We just bought a new laptop, the HP Pavilion g7 notebook PC, for $650 ($600 after the rebate. It weighs 6.6 pounds, has a beautiful 17-inch screen, a 640 gigabyte hard drive, six gigabytes of RAM and a DVD drive. So what’s the kick? Nothing, except it would have been $100 cheaper to buy it from the Staples web site than buying it from a Staples store. What?

Well, the fact is, it’s costly to maintain a physical store and staff it all day and evening, and have to provide for shipping supplies and making deliveries from a hundred different places. So of course it’s a lot cheaper for Staples to sell online. Aside from being able to save a hundred bucks on the computer, there is a lot more going on here: We have seen the future, and it’s not run by mom and pop. If you have that nagging feeling that you’ve been seeing more empty storefronts lately, get used to it, you’re going to see plenty more.

Joy went to the Staples web site and in a state of high dudgeon, as we used to say, fired up the online chat window. After some preliminary chit chat, a Staples rep said we could get our $100 back by bringing the receipt back to the store. And of course that way we do the driving. Obviously, it pays to check online before you buy!

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