Home Depot's Extraordinary Service Leads To Free $800 Appliance Upgrade

Michael launched an Executive Email Carpet Bomb after Home Depot twice failed to deliver an undamaged washer and dryer. Home Depot’s CEO Frank Blake quickly thanked Michael for his even-handed letter, and promised that the local store manager would make him a happy customer…

The store manager gave Michael two options: he could keep and use the dinged-up appliances until Home Depot found suitable replacements, or he could come back to the store and pick out new models that were in stock. She “even offered that should the only models they have in stock be slightly more expensive, that I would be upgraded free of charge.”

The ‘slightly more expensive’ models ended up being $800 more expensive, a difference the manager approved “without hesitation.” She then refunded the delivery fee.

Here’s what Michael wrote to Home Depot’s CEO:

Hello Mr. Blake.

I am writing to express both my satisfaction and displeasure with my Home Depot experience. First, the facts. My wife and I purchased a set of front-loading washer/dryers on May 6th for $1,293. Since they were not in stock, we made a “special order”. We were given a delivery estimate of 5 business days. The first time our order was received at the local store, (Garden City, KS) it was damaged. We received a call from the store informing us of this. We were told our only option was to wait for a 2nd order. When we asked if this order could be expedited, and if our order could arrive quickly, the store’s response was “Well… I hope so.” Today, May 23rd, I checked my order status online, in hopes of finally receiving our appliances soon. I saw a notice of ANOTHER cancellation and subsequent re-order. I was not informed of this by the store. I called the store, spoke with a special order representative, and was told that yes, our order again came in damaged. Again I was told that I needed to wait on a re-order. At this point I called Home Depot’s 1-800 number to ask for assistance in this matter. I am 100% satisfied with the help I’ve received from the staff at the 800 number. (More on them later, I will first continue with the bad…) After their intervention, I was told that I would receive a call from the store within 2 hours, and that they were searching stock for a similar set of appliances in the same price range. This was at 11:15 AM. It is now approaching 5:30 PM, and I just got off the phone with the Garden City Home Depot. The only reason they EVER called is because I again had the help at the 800 number intervene. (2 hours indeed…) On the phone, I was informed by “Justin” that there was in fact a washer/dryer set, the same models that I ordered, in stock that could be delivered. This leaves me puzzled, so I ask Justin how this could be. (When I came into the store, they weren’t in stock. Both the first and second shipments were damaged. How could they be in stock?) Justin’s response was “I wish I could tell you”. In addition, he informs me that delivery can’t be made until Tuesday… 4 days from now. I am to report to Home Depot later tonight to inspect the appliances for damage.

It’s going on 3 weeks since I made this purchase. This washer/dryer set isn’t a luxury item like a DVD player or a pair of shoes. This is something I ordered because my family NEEDS these appliances. Mooching off of co-workers to get laundry done is not a past-time of mine. Having said that, I am very upset that the exact models I ordered are sitting in stock at the Garden City Home Depot. Have they been there the whole time? Why did I have to escalate the situation to even find out that they were there? Do you even care if my order is ever fulfilled?

Now, I promised that there was an aspect of my experience that has been satisfactory, so here goes. Abdi (Extension 41553) at customer care has tried very hard to rectify this situation. He has been sympathetic of my problem. He has called to check on me nearly every 2 days since my first busted shipment. He as intervened for me when the Garden City staff proved that they were completely indifferent to my needs. He has even returned my calls when he said he would! Go figure! He has been the only one to get answers out of this local store, since all that they’ll tell me to do is to wait for the next shipment. My order experience continues to worsen, but Abdi has been trying his damnedest to help me out. I very much appreciate his attempts, even though they have proven essentially fruitless to this point. Kudos to Abdi and the entire staff at the 800 number’s customer care.

I sincerely apologize for having taken up so much of your time with this lengthy letter, Mr. Blake. I just thought you might like to know the that the level of support at the local store and at phone support are polar opposites. I am enthralled with the special care with which Abdi has handled my case. Conversely, I am thoroughly disappointed with the care I received at the Garden City store. My saga isn’t over yet, and I have a feeling in the pit of my stomach that it will only get worse from here. And despite the excellence of your 800 number’s staff, I can not in good conscience ever recommend the Home Depot to friends or family again. And I can never again shop there myself, the taste in my mouth right now won’t allow it. Good day.

Sincerely,

Michael

Notably, Michael launched the Executive Email Carpet Bomb before reaching a seemingly final resolution. We usually recommend that you exhaust all normal customer service channels—in this case, returning to the store—before launching an EECB, but Michael’s timing clearly worked out well.

His letter is spot-on, highlighting Home Depot’s customer service shortfalls while remaining reasonable. Michael comes off as a customer that you would want to help, which made it easy for Frank Blake to respond with this:

Michael: I apologize for the bad experience you’ve had. And I thank you that in the middle of it, you still took the time to recognize one of our Customer Care associates. I will have someone contact you as soon as possible to address this problem and if you’re not satisfied with the resolution, please let me know directly. – Frank Blake

Here is the response from the store manager:

My name is Jan Morgan, the store mngr at the GC Home Depot. I am trying to contact you to set up the delv of your appliances. I understand that Justin asked if you could look at the product before we deliver. If this is not able to happen, that is ok, the driver will wait while you look them over.

From the research I did on why this set is at the store, this is a canceled order from another customer that was upgraded again due to received damage.

Looking forward to speaking with you to correct this situation.
Jan Morgan
Store Manager
2219 Home Depot
Garden City, Ks.
620-275-5943

By 9:30 the morning after I sent my letter, I had these responses as well as a missed call from the Garden City, KS store manager. When speaking with the manager, Ms. Morgan, I was given the option of accepting the busted merchandise to use at home until a satisfactory shipment was received. I declined, and countered that instead, we could replace the models I chose with something of comparable value that was in stock. She agreed, and even offered that should the only models they have in stock be slightly more expensive, that I would be upgraded free of charge. Awesome!

I showed up at the store about an hour later, and from then on was taken care of by Stan and Sarah. After searching their stock for me, they found that there were no front loading washer/dryers in stock. They then offered to give me floor models instead, should I find their condition to be acceptable. At this point I say that whatever is closest in price to what I originally purchased is fine. They directed me to a set of LG’s, priced at $699 a piece. This would have been a comp of hundreds of dollars, so I was delighted to accept their offer. The floor models had been stacked onto each other for display, and had seemed to be in great shape. When they were taken down for shipment however, it was revealed that these were also damaged! Having been stacked for so long the bottom appliance had significant damage on top. At this point Stan says, “Well, what about the grey ones? Are they OK?”. I replied that yes, that would be fine. Soon after saying this, I realize that the sticker price on these appliances is $999, and $899 respectively. Holy crap! (GE Washer model WCVH6800J0MS, Dryer model DCVH680EJ0MS) When Sarah informs Stan of the difference in price between these models and the ones I purchased, (At about $530 a piece) and if she should just write-off the difference, he says yes without hesitation. As we finalize our exchange I thank them both profusely for helping us so much. I’m still stunned as I’m writing this letter that this worked out so well.

I will be writing Mr. Blake back to let him know what happened, and that despite what was said in the letter, I will indeed be purchasing from Home Depot again. How could I not? You have no idea how guilty I felt throughout the process. I mean, that’s almost an $800 difference! They even refunded the delivery charge!

I didn’t expect in my wildest dreams for my EECB to turn into this. Thank you so much consumerist!

We knew EECBs worked; we’ve seen the results; but even we didn’t think they worked this well! Great work, Home Depot!

(Photo: ZacharyTirrell)

Comments

Edit Your Comment

  1. PoleMan14 says:

    Wow…I am impressed.

  2. humphrmi says:

    Heh, good to hear. I’d also love to see the e-mail from Frank Blake to the local store manager. But this is good enough.

  3. The Real 31 says:

    I guess I never considered a pair of shoes a “luxury” item.

  4. New Boss>>>>>Old Boss

    Hopefully Blake can bring Home Depot back to the level of service they used to provided.

  5. Umisaurus says:

    Wow! This guy has the Holy Grail of EECB experiences. Congratulations, Michael!

    As for the company, my hopes are up for Home Depot again. I stopped going there years ago, but maybe things will start to go better with this new CEO.

  6. mythago says:

    Awesome, and glad the CEO actually bothered to recognize that their front-line CSR tried to help.

  7. induscreed says:

    I feel all warm and fuzzy inside.

    Makes me want to splurge on a Apex DVD player and some shoes from Payless….sorry I had to.

    But, awesome response, happy for OP!!

  8. weakdome says:

    Wow. The only thing I usually get at home depot is blank stares.

  9. Mike8813 says:

    Thanks for the positive feedback guys. Great to see the story got posted.

    By the way, I meant a new pair of shoes… Perhaps I should have been more specific. (I can see how having shoes can be seen more as necessity than luxury… D’oh!)

  10. puka_pai says:

    Jan probably isn’t happy about this since the difference will come out of her pocket. And I bet someone had a little talk with Stan and Sarah, too. I hope they’re both still employed.

    Because that’s the backstory of how this stuff works in retail. The customer is happy, but the front line staff weren’t supposed to make him THAT happy. IOW, lip service is king.

  11. hamsangwich says:

    puka_pai, if they did their job they wouldn’t have to worry about staying employed. It’s about making the customer think you’re working hard for them and providing them service. That is what you do in retail, service the customer.

  12. The Real 31 says:

    @Mike8813:

    Just giving you a hard time. I knew what you meant. When your wife is buying her 27th pair of shoes you start to realize it actually is a luxury and not a necessity. Although she might claim it to be a necessity…

  13. astrochimp says:

    Was the cat part of the upgrade?

  14. fjordtjie says:

    @hamsangwich: having spent years in retail, sometimes people somewhere down the corporate chain make it impossible for you to provide them the best service possible. how were stan, sarah, or anyone else in-store supposed to prevent the arrival of damaged merchandise? it’s painfully similar to the people at joann fabrics that waited the 5 weeks (which they knew was going to take) for their custom order 15 yard fabric only for it to arrive in 3 pieces from 3 different dye lots. now how was i supposed to fix that? why should i lose my job because some moron somewhere decided to screw up the order. it wasn’t my job to decide to ship 3 different colors on an order that clearly stated one continuous piece, and it isn’t stan and sarah’s fault the appliances were poorly shipped. all i could do was apologize and call my manager, but you know the company wouldn’t approve replacing it with a more expensive fabric. They once had my manager call me into a meeting because I had worked 5 minutes overtime the week prior: $7 an hour x 0.0833hours x time and a half = 87 cents. I would have gotten fired for “giving away” merchandise, even if it was to keep a customer.

  15. nsv says:

    I used to work in a Home Depot in a different area of the country. Now I drive PAST the local HD to go to Ace Hardware, whether I’m spending ten cents or a thousand bucks. If I need something Ace doesn’t carry I drive past both to go to Lowe’s. After the things I’ve seen in that store, they’ll never get another dime of my money.

  16. RvLeshrac says:

    @fjordtjie:

    Seconded.

    Though they should have acted somewhat concerned about the shipments, rather than simply offering a shrug. Showing that you care about the customer can help alleviate a bad experience.

    Customers need to be taught that the front-line personnel REALLY CAN’T DO ANYTHING TO HELP beyond a certain point, and should be left out of the equation unless they’ve been acting like asses.

    It is entirely possible to provide the best customer service you can and still be completely unable to solve the problem. If, as a customer, you actually harrass the employee, they’re going to care about your problem less and less (YOU CAN HELP ME YOU JUST DON’T WANT TO!).

    (And no, I’m 100% not referring to the situation here, because the letter reads like the truth, and it sounds like the in-store employees were doing nothing, as opposed to doing what little they could.)

  17. u1itn0w2day says:

    One thing I noticed about Home Depot over the years is that they expanded by simply buying up alot of companies or using them as contractors.I think the lack of cohesion comes from the employees not really knowing how the contractors work or the ocntractors niave to the customer expectations.I also notice alot of factory reps at Home Depot and Lowes doing work.

    If you are expected to only know your tiny piece of the puzzle how can you help a customer.I know too many people who had horror stories from Home Depot all saying the samething:it’e like they couldn’t or wouldn’t help.It’s almost if Home Depot has treated their very own employees as contractors over the years.

  18. chauncy that billups says:

    I had a similar problem with home depot and a refrigerator. They use independent contractors to deliver the orders, and thus have no control over the source (manufacturer) and the shipper. They are simply middlemen. After two weeks I canceled my order and got a Lowes fridge same day. It took HD another two weeks to refund my purchase. I will never order another item from homedepot.com as long as I live. Though I wish I knew about the EECB back then…

  19. mikesgrrl says:

    I’ve been having great experiences with Home Depot as well. Thumbs up to them!

  20. battra92 says:

    I never seem to get any luck with Homeless Depot.

    I do like the locally owned True Value franchise. We try and buy everything hardware there.

  21. dj-anakin says:

    I love Home Depot. I’ve always gotten very helpfull, knowledgeable service from them. We have spent probably $10,000 since they opened our store [Ridgecrest, CA], working on two houses getting ready for sale.

    Plus, I love their return policy. I’ve never had an item refused for return. And the fact that you don’t need the reciept is invaluable. As long as you have the same credit card, everything shouldbe fine. Since realizing this, i’ve charged all my HD purchases to my Alaska Airlines credit card, which builds up my miles. Win Win!

  22. mark330 says:

    I’m surprised by the posts I see here defending Home Depot’s neglect here.

    Of course, first-level customer service personnel may not be able to do anything about damaged merchandise arriving. But can they return a phone call when they promise to? Or is that beyond their abilities?

    Telling a customer you are going to fix a problem and then doing nothing–or creating the appearance that you’re doing nothing–is inexcusable. It’s preposterous to think that a customer buying big-ticket appliances should have to call a corporate 800# to get a phone call returned from the local store… and several times, at that!

    From the sound of this gentleman’s letter, it seems clear that the core problem that prompted him to email the CEO was not a damaged washer, it was poor service at the most basic level. And that IS something that is well within the control of the customer service people at the store level, and a key component of the store manager’s job. There is no excuse for dropping the ball on something as basic as not returning a promised phone call and giving a paying customer the runaround that Michael got.

    As someone with extensive experience in retail, I am well aware that there are always circumstances beyond our control. It’s how we deal with things within our control (i.e., giving the customer at least the “lip service” that his business is valued by doing what you say you’re going to do when you say you’re going to do it–it’s not hard!) that separate us. Furthermore, if that is the typical of the culture at Jan’s store, then I hope that they find more capable management soon, because I guarantee she’s doing far more damage to the bottom line than a few dollars lost in the upgrade that resolved this situation.

  23. mark330 says:

    D’oh! I followed this link from Lifehacker, and paid no attention to the dates… I did not realize the last post was three months ago. Sorry!

    Still glad I made my point, though.

  24. Anonymous says:

    I have worked at the Garden City Home Depot for going on 4 years. We are a rural store “in the middle of nowhere” some may say. We have had to in the past depend mainly on small independent freight haulers. Most were careful and safe haulers, some were not. We use to have a real issue with damaged appliances. Since this issue written above THD corporate has set up delivery of appliances by the vendors. Our damage issues have all but gone away. We sell thousands of appliances every year and a few sales have problems but most go off with out a hitch. The Garden City Home Depot is an awarded winning store and Stan and Sarah are indeed still here. We are glad to be going back to making Customers our FIRST priority. Thanks Jesse

  25. Anonymous says:

    Jan was soon fired after this happened. Not for this reason but still it was soon after