June 3, 2008
Home Depot, Inc.
2455 Paces Ferry Road NW
Atlanta, GA 30339-4024
Dear Compassionate Representative of Home Depot, Incorporated:
I am writing to you about an incident that occurred on March 31, 2008. It took me this long to write to you because I hunted your entire website for an address to which I could write instead of filling out an online customer service form. When I wrote to customer service to request an address, they said they needed more information about why I was writing. Why do you make it so difficult to find a postal address? Sometimes a concern is not fit for handling by an outsourced trainee in India. I want you, the heart of this corporation, to hear me.
On March 31, my fiancée Jamwall visited his nearby Home Depot to return a food disposal unit that he had purchased the day before. He had meant it as a replacement for his existing unit, which he discovered just had a small electrical issue that was easily remedied, so he headed to the store with receipt in hand. When he entered the store and did not immediately spot the tucked-away Returns Desk, he headed for the Customer Service Counter. He was redirected to Returns, which was hidden near the door. When he got there and attempted to make the return, the clerk immediately began to verbally accost him by saying “where did you just come from?” and “That door? That one right there? You are saying you came right in through that door.” Jamwall repeatedly asserted that he had just entered through that very door behind him, but was subjected to the same abrupt and rude questioning several times before the manager finally arrived and asked him the same question again, and then disappeared to view the security tape. Once it was ascertained that he had indeed just entered through that door, the clerk mumbled a “sorry about that” and completed the return.
Now, I understand that Home Depot is subject to various types of theft, including customers trying to make a “return” with an item plucked from your shelves. This is not a problem for us, and we understand the need to double-check and even go so far as viewing a security tape. What appalls and angers us is the rudeness and the the lack of respect in our treatment. Every customer who chooses your store over the broad array of competitors, including the nearby Lowe’s or Menard’s (with whom we have never had a run-in with customer service) expects to be treated with dignity and respect, and to make a purchase or exchange without being harassed and embarrassed.
All your clerk and/or manager needed to do was to say, “We are very sorry, sir, but it is our policy to double-check the security tape for returns and exchanges. It’ll just be a moment, and we apologize for your inconvenience,” No problem! Instead, we get a clerk who half-mumbles a sorry. At least he did that! The manager didn’t even have the vision to realize that his treatment of Jamwall was abrupt and unfriendly. Since this incident, Jamwall has not returned to your store (neither have any of our family or friends), taking our business instead to Hardware Hank and just about any other option.
Are you such a corporate behemoth that you have lost sight of the individuals who support you every day by pouring their incomes into home repair? You spend millions or billions of dollars a year on advertising and the appearance of your stores. How is it, then, that you manage to hire front-line employees who are untrained in how to relate to customers?
Each transaction is a one-on-one, face-to-face encounter with the spirit of your company; and this encounter leaves us with the very simple impression that “Home Depot are jerks.” Plain and simple. No amount of fancy orange bannery and zippy commercials is going to change the impression that one clerk and one manager had on this family.
Thank you for your time,
p.s. to the readership: Jamwall doesn't know he is my fiancée yet, so don't tell him. I just thought that the letter would have more impact than just saying "my sometimes boyfriend" or "my distant phone-sex companion"