This is a copy of the letter I sent to Home Depot:
To whom it may Concern,
Concern... Isn’t that a leap of faith, to assume that someone may actually be concerned, because that would imply that someone actually cared. But what the heck, stranger things have happened. I’d like to buy a BBQ Grill, you sell them, one would think this should be simple. But obviously it hasn’t been or I wouldn’t be writing this letter.
Here is my story.
Earlier in April I bought a Grill from K-mart, when I went to assemble it I realized I wanted no part in putting together all of those parts, so I returned it and went shopping again.
My wife and I went to the Home Depot in Lakewood, NJ on Monday 23 April 07; we found 2 grills we were very interested in. These Grills had been on display outside the store so we went in to find someone who could help us. I had also been approved over the phone for a Home Depot Credit Card, so we went to the Customer Service Desk to have the card “turned on” and get help for the Grills. The person at the Desk sent us to the cashier over seeing the self-checkout area, telling us she would have the key to un-lock the Grills. The cashier’s response was to mockingly ask us why we would ask her. Now I have to admit that asking a cashier for a key to grills instead of someone in seasonal seemed a bit strange but that is what we were told to do. Once we told her the Service Desk sent us to her she lost the mocking tone and did try to help us. She paged a person from seasonal 4 different times asking them to call her on her line, each time she did this the Service desk echoed her request so really the announcement went out 8 times. After waiting about 15 minutes we gave up and left. We told the cashier she could tell the person from seasonal that “they had won; they didn’t have to help anyone today”.
From there we went across the street to Lowes, they had one person in seasonal that could tell us about grills and there were at least 3 people in line in front of us, we went home.
On Tuesday 24 April 07, I decided to give you, Home Depot, another chance. I took my lunch hour and shot over to the Home Depot in West Long Branch, NJ. I looked at the grills outside; found 2 I was interested in. I went inside to the Service Desk and ask them to find me someone who could help me. In less than 5 minutes a young man named Chris showed up, he was excellent. He knew what he was talking about, and he was HAPPY to help me. In less then 15 minutes I decided on a Blue Ember, 3 Burner model with Rotisserie set (SKU 312-354) for $449.00, I bought the delivery service for $65.00, with Tax my total bill was $545.43. Now I realize $500.00+ sale is no big deal to you, but a $500.00+ purchase IS a big deal to me. Chris sent me to the Contractor Desk (aka Pro Desk), why I would be sent to the Pro Desk to activate my HD Credit Card, set up delivery and pay for the BBQ grill instead of seasonal, I didn’t understand; but I am a cooperative person so I went. I was in a good mood, I was a bit confused by the Pro Desk angle but ok with it, I had been helped by a guy who knew what he was talking about and was HAPPY to help me. I was going to be able to activate the CC, pay for the grill, and set up delivery all in one stop. Again Good Customer Service; The West Long Branch Store was kick’n the Lakewood Store’s butt when it came to Customer Service. The language barrier at the Pro Desk was a bit trying but we got by.
I left the store and went back to work, all seemed right with my world. I was a little concerned that I had signed for the Grill to be dropped off even if I wasn’t home. I signed because the guy at the Pro Desk assured me they would bring the Grill into my back yard. But when I read what I signed; I saw that I had agreed to have them leave it at the end of my Driveway. I pointed out to him that what I had signed and what he said were two different things. Again he assured me they would put it in my backyard. Because of his difficulty with English I wasn’t sure he understood my concern and I had even less confidence he could read what I had just signed. My concern was that if the Grill was dropped at the bottom of my driveway at 8am by the time I got home at 5:30pm it would be in someone else’s backyard. So I took the day off from work and waited for the delivery. It would have been nice to have been able to work half a day at least; but that would mean someone would have had to tell me if I had a morning or afternoon drop off, but all anyone would say was “any time between 8am and 5pm”. So home I stayed.
Sometime after 2:00 pm On Wednesday 25 April 07, I called the store, I worked my way through the phone menu and selected “Deliveries” I sat on hold for more then 12 minutes waiting for some one to answer the phone. I gave up and called back. This time I hit “0” and got the Service Desk, they put me on hold and with in a few minutes someone picked up. He told me that he was waiting for the Delivery Truck, I have to tell you this was a revelation for me, I had no idea Home Depot contracted out this service. It was obvious that he was quite bothered to be talking to me but I did manage to learn that the truck should be at Home Depot any minute. The Truck was expected at 2:30 and it was now about 2:35 and when the truck left to make its delivery run my Grill was going to be on it, no problem, I should see them before 5:00.
Between 4:30 and 5:15 I placed 3 calls. 1st Call on hold 13 minutes NO ONE picks up. 2nd call I’m on 6+ minutes and NO ONE picks up. 3rd Call someone picks up in few minutes. I am irritated and aggravated by now but I am still calm. I once worked in a call center doing Customer Service, I know my only hope at a positive solution is to get the employee to give a damn about me and try and get their help. I know I have to kiss their butt, I understand this. I understand that being nice to them gives me a much better shot then screaming at them.
I explain to the person who I am, why I am calling and that I want to know if the delivery has even left the store. He put me on hold telling he needed to check on something and he’d be right back. 15 minutes later I hung up and called back.
Now I’m angry but still hold my cool. I have lost a day’s pay, spent something like an hour total on hold with this store, I don’t have a grill and I still don’t know what is going on. I call the store back and get a person named Mike. Mike answered the phone he barely got out of his mouth that Home Depot installs windows and doors when I started talking. I started off with “DO NOT Transfer me and DO NOT put me on hold. My name is Steve Mansfield and I should have had a Grill delivered today. I have called the store 3 times in the last 45 minutes only to spend most of that time on hold and I still don’t have any answers. Put the manager on the F##King phone”. Mike hung up on me. After an entire afternoon of being ignored or lied too, I finally snapped and used one of George Carlin’s 7 Dirty words you can’t say on TV. I would like to point out I did not call Mike any names nor did I call the manager any names. I used the foul language in reference to the phone. Apparently your company has a policy to hang up on customers, who become irate and use foul language; might I suggest here that you create a company policy encouraging the employees to treat the customer with some respect so we don’t become irate in the first place (just a thought).
So I started pulling myself together to drive the half hour to the store with the expectation I was going to get arrested. Since a grown man had never heard the “F” word before and was so deeply offended by it that he had to hang up on me to protect his sensitive ears, I felt it was my duty as a man to go and enlighten him. My intent was to go and stand on his desk while I gave him a full demonstration of what in means to “Curse like a Sailor”. I had been driven so far around the bend that the idea of being arrested and charged with assault seemed like a good plan.
Fortunately for me and whoever would have been behind the desk at the store, my wife spun me down and I stayed home.
She called back and got Mike again, actually this is when we learned his name was Mike. He almost hung up on her just because she was my wife, thank God he didn’t. He explained that he had just come back from Lunch and I was his first call. It wasn’t his fault; he hadn’t spoken to me before, and I had no right to be mad at him. What the idiot didn’t seem to understand, I wasn’t mad at him, I was mad at Home Depot and when he answered the phone, he became Home Depot. Mike sent her to a “Manager” named John, she barely got the words “waiting all day for a delivery” when he put her on hold. Now do you understand why the first words out of my mouth to Mike were “Do Not put me on hold” it seems to be a favorite past time there. In a few minutes another “Manager” named Steve Picked up.
It turns out the truck was still not there, he should be there any minute. Steve told my wife that they have been having a lot of problems with this company, my response was a very angry “not my F###ing problem, put the Damn Grill on one of the Home Depot trucks and have someone drive it to me”. He told my wife that if we had paid for delivery he would wave the charge but since “free delivery” was included there wasn’t anything he could do. Apparently there was/is a promo going on that if I had spent enough money I would get free delivery. And apparently I had spent enough money, which is why Steve thought I got free delivery.
So which company policy is that? “Caveat emptor” any buyer that does not know to ask for Promo doesn’t get it? Oddly enough I’m not all that upset by this, I understand that your purpose is to separate me from as much of my money as possible every chance you get. It seems a bit “Used Car Salesman” but we customers shouldn’t have any higher expectations then that.
Steve tells my wife that if the delivery company doesn’t get there in 20 minutes he’ll load it up on a Home Depot Truck and send someone to us (Yeah Right) and he was refunding the delivery charge.
We called back in about 30 minutes. The mystery truck had arrived; our grill was on it and it was on its way to us. The driver had 4 deliveries to make but we would be first. We called back about an hour later letting him know we still hadn’t seen the truck. Steve asked that we call when the truck got there, he was going to “do something” for us (yeah right). We called Steve back every 45 minutes or so to make sure he knew we still didn’t have the grill. At one point he asked what more we wanted him to do. My wife explained that we wanted him to call the driver and find out where he was. Steve said he couldn’t do that; the driver didn’t have a cell phone. Sure…. The illegal alien delivering my Grill is the only one in the country that doesn’t have a cell phone. If I had not been so absolutely torqued I would have asked him how the driver was going to call me from the road 30 minutes before he arrived if he didn’t have a cell phone.
At about 9:30 pm my wife called the store for a last time, she told Steve to cancel the order and refund our money. He said he would, I asked him (through my wife) what I should do when the grill showed up; he said I should refuse delivery. I explained that I was not going to be home the next day to “refuse” delivery. He told my wife the driver was going to be there some time that night. My response was to laugh and tell him I would not be responsible for that Grill when it showed up the next day and sat at the end of my driveway.
So the next morning, Thursday 26 April 07 at about 8:00 am, I get a phone call from Carlos, he is on his cell phone (imagine that). He wants to know if he can drop off the grill at about 8:30. I kid you not, here is his phone number 201-481-XXXX. I told him I canceled my order when he never showed up. His response: “But why, didn’t Home Depot call you and re-schedule? My truck broke down yesterday I had to rent a new one” I said, no they didn’t, I was told you where going to deliver the Grill last night, no matter how late.” Carlos: “But I didn’t pick them up until 5:30 it was too late to do the delivery”
I told Carlos I had canceled the order and been refunded my money and he should take the Grill back to the store.
You realize if my job started at 8:00 am instead of 9:00 am, my wife would have found a Grill in our driveway when she got home. Assuming of course, that no one else had stolen the Grill.
At lunchtime my wife went to the West Long Branch store to get the receipt for the refund. She spoke to the “Store Manager” or at least some young guy that said he was. She explained what had happened, and that we would be cutting up out Home Depot Credit Card when it came. The “Store Manager’s” response was “OK”. So my wife left.
Do not tell me the delivery company failed you so it is not Home Depot’s fault. I did not contract with “One Truck Carlos” delivery service; I contracted with a Multi-Million Dollar, International Corporation, the largest Home Center retailer in the Country. You contracted with a rinky-dink one truck delivery company who are so new to the country they are still wiping the Rio Grand off their Ass.
What could you have done different? Here is a short list.
1. Do your own deliveries
2. Contract with a delivery company that has more the one truck
3. If Carlos’ one truck breaks down, loan or rent him one of yours
4. Tell the customer the truth. If someone had called me in the morning to tell me the delivery had to be canceled, I would have been mad, but at least I could have gone to work for half a day. With a little stroking and some give backs I could have been saved as a customer.
5. Pick up the phone when I call. This was the part the really TICKED ME OFF. Sitting on hold listing to your ads tell me how wonderful you customer service is for 10 and 15 minutes at a time really wears on ones nerves.
6. Train your people that when they get an irate caller maybe the should try and figure out why they are irate instead of hanging up on the call at the first excuse and inflaming the situation even more. Mike hanging up on me was the last insult and indignation I was prepared to take. Acting as if I had no reason to be irate after losing a day’s pay and spending the afternoon being lied to or ignored. I couldn’t have been more offended or insulted if I had been slapped or spit on.
Your customers are not simply Credit Card Cash Cows being lead to slaughter; we are people that have an expectation of being treated with at least a minimal level of respect and dignity.