How Staples Lost A Loyal Customer In 15 Minutes

Staples Parking Sign
Staples Signs

I like to think of myself as a positive person who is thankful and appreciative.  Spending a good bulk of my time researching and writing about new consumer packaged goods and services, I find good customer service hard to find. When I have a good customer experience I write a letter or make a phone call to the company to commend a person or business for doing something well.  More often than not, people are more apt to criticize and complain. However, I recently had an infuriating, bad customer experience with Staples in the Bronx that I feel compelled to share.  It only took Staples less than 15 minutes to lose me as a loyal customer.

Staples receipt 1

I own a small consulting business and I have been a loyal Staples customer for the last 10 years at the Staples, 5680 Broadway and West 234th Street, Bronx, NY 10463 location.  On Tuesday, June 4, 2015, I parked in the Staples parking lot located on West 234 and Broadway.  I went into Staples and made a purchase at 11:24 am.  I put my Staples purchase in my car trunk and then crossed the street to pick up a few groceries.  At 11:37 am (13 minutes later) I left the grocery store to find my car on a J&S Tow truck about to be towed.  Flabbergasted I approached the tow truck operator and a person I later found out to be a Staples parking lot “spotter.”  I asked what was wrong and why were they towing my car. I explained I had just made an earlier purchase at Staples.   The spotter told me to read the signs and explained that this private parking lot will tow the cars of Staples’ customers at their own expense if individuals leave their car parked after making a purchase. Unsure if this was legal, I called the police. Unfortunately, the police explained they could do nothing because it is a private parking lot and legal in New York. I had to go to the bank to get $136.00 in cash to pay J&S Towing to release my car.  Please note, having this practice of parking lot “spotters” in other states is illegal.

Staples parking lot sign - Read the fine print
Staples parking lot sign – Read the fine print

After paying for the release of my car, I went back to the Staples store and spoke with the Staples manager, asking to be reimbursed for my $136.00 I paid in cash to get my car off the tow. Unable to help me, she gave me the Staples Corporate phone number for the Office of the President, 800-338-0252.

I was infuriated to learn that Staples has a contract with J&S Towing Inc. who pays the “spotter” to watch people leave the Staples parking lot without their cars and to immediately contact J&S Towing (who are  nearby) to tow their cars. I had noticed the spotter in the parking lot wearing a bright yellow safety vest and we made eye contact as I left the Staples parking lot.  Instead of informing me of the parking lot rules and letting me know I would be towed, he watched me leave and then had my car intentionally towed. This practice is deceitful, totally unjust, and completely appalling.  To purposely report cars of honest customers who are unaware of this policy is unethical and a bad business practice. Staples should be ashamed. As I left the parking lot I saw another Staples victim car on the tow truck.

When I called the Office of the President at the Staples Corporate headquarters on June 4, 2015, I explained my situation and dissatisfaction and asked to be reimbursed $136.00.  I was heard, but the blanket response was “Staples is not responsible for the towing of my car and I would not be reimbursed.”  I probed more to find out that Staples leases the space in the Bronx location from a private landlord. The Office of the President continued to explain that the parking lot watcher and the J&S Towing Inc. are not employees of Staples, but of the private landlord. I discovered that Metropolitan Realty Associates is the private landlord who owns the Riverdale Crossing and its parking lot.  I explained that the parking lot is shared by multiple businesses.  The signs clearly read “Staples” and regardless of whether the spotter or towing company is employed by Staples or the landlord, this is unethical and a bad business practice associated with Staples.  By not taking responsibility or stopping this money making practice, Staples supports and encourages this scam. Not satisfied with the response I received, I reported Staples to the Better Business Bureau as well as NY Department of Consumer Affairs.  As you can see from my BBB correspondence with Staples, not only does Staples not take responsibility for the company’s bad business practice, they then have the nerve to suggest I “direct my concerns” to J&S Towing.

BBB response from Staples 6-8-15
Staples Corporate Response to my BBB complaint


Staples takes no responsibilty & suggests  J&S Towing
Staples Corporate 2nd Response; suggests reaching J&S Towing

Upon research, I found that Riverdale Press cited this practice has been going on since 2008 or before in “Towed from a Lot Law May be On Your Side” 11/6/08 article.  I also discovered the Riverdale Press “Staples: No more towing from this infamous lot” 8/27/09 article, which interestingly showed that a “Staples” spokesperson stated the company had stopped this practice.  It’s odd and conflicting that a Staples spokesperson is quoted if Staples is not responsible for the parking lot rules.  Timing is everything and on June 18, 2015 the Riverdale Press “Predatory towing pervades Broadway” article prominently featured Staples on Broadway was up to it again and the company has not changed their poor business practice.

I am sure I am not the first or last unhappy customer to report this. Staples lost a loyal customer in less than 15 minutes.  All it takes is one bad customer experience.  The fact that Staples takes no responsibility, puts the onus on J&S Towing and then doesn’t even try to correct the situation that the company is fully aware of is inexcusable.  I will not shop at Staples on Broadway again or any other Staples locations in the future.

If you have been a victim or know someone who has been a victim of Staples’ parking lot scam, I’d like to hear from you.

‘Tis The Season for Bone Broth Soup

Bone Broth (photo by Kui-Doraku)
Bone Broth Soup (photo by Kui-Doraku)

I’ve never been a fan of organ meat, bone marrow or oxtail soup, but it seems like ’tis the season for bone broth soup. Bone broth soups are known to be nutritious and aren’t new. For example, Hakata Tonton in NYC’s West Village, has been serving ‘collagen cuisine’ with dishes based on pig’s feet since 2010. However, thanks to the popularity of nose-to-tail cooking, bone broth soups are hot now.

Enter Brodo from NYC’s Hearth restaurant; it’s a take-out window focused on sippable bone broths. Bone Deep & Harmony is another new player, which is subscription based. Similar to other subscription services, customers can purchase monthly, seasonal, or annual subscriptions for their soup.

I don’t think it’s a coincidence that ‘Locally sourced meats and seafood’ and ‘New cuts of meat’ are two of the ‘Top 20 Food Trends’ from the National Restaurant Association’s “What’s Hot in 2015” Culinary Forecast. Additionally, ‘Artisan butchery’ appeared as #23 on the ‘new top trends in 2015’ list. Get your spoons ready, I’m pretty sure we’ll be seeing more bone broth soups this winter.

Red Maca the “It” Superfood

Red Maca Roots (photo by The Maca Team)
Red Maca Roots (photo by The Maca Team)

Red Maca is a Peruvian root known for its health properties and it’s the “it” superfood emerging. Yellow/Cream Maca and Black Maca are also other varieties of the root.  All are used in food and medicine and are said to help enhance strength, endurance, and fertility. According to WebMD, it has an odor similar to butterscotch.  Until recently it was most commonly used in health supplements, but now maca is popping up in natural and raw foods.

Navitas Naturals offers Maca Maple Cashews, which are made with maca powder, raw cashews and maple syrup while Maca Chocolate by Vega combines “4,000 mg of organic gelatinized maca with 70% cocoa dark chocolate.” Cinnamon Red Maca Almond Butter by Jem Sprouted Nut Spreads is a unique application; it’s artisanal nut butter.

Better get your hands on some maca soon because there’s a global shortage due to Chinese buyers.

Since When is Beer Healthy?

Cheer for Beer
Cheer for Beer – photo by Mor Naaman

I’ve heard that red wine and dark chocolate have health attributes because of the ingredient resveratrol found in both. Now it appears that beer is being touted as healthy, particularly for a post-workout recovery beverage. Some research studies suggest that beer can help the body rehydrate. For example, Lean Machine Ale from Canada is a low-alcohol, protein-packed “fitness” beer in four variants – Lager, Lemon Ale, Honey Ale, and Pepper Ale. Across the pond, Dune Surfer claims to be a post-exercise recovery beer made with antioxidants from Goji, Acai and Yuzu fruits.  

Although not a beer, Ficks All-Natural Cocktail Fortifiers are formulated with a proprietary blend of vitamins, electrolytes and antioxidants “designed to help promote liver health and reduce some of the negative effects of alcohol consumption such as preventing hangovers.” They are offered in Lemon, Lime, and Ginger flavors. And for those that aren’t interested in the health benefits of beer or alcohol, there’s always Chaser Strips. They are like Listerine strips that can be used after a shot to “alleviate the harsh after taste.”

Cheers to working out and drinking!

Ads Get Splashy

Fairlife Purely Nutritious Milk, Milk Life, and Schick Hydro Silk ads
Fairlife Purely Nutritious Milk, Milk Life, and Schick Hydro Silk 2014 print ads

Seems like print ads are getting splashy. The Milk Processor Education Program (MilkPEP) has replaced the National Milk Mustache Got Milk? ad campaign with the Milk Life campaign. The new ads focus on the “8 grams of high-quality protein found in each 8 ounce glass of milk” and use images of propelling milk splashes that fuel consumers through activities such as playing sports.  Similarly, Chicago-based Fairlife LLC introduced a sexy ad campaign of women dressed in milk splashes in pin-up poses to promote the company’s new Purely Nutritious Milk, which contains 50% more natural protein and calcium than ordinary milk. To connote hydration, Schick’s Hydro Silk Sensitive Care ads feature water splashes on the legs of active young women doing activities such as kickboxing and skateboarding.

Noticed other recent ads that are using splashes?  Please share.

Sensational Technology

Trendincite icon NoseTidbits Issue 39 April/May 2014
This originally published on May 19, 2014

One of my favorite subjects is multi-sensory products and services. Trendincite examined this exciting topic in various Tidbits issues: High-Tech Sensory Sensations (March/April ’13), Sensory Sensations (November/December ’11), Multi-Sensory Experiences (October/November ’10), You Fill Up My Senses (May/June ’09), and Sensory Overload (February ’08). A year later, there are a variety of new, unique and interactive experiences driven by  technology.

Bookworm: Seems like literature goes hand in hand with food. In Amsterdam, there’s The Bookish Banquet, a culinary event for bookworms that serves five course meals inspired by themes in literature with narration between courses. Dinah Fried, a graphic artist, published the Fictitious Dishes: An Album of Literature’s Most Memorable Meals, in which Fried cooked all the meals, staged all the shots and took “literary food” photographs.

Touch to Smell: In Australia, celebrity chef Heston Blumenthal launched a new range of food products named Heston for Coles, which highlights indigenous ingredients. For the launch, the company introduced a national, scented print advertising campaign for the Lemon Myrtle Hot Cross Buns. AROMAFORK™ is a new patented cutlery designed to create a novel and intense olfactive experience. In fashion, Naked & Famous Denim’s newest release is its mint scratch-n-sniff jeans, which is said to last for up to five washes. In beauty, Revlon introduced Parfumerie™ Scented Nail Enamel in 24 scented colors, while Bitty Bettys is a collectible fragrance line with ‘Touch to Sniff’ cartons. CVS even offers a scratch n sniff chocolate scented gift card.

Tech Smells: There has been a lot of activity in scents and cell phones as well as other technological categories. Dr. David Edwards engineered the oPhone, a new device that will send scents like text messages. Oscar Mayer created a Wake Up and Smell the Bacon app and device, which was an alarm clock with a sizzling bacon sound and scent. Scentee from Japan is a round device, which plugs into an earphone jack and releases different fragrances with each incoming notification. Crowdfunded on Indiegogo, the Atomyzer iPhone case holds “60 sprays” of fragrance or hand sanitizer in a refillable cartridge. Sensabubble is a new programmed system, which will enable users to feel colors, icons, texts, and mentions from twitter in a bubble filled with a “scented fog.” Scent Rhythm is a chemical-based watch that emits fragrance in minute doses that are in tune with your circadian cycle. Mercedes-Benz 2014 S-Class sedans offer a built-in fragrance atomizer in four custom colognes – Freeside Mood (light citrus),Nightlife Mood (spice, oud), Downtown Mood (floral, musk), and Sports Mood (green, citrus). Although not scented, an interesting limited edition product is Nescafé’s Alarm Cap, which features a built-in  alarm clock that wakes consumers with seven different sounds synchronized to lights. To turn the alarm off, one must open the lid.

Vending is Trending: Vending machines are not new. In fact, the first US vending machine was built in 1888. However, technology has advanced and now there are a slew of new vending machines with a focus on food. The much anticipated Sprinkles Cupcake ATM, which launched in Chicago in 2012, is now in NYC on the Upper East Side. Located in CA, Burritobox is a new vending machine that delivers five different types of burritos on demand while Let’s Pizza kneads dough, mixes fresh ingredients and adds select toppings in three minutes. For a piece of luxury, Los Angeles Beverly Hills Caviar has three vending machines that offer high-end food such as caviar, escargots and truffles. For the health conscious, Chicago-based Farmer’s Fridge is self described as a “veggie machine” that prepares daily salads made from local farm produce. Any leftovers from the previous day are donated to a foodbank.

Food is Fashionable: Fashion and food are being paired and the newest trend is the opening of restaurants inside department stores as a part of the shopping experience. Guerlain Le 68 restaurant inside the Champs-Elysées flagship store highlights Michelin-star French chef Guy Martin who uses Guerlain perfumes as an inspiration for the menu. For example he offers dishes like foie gras with Madagascar vanilla in puff pastry, or pearly cod in “little black dress” licorice, and macarons from the garden of Shalimar. Both Macy’s and Saks Fifth Avenue have recently launched restaurants inside their stores – Stella 34 Trattoria in Macy’s NYC and Sophie’s in Chicago’s Michigan Avenue Saks. This summer, Brooks Brothers will launch Makers and Merchants, a steakhouse. A new one to watch is Bouley Botanical from Chef David Bouley. It’s an “indoor farm” and restaurant that has 24 growing boxes, which use organic soil and feature 70 plants and herbs. The space hosts yoga classes and wellness events.

Want more tidbits? Read Eurocosmetics spa and hair care articles or Visit 4 Latin Countries Without Leaving NYC . See what’s trending from Sniffapalooza’s Spring Fling or get inspired by watching MarketingProfs Take 10: Three Ways to Find Creative Inspiration Outside the Office video. Attend an upcoming NYC Trendincite presentation at HBA on June 12, 2014 or SFC Symposium on October 9, 2014.

Let Trendincite custom-design or curate a sensational trend excursion to engage your five senses and stimulate new product ideas. So what are you waiting for?
Contact us at or at 888-561-1229. Feel free to forward this e-mail to friends and colleagues who need to be in the know or have them subscribe to Tidbits.

Visit 4 Latin Countries Without Leaving NYC

You’ve got to love NYC because it’s truly a melting pot.  According to the latest 2012 Census figures, the Hispanic population in the US grew to 53 million and is expected to more than double to 128.8 million by 2060.

With this is mind, if you’d like to visit Mexico, Spain, Brazil, or Chile and you don’t have a passport or a plane ticket, you can visit 5 specialty shops* without leaving NYC.

Las Palomas Mexican Grocery Store & Deli (by Sonny D. Foursquare)
Las Palomas Mexican Grocery Store & Deli (photo by Sonny D., Foursquare)


Las Palomas Mexican Grocery Store & Deli is a tiny grocery that features a variety of Mexican goods such as espazote, dried chilies, spices and fresh-made tamales on weekends.

219 West 100th Street (Amsterdam & Broadway)
New York, NY 10025
(212) 729-3469

Zaragoza Mexican Deli & Grocery (photo by Nicole Franzen)
Zaragoza Mexican Deli & Grocery (photo by Nicole Franzen)


Zaragoza Mexican Deli & Grocery is a bodega stocked with authentic Mexican ingredients and a Mexican restaurant, which serves tacos along side a wide selection of imported beer.

215 Avenue A (13th & 14th Street)
New York, NY 10009
(212) 780-9204


Despaña SoHo (photo courtesy of Despaña)
Despaña SoHo (photo by Despaña)



Despaña SoHo is part market and part tapas café with an endless array of Spanish specialty items including Iberico and Serrano ham and 50+ specialty cheeses.

408 Broome Street (Centre & Lafayette)
New York, NY 10013
(212) 219-5050



Buzios Boutique (photo courtesy of Buzios)
Buzios Boutique (photo by Buzios)


Buzios Boutique sells an eclectic range of Brazilian products from groceries and drinks to souvenirs and beauty products.

20 West 46th Street (Fifth & Sixth Avenue)
New York, NY 10036
(212) 869-6552


Puro Chile (photo by Puro Chile)
Puro Chile (photo by Puro Chile)


Puro Chile features a variety of Chilean products including handicrafts, jewelry and gourmet products with a sister wine store next door.

221 Centre Street (near Grand)
New York, NY 10013
(212) 925-7871



So what are you waiting for? Go on, take a trip to Latin America by way of NYC. Know of any other Hispanic specialty shops? Please share.

*Trendincite LLC has no affiliation with any of these shops.

Candy On Tap

Beer on tap trickling into candy flavors

Trend Alert – seems like beer is the newest flavor to trickle into candy. Jelly Belly debuted a non alcoholic Draft Beer Jelly Bean while ChocOBeer in Europe introduced a line of nine chocolates filled with different Belgium beers. They are cleverly packaged in small shaped beer bottles.

The beer and chocolate combination is not new and has been emerging as craft brewers experiment with a variety of ingredients. February is a popular month to launch these seasonal, limited edition chocolate flavors. This year Woodchuck Hard Cider launched the Cellar Series Chocolate and it is crafted with McIntosh and Northern Spy apples and crushed cocao beans. Foothills Brewing is offering it’s Sexual Chocolate Imperial Stout that is infused with cocao and is described as having a “big chocolate aroma with notes of espresso, blackstrap molasses, dark sweet toffee and dark fruit.”  For those who are not beer drinkers, there’s ChocolatRouge, which features three chocolate flavors blended with red wine – Milk Chocolate, Dark Red, and Sweet Red.

Watch as beer spills into other unexpected categories.

2014 Food & Beverage Predictions Continue…

2014 arrived…here are a few more food & beverage predictions for this year…

5 Booms to Shake the Beverage Room in 2014 by

14 in 14: Our Food Predictions for the Coming Year by Epicurious Editors

14 Food Resolutions to Bring in the New Year by HuffPost

Food trends in 2014: from digital dining to healthy junk food by Amy Fleming from The Guardian

Fast casual execs predict 2014 menu trends

Restaurant Trend Mashup: What to expect in 2014 from Fast Casual

FoodNavigator predicts top five industry drivers in 2014

The chocolate prophecies: Industry fortune-telling for 2014 from Confectionery News

2013 Trends Report (a look at 2013 culinary trends)

Happy eating!

More Food & Beverage Trends 2014…

2014 is around the corner and here are a few more food & beverage trend predictions of what we’ll be eating….

The 2014 Culinary TrendScape report identified by Campbell’s Culinary & Baking Institute

This year’s major menu trends for 2014 “What’s Hot” culinary forecast from the National Restaurant Association

Top 12 trends for food, nutrition and health from New Nutrition Business

Happy Eating and Happy Holidays!