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Staples Agrees To Federal Trade Commission Settlement

FRAMINGHAM, Mass.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--May 21, 2003-- Company Maintains High Quality Customer Service Processes While Addressing Mail Order Rule Compliance Procedures

Staples, Inc. (Nasdaq: SPLS) announced today that it has agreed to a settlement with the Federal Trade Commission concerning compliance with the Mail Order Rule, primarily as it applies to communication with customers about delayed shipments.

The settlement provides that Staples will modify its procedures for informing customers about the small percentage of shipments that do not arrive as scheduled. Staples' previous procedure for delayed deliveries was to give customers an option to substitute items; decline an order and have Staples take it back; or ship it back to Staples at no cost to the customer. The decree, to be filed soon, requires Staples to proactively give customers, when possible, the option to cancel these orders before they are shipped, just as the Mail Order Rule requires of merchants who have longer shipping times. Staples implemented this process in late Spring 2002. The agreement includes a consent decree and an $850,000 fine.

"Staples is the best in the industry at getting our customers what they need, when they need it - and communicating at the time of order when their shipment will arrive," said Brian Light, Staples' executive vice president of Staples Business Delivery. "Our customers appreciate that we deliver the overwhelming majority of orders the next business day. Staples shares the FTC's goal of wanting to serve the customer and agreed to this resolution once we were satisfied that we could maintain our high level of customer service, while satisfying FTC guidelines."

The Mail Order Rule was adopted in 1975 to govern mail order sales, spelling out the ground rules for making promises about shipments and notifying consumers about unexpected delays. Often called the "30-day rule," it requires merchants to ship goods in 30 days unless they give consumers different shipping dates. The Rule has not been updated to specifically address delivery in the Internet context or today's expectations for quick delivery. Staples has not admitted any violation of law as part of the settlement.

About Staples

Staples, Inc. is an $11.6 billion retailer of office supplies, business services, furniture and technology to consumers and businesses from home-based businesses to Fortune 500 companies in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, France, Italy, Spain, Belgium, Germany, the Netherlands and Portugal. Headquartered outside Boston, Staples invented the office superstore concept and today is the largest operator of office superstores in the world. The company has 58,000 associates serving customers in approximately 1,500 office superstores, mail order catalogs, e-commerce and a contract business. More information about the company is available at

CONTACT: Staples, Inc.
Media Contact:
Paul Capelli, 508/253-8530
Investor Contact:
Laurel Lefebvre, 508/253-4080

SOURCE: Staples, Inc.