Home Depot - Chicago, IL / carbide... you stupid mother-f*cker!
I am writing to inform you of the absolute worst experience I have ever had in any retail store in my entire life. At approximately 2:00 pm on 9/17/2006 my partner and I visited the Home Depot store located at 1232 W. North Avenue in Chicago, IL with the sole purpose of purchasing a simple flow diverter for our shower stall. After finding a flow diverter and some teflon tape I approached the self-checkout aisle to check out. After about 5 minutes of attempting to get the unSKU'ed diverter to come up on the register, I saw an empty checkout aisle (at the time I thought I saw the light on as being "available") with three people standing in front of the register, so I said, "The hell with self checkout, I'll just go to a cashier." My partner remained standing at the self checkout, then moved behind the cashier's stand I spotted. As I approached the cashier I thought was open, I set down the items on the belt. At that point, one of the cashier's pointed out the register was closed... So I said, "Sorry... I saw three people at this register, so I figured someone was working here". I then grabbed the items and moved to a cashier directly behind this register.
Shortly thereafter, I heard my partner get into an arguement with one of the women at the register I just approached, and no sooner than this happened, he asked for the manager to come over. The cashier was an African-American named Kim. Well, apparently when I made my comment about thinking the register was open and turned my back, she said, loud enough for my partner to hear (since he was standing at the end of the register, and not in Kim's line of sight)... she said, "You smart mouth mother-f*cker!". As I mentioned before, I did not hear her, so I continued to try to purchase the diverter whilst my partner requested to speak to the manager. He did this after confronting Kim about what she said, and she replied, "I wasn't talking to him. I was talking to her." To which he replied, "It's not about who you were talking to, It's about what you said. Get me your manager." Kim then proceeded to get on the phone and make gestures that could only lead an observer to think that she was vividly describing her point of view on the situation to sway any prejudgement that the manager would make. The manager aggresively walked toward my partner and asked what the problem was. The manager's name (or the person who was identified as the manager) was named Chris. My partner explained the situation, obviously agitated. The manager then put his finger in my partner's face and in an attempt to intimidate him said, "FIRST of all..." That was all that it took for my partner to know that dealing with these people would not help the situation. He then asked for the number to Home Depot's corporate office, so that he could effetively lodge a complaint. He was then denied that request, but if he wanted to he could wait for the manager to run and get the "Customer Care" number. I ended up not purchasing anything not just because I learned of the staff insulting me behind my back, and unknowingly in front of my parter, but also because it was taking entirely too long to ring up the diverter - what should have been a 5 minute purchase turned into total fiasco. We left the store, got in our car and travelled a few extra miles to visit an independently owned Ace Hardware, where we were greeted with smiles and hellos upon entering the store. We asked the salesman where we might find a diverter, he walked right over and picked one out right off the peg. The whole pleasent experience took us all of three minutes.
This letter is to alert you of some severe personnel problems at this store. The manager's problem resolution skills suck, and the attitude towards customers who require assistance, not insults, also sucks. The cashier Kim should be summarily fired for insulting a customer. There is absolutely no excuse for that type of behaviour and obviously if her job makes her so miserable she has to take it out on customers, she would be better off somewhere other than representing Home Depot. Chris, the manager, handled the situation entirely wrong. As opposed to listening and resolving the problem, he chose to aggravate the situation and my partner by instanteously confronting him before knowing all the details of the situation. As a gay man, I get a fair amount of grief from friends for even giving Home Depot any business at all. It is common knowledge in our community that Home Depot hates gays. I think the manager's attitude towards my partner (who is pretty easily identitifed as "a gay man") proved this point. At one particular point as I mentioned above, I was under the impression he was trying to physically intimidate my partner by his aggressive body language and tone - solely because he appeared gay. I don't think "bullying" a customer whose point was to make him aware of a severe problem with one of his cashiers is called for, whomever they may be. Certainly the point of the manager is to manage and operate the store, and resolve problems. I resolved the problem myself, by walking out with no purchase in hand, and after wasting a considerable amount of time doing so.
I did manage to get a good laugh at a housewarming party that day after seeing one of their advertisements on TV... They had some commercial showing helpful Home Depot staff assisting clients on TV with some do-it-yourself clinics. I had joked out loud to about 10 other people, "Yeah, what you don't see is when they customer asks a question like, 'What kind of bit do I need for my router?", the Home Depot employee smiles and says, 'Oh, you need a quarter-inch carbide bit'. Then when the customer is 5 feet away they say, 'Carbide... you stupid mother-f*cker!'"
-- that was the only good thing I took away from my experience at that store -- a joke at Home Depot's expense. I've been pretty loyal customer to Home Depot... I think buying about $2000 worth of power tools (and home furnishing) in the past two years would determine that. To date, Home Depot has offered a $20.00 for my grief and experience, I believe this to be insulting... the problem they need to solve is better train their managers (and probably overall staff), and fire the employee(s) who choose to greet their customers with obscenities, attitude and insults.
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