I had an interesting experience at Home Depot this evening — it was like the good old days again. I went to the plumbing aisle, was greeted by an employee, and he gave me prompt and accurate information on how to fix my problem. Perfect!
The problem is that this has become a rare experience. More often than not, I’ll have to walk quite a distance to find an employee, only to wait in a line that is three or four deep. It’s sad.
A few other recent Home Depot experiences:
- I was back in the lighting section, which happens to be (apparently) near the break room. Employees kept streaming by, but most would either avoid eye contact, or give me a brief “hi” and briskly walk by. The ones that I was actually able to engage with would promise to find me someone, but it never happened. It was a fun time.
- I was there on a Saturday morning, and the store was packed, as is often the case on Saturday mornings. They had about 3/4 of the checkout lines open, but each one was still really long. To take advantage of this, they parked an employee at a table behind us to pitch HD credit cards to us. WTH? Get out from behind that stupid table and work at a register! It made them look really dumb.
So why are they closing stores? Blame the economy, blah blah…no! Their customer service now sucks. It’s a sad cycle that I’ve seen happen too many times. My friends and family have heard me rant about the awful customer experience at a few stores, and they’ve all since gone under (at least ours have): Office Max, Media Play, K-Mart and Comp USA. I don’t imagine Home Depot will go out of business, but they’re sure following the same trend.
It’s caused by a vicious cycle that is hard to break:
- Things are great
- We need to raise profits even higher, so we’ll cut back on staff
- Reduced staff, so sales drop (bad customer experience)
- We need to recoup those lost sales, so let’s cut back on staff even more
- Sales drop further…
Some of them (K-Mart and Media Play in particular) were almost hilarious. I remember once in K-Mart just getting frustrated and just yelling out loud for someone. It didn’t help. Now that K-Mart is a Sears, which for some stupid reason doesn’t have an auto center. Isn’t that the point of having Sears? It’s right across the street from an awesome Target, so this Sears is dead meat already.
I’ll still continue to use Home Depot, but not as much as I used to. I’m a home-fix-it novice, and need help when I go to the store. If getting help is a big pain in the butt, I’d just as soon skip it.