Home Depot Provides Surprisingly Decent Service

Reader Jerry has shopped at the Home Depot in Van Nuys for over six years, but this weekend was the first time he feels he’s ever received good service. There was a helpful greeter at the door with a map of the store, and it seemed like everywhere he turned there was an employee willing to help. “It took a few minutes, but it finally dawned on me. Home Depot was trying to provide customer service!” Is this just a fluke or a part of a renewed effort to earn your business during the recession?

Jerry writes:

My family and I dropped by our local Home Depot in Van Nuys, CA this weekend. I was very surprised by my experience. There was a Home Depot employee by the entrance that greeted us with a clipboard in hand. He was nice enough, and offered us help. Of course, I was on auto-pilot by that time and returned a smile and “No-thanks”, assuming that he was going to try to sell my vinyl home siding, or some other service I didn’t want. It wasn’t until we passed him that I noticed that the papers on his clipboard were maps to the store. A few rows down was another employee who greeted us and asked if we needed any help. Still reeling from the first friendly encounter, I smiled and said” No thanks.”

It took a few minutes, but it finally dawned on me. Home Depot was trying to provide customer service! When we couldn’t locate a small toolbox, we asked random a HD employee who was friendly enough where to find small toolboxes. He wasn’t sure and directed us to the tool corral. Within 10 seconds of entering the corral, another employee offered us help. He finally directed us to the front of the store where all of the toolboxes were located.

Four helpful, friendly employees within as many minutes. I noticed this going on all around me, with employees being friendly and helping other customers. By the time we left, it was obvious that there was a whole “push” for friendly, helpful customer service in Home Depot. Let me say that it was great. I appreciate it when someone tries to help me without being over-bearing. And if they can’t help me, they direct me to a person who can. Kudos to Home Depot for this move.

I’ve been going to this store for 6 years to get materials for my weekend warrior work, and I’ve never had such service. It’s unfortunate, however, that we have to have a crumbling economic situation to spur a “big box” store into good customer service. I realized what was going on. Business is bad, let’s help the customer and be friendly. If I didn’t like it so much, I would’ve been offended at the obvious pandering. So, applause to Home Depot. Don’t forget to continue this when the economy improves.

(Photo: dougww)

Comments

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  1. DerangedRoleModel says:

    Heh, did a Lowe’s just open up nearby?

    • pb5000 says:

      @DerangedRoleModel: the home depot and lowes by my house are right across the street from each other, lowes customer service sucks and home depots has always been great. Lowe’s seems to have forgotten that.

      • sprocket79 says:

        @pb5000: Wow that’s the complete opposite of me. My local Home Depot treated me like a criminal because I bought something on clearance that didn’t ring up properly. Whereas when I went to Lowe’s this weekend I had quite a few employees coming up and asking if I needed help.

        Of course the BEST customer service has to be at Orchard Supply. But they’ve always had great customer service. It’s truly always been part of their business plan.

    • From the cubicle of PGibbons says:

      @DerangedRoleModel: I’m no big fan of HD, but the two Lowes around me make Home Depot seem like as good as my local hardware store by comparison. The Lowes is shinier and prettier, but the people there couldn’t think their way out of a plastic bag if their life depended on it.

      Another thing: Lowes distributes and sells private label tools with the name “Kobalt.” On the package in big bold letters is a “lifetime” guarantee “with no hassle exchange” or some such language. I had a dumb little screwdriver fall apart (the metal seemed to be made of sand) and so I brought it back for a simple replacement. Apparently their warranties are all B.S. – they said “we don’t warranty screwdrivers” even though the own packaging they print and distribute says they do. Maybe they mean “no hassle purchasing”…

  2. RudeandRude says:

    There must have been some regional managers there or someone hired guns that are evaluating employees.

    I find the only people that are helpful in HD are the ones in the paint and power tools department, because those guys typically know what they are talking about. Nobody else wants to help because you’re buying boring crap that they don’t care (or know) about.

    Luckily my home store (Nanuet, NY) has a guy in the power tools department that actually…wait for it…LIKES WORKING THERE. He’s always eager to help, and he helps more than you ask for. I can go in looking for a circular saw blade and by the end of the 10 minutes I’ll know exactly how to frame an unfinished basement.

    • Con Seannery wants the azure F back! says:

      @RudeandRude: In most of the stores around my town, I can find adequate service at least. Usually it’s pretty good. The only exceptions are Wal-Mart, formerly Circuit City, Best Buy depending on the day, and I think K-Mart, but for fear of my safety I haven’t entered that store in years. It has that back alley at night feel, makes you want to travel in groups. It’s dim, dirty, dated, and feels dangerous.

    • zigziggityzoo says:

      @RudeandRude: Home Depot loves to hire retired plumbers/pipefitters/electricians/HVAC’s to head up each department. Generally speaking, there’s at least one relatively knowledgeable person in each department, because they spent a good portion of their life working in the field.

      At least, that’s been my experience at local Home Depots (and I happen to know a retired electrician who works for HD).

      /pseudo-shill

    • ShortBus says:

      @RudeandRude: Not really. I’ve noticed quite a difference at every HD store I occasionally shop at.

      Home Depot was run into the ground by former CEO Robert Nardelli (who left to become CEO of Chrysler–wonder how that’s going?). Nardelli pushed an agenda of over-expansion, including the purchase of Maintenance Warehouse. It was under his watch, HD developed a reputation of the big box retailer where it took 10 minutes to find someone to help you.

      When Frank Blake replaced Nardelli, he switched gears and really pushed the company to focus on customer service. He’s well-liked within the company and is known to frequently make unannounced store visits just to see how things are going. It sounds like he’s been pretty successful.

    • Munchie says:

      @RudeandRude: I have a home depot manager give me a discount if we gave them a good review for their store to corperate.

  3. GTI2.0 says:

    Holy shit, because this just happened to me in the Home Depot in Daly City. I was looking for something (bathtub spouts) and was in the completely wrong area of the store.

    Friendly employee comes over, asks what I’m looking for, and then proceeds to *take* me to the correct aisle and show me where they were, half way across the store.

    Everyone was uber friendly. Something definitely changed – perhaps new kool-aid flavor?

    • HDC989 says:

      @GTI2.0: Corporate instituted a quite a few changes towards the end of last year encouraging more customer service, such as the greeter at the door during peak or “power hours”, not having aisles blocked off because of the forklift, employees in the main aisle, and actually taking customers to the item.

      None of this is optional so all stores should doing these things.

    • From the cubicle of PGibbons says:

      @GTI2.0: Maybe his “pointing” finger was out of order that day? I rarely get much help in HD finding a specific thing, even if it’s in the same aisle I’m asking the guy.

  4. microcars says:

    When Home Depots began to show up near me, they had GREAT customer service, there was someone in every aisle ready to help.
    What that did was get you to change your shopping habits to Home Depot instead of Builders Square or wherever you used to go.

    It worked well.

    But months later I noticed there were fewer and fewer “helpers” available until eventually there was pretty much no one.

    When a new Home Depot opened up about 10 miles away from that one, I noticed it had the same “helpers” in abundance, and several of them I recognized from the previous store.
    Eventually they were gone too.

    I personally think this is more of a PR stunt than anything else. Don’t expect it to last.

  5. Pink Puppet says:

    I’ve never wanted for Home Depot service, honestly. Whenever I go in, there’s always someone around to try to help me find what I need even if some of the employees have serious machismo issues.

  6. rpm773 says:

    There was a Home Depot employee by the entrance that greeted us with a clipboard in handFour helpful, friendly employees within as many minutes.

    If this happened to me, I wouldn’t go back. Perhaps I’m in a minority, but I’d rather be left alone until I decide I need help..and then I’ll find my own. I’m too cynical to deal with the smarmy greeters.

    And when I’ve needed real help (eg advice on an electrical or plumbing project), I’ve had much better luck finding someone with knowledge at Lowes.

    • u1itn0w2day says:

      @rpm773: I’m with you on the meet and greet .I do not buy because some one greeted me at the door .I find very disingenuine .

      I just want a body with in sight to point me in the right direction and possible a minor consult .Must say I wish Home Depot had this level of service years ago .

      I still think that service is going to come at a price .

    • jeebussez says:

      @rpm773: A vast majority of people are content with taking twice as long to figuring it out or simply can’t locate an employee when they need one and so simply just wander aimlessly even when there’s an employee standing right next to them (tunnel vision?). Even then, many people simply don’t want help, even if it will speed the process along for everyone.

      Speaking from experience, the way employees have been trained in customer service – across the board, that is, in pretty much any store that tries to pride themselves on customer service – is to be proactive in assistance and ask customers if they need help. Many places enact a policy where you make eye-contact with the customer at a certain distance, and at a closer distance you engage in the customer; this is for all customers, no exceptions. The idea is the customer first; whatever it is you’re doing at the moment, drop it.

      The problem is there’s no policy (I’m aware of anyway) that addresses customers like you or even customer type. I’m not saying that you’re a “bad customer” in any way, but is there a way you identify yourself outwardly as someone who doesn’t like to be bothered? From what I’ve noticed everyone pretty much looks about the same; to minimize any inconvenience I personally just ask people in the areas that necessitates a degree of knowledge (for example, hardware, flooring, televisions) who’ve been dawdling and that’s about it.

  7. Anonymous says:

    I’ve been shopping at home depot for years, and I was there last weekend and they just had TONS of employee’s standing around in random departments and at the entrance of the store waiting to help, something I had never seen before. I just figured perhaps Home Depot must be doing good to be able to afford to staff this many people for no reason other than to help customers.

  8. Michael Belisle says:

    A map of the Home Depot Labyrinth is revolutionary. Can Wal-Mart start handing those out too?

    • Nicole Glynn says:

      @Michael Belisle: As far as I know, most home depot’s have maps… they’re just tucked away in an obscure bin near the EXIT. i worked there three months before I discovered them.

  9. Mesrop Abrahamian says:

    I do not think the problems is with the Home Depot in general its just with some locations. I live in between two (Glendale and Burbank) and shop at both. Granted there aren’t enough employees to cover all of the store and you have to kind of hunt one down but when you do find one they are extremely helpful and kind. One place thats horrid is the North Hollywood location.
    The Glendale one once pulled three employees to physically search for a shed we wanted after the computer database said they were out of stock. They kindly searched the other store inventories and told us the North Hollywood one had it. We went there and customer service simply looked on the the computer and said they didn’t have any and didn’t try to help us out any further. We went and hunted it down our selves. I was pissed and filed a complaint against the employee.

  10. OminousG says:

    I went a week ago and sure didn’t get this service. A map would have been awesome. Cause putting shower handle knobs 2 rows away from new shower setups doesn’t make a damn bit of sense.
    I even asked the door guy for what I was looking for and he pointed me to his left. Solved that 50/50 problem I would have had on which side of the store to start my hunt on :

    • From the cubicle of PGibbons says:

      @OminousG: Ah, the “point” is a HD specialty. Narrows it down to half the store, cuts the three hour hunt down to an hour-and-a-half.

  11. Anonymous says:

    I’ve always had good luck at Lowe’s vs. Home Depot. However, the local Lowe’s is in my town, which has a small population, but lots of space. The Home Depot is located in a large suburban area off of the mall. As a result, the customer service is less strained at Lowe’s, and I’ve yet to have an issue with them.

  12. AgentTuttle says:

    Yeah, well, every time I go there what I need is on the isle blocked off for the fork lift. EVERY TIME!

  13. H3ion says:

    When Home Depot first opened in Maryland, they had employees who had actually worked as contractors. The plumbing guys knew plumbing, the electrical guys knew electrical, etc. I remember going in for a pvc plumbing part and the guy just took a quick look at what I was holding and pulled the correct part out of inventory.

    Now, not so good. It’s become more like Best Buy where the average customer has more knowledge than the store’s employees. If they’re going back to what made them good, that’s good news. There are probably enough building contractors looking for work that HD could take their pick. But I wouldn’t want to bet the rent on that happening.

  14. thetango says:

    About a month ago, my wife & I went to the Home Depot in Somerville, MA, and were amazed at the level of service we received.

    As the OP did, we were met by a greeter asking us what we were looking for and then she directed us to the appropriate aisle of the store.

    When we got there we also were approached by another employee asking us exactly what we were looking for — which was a stainless gas range.

    I think it is a sign of the times — Home Depot is realizing that crappy service isn’t cutting it for them. I’ve never been treated that way in a Home Depot before and both my wife and I commented on it on the way home.

    • billsquared says:

      @thetango:

      As an above poster referenced, stores were often initially stocked with folks who’d done contracting work. In today’s crappy economy, it’s entirely possible that those same contractors, looking to pick up a few bucks until the home renovation market picks back up, are suddenly available for HD/Lowe’s again.

    • robocop is bleeding says:

      @thetango: I had horrible service at that same Home Depot last summer when I went in looking for some wood to build a brace so my AC wouldn’t damage my windows. After taking several minutes describing what I needed (wood of X length, Y thickness) the Home Depot dude scratched his greasy hair, shrugged, said “I don’t see it.” and wandered off.

      So we drive up to the Everett one now. Didn’t notice a change in service when we were in last week.

  15. tonashideska says:

    I am totally impressed with the way the store in Bellevue, WA has been completely de-Nardellied. The store is clean, you can walk the aisles without tripping over displays, and now there is good service.

  16. OneTrickPony says:

    I don’t think it’s coincidental that I recently participated in a customer satisfaction survey following a shopping experience at Home Depot, and the second half of the survey involved comparing the customer service experience at HD vs. other home improvement and hardware stores. I think there is a widespread sentiment that Lowes in particular is a better overall shopping experience.

    I can’t help but think that the experience of watching Circuit City get beat out by Best Buy and going down in flames (or Linens-n-Things vs. Bed Bath and Beyond) has got HD thinking that there may not be room for two substantially similar box box home improvement stores in today’s economy, and that customer service and other aspects of the shopping experience are major influences on the decision of which one to patronize.

  17. KillTheAcademy says:

    that home depot is right by my gamestop, we’ve had to go there to buy store supplies periodically and they’re always helpful.

    however one time one of their managers tried to return something at our store outside of policy, and I refused. It was one of those situations where I could have made an exception, but as soon as I intitally stated the policy the woman started being very rude and insulting, so at that point I had no desire to do it at all. She actually said “I’m a manager at the Home Depot across the parking lot, and I’d do it, so it’s no wonder you work in this crappy little store, you couldn’t manage a real store and you don’t deserve a job”

    My response was “Lady, if I came into Home Depot and talked to you the way you’re talking to me, you’d have me kicked out, and that’s exactly what I’m gonna do now”

  18. Anonymous says:

    I had a bunch of Home Depot gift cards that I was saving up because I feel that Lowes has typically offered better prices and service. Low and behold, when I went in this weekend I had the exact same experience as the OP. I don’t know if this is enough to bring me back since my wife loves Lowes, but I thought it was a nice change.

  19. Whiskey Tango Foxtrot says:

    I went to Home Depot last week to get some blinds cut and received excellent customer service all around. Its a pleasure to shop there.

  20. Trojan69 says:

    I, to, live close to the area of the OP. Having moved here a few years ago from Georgia, I felt an allegiance to HD, and that is where I went. I got the typical ignorant and bored “service” from the few employees on the floor, and checkout was horrid.

    I decided to give the Lowe’s Burbank a chance and received unreal service AND a 50% discount from the store manager himself. I observed as all around me, one-on-one service was the rule, not the exception. I also about fainted as I watched competent cashiers who simply, without screaming “MANAGER,” overrode some prices and took care of the customer on their own initiative. It was a revelation.

    I hope HD has amended their ways, but unless and until Lowe’s Burbank screws up royally, they have earned first crack at all of my hardware/home improvement business.

  21. bohemian says:

    I only go to HD if I need something like a packet of screws and the nearby hardware store is already closed. The place is always deserted of employees, you have to chase someone down and beg them for help. We tried to buy a generator and they literally wouldn’t sell us one. It was too much bother to go look for one in the back and they wouldn’t sell us the floor model.
    Lowes isn’t much better. They got rid of the helpful floor walkers months after they opened. They have also had issues with some very odd employees. Though they seem to get rid of them soon after.

  22. Anonymous says:

    I went to Home Depot a few weeks ago and within five minutes 3 customer reps had spoken to me to help me find what I was looking for. I walked out the store very impressed (I’d almost gone to Lowe’s) I had to call my mom and best friend to tell them how interesting it was that folks actually were trying to help. Even for the smallest of items (i needed bug spray).

  23. Anonymous says:

    The HDs in Albany Oregon and Corvallis Oregon have also displayed this dramatic change in operations. I too was a bit taken back by it, as I’ve learned over the years how to fend for myself in the Labyrinth. And then at checkout, it was a breeze with more checkers than customers, I didn’t even have to use the self-checkout aisle!

  24. Schlarg says:

    This just happened to me in Chicago today too. I was approached no less than 4 times today while getting painting supplies.

    Glad to see the change.

  25. jenjen says:

    I think it’s pathetic that the OP’s first reaction to service was suspicion. Not pathetic for the OP, pathetic for all of us and the state of customer service. It’s a good thing we don’t make stuff like steel anymore because if American put the same crappy work ethic into that as we do in this so-called service economy, we’d be in big trouble.

  26. jenjen says:

    AmericanS, I mean. Also crappy spellers! :)

  27. balthisar says:

    Interestingly, I’ve had both good and bad experiences in the same Home Depots. It depends on how crowded the stores are. In these economic times, there are bound to be fewer customers, meaning increased attention to customer service.

    In the past, any time I’ve been able to find an employee, the service has always been exemplary. Really. No complaints at all. The complaint would be, there are too many ignorant customers in the store needing help (like me, when I need help).

    The only real difference I see is this: in some of the Home Depots I go to around here, instead of a store employee greeting you at the entrance, there’s a security guard (and yet, no one at the exit).

  28. MonkeyButt says:

    The same thing happened to us today. I went to my local Home Depot to get a drill bit and I was surprised to have someone to come up and ask me if I needed help. Normally we have to search for someone to help us. I came back that afternoon and the same thing happened, an employee was on her way somewhere and asked us if we needed help. Bizarre, but nice.

  29. savdavid says:

    Good service from Home Depot? It will never last. How do I know? Well…..they used to have good service then they fired all the experienced, good ones to hire low-wage teenagers who ignored us. Just because the economy is bad and they are afraid (for once) of losing business they decide to have pep rallies and seminars. When the economy turns around expect the same rotten service with a frown.

  30. CompyPaq says:

    I might get yelled at for saying it here, but one place that I always get good service (Being greeted at the door, employees asking if I need help and then doing what it takes to help me) is Best Buy. They have never tried to upsell me on anything, they just seem to want to help. Every time I walk in, it is actually such a pleasent experience that I want to go back.

    I applaud Home Depot and Best Buy for their efforts and wish other stores would follow their lead.

  31. caknuck says:

    This is weird. I too had a strangely positive customer service experience to Home Depot today.

    My wife and I had been saving up some money to get a swing set for our 3-year old. We priced out basic wood beam DIY models at Home Depot and Lowes, eventually deciding on a small kit with two swings and a slide. We had originally priced it out at $270 (+ tax) for the kit, lumber and slide.

    Today we went to make the purchase, and balked when it rang up at nearly $100 more. It turns out that there were two kits from the same model series “Pine Bluff” but with different model numbers. One was $119 for just the swing set and the other was $199 for the swing set and slide apparatus.

    I ran back to the shelves, figured out the problem — It turns out that the kit boxes were shelved in the wrong spaces, so that the $119 kit was under the $199 sticker and vice versa — and then headed back to the register to explain the mistake. Without hesitating, the guy who pulled the slide off the shelf for us offered a $50 discount, which we quickly accepted. (We had an eager toddler who was riding a cart full of 4×4’s, so we probably would have paid the correct full retail anyway.)

    After we checked out, the cashier ID’ed himself as an assistant manager and made a special effort to bring the customer service survey link on our receipt to our attention.

    To paraphrase Ted Theodore Logan, “Strange things are afoot at the Home Depot.”

  32. wagnerism says:

    My wife went to Home Depot yesterday to get some stuff for her garden. She asked if I needed anything and I needed some “thread locker”. My first guess is that it would be near the nuts/bolts/screws.

    First guy, in nuts/bolts/screws sends her to the tools section. Non-english speaking tool there didn’t understand anything she was asking. She ditched him and wandered around until she found someone that spoke english. That stuff was in the paint section, of all places.

    In all, it took her about a half hour to find this one item. Unemployment is high. How about we make fluent english a requirement? Other languages, especially spanish, is definitely a plus.

    Here I was hoping that the silver lining to the unemployment situation would be the meeting of basic requirements by the people doing the jobs. Another hope was people that were thankful for their jobs and made some effort to do well.

  33. waza0 says:

    wow, i just jump off my chair

  34. oneliketadow says:

    At Home Depot today in Fort Collins, Colorado (the South store), same exact thing. They had a guy by the door, people all over asking everyone if the needed help, and an employee helped me load retaining wall blocks.

    I guess there was a company-wide focus on customer service going on?

  35. gnoswal says:

    Noticed this myself when I walked into the Neshaminy store in Bensalem PA. Everywhere I walked, orange smocks saying hello and asking if I needed help…kinda spooky.

  36. jag164 says:

    I hit the Home Depot on saturday. I was heading to the mulch area when a guy ask me if I’m finding everything okay. I said, “The mulch is over there, right?” He said yep, followed me over and asked me how many bags then started loading them on my cart.
    I always get a smile and good service at my local home depot.

    I always preferred Lowes until one day a few years ago I hunted down a worker to ask where the night lights were. He said “don’t waste my time with that stuff, go to home depot for stuff like that.” So I did and haven’t been back to Lowes since.

  37. _catlike_ says:

    I’m glad mostly everyone else in the world is having a great HD experience, but frankly, I’m fed up with Home Depot now. There are “employees” in non-Home Depot garb casing the aisles and bugging customers about whatever “deal” they have to offer for the homeowner. I’ve been completing a DIY kitchen renovation and had to run out for things every couple of days and am damn sick of being stalked and asked (sometimes more than once by the same “employee”) how I am doing and how they can tell about some renovation deal or another. I’m not sure if this is something they’ve just been doing in Atlanta, but it’s gotten ridiculous.The kiosks at the front of the store or outside the door are fine, but please do not bug me while I’m trying to make a decision. I’m not a confrontational person–I try to mind my own business and get what I came for, but damn, when I”m trying to concentrate on a paint scheme, stay the hell away from me and let me do my thinking. I want to hurl the closest sharp object at the next individual that comes up and bugs me.

    • HDC989 says:

      @_catlike_: This isn’t just a Atlanta thing, all Home Depots have them, their sole purpose is to get customers to sign up for free quotes on stuff in the hopes you’ll buy.

  38. u1itn0w2day says:

    I noticed more help along with higher prices at my local Home Depot .

  39. jumpo64 says:

    I don’t know. I usually find that employees of Home Depot or Lowes truly are helpful. However, sometimes I end up dealing with an employee who feels he knows everything about a given subject. Because I’m a male in my early 20’s who doesn’t enter the store wearing overalls, they usually assume I’m a complete moron. This usually pisses me off, and causes me to avoid people who work there like the plague.

  40. kathyl says:

    Actually, the HD stores near me (Denver suburbs) have made this change recently, too. I’ve gone in there a few times (we just bought a new house that needs some work) and I’ve found pretty helpful employees each of those times.

    I still prefer Lowe’s or local hardware stores, though, because they tend to have more selection. HD seems to make money buying few items in bulk and increasing their profit margin that way, but the other stores seem to be catering more to people who want more choices and might not mind paying a dollar or two more.

  41. Barney_The Plug_ Frank says:

    Not to be somewhat off topic, but I had a similar experience two days ago, at BestBuy. I was in the DVD section when an employee, “Roy,” came over as asked if he could be of any help. I replied that I was just browsing but appreciated him coming over and checking on me. He then said that he was going to hang in the area in case I needed him.

    Very friendly guy and represented BestBuy well. I think this slow economy is putting all customer-based business on notice, that the customer can no longer be taken for granted!

  42. Andrew Makk says:

    I’ve actually noticed this a fair while back.

    After going to a Home Depot in Fremont and San Luis Obispo CA I was greeted by a pair of people at the door, and asked if I needed any help finding anything, I politely declined as I had a pretty good idea of where things were.

    When I needed an employee to cut wire I was able to find one in a minute and he cut me the wire, gave me a little extra because the end of the roll had some frayed bits and then walked me to where I could buy a momentary switch.

    This all took place about a month ago and I was very pleasantly surprised, my past experiences haven’t been bad but it had always been rather difficult to get help in locating things.

    And the project was to install a Semi Air Horn on my Ford Taurus, take that all you damn pickups.

  43. AustinTXProgrammer says:

    The Home Depot near my house opened in May, and the service rocks. It is as the OP described, and it has been every time I’ve been in.

  44. Marshfield says:

    I’ve been noticing this at my local HD also in the past month or so and was thinking that it had to do with a downturn in business = less for the employees to do. But perhaps they really ARE trying to be more customer focussed?

    I was looking for some lock graphite and a fellow noticed there was none out, so he went up and got some back stock for me. Only a $2.00 item, too. Nice.

  45. Chris Bream says:

    Depending on what Home Depot you goto depends on the service. Just a reminder don’t let one store decide how you feel about all home depots. but then again if you wanna criticize a multi million dollar organsization that is succesful in such economic times while your cashing your unemployment check then thats fine.

  46. SaritaPacilus says:

    Much of the product in Home Depots is set up and maintained by vendors working for manufacturers.

    I was a vendor working in Home Depots for eighteen months. In every store in New England I “owned” 6 to 8 of their shelving bays. I worked like a dog and sold lots of products.

    The store personnel were difficult insular thugs and treated me like dirt, and couldn’t give a damn about the product or how it was maintained. They’d say about anything to sell product to the customers, if the customer could get their attention. I got the same service there as a customer.

    That boorish attitude, of “‘We’re right and you’re wrong” was laid down by it’s first CEO Bernie Marcus who quit as the firm was declining due to crappy customer service. This crappy service was continued by the next CEO Bob Nardelli who left with a $200 million golden.

    The new CEO Frank Blake has apparently looked at Lowe Home Centers and realized that customer service matters.

  47. Spencer Gardner says:

    Home Depot stopped paying higher wages for the older, retired trades-people that knew what they were talking about. Now, typically the employees are just 18-23 kids who watch videos to get training. I worked there for a year and a half and the only reason I knew the electrical dept was because I would get yelled at by old timers that I couldn’t help. Now I’m a wiz.

  48. phatch says:

    I hope Lowe’s sent a big thank you letter to Mr. Nardelli for sending all those customer their way. I’m one of them and don’t intend to go back to HD no matter what they do at this point.

  49. OULAXER11 says:

    I call fluke – the Home Depot across the street is total crap – the only redeeming factor is the Depot Dog Girl(s)

  50. oddjob60 says:

    I had a similar “huh? what’s going on here” reaction when I went to the Home Depot in Mansfield, MA a couple of weeks ago: lots of friendly and HELPFUL salespeople. I wondered if HD’s bosses figured out that good customer service is really important in getting customers to return, so they’ve started some kind of new training and/or incentive program.

  51. chrisexv6 says:

    Is it me or does this happen once a year?

    Its like HD wakes up and says “today we’ll provide customer service”, once a year. You walk in and get all sorts of people asking to help, what are you looking for, etc (in fact it just happened to me yesterday).

    Then, just about as fast as it showed up, this new customer service just disappears and you are back to finding stuff on your own.

  52. RStui says:

    The best time to shop Home Depot is on a Saturday. My friend that works there has confirmed that every Sat. at her store is “Customer Service” and no one can do anything else, evidently, than wander the floor and look for people to help.

    Normally, I would say they should do this every day, but she is a Dept. Manager, and they have a lot on their plates, so to take an entire shift and not do any reports, ordering, or dept maintenance is a pretty big deal.

    I recently shopped at Home Depot, at a different store than hers, and got Excellent Service from Several Employees in various departments. They were wonderful, and I saved about $1200 on arou $4k in purchases. On a Saturday.

  53. camman68 says:

    The same thing happened to me yesterday at WalMart in Pueblo,CO.

    I initially stopped by to get some windshield washer fluid and ammo. I noticed the backpacks so I decided to look for a sleeve for a Dell Mini. A very friendly lady must have seen me looking around and asked if she could help.

    The store was PACKED and the “associate” already had a couple items in her hand so she may have already been helping someone else.

    We almost fell over! I don’t remember ever being helped in WalMart – Especially by someone who appeared to actually want to help.

  54. Snarkysnake says:

    I have been doing a house restoration over the last year. I have been (back) to HD a LOT in that time.I can say that ,while still not where it was in their earlier days,customer service has improved.

    This represents,dear consumers, a win,a victory,a triumph over the ethos that this company had adopted under the now departed (and disgraced) CEO,Robert Nardelli.

    It took a near death experience for this company to stop kissing that losers ass long enough to realize that their business was falling apart and customers were shopping elsewhere.A brief history lesson : Nardelli is the overpaid hired gun that HD brought in late in 2000 to take over for the founders. Disaster ensued. Nardelli fired or ran off all of the employees that knew their ass from a hole in the ground and cut the pay and benefits of the ones that remained while helping himself to over $600 million dollars in total compensation. Morale at HD crashed like the Hindenburg and a trip to HD became a grudge match between asshole employees and frustrated customers.

    Fast forward to 2007.Even the Board of directors at HD woke up long enough to realize that Nardelli had ruined things and he was sent packing (to Chrysler,where he has been a rousing success-the company is currently not producing any new cars)and HD feels more like a place that actually gives a shit whether you shop there or not.

    Savor this moment. Let it linger. You beat Wall Street. Home Depot HAD to get better to stay in business.

    Now, on to Best Buy !

  55. luckybob343 says:

    The Home Depot near my house in the suburbs of Philadelphia recently got a customer service overhaul. I first noticed it on President’s Day weekend and thought it was tied to that, but subsequent visits have turned out the same.

    - Seemingly one employee per aisle
    - Lots of registers open
    - The workers are genuinely helpful. If they don’t know something, they’ll find someone who does.
    - Popcorn for the kiddies (is this my store only?)

    Given that this is all taking place relatively early in the fiscal year, it could be a renewed effort to win back any customers that they’ve lost to make for a better fiscal year. Or it could be a last-ditch effort to stave off a bankruptcy filing. When’s their next quarterly filing?

  56. runchadrun says:

    I’ve always hated, hated, HATED, the Van Nuys store. (I assume he’s talking about the one next to Van Nuys Airport.) There have been times when I’ve been there and only 2 of the 15+ checkstands were open. Things have gotten better since they opened the self checkouts, though. There are never any carts and forget about returning something because the line often goes out the door.

    The only reason I go there anymore is to get filters for my water filter system since HD is the only place I can find them. Otherwise I go to Lowes in Northridge or OSH if I just need a few small things. There’s also a new Lowes being built in San Fernando just off the 118 at Glenoaks and I suspect I’ll be doing a lot of shopping there once it opens.

  57. Big Poppa Pimp says:

    This is very true- it is sad that we have been conditioned to expect so little. I have noticed a new attitude at all of the Home Depots in my area- it’s a welcome improvement. My fear is that in this economy most stores will be cutting back on employees, and by extension, customer service.

  58. lintacious says:

    I actually had a very similar experience this weekend. The employee who was helping me informed me right away that no Home Depot’s carry the item I was looking for and then proceeded to give me complete directions to a local store that does carry the item.

    I was amazed that he directed me to a completely different store!

  59. Jason Bordelon says:

    Same story in New Orleans. I was greeted at the door and offered a buggy. I declined, and they asked what I was looking for and pointed me to the correct aisle.

    Great service!

  60. startertan says:

    Bah! Too little too late. I used to be a HD guy but it’s been downhill so I’m a Lowe’s man. Although there new LOWEST commercials are kinda lame.

  61. Anonymous says:

    Funny, I noticed the same thing at my Home Depot starting about a year back. Customer service was always poor at that place for years and years, and then all of a sudden, it was getting pretty good! Helpful employees!

  62. ooolam says:

    The Home Depot that I go to is usually very friendly and helpful. And it happened to me at least twice that the greeter at the entrance had handed me a 10% off coupon. So, I don’t usually turn them away. And quite a few times I saw a representative from Scotts in their garden shop helping customers. This guy always has some coupons for Scotts products to give away if you chat with him. That’s why I usually go to HD instead of the Lowes couple miles down the road.

  63. Tom_Servo says:

    Home Depot in my area (Northwest IN) has always had excellent service and knowledgeable staff, yet I refuse to shop there.

    Every Home Depot here has automated checkout which is great and convenient, in theory, yet they never, ever work. Never , ever, so you end up waiting for the one ‘attendant’ that is helping people with the six ‘automated’ check out machines.

    So I go to Lowes, not as good in my opinion, but hey, they have real cashiers that are seldom broken.

  64. ezmobee says:

    Our Lowe’s has a greeter in a wheelchair who is awesome. He knows where everything is and I usually hit him up for some info when I go in and he saves me tons of time. Home Depot then also got a friendly wheelchair guy greeter. I went in and asked him where something was. He responded something basically like “derrrrrr”. HD needs to realize you don’t go full handicap with your greeters.

  65. Dansc29625 says:

    I have never not been able to find someone to help at either Lowes or Home Depot. The thing that buggs me is when you ask where something is, and they say go talk to that guy over there. When you get over to him he is chatting with another associate about whatever. How about saying hey bob, I have a customer that needs X, can you assist him please. Too much pointing not enough retrieving.

  66. infinitemonkeys says:

    After a layoff, I joined HD garden department since it’s one of the few part-time jobs that provides healthcare and allows me to make my real money consulting. So, as a HD employee, I can tell you that this behavior is a real mandate and has been in effect since I was hired last March. Since the change in top level management, they have been trying very hard to make sure customers are the first priority. That means greet and offer to help every customer you pass by. We were told the best thing that could happen would be for a customer to complain that too many people were offering to help.
    More recently, they also started implementing ‘power hours’ which are 10-5 weekdays and all day on weekends. During these hours, there will be a greeter, no packdown or facing shelves, no stocking, no nothing except helping customers.

    How effectively and seriously all HD have taken this, I don’t know. I do know our store has been visited several times by senior management and passed the test of customer service well.

  67. vladthepaler says:

    Honestly, I’ve always gotten good service at Home Depot. If I ask an employee where to find something, he walks me there and helps me find the item, and offers advice to help me make the best choice. They also cut wood to size for free, despite a sign saying there’s a charge after the first cut. Maybe this varies by store? I go to the one on North Avenue in Chicago. Other than receipt-checking, no complaints about that store.

  68. SicBoy34 says:

    This post made me feel the need to register to share my 2 cents. I’ve been going to a couple of Home Depots for many years, one is a newer location on Clinton and Roosevelt in Chicago near my place, and the other location is on Cicero Ave in Bedford Park, IL near my parents’. Every time I’ve gone and actually needed customer service, they have been absolutely outstanding.

    One of my two examples- I was trying to replace a shower head a few months ago and accidentally snapped the pipe that led up from the tub that actually feeds the water into the shower head. I stopped into the Roosevelt/Clinton location and a store manager actually approached me once I reached the tubs/showers section, asking if I needed anything. I explained my situation and he immediately what I needed. Just as I had thought, they only sold these shower tubes/pipes in kits. Also, they only had ONE kit left. The manager asked me if the pipe was the only thing I needed, and I said yes. He proceeded to open the box, search for the one I needed, handed it to me and said “Good luck”. He walked me to the exit just in case someone thought I was trying to steal something. I was floored. I shook his hand and thanked him.

    Another example, which actually happened just last night- if anyone is in the Chicago-area, you’re aware there was a ton of flooding yesterday. My mom’s house is near Midway Airport and her basement flooded for the first time in 15 years. Once we had the water down to a manageable level, we realized that one of the reasons this happened is because there was a ton of blockage in her basin. I ran to the Bedford Park Home Depot and went to the plumbing section. As always, there was a worker ready to assist. Up until yesterday, I had no clue what a basin scoop was. I explained to the worker what had happened and what we were trying to do. He led me right to what I needed, grabbed it and started explaining to me in detail how he makes his own, and how I should as well to save the money. Again, I was astounded. There was a worker who was giving me tips on how to DIY it so I didn’t have to purchase something from his store. I listened to the tutorial for future reference, but since I needed this immediately, I just bought it.

    I do a lot of shopping, finding myself in many situations where I need customer service, and I also work in customer service for a software company. I can easily say that Home Depot consistently has hands down the best customer service I’ve ever experienced, with extremely knowledgeable and helpful employees. Kudos to them.

  69. Anonymous says:

    WOW. I was at my Home Depot In Orange County, CA a few weeks ago and the EXACT same thing happened. Guy greeted me at the front, I told him i needed a light bulb and he told me isle 4. So on my way to isle 4 I walk past another employee and I overhear on his radio the guy at the door telling him “The gentleman in the black shirt needs a replacement light bulb”. So this guy says you need a bulb, and walks me to the light bulb isle. I was shocked, never have I seen such great service at HD. I will probably be back.

  70. cinnarose says:

    Great NPH riding a unicorn, isn’t this how things are *supposed to be*? The one time, and this was probably 5 years ago, I was in there, I got what is probably great service. I went in looking for wooden lathe strips for winterizing my back porch (there’s only screens, no windows, so I was putting up some plastic so the snow doesn’t blow inside). The guy said they didn’t sell them, but they had small, thin pieces of wood placed between the larger pieces of lumber, and they gave them to me for free. I don’t shop there often, I rather go to a local chain hardware store, but that was a good experience.

  71. hlehmann says:

    I’ve been a customer of the same Van Nuys store for the past 20 years. At first the service was excellent, shelves were neatly stocked, everything was easy to find. Over the years, however, they started slipping to the point where it was almost impossible to find anyone to help with a question, let alone anyone who knows what they’re talking about. I need some light bulbs & furnace filters; think I’ll stop there on the way home tonight & see if things have really turned around.

  72. hlehmann says:

    Now if they would just hire enough checkout clerks, instead of pushing everyone to use those infuriating self-checkout lines.

  73. sybann says:

    I had been boycotting HD due to their unwillingness to sell me three major appliances over the phone when I was relocating (they wanted me to drive over 2 hours round trip to hand over my credit card while I was up to my eyeballs in cardboard). But I have to say, their CS has definately undergone some improvements. Sometimes Lowes just doesn’t have what I am looking for – and trust, their peeps can be just as condescending to a female do-it-yourselfer as any wannabe handyman at HD!

  74. trujunglist says:

    @rpm

    I’m with you on the whole “leave me the fuck alone I’ll find it myself” vibe, but Home Depot should be in its own category when it comes to help and finding shit. That store is absolutely impossible to navigate. I always need something small, like furniture dowels, or marker flags, and I end up wandering around for 15 minutes before I finally give up and ask someone. More often then not, they will likely ignore me as they talk to co-workers. After a few minutes, they might point me to some other area of the store. I get to that area and wow, I still can’t find what I’m looking for. No employee in that area. Walk around for another 15 minutes. No employees anywhere! Half of the time I end up leaving without getting what I needed because I couldn’t get anyone to help me find it.

  75. gramzon says:

    The past couple trips to Home Depot have included some very fine customer service. We had questions, the associates answered them correctly and oh-so nicely.

  76. JoshReflek says:

    When not excessively busy or empty, i have consistantly experienced attentive staff that was either knowledgeable or had a can-do attitude.

    i have yet to be asked for a receipt when leaving.

    so overall HD gets a ‘would recommend’ to others status.

  77. ckilgore says:

    I have to say that the Home Depot near me (Mattoon, IL) is full of the nicest, most helpful employees ever. I am always saddened to read the HD horror stories on consumerist. It just makes me sad for people that have to experience that crap.

  78. starrion says:

    Nope. I got excellent service from the two home depots I visited for my current project. Good answers to questions, help from customer service and I got a big price match. The people in South Nashua went above and beyond.

    Result:
    $1100 in materials from HD
    $325 from Lowe’s. (They had better tile)

    The Lowe’s employees in Amherst NH were real spotty.
    Pick up orders gone missing and some guys that really didn’t have it together.

  79. u1itn0w2day says:

    Something to think about [instigatorblog.com] . Muat admit though I have noticed increased staffing on nights and weekends .

  80. fwdmd says:

    My home depot is also improving customer service, and we also have instituted better product knowledge training.

    I like that, I had transferable knowledge, but needed the specifics on product line, areas I didn’t actually know in my department, and to be confident – I am advising the right way, so the customer can do their project well. And – I know the department to call if I don’t know or the question really belongs to them.

    Transition is never totally smooth, but noticing that customers like it and really respond, they’re the main, and sometimes almost the only – reason I enjoy my job. I feel more supported that I can put that first with much support for it.