Thursday, September 20, 2007

Home Depot: You Can Have A Nervous Breakdown, We Can Help

Although I thought this was impossible, my hatred for Home Depot has in fact grown.

As some of you may recall, I had a bad experience with Home Depot when the lower level of my condo flooded a few months ago. Surely you haven't already forgotten B 4 Real, the employee who tried to "help" me, but failed miserably? I have avoided the store ever since.

But the time has come for me to do something about my ailing water heater. It is hissing and wheezing and I know it's just a matter of time before it gives out. Since I don't have a car and since there are hardly any places in the city that I can turn to for a water heater replacement, I reluctantly called Home Depot after researching what model I would need. My husband had gotten some paperwork from our local store about how they can do same-day delivery of water heaters, completely take care of draining and hauling away your old one and installing and testing your new one... and on and on and on. Oh, how wonderfully easy this would be, they promised.

WHY I keep falling for these ruses, I haven't a clue. But I called the number and was connected to Kimberly, who sounded nice enough. We went through her whole script, and everything was going swimmingly. Hope started to creep its way through my body - could I actually have a painless experience with Home Depot?

No, I couldn't. We got to the part where Kimberly had to look to see if the model I wanted was in stock at the store closest to my place. It wasn't. She said that she would check with other Chicago-based locations to see if they had any, and put me on hold. I did the same thing she was doing - I checked online. There was another location not too far from my place that had what I was looking for.

She came back on and confirmed what I had already discovered myself. But then she said, "And I just need to tell you that there's going to be a $50 trip fee for going through this store."

Me: What?
Kimberly: Ummm, there's going to be a $50 trip fee since it wasn't in stock at your local store.
Me: What? That doesn't make any sense. Are you saying that if I had simply told you another store that had the water heater in stock was my "local store," there wouldn't be the trip fee? So I should call back and get someone else and tell them that the other location is my local store?
Kimberly: Hmmmm, I'm not sure, let me check with my supervisor.

I waited. In a few minutes, she came back on.

Kimberly: OK, so the trip fee is because our installer doesn't have it in stock, it doesn't matter which store you go through... the installer has to go pick it up from the store, so that's $50.

Deep breaths, e, deep breaths!

Me: So, let me get this straight... I'm ordering this water heater from you guys - Home Depot. And I'm going to pay an installer, selected by you guys, hundreds of dollars to come install it. And the water heater I want is in stock at a local Home Depot store, which is who I'm buying it from. But since your selected installer doesn't have it in stock at THEIR warehouse, I have to pay $50 for them to come get it from you?
Kimberly: Yes, that's what the trip fee is.

I can always tell when I get REALLY agitated, because my dog must sense it in the air and he wakes up from his deep slumber on his dog bed and walks across the room to come stare at me like, "Calm down, mom! You're gonna blow!"

Me: OK, so... and Kimberly, I realize that you don't make the rules and that this isn't your fault, but can you see why that makes no sense? Why would the installer ever have ANY incentive to stock your items if they get $50 for driving over to your store? That is bad inventory management and bad contractor management and that shouldn't be something I have to pay for. And I know gas is expensive, but it does NOT cost $50 to drive across town! Do you see why I'm upset? Do you see why I don't understand why I should have to pay $50 on top of the $700 I'm already going to pay for the water heater and the installation? This is crazy!!!
Kimberly: I see what you're saying. Let me talk to my supervisor again and see if I can get the fee waived or if there's something else we can do.

I'm put back on hold. The worst part about the hold music is that it's the Home Depot music with some guy assuredly reminding you over and over again that "You can do it, we can help!" He lies, he lies!!!!

Kimberly clicks back over. I hold my breath...

Kimberly: Um, yes, ummm.... my supervisor says that the way around the trip fee is to come pick up the water heater yourself from our store.


I didn't check a mirror, but I knew my face was beet red. My dog backed away from me; there was nothing he could do for me now.

Me: OK, Kimberly, well, thanks for checking into this. Once again, I know you've tried here, but... since I DON'T HAVE A CAR it's really not going to help for me to pay for a rental car and come get the water heater - it kind of defeats the whole purpose of why I'm calling you guys in the first place - I don't have a car and I'm not handy, so I needed help. But I'm not going to order the water heater now because of this ridiculous fee.
Kimberly: I'm sorry.

She sounded genuinely sad. But I was genuinely beside myself with anger as I hung up. What a scam! And no, it's NOT about the $50 itself to me, it's about the principal of the fee, or lack thereof.

Later on I was telling my dad about this latest Home Depot debacle. We decided that Home Depot shall now be referred to as Home Depoop.

And so it shall be.

- e


Anonymous said...

yes, i too have had similar experiences with home depot. but they pale in comparison to my bad experiences with wal mart-the absolute worst place in the world when it comes to customer service (except for the old-people greeters-they rock!)

Anonymous said...

I used to be a fan of home depoop (I like that) until they made me start working for them as a cashier in their self-serve checkout lines.

I've switched to a competitor who still provides cashier service even tho Depoop has better inventory and store layout.

Anonymous said...

You should go to Lowe's, if there is one local to you.