Evidently, I wasn’t alone in doing my best to avoid stepping foot in Home Depot. This MSN-Money article expresses the same feelings, and blames it on short-staffing.
But I’d like to suggest a much bigger reason that Home Depot has become a troubled and unloved company. I call it time abuse.
Home Depot is a consistent abuser of its customers’ time. Let me explain.
Back in 1990, when my wife and I loved Home Depot, the stores were staffed with well-trained, knowledgeable and helpful people. If you had a question, even a silly one, it was easy to find someone who knew the answer. Home Depot had an amazing inventory. It also had a staff that helped you access that inventory and make choices.
Though it didn’t have employees waiting at the door, as do high-service stores such as Elliot’s in Dallas and Big Jo in Santa Fe, you could make a purchase quickly at Home Depot.
But that was then.
Today, it is difficult to find a staff person at a Home Depot. Personally, I’ve left the store empty-handed after a hopeless wait. During one long wait shortly before Christmas, I commented to a worker that the store was so busy they must be getting lots of overtime.
“No way,” the employee said.
My wife has gotten so frustrated waiting—while trying to buy carpeting for an entire house—that she has taken her business elsewhere.
I know we’re not alone. One of my friends started to seethe when I mentioned Home Depot. He’ll buy things almost anywhere, except Home Depot. He hates having his time abused.
After having to pay for a special order at the Customer Service desk, and waiting for 50 minutes (halfway through I put on my “anthropologist” hat and became intrigued by the dance between furious customers, employees who avoided the desk, and the single CSR who viewed his job as punishment for sins in a prior life), Home Depot lost its charm. I no longer visit there to browse. I do “drive-by shopping” where I’m in and out within 10 minutes after purchasing exactly what I want.
Does Home Depot care? Of course not: It’s a corporation incapable of any human emotions. As for the people that run it, I suppose they are doing their best to become the top-dog who earned a $200 million paycheck for driving the firm into the ground.
On second thought, maybe they are sending out their resumes…
Update: Chad at Pirate-King had a similar experience last summer:
But I had a cart full of heavy items (ceiling fans, etc) and the machine kept going back and forth between “Put the item on the shelf” and “Item was taken off the shelf” or whatever the hell it said. After the fourth or fifth time the item I had wouldn’t scan right, I was ready to leave everything right where it was at, unpaid, and walk out the damn door. People next to us were having the same problems with the thing.
So why did I use the damn thing? Because they closed ALL the other registers at 4:30pm on a Saturday. The only other thing open was the single contractor line, which was about 10-12 people deep. Good 1/2 hr wait based on what I saw.
No more home depot for me. They’ve just lost my business because they wanted to save a coupla bucks on cashiers. Lowe’s is only about a mile further, so no major loss.
No major loss. That’s a good description of the situation for Chad and me. As long as there’s Lowes for the big purchases, and there always is, then there’s no reason to visit Home Depot.
Isn’t the Free Market wonderful?