mad anthony

Rants, politics, and thoughts on politics, technology, life,
and stuff from a generally politically conservative Baltimoron.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Is poor customer service hurting Home Depot?

In the last couple years, Home Depot has been taking a beating at the hands of Lowe's. Generally, when I've heard this, the reason seems to be that Lowe's targets a more upscale audience, that it appeals more to women, that it has more high-end and designer type merchandise, and that it's stores are more inviting.

Until 4 months ago, I was an apartment dweller. I never had to go to home improvement stores, because I didn't have a home to improve. Now that I am the (somewhat) proud owner of Casa De Mad, my sprawling 1200 square foot townhouse in the rolling plains of White Marsh, I find a significant chunk of my income going to buy stuff I never knew I needed, like electrical parts and light fixtures and paint. So I've gotten to experience Lowe's and the Depot pretty reguarly. The advice I've gotten from those who have gone before me on the journey from renter to owner is to go to the Depot for the staples-type items and go to Lowe's for fashion accessories.

But I think part of what hurts Home Depot is their lack of customer service. I bought a bunch of stuff from them back in August, because I had a 10% off coupon from the USPS Change of Address form that was about to expire. I bought a bunch of outlets for rewiring my house (which I have yet to do) and some other stuff. One of the things on my list of "things that suck about my house but can be replaced cheaply" was the doorbell. Instead of a normal doorbell, Casa De Mad has one of those apartment-style viewer plus doorbell things on the door. When it was installed, it was installed upside down, and the viewer doesn't exactly work, nor does the bell ding very well. So I looked for a replacement. Nothing at Lowe's. Home Depot had it as a special order, made by HeathZeinith (who made the first computer my dad bought in kit form, but that's another story). I special-ordered it on 8/26. It had a projected delivery date of 9/2. I didn't hear from them again until last Wednesday, 10/19. Their message said to call half an hour before I get there so they would have it ready. I call. I get put on hold for 8 minutes until someone takes my phone number and says it would be ready. I get there 45 minutes later and it's not ready, and I have to wait another 10 minutes for them to find it.

Finally, they find it and hand me a box. I notice two things about the box. First of all, it was delivered to the store via UPS, which makes me wonder why they make you go to the store to pick it up - it wouldn't cost a whole lot more just to drop-ship it to my house instead of to the store, and would save me a trip. Secondly, it had a sticker on it that it was recieved 9/12. So the Depot waited 5 weeks before they bothered calling me to let me know my already-paid-for item was in.

Yes, I know I could have called them - I was busy and kept putting it off, plus I figured that maybe it wouldn't come in and they would refund my money - I realized I could live without a new doorbell, since I don't get a whole lot of visitors anyway. But a customer-focused organization would have better in-store pickup, and would call you when the item comes in, not a month later.

I mentioned this to my dad when I called him, and he had another Depot complaint - the self-checkouts. Like lots of people, he prefers to be checked out by a human. However, Home Depot doesn't like when you do that, because people cost more than machines. So they often only have one register open, and a long line at that register. While I love technology, I often shy away from self-checkouts, because they often eat coupons, and the ones at the Depot have scanned items wrong on me in the past. So that seems like a less than customer focused approach.

So I think selection and store design may hurt the depot - but I think customer service may be hurting them more.


At 9:37 PM, Blogger Muneer said...

>90% of my money for that kind of shit is spent at Menard's, not HD. The 10% is only stuff I need NOW when I am in the middle of a project, because I live directly behind a HD.

At 9:38 PM, Blogger Muneer said...

Oh, i just read an article about how your guy's voting system sucks.

You personally used one of the computer voting systems? Reviews?


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