Lazy Home Depot Employees Declare Fully Functioning Saw Inoperative

Home Deport employees didn’t feel like using the saw, so they hung a sign that claimed: “saw not working.” This offended marketing guru Seth Godin:

When I noticed this sign on the big saw, I took a picture, intending to write about how important it was to have key customer service feat ures up and running. Then, a few minutes later, a guy in an orange smock walked over, took the sign down and asked what he could cut for us.

It turns out (at this Home Depot, anyway), that whenever they don’t feel like using the saw, they pretend it’s broken. (Yes, technically, they didn’t say ‘broken,’ they said ‘not working,’ which is sort of true. Except it was the saw operator who wasn’t working.)

Oh, Home Depot. Really, what were you possibly thinking?

Lying to your customers [Seth Godin’s Blog]


Edit Your Comment

  1. Shadowfire says:

    Maybe it’s also there so morons don’t try to mess with it, and cut their own hands off..?

  2. GTB says:

    for further surprising information, see “The shake machine is broken” and “The printers are down.”

  3. Yankees368 says:

    at least whoever wrote that has good handwriting lol

  4. Swirly says:

    You would be surprised at how often this happens at different stores. Whether it is a saw or a lottery machine. You would also be pleased to know that some stores may claim to be “out of stock” when they really are not (not all the time, but a few select stores).

  5. timmus says:

    Well technically the saw was not working. It was turned off.

  6. balthisar says:

    @Shadowfire: they have a secret code to turn them on. There’s a keypad for activation.

  7. SodeDogg says:

    Saw-er not working, perhaps?

    Home Depot can’t drop the $2.50 for one of those “Back at” signs with the little adjustable clock? I know the housing market is down, but wow.

  8. mikeluisortega says:

    Yeah the good handwriting is a dead giveaway that it was a chick that put the sign up, she might as well of said “Not now, I have a headache”

  9. laddibugg says:

    Do they have enough staff? I’d rather see that sign then having to try to track someone down, which is always the case at Home Depot. Then again, maybe they should hang a sign on the door that says “Employees not working”.

  10. spinachdip says:

    @SodeDogg: Shit, don’t they sell those “back in 20 minutes” signs at Home Depot?

    Though I do have to agree, the handwriting is really nice. It’s good to see they don’t do everything half assed.

  11. ColoradoShark says:

    @SodeDogg: Pedantic warning: Saw-er is “Sawyer”.

  12. bmwloco says:

    Home Depots are a mixed lot. Some are good, some look like they’re pretty skank.

    Go to Lowes instead. Cleaner, better educated sales help and a good company.

  13. bigoldgeek says:

    Strange, my Home Depot’s saw never seems to be working. Hmmmm…

    Of course once they built a Lowe’s nearby, I dumped Home Depot’s no-can-do attitude and I now buy all my stuff at the Blue store instead of the Orange one.

  14. karmaghost says:

    Does Seth live in a college town? It’s move-in time for a lot of colleges and universities and I can imagine Home Depot employees may be sick of cutting beer pong tables.

  15. ptkdude says:

    I have to say this doesn’t surprise me about The Home Depot, considering they didn’t even bother to program their “ring yourself up” cash registers to say “thank you”.

  16. muddgirl says:

    I’ve seen this happen at Lowe’s stores, too (“saw’s broke, we’re getting a part for it tomorrow”). And for the record, yes we DID want them to cut us some plywood for a beer pong table. So?

  17. Televiper says:

    This seems more like a question of semantics and the dull inappropriate humor of who ever wrote the sign. The rest is all speculation from the original poster. It may have been that the employees trained to use the saw were occupied, or unavailable, and they didn’t want customers, or other CSR’s hunting the store for them.

    This really comes down to one of those card board clock signs that say “back at…” would have been much better.

    Also.. it’s probably a surprising amount of hassle and process to pull items from inventory for use within the store.

  18. Edmund_Burke says:

    See also: No working bathroom in this facility.

  19. salviati says:

    This must be my local Home Depot. I have gone to the saw machine several times and seen that sign up, but asked an associate to make a cut anyways. Some of them say the machine is down, while others simply ignore the sign and make the cut. Keep in mind, these requests are within minutes of each other, and it has happened several times to me.

  20. chili_dog says:

    Lowes is great. Except when you need help at 6PM on Sunday. All 3 employees are off gossiping about how Sam and Mary are hooking up now.

  21. Bourque77 says:

    @Televiper: Then they can take the saw out of the damn store. If they cant be bothered to use it (for whatever reason) dont have it there. I dont care why they put it there, it doesnt take a genius to operate the saw.

  22. mammalpants says:

    thats why lowes is always across the street! now it makes sense!


    As someone who used to work in retail and now works in manufacturing (I’m a CNC Machinist, and a former Cashier Monkey), I’m going to have to play Devil’s Advocate here.
    There are several legitimate reasons that you could have a “not working” sign up and then have a salesperson walk up and start using it.

    The simplest reason could be that there IS something wrong with the saw but the salesperson didn’t know or didn’t care about it.
    The blade may be dull or there could be problems with the motor or electrical supply. These can be potentially dangerous, even deadly situations.

    For all we know this guy could have had his rear end chewed out by his manager a few minutes later.

    Conversely the guy could be the only one currently in the store trained or authorized in using the saw at that time.
    Even if the “training” is just somebody telling an employee the safety rules and where the on/off switch and emergency stop are, you don’t want the pothead shelf stocker running it. Insurance and safety rules alone may forbid it, not to mention genuine concern for employee and customer wellbeing.

    All that being said, the former retail worker in me also says that most likely the guy was tired of sawing stuff all day and just got back from taking an unauthorized smoke break.

  24. MyCokesBiggerThanYours says:

    Is it possible that the saw was not working so they put up a sign; Fixed the saw and then took the sign down? Often what we imagine to be the truth is far from it.

  25. jburland says:

    Mechanical equipment frequently depends on a qualified operator to make it functional.
    Let’s say the operator’s on his/her break, a newbie uses it, is injured.
    Yeah, right. You can imagine the rest

    “Home Depot mutilates employee….”

    No, not a genius, but someone who knows what they’re doing.

  26. vrtclsmile says:

    and don’t forget: the person who destroyed customer service at Home Depot, “Big Bob” Nardelli, just landed as CEO at Chrysler…..

  27. Musician78 says:

    See also: “I’m having my period”.

  28. vanilla-fro says:

    They also let the tags on their trailors expire often enough that we had to go to three home depots and still not be able to rent the machine we needed. They did give us a better machine for the price of the one we wanted though.

    Honestly how do they let at least three trailors’ tags expire in one county.

  29. dayjayvw says:

    same thing last night in Salem NH home depot, father in law and I are looking for a particular size lagbolt and spot an employee (60 yearold retiree type) and ask him where we could find this particular bolt (keep in mind where at the end of the aisle where the bolts are), he acts like he didn’t hear us even though he looks right at us and then at the bolt and keeps walking. My father in law then says out loud, “can you tell us where we can find some of these lag bolts”, and he points toward the aisle we’re in and walks away.

    lazy bastard

  30. DeeJayQueue says:

    I’m with HydraulicMonster here. It surely doesn’t take a genius to run a big radial arm saw but it DOES take someone trained and certified within the company. If that person was relegated to a different department due to personnel shortages or was on break or something, then I can almost understand them putting a sign on the saw so people wouldn’t be interested in needing anything cut. I said Almost. It’s nevertheless sneaky to put a sign up saying it’s broken when it’s not. However, one of those “will be back at” signs would encourage people to line up or stick around close to the time the sign says, and it may not be possible to get there in time if the employee is still covering another department or is tied up with a customer.

  31. Mary says:

    It doesn’t take a genius to run a saw?

    No, but it takes someone with at least a little skill to run it PROPERLY.

    If somebody not trained on it used it, this article would be “Home Depot cuts my plywood to the wrong size, refuses to let me return customer cut lumber” or some such.

    Not everybody measures twice and cuts once. Not everybody lines things up to get a straight cut.

    I’d prefer somebody with a base amount of skill cut my lumber.

    I still agree that a “back in x minutes” sign would be better.

  32. elf6c says:

    This customer service revolution coming to your Chrysler dealer soon.

  33. Snarkysnake says:

    Home Depot: Wal Mart with dumber,lazier workers.

    Closed circuit to HD shareholders (owners) :That assclown that you just fired (Nardelli) cost you your company.You don’t know it yet,but you’re slowly going out of business just as surely as the big bad wolf had a thing for pork.All of the ass kissing ,nodding sycophants that he hired are running things there now and the “service” couldn’t be worse (see above story and picture).I am happy to see you taking it in the shorts because you ever let that greedy bastard in the door,much less kept him in charge for 6 years.He took your $600 million,you got employees that ignore the paying customers. He doesn’t look like such a bargain now,does he ?

    Closed circuit to HD employees : We know you don’t give a purple shit about us. We’ve come to terms with it (mainly by shopping your competition). For example,I am tired of waiting at the self checkout because your people won’t lower themselves to actually ring up my merchandise. Right here is where you usually read “Of course,not all HD employees are slackers” etc…Not here . Not from me. Let your manager sugarcoat your shortcomings. Until you show a little respect for the customer and a smidgen of get up and go,I hope you lie awake at night in your trailer park worrying about your job security .

  34. NTidd says:

    In regards to the handwriting, all of their signs look like that at the locations I’ve been to, that may be printed from a computer.

  35. thepounder says:

    I could agree with a “Please ask an Associate for Assistance” sign, seeing as they’d rather not have customers using large power tools in-store and possibly injuring themselves… but this sign’s just silly, especially considering an employee walked up, took down the sign, and asked if he could help out.
    Actually, any Ho Depot employee asking if I needed some help would be nice on occasion — I seldom need assistance, but if I do, there’s usually nobody to be found.
    I confess that I have a full-size pickup and nearly as many power tools at home as Norm Abram, but it would definitely get me steamed for them to put up a sign that’s a blatant lie whether I need the use of the saw or not. Why must people be so sheisty that they couldn’t bother to put up a truthful sign, seeing as they wrote a sign anyway? People amaze me sometimes.

  36. Elvisisdead says:

    @wftm: See also “the blender is broken” at any bar. When I bartended, the blender was broken every weekend from about 4 on Friday to Sunday afternoon.

  37. vladthepaler says:

    I went to Home Depot twice last weekend, on two different days. Both times I saw a sign that said the restrooms were closed for 1 hour.

  38. axiomatic says:

    “My wallets not working today, so I’ll just take that Makita cordless drill home for a sleepover, mmmmkay?”

  39. Back in my Retail Years, I worked a drug store that had a customized
    greeting card kiosk. If it ran out of ink or paper, the other employees
    would put an “Out of Order” sign on it instead of refiling the machine,
    because they insisted that the manager and I were the only ones who
    know how to refill it.

    Of course, if you actually opened the machine and looked,
    the first thing you would see are the instructions for reloading the
    paper and pens (the machine actually used pens to draw greeting cards) Once the machine was “out of order” for two whole days, because the manager and I didn’t work weekends.

    Honestly, there’s still a lot of “Not-My-Department Syndrome” in
    retail. The companies want every employee in a store “cross-trained” to
    work every job, but that goes usually out the window when management
    isn’t around. That Home Depot may have been full of cashiers who knew
    how to use the saw, but didn’t want to leave the cash register for five

  40. Chicago7 says:

    Hahahaha! You have to have store personnel to use that saw? I just walked in and used it myself.

    I don’t think you need store personnel to use it.

  41. tooshel says:

    That’s funny because I was at the Home Depot yesterday and had to buy two 2×4 sheets of 1/2 birch because the saw was supposedly broken. I asked if they had any 4×4 sheets and the guy there said no and pointed out that the saw was broken. This was in Gilbert, AZ on the US 60 and Arizona Ave. Now I doubt it was broken. Shoulda went to Lowes. The other nice thing about Lowes is the lumber carts are right there next to the lumber. At Home Depot you have to go chase a cart down in the parking lot.

  42. FormerEA says:

    When I worked at an ice cream shop, the blender has to be turned off to “cool down” 30 minutes prior to closing. Amazingly, many people never questioned me when I fed this line. I’d feel guilty but, but eh, I was in high school and wanted to clean up and get home before 11. They didn’t need the calories, anyway. I’m fairly sympathetic to these things — yes, it’s lazy of employees, but when you’re paying someone minimum wage, it’s hard to expect people to honestly care enough to never cut corners. (And I agree; if this saw is something that people can operate themselves, I think putting up the sign may have been a lazy man’s way of saying “ASK AN ASSOCIATE! Don’t cut your damn finger off!” Which is lazy, but I can appreciate the reasons behind it.)

    My laundromat often has “OUT OF ORDER” signs up on multiple machines, but if there’s nothing else available, the attendant will take down a sign for you and let you use one of the perfectly fine “not working” machines. I guess she reserves these for herself to do the drop-off loads and finds it gets a better response than “reserved”?

  43. FromThisSoil says:


    I worked at Home Depot 7 years ago, of course you need an employee to cut lumber for you – that’s a lawsuit waiting to happen! But you don’t need just ANY old Home Depot employee to do it for you. They need to have training on the saw before they can use it. This pretty much limits it to people who work in Lumber, Building Materials and managers.

    The saw is locked, usually by a 3 or 4 digit code (they use very obvious codes, anyone can crack it).

    The reason why Out Of Order signs are often on customer service related tools (i.e. Saws and key machines) is because there isn’t an employee around that knows how to do it, or because they’re busy doing something else (like down-stocking).

    If your manager gives you a task to do in say – the lumber department to pull down some sheets of plywood, if there’s no one around to cut wood, the customers just ask anyone to do it, they say they can’t because they aren’t trained, and they page the person in lumber. With the out of order sign there, they can concentrate on their task. Usually the out of order sign is the manager’s idea.

    I don’t think the employees are necessarily lazy, but just busy with other things. Blame Home Depot for not hiring enough people or for poor scheduling.

    I’m glad I don’t work there anymore.

  44. yellojkt says:

    @wftm: There are no McDonalds in my area that ever want to sell me a McFlurry. That damn thing is always “broken”.

  45. droidd says:

    Home Depot used to be a great store.

    At one time you would walk in and there would be employees who would ask you if you needed help.

    If you asked where something was they would WALK you to the isle where it was instead of pointing and saying it was “down that way”

    The employees knew what wood glue was. They hired people who where the screwdrivers where and what they were used for.

    You may find a few select employees who know this stuff but not many.

    I think Lowes is eating Home Depots lunch now. They are what Home Depot used to me, at least in my area. 3 Home depots within 10 miles and 1 Lowes within the same distance I will choose Lowes every time now.

  46. usaeasy77 says:

    it drives me nuts to see a HOME DEPOT or LOWEs store open up with great help and everything in stock and in its proper place, only to slowly degrade over the next 3 or 4 yrs to a condition in which everything you need is on order and the help is not very helpful or non existant.

  47. yellowhair says:

    I went to Home Depot (Old Pike Rd. K.C., MO) to purchase wood for a shelving project, made a selection, and then was told that they no longer cut wood for customers. The employee’s rationale was “It’s too much of a liability….too many customers were returning wood and saying it was cut wrong…”. I was shown to a trim wood station, given a crappy hand saw, and told by the employee, “I’ll check back on you in a little while” (he was never to be seen again). As I sweated and sawed, I fully expected to see Candid Camera come leaping out, because I could not believe I was having this experience for real! After about five minutes (and three inches into an 11 in. deep piece of particle board), and with NO employee what-so-ever within five large aisles….I walked out, and left the land of “YOU can do it, WE can’t help”. I drove one mile to my favorite little Ace Hardware Store and a nice young man cut the wood for me by hand.

    They don’t have the equipment of Home Depot, but my little Ace Hardware (Vivian Rd. K.C, MO)is definitely “The Place With The Helpful Hardware Man”!

  48. Kounji says:

    @DeeJayQueue: I work at a lowe’s in Fremont, CA often times its against policy for us to put up signs that deter business. The saw is not working is a poor tactic often used to get people to not ask for cuts when the person who can do the cutting is not there.

    On the flip side this said lowe’s that I work does not have a table saw but it has plywood cutting saw. We try to tell customers that we can not cut large planks of wood on the plywood saw as it is not designed for that and can cause rogue pieces of wood to fly out at customers. They still insist and often think we are lying to get out of it. While we might have other things we’ve been assigned to do that day, we won’t hesitate to do anything that will not cause a future lawsuit or any harm to come to children. I totally a lady you’re willing to have rogue pieces of wood hit your kids cause you don’t want to use a hand saw at home.