGE.
Staples contact information
Live chat available Mon-Fri 8AM-8PM EST (link on lower left of Staples.com home page)
Send an email [staples.com]
800-793-3320 General, Mon-Fri 8:30AM-9:00PM EST, Sat-Sun 9:00AM-8:00PM EST
888-891-3787 Premier, although recent posts indicate this takes you to the general Staples.com call center
Send email or initiate chat at this page [stapleseasyrebates.com]
This thread is meant for all my fellow Staplers, so I welcome all comments to make this a better thread