Is Home Depot shafting shoppers? "Home Depot is a consistent abuser of its customers' time."

Page 1 of 3  

March 8, 2007 Is Home Depot shafting shoppers? http://articles.moneycentral.msn.com/Investing/Extra/HomeDepotShaftingShoppers.aspx?GT1 15
By cutting back on employees, the home-improvement retailer is putting the screws to the people it needs most: its customers.
By Scott Burns
Sixteen years ago, I sent my wife a love note. It went like this:
Carolyn: I've gone to Our Store. Be back soon. Love, Scott.
We called Home Depot "our store" because we spent a lot of time there back in 1990. We're house freaks. Wherever we go, we imagine living there, owning a house or a condo. We like to remodel houses. In the past 16 years we've done major work on three houses in Dallas and two houses in Santa Fe, N.M.
But I have a confession to make. I still love my wife, but we don't shop much at Home Depot anymore. Indeed, we generally try to avoid it and grieve for the loss.
We're not alone. Last month Home Depot announced a whopping 28% decline in earnings for the fourth quarter. Even more striking, same- store sales were down 6.6% from the previous year. This had never happened before, not in all 28 years of company history. Once a growth darling, "the new Wal-Mart (WMT, news, msgs)" and a stock that sold at twice the market multiple, Home Depot is now widely discussed as a potential private-equity buyout candidate because it earns 22% on shareholder equity and has lots of assets to hock. Today it sells at a below-market multiple of 14.4 and offers an above-average dividend yield of 2.2%.
Much of the recent disappointment in the stock is due to the slowdown in housing and the reassessment many are making of homes as an investment. With home resale prices flat to declining, many homeowners are reconsidering the kind of home-improvement projects that make for multiple visits and big spending.
Home Depot rival Lowe's reported an earnings drop of 12% for the fourth quarter.
Some of the less recent disappointment in Home Depot shares is due to the egregious compensation of its former CEO and his high-handed treatment of shareholders.
Consistent abuser of customers' time. ======================= But I'd like to suggest a much bigger reason that Home Depot has become a troubled and unloved company. I call it time abuse.
Home Depot is a consistent abuser of its customers' time. Let me explain.
Back in 1990, when my wife and I loved Home Depot, the stores were staffed with well-trained, knowledgeable and helpful people. If you had a question, even a silly one, it was easy to find someone who knew the answer. Home Depot had an amazing inventory. It also had a staff that helped you access that inventory and make choices.
Though it didn't have employees waiting at the door, as do high- service stores such as Elliot's in Dallas and Big Jo in Santa Fe, you could make a purchase quickly at Home Depot.
But that was then.
Today, it is difficult to find a staff person at a Home Depot. Personally, I've left the store empty-handed after a hopeless wait. During one long wait shortly before Christmas, I commented to a worker that the store was so busy they must be getting lots of overtime.
"No way," the employee said.
My wife has gotten so frustrated waiting -- while trying to buy carpeting for an entire house -- that she has taken her business elsewhere.
I know we're not alone. One of my friends started to seethe when I mentioned Home Depot. He'll buy things almost anywhere, except Home Depot. He hates having his time abused.
Add people to the payroll =============== That's what Home Depot does by short-staffing. It abuses our time. We can't get the help we need, and we can't make our purchases quickly. The result is that a once iconic, wonderfully American store has become an aggravation rather than a blessing.
Home Depot is not unique. Many supermarket chains and some of the large department stores appear to have decided that short-staffing is the way to meet their profit plans, hoping to drop more dollars to their bottom lines by stealing our time at the checkout counter or elsewhere.
My bet is that a few years from now someone will give this a clever name, like "millennial myopia" or some other phrase suitable for the Harvard Business Review. Until then, the investment bankers will be working on different ways to solve the share price problem with financial moves.
Let's hope the board of directors at HD takes the time to learn what's obvious to ordinary people who do a lot for themselves and need to make good use of their time.
The solution is to add people to the payroll rather than reducing both.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Be sure you cruise the 300 pages of comments.
You got a story to tell? This is a current ad promotion on the HD website. Good or Bad, let us know.
True Stories http://www6.homedepot.com/truestories/index.html
What Story do You Have To Share?

unique. The story of any home improvement project begins with the inspiration to take on a project and, with every step make it a better place for you and your family. Your stories have inspired us and we want to share these stories with others just like you. Simply submit your story right here so that you may inspire another great project.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

http://articles.moneycentral.msn.com/Investing/Extra/HomeDepotShaftingShoppers.aspx?GT1 15
Let me get this straight: Brain-dead customers can't figure out how to open the yellow pages and find a hardware store, lumber yard, plumbing store, lighting store, or garden center, any of which will give better advice and often have better prices than Home Despot, and this is Home Despot's fault? Not the fault of brain dead parents who were too busy watching 200 channels of cable to to get off their fat, lazy asses and teach their kids how to find a merchant in the phone book?
They live with their kids for 18 years or longer, and no time to teach something easy like this?
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
JoeSpareBedroom wrote:

Around here, HD has the best prices on pretty much all electrical/plumbing stuff.
Some of the local hardware places have admitted to buying their stock at HD because it ends up being cheaper than going through their wholesalers.
Lumber/lighting/garden still offer better options elsewhere.
Chris
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Hopefully, nobody interprets this to mean "everywhere", because it sure isn't the case here. And, even if the stuff is more expensive elsewhere, one must consider the rest of the equation: Walk into a good plumbing store, walk out with the right thing in 8 minutes. Walk into HD, and *maybe* you can find someone to help you get the right thing. Maybe you buy 5 things, knowing that one of them will be right, and you have to make another trip to return the other 4. Time is worth something, too.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
JoeSpareBedroom wrote:

Its the same where I live. It you want a good selection of stuff and you want to be quickly in and out and have the right stuff the first time you go to the real plumbing supply house.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Glad I don't live "around here" where you are. I guess you didn't see my post from last Saturday about big box store pricing. My Taco circulator would have been $86 from HD, but was $61.48 from the plumbing supply house. A light fixture that was $10.99 at HD was $8.99 at a local hardware/lumber/home store.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
wrote in message

You shouldn't expect much from big box store employees. Those stores get the quality of employees they pay for, and then treat them poorly.
I worked at Lowe's part-time for awhile. Scary thing is they have trouble hiring because about 60% of people who apply can't pass the employment test! But with what they pay and the insane way they schedule shifts, I'd say the fact that they can attract any employees who can walk and talk is amazing. Getting people who actually care would be a miracle. But, unbelieveably, they do have ongoing required training - it's just that many of the employees don't give a damn.
I also worked at HD full-time for a VERY short period. Their employment practices make Lowe's look great! I was on the floor for two weeks with NO training, and it took over a week to meet my department manager. They're so nuts about overtime that they have employees lined up at the time card machine 10 minutes before their shifts are over so that they don't go 5 minutes over their regular time.
--
nj_dilettante
in the words of the immortal Sgt Schultz:
  Click to see the full signature.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
wrote in message

The idiots who manage those stores are too cheap to do something free and simple: Tell new hires to NOT put on their little vests for the first 15-20 minutes of their shifts, so they won't be distracted by anyone who needs help. Now, pick an aisle and browse slowly. Some of these employees don't know which END of the store has certain things, much less which aisle.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

You've never run a business, have you?
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Matter of fact, yes. How do you feel your question relates to the fact that some people somehow reach adulthood with virtually no resources?
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

That you blame the problem on the customers.
So typically American.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Think harder, and spend more time reading newsgroup questions. Here's what you'll find out:
- There are people who have never set foot in a hardware store or specialty store (appliances, lighting, plumbing, etc), and it's NOT always because all the specialty stores have vanished from their towns. They seem to believe that if the employees aren't wearing little aprons, then the specialty stores must be intended for contractors only.
- There are people who think that if they have a problem with Home Depot, the solution is to go to Lowe's. Or, complain about it here. Some people are not capable of devising another solution.
- There are people who apparently don't know that you can open the yellow pages phone book and find businesses in it. Right here in this newsgroup, I've seen people say "Thanks. That's actually a good idea. I'll try it". Are we dealing with children here?
So, tell me: Who do YOU blame for creating humans who are so unresourceful? Advertising that makes the big box stores seem like the only source for every damned thing? Maybe. But, I choose to lay much of the blame on parents. I would like to hear YOUR theory, though.
Hint: Since the year 2000, there have been two reasonably accurate surveys in this country which indicate that about 54% of the population is stupid and docile.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

In addition, they have been conditioned to think that the big box stores have the best prices for everything. That is far from the truth. Their service is often second rate also., if you need appliance repair or fast delivery.
Going back 10 or more years, the local appliance store was often priced higher and maybe even a little arrogant. Most of those dealers imploded, the rest formed buying co-operatives and now compete very nicely with price and usually have superior service.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Wow, you still get the phone book? ;+}
If I caught my kid looking in that waste of tree's I would be disappointed
Google it.
-jtpr.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Maybe, but you'll probably not see some excellent locally owned stores in your google search. Or, they'll be buried in the middle of 418,000 hits.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Stephen Blackpool wrote:

http://articles.moneycentral.msn.com/Investing/Extra/HomeDepotShaftingShoppers.aspx?GT1 15
I think that they're trying to be more like Lowe's, where the staffing is thin (ten minutes to get help, even during lax periods) and the training almost nonexistent (three employees didn't know where the room air conditioners were stocked -- in July -- in Phoenix). Home Base did that when they tried to copy HD, and they're gone now.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
larry moe 'n curly wrote:

Maybe it's just 'cause they're new in our area, but I find Lowe's to be cleaner, the salespeople are more helpful, and they actually have sales. (Sales with prices that are lower than everyday prices, at both Lowe's and Home Depot.)
--
Notan

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Notan wrote:

Lowe's looks nicer, and at first I thought that their people were less competent because they lacked experience, but they've been open here for at least 2-3 years, and they're still making the same mistakes -- can't find products, don't know much about the products, lots of mismarked prices.
Me: "What's the battery warranty on this cordless drill? The box doesn't say anything."
Lowe's: "Uh...uh...hmm...it doesn't say. I don't know."
HD: "90 days. The whole drill is warranted for two years. This one uses plastic gears, that one metal."
I've yet to get an intelligent answer from Lowe's, except in their lighting dept.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

http://articles.moneycentral.msn.com/Investing/Extra/HomeDepotShaftingShoppe rs.aspx?GT115
Water finds it's own level. I suspect they'll soon go the way of Handy Andy and Builders Square for the same reasons.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Related Threads

    HomeOwnersHub.com is a website for homeowners and building and maintenance pros. It is not affiliated with any of the manufacturers or service providers discussed here. All logos and trade names are the property of their respective owners.