Matt Donahue

Sunday, December 04, 2005

Anger at DC Home Depot

I don't usually get angry about bad customer service. I find that DC often has fairly poor customer service, particularly in the retail areas. But tonight I had a particularly bad experience at Home Depot.

Here is my letter to their customer service department explaining what went on:

Dear Home Depot Customer Care:

I am a frequent customer at your Washington DC store. As a recent buyer of a fixer upper in DC the proximity of your location and large volume of merchandise is a valuable service to have in the city. In the past year I would estimate that I've spent around $5,000.00 on merchandise from your store.

Tonight at 4:45 PM I went over to pick up some 1"x2" pine stock to finish off a shelf I am installing in a closet. After quickly finding the stock in less than 3 minutes, I walked to the front of the store. There were at least 50-60 people in line with two registers open- one being the self-service register. 3 registers were in the process of closing down. Several managers appeared to be involved(?) with this process. It was unclear what was going on, but there was a lot of socializing, talking on the phone and general ambivalence toward the growing crowd of frustrated customers. I counted two people abandon their shopping carts and leave. I continued to wait in line for 15 minutes. Two of the registers had finished closing, the third somehow decided to take more customers. I joined that line, as I was near by. That cashier then decided that she wasn't going to take everyone who joined the line. Was it now time for me to go to the end of the previous line I was in? I don't think so. I abandoned the wood I had picked up and left the store.

Why were the managers not stepping in and taking over? Why were 3 of the 5 registers closing, at 4:50 PM when the store closes at 6:00PM and it was overly clear that two registers are not enough? Why did the cashier whose line I joined tell me that she was not taking my purchase? Yes I had a small purchase and yes I can come back tomorrow night, but this was a major waste of time and showed that this HD location is not well managed.

Formerly a regular customer,

Matt Donahue

Unfortunately for me, it will be very difficult to NOT go to Home Depot in the future. It's about ten minutes from my house. The nearest Lowes is 35 minutes or more depending on traffic. So this location is very convenient and has been a great help in speeding up projects. I would love to shop exclusively at small hardware stores in the city, but they frequently do not have what HD has.

I wonder why their customer service and management are so bad? Are people so under-paid that no one cares? The store is regularly a shambles; even the employees have difficulty finding items despite their system saying they are in stock. I don't think I "deserve" outstanding service all of the time, and I have been patient in the past, but tonight’s service was just egregious.

If you can, go to Lowes.


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