Monday, November 9, 2009

I Have No One to Blame but Myself

It’s my own damn fault. Let’s just acknowledge that at the beginning. I should know better, but like the man who keeps striking his thumb with a hammer and is too stupid to move it out of the way, I keep returning to Home Depot for my minor hardware needs. Oh, I will NEVER make a major purchase from Home Depot after they earnestly attempted to stick me with a faulty $450 generator two years ago during an extended December power loss. That was the day that the store manager told me that they didn’t accept returns on generators because people tried to return them after power was restored. I informed him that my house was still dark and cold, and invited him to come home with me to see how long he lasted before his teeth started to chatter. All I wanted was a working generator, but since they did not have any in stock, he could just give me back my money, thank you very much. I won that battle, but it was a fight I never should have been in. That was the same power outage where I seriously considered kissing the big burly Georgia Power and Light men when they rolled down our street to return power to our block.

Home Depot is not the only game in town, but it is close to it. For simple purchases of things that do not have moving parts, Home Depot is okay. Honestly, how can they screw up wood?

Bernice answered that question yesterday afternoon.

Bernice and I have history. First of all, she’s ancient. Bernice's wrinkles have wrinkles. Secondly, she’s completely unafraid of demonstrating her complete lack of awareness of either basic customer service skills or job proficiency. Bernice is living proof that the youth of this country don’t have a monopoly on stupidity and sloth. Generations ago there were lazy and stupid people, too. When young lazy and stupid people grow old, they become old lazy and stupid people. Then they get jobs at Home Depot.

Think I’m being a little mean?

Several months ago, I was given a Home Depot gift card as a "thank you" for being in a wedding. When I attempted to use it, it did not work. There were two bar codes on the back of the card, and I had scanned the wrong code at the self service check-out station. The Boss and I love the self-service check-out station. As she is fonding of observing, she usually meets the friendliest, fastest, and most competent cashier at the self-service station. Once in a while the cashier is a butthead, but not too often, and always when I am shopping.  What I was unaware of that fateful afternoon was the fact that one of the bar codes should have been removed from the card. It was the bar code used to purchase the card at the grocery store. There was a separate bar code for redeeming the card at the Home Depot. Bernice was the attendant at the Home Depot service desk where I sought help for my dilemma. She told me that “they” had nothing to do with “those cards” because “those cards” weren’t sold at Home Depot. If it didn’t work, I’d have to go back to the store where I purchased it. Translation: Bernice didn’t have a freakin’ clue how to do her job.

“This card is identical to the cards you sell at your registers,” I told her.

“If it wasn’t purchased here, I cannot help you,” she replied.

“Your company will sell these cards but you will not honor them?” I asked.

“You need to return to the store where the card was purchased,” the autonamaton monotoned.

After a trip back to the grocery store where the card was purchased, an attendant at their service desk explained the mistake, which allowed me to return to the Home Depot later to use the card.

Thank you for nothing, Bernice.

Well, you can imagine my disappointment yesterday when I could not purchase a 24 inch long 1 x 6 board because it would not register when the attached bar code was scanned. The register dude tried to make it work, rang up a WAG amount under a fabricated product name, and completed the transaction. He was friendly, but made no attempt to solve the problem, preferring to just move me through his line as fast as he possibly could. And I was being nice. When I saw the receipt, I returned to the wood aisle and determined that I was over charged. I went to the service desk and spoke with a pleasant woman who immediately turned me over to…


Bernice informed me that they would have to return the purchase and then re-sell it to me. She scanned the board’s bar code. The message on her computer screen stated that the board did not appear in their stock.

“Oh, here’s the problem,” she told me, patting the piece of wood. “It doesn’t exist.”

“What do you mean it doesn’t exist?” I asked. “It’s right in front of you. It has a Home Depot sticker on it.”

“You don’t understand,” she explained. “Look at this message. We don’t stock this item.”

“Yes, you do. I took it off of a shelf in this store and placed it in a shopping cart from this store. You stock it.”

“I really don’t think you understand what I am telling you,” she continued, pointing to her computer screen. “Can you read this? We don’t stock this item.”

“Really? Then how did it get here? Do you think I smuggled this board into the store so that I could pay for it?” Or did I just pull it out of my…but that thought went unspoken. Seriously, if I could do that I never would have left my garage.

She managed (after shaking her head in disgust at my abject ignorance) to return the cost of the board plus tax, but after trying unsuccessfully to page a living person in millwork, and after determining that the batteries in her walkie-talkie were dead, I left without my wood. (One of Bernice's co-workers commented on how the volume on the PA system was unusually low all day, but neither made an effort to get that problem corrected.) The Captain and the Major were with me this entire time, being their usual chaotic and havoctic selves, so my patience had been tested to the point of near failure.

Today, I discovered on a return trip to the store for small items to repair a gutter that the bar code on the wood did not match the bar code on the shelf. And absolutely no one in the store exhibited an iota of initiative to correct the problem.

But I fixed my gutters, so all is well.


Kathleen said...

I think perhaps it's time for another letter to Home Depot from Arby!

I too prefer the self-checkout because then you avoid having to deal with rude, incompetent people. The last time we were at HD, though, we had a problem with scanning one of our items in the self-checkout. So we had to try to get the attention of the cashier who sits kind of in the middle of all the self-checkout registers. Difficult to do because she was chatting with a colleague. I know they were chatting as opposed to discussing Register Matters because she was laughing. Once we finally got her attention, her smile/laugh vanished and was replaced with a scowl. She did help us but not once did she make eye contact or say ANYTHING to us.

I commented to my husband as we were leaving (and hopefully loud enough for her to hear) that I cannot IMAGINE acting the way she just acted. I mean, not only is it not in my nature to completely ignore a customer, but surely they received SOME training, however short, in customer service. And surely that training explained the importance of being socially adept. At least a little bit???

OK, stepping down from my soap box.

Teacher Mommy said...

I have stopped going to HD as a rule, no matter how large or small the purchase, because I've been burned so often. I go to Lowe's instead. They have yet to screw me over.

Honestly, I think I'd drive miles out of my way to avoid going to HD if I had to. Just sayin'.

Brownie said...

Sir goes to Home Depot, Menards and Lowes. Since he works construction he knows all three quite well. I don't recall him having a problem except on price comparisons. He will inform them when he's buying something that "so and so" has it cheaper. They will say "that will take some time to check, we'd have to phone." Sir will say "okay, I can wait." And he will cross his arms and stand there until they complete the call.

Personally, I go to Menards - I know where things are. And if I don't, I don't bother to ask any of the workers - I call Sir. He will, via the phone, direct me to exactly the aisle and to the item.

They all should just hire my hubby.

CrossView said...

"As she is fonding of observing, she usually meets the friendliest, fastest, and most competent cashier at the self-service station."
Amen! and ROFL!

But you have to keep going to HD. It makes such good blog fodder....

Kellie said...

Big D worked part-time at Home Depot for a couple of years, way back before we had children. The company hasn't been the same since he left....

Mrs. A said...

You have the patience of a saint, Arby.

Linda said...

Wow. Is it safe to say that we have a nice Home Depot here? sigh. no problems. Lowes has been stupid at times, but not HD. Must be a TX thing? ;o)

Michelle said...

You're better than me!! I'd probably have hit her with the board!

In Japan, even the workers at McDonald's had work ethics. They raced to get your special order, apologized for taking 1.2 minutes to do so, and if you had your hands full with kids, would carry your tray to the table. Sigh, I miss Japan!

TobyBo said...

not only did you fix the gutter so all is well, you also got a blogpost. Which unfortunately, all of us can relate to, though not always at a Home Depot. Our town has a Lowe's, but I think Bernice's sister works here.

The_Kid said...

There's gotta be a Lowes close by.

Well, the Home Depot close to my house has people who have been seriously energized the last few months. And I mean bending over backwards trying to help me when I'm there. Interesting.

40winkzzz said...

this was hilarious. i'm sending it to my husband. he is a menard's man to the core and hates home depot. he probably has a bernice story or two as well!

homedepot_michael said...

Hi this is Michael from Home Depot Customer Care, we are making a lot of improvements in our stores and I am disappointed to hear that your experience with our associate turned out as it did. I would like to pass this feedback on to Management and would like some more information, feel free to send me an email. Again, I am sorry we let you down.

Customer Care
The Home Depot
Atlanta, GA 30339