This is a story of how the failure to listen costs a business its customer's trust.
I custom-ordered a window at the Home Depot on Capitol Expressway in San Jose, CA on November 12, 2007. I fully paid for it at the time of the order. On November 25, 2007, the store called me and said that my window was ready for me to pick up. I came on the same day. The store clerk went in a restricted area, pulled out a window, handed it to me, stating that it was my window, and asked me to sign a piece of paper acknowledging my receipt of the window before I could take the window out of the store. I signed as requested and transported the window home.
The next day, Monday, November 26, 2007, someone named Scott called me and said that they had given me a wrong window and that they needed that window back. It turned out that the wrong window, which appeared similar to what I ordered, did not have the exact dimensions as stated in my order. Scott said that the window I ordered had been broken in the store's warehouse and a replacement order had been placed. The estimated time of arrival on the new order was December 10, 2007. In the mean time, Scott added, Home Depot wanted the wrong window back. I said that Home Depot could send someone to pick up the wrong window before they delivered the right window to me. I simply requested a written assurance that they would deliver the right window free of charge when it became available. I had already transported the wrong window at my expense. Scott said that he would need to check with his manager about my request and would call me back right away. No one called me back.
A few hours later, concerned about the status of my request, I called and spoke to a person named Doug. He agreed that the right window would be delivered to me free of charge. He and I then made an appointment for a Home Depot employee to come to my house the next day between 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. to pick up the wrong window. I reiterated my request that the driver brought with him the new order for the right window with a note indicating Home Depot's assurance that the right window would be delivered free of charge when it became available.
The next day, Tuesday, November 27, 2007, I took a day off from work and stayed home to wait for the Home Depot truck. Four p.m. came and went. No one from Home Depot showed up or called. That evening, I called Home Depot to inquire about the reason why they missed the appointment. Although Home Depot was still open at that time and they could have sent someone then to pick up the wrong window, a person named Nick called me back and said that the wrong window would be picked up when the right window was to be delivered, which was projected for December 10. I said that would be fine by me.
Almost a week later, on Monday, December 3, 2007, a person named Anthony called and sternly warned that I was holding someone else' window and demanded that I give it back. I expressed my willingness to allow Home Depot again to come and pick up the wrong window and reiterated my request for a written assurance that the right window would be delivered to me free of charge when it became available. Anthony responded that the driver would only give me his business card. I said that I did not need a business card and repeated my request. He said that it would not be possible to give me the written assurance because the note about free delivery was only an 'internal' note. I said that I did not understand and asked why they could not simply use a pen and handwrite the assurance on a piece of paper. Anthony ignored what I said and started rising his voice, repeatedly demanding that I scheduled a time when they could come to pick up the wrong window. I told him that I understood what he wanted and only needed him to listen to my simple request. After eight minutes of back and forth, unable to get him to agree that a written assurance would be given, I asked for his manager. A person named Doug got on the phone and, without listening to a word of what I had to say, began berating me for holding someone else' window, and with the same tone of voice that Anthony had used, demanded the wrong window back. He said that my possession of the window was 'illegal,' insinuating that I had, in effect, stole it from the store. Feeling that the situation was not improving, I asked for the store manager. Doug responded that the store manager, Chris Morrison, was not available, and hung up on me.
Before Doug got on the phone, I was still willing to make another appointment for Home Depot to come and pick up the wrong window, if they gave me the written assurance. I thought that Anthony was just an employee who did not know how to speak to a customer, and talking to a manager would be much better. After all, my request was extremely simple. However, after seeing how Doug immediately sided with Anthony, without even listening, adopting the same tone of voice, and after he hung up on me, I became afraid that Doug and Anthony and maybe others at Home Depot would develop a grudge against me. I became worried that, out of spite, they would purposely delay or make the fulfillment of my order difficult. I decided that the best way to protect myself was to ask that the right window be delivered at the time the wrong window was to be picked up.
In the afternoon of the same day, I was further convinced of the systematic nature of the poor customer service at Home Depot when I received a call from a person named Steve, who said that he was a co-manager of the store. After I expressed my concern about his associates and my wish now that the delivery and pick-up happen at the same time, he said that was unacceptable. He attempted through a rhetorical question to get me to admit that the wrong window in my possession did not belong to me. He said that he would thus report my possession of the wrong window as a 'theft'. He further said that he would charge me at once for the wrong window in addition to what I had already paid when I placed the order. I told him that all I needed was a sincere apology, and accusing me of a crime and threatening me with double charging for my order did not sound like a sincere apology to me. In response, he only said that he was 'sorry that I felt that way.'
Steve added that he had already 'bent over backward' to accommodate me by agreeing to come at a time of my choice to pick up the wrong window and to deliver free of charge the right window when it became available. I told him that none of that was a favor to me. Home Depot is already required under the contract to make the conforming delivery to my house at no additional cost. As for the non-conforming goods in my possession, I have no obligation to spend my own time for a separate scheduled pick-up. Yet, I did Home Depot a favor by staying home for a day to allow them to come and pick up the non-conforming goods before they could give me a conforming replacement. They missed the appointment and wasted my time. If they want to ask me for the favor again, accusations and threats will certainly not do it. In addition, the projected delivery of the right window is only a week away. It only makes sense now that the delivery and the pick-up occur at the same time. I no longer have time for two separate appointments. I hereby again reject the non-conforming delivery and ask that Home Depot promptly make the conforming delivery under the contract. At that time, Home Depot can also take back the non-conforming goods.