Ambrose Li

Bad UI is bad customer service

Before the lockdown, I’d go all the way downtown to hand Staples a file to print, then after a day I’d lug a heavy box back.

Now with the lockdown I use the one 35 minutes away from me on foot, but I needed to deal with them online. And now I remember why I never printed online before the lockdown: there’s no way to print a file right.

So the problem is this: When you print a double-sided file online at Staples, how do you tell them how to flip the page?

The answer is you can’t.

There’s no checkbox, radio button or dropdown on the screen, not even a text field for “special instructions”.

So a week ago I submitted a 60-page double-sided file to print; every other page came out wrong side up because it was flipped on the wrong edge.

Okay, I thought, I’d eat it. I’d just make a note that Staples always flip on the long edge so I’d have to flip all my even pages.

I flipped all the even pages and made a new file. Surely this would come out right, right?


I went to pick up my printout (I regret that I didn’t check it right away) and when I got back home and checked it I was horrified. It’s printed wrong again: this time they flipped it on the short edge.

It’s like they make these important decisions by rolling dice.

At least these were < $10 test prints? But if I can’t trust them with these small jobs, how on earth do they expect me to trust them with $200 jobs?

What kind of service is this, that no matter what the customer does they’d never get what they need?

York Region has now lifted its lockdown; I suppose I can at least go hand them a file in person and tell them how to flip the page?


  • #design failure
  • #peeves
  • #UI