They want it because the stores offer it. If someone offers
"service", someone will want to take advantage of it.***(towards the
bottom) If no store offered it anymore, people would get used to
that, but one store started, years ago, because they found they could
make more money that way, even allowing for the cost of taking things
back. If HD really changes it's policy, it will cost them,
especially if Lowes, Menaards, etc. don't change theirs, although it
still might be worth it. It's more likely they'll warn specific
customers that a new policy applies to them for 6 months or a year or
Closely related: Did you know that [the famous department store I can
never remember the name of which started in Philadephia but had a
branch in DC**] was the first place in America to have fixed prices
for things. Around 1876 iirc. Prior to that. and their policy
catching on elsewhere, people dickered about everything they bought.
**I googled. John Wanamakers. Famous in the east and among people
who dress well. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wanamaker's *** (towards
That's outrageous and I won't do that. If a buyer can tell
something's been used, he'll pass on it and get one that's never been
used. The used one can sit in stock forever. Or he'll want a
All the rules so far are fair, though I can certainly see how someone
could sort of get trapped by no refunds on gift cards. Of course I've
solved the problem by not giving gift cards, even the ones that don't
expire!! Once for my mother and her husband I was going to give them
a gift certificate for an unusal ethnic restaurant near them.
Fortunately they didn't offer gift certificates (which is pretty
stupid. They shoudl have made one up when I called and asked) So I
gave my folks a 50 dollar bill taped to a piece of paper saying where
they shoudl spend it. Years went by, they never went, and the
restaurant went out of business. The gift certificate would have been
worthless, but the money I gave them was fine.
I guess that's something a lot of people wnat to use once and then
They want to think about it, don't want to come back, want to see if
it will work, are afraid they'll sell out and they have to keep coming
back until it's finally in stock again, Etc.
Wanamaker first thought of how he would run a store on new principles
when, as a youth, a merchant refused his request to exchange a
purchase. A practicing Christian, he chose not to advertise on
Sundays. His faith also informed other business decisions, many of
which were innovative and before their time. Before he opened his
Grand Depot for retail business, he let evangelist Dwight L. Moody use
its facilities as a meeting place, while Wanamaker provided 300 ushers
from his store personnel. His retail advertisements—the first to be
copyrighted beginning in 1874—were factual, and promises made in them
were kept. Word of this increased Wanamaker's business and John
Wanamaker never lost the public's trust while he pioneered truth in
Wanamaker guaranteed the quality of his merchandise in print, allowed
his customers to return purchases for a cash refund and offered the
first restaurant to be located inside a department store. Wanamaker's
also innovated the price tag, because John Wanamaker believed if
everyone was equal before God, then everyone should be equal before
price. All of these concepts were seen as innovations in American
retailing at the time.
His employees were to be treated respectfully by management (including
not being scolded in public), and John Wanamaker & Company offered its
employees access to the John Wanamaker Commercial Institute, as well
as free medical care, recreational facilities, profit sharing plans,
and pensions—long before these types of benefits were considered
standard in corporate employment.
The famous logo
Innovation and "firsts" marked Wanamaker's. The store was the first
department store with electrical illumination (1878), first store with
a telephone (1879), and the first store to install pneumatic tubes to
transport cash and documents (1880).
Wanamaker's commissioned a Philadelphia/New Jersey artist, George
Washington Nicholson (1832-1912), to paint a large landscape mural,
"The Old Homestead," which was finished in March 1892. The 7x14-foot
mural was still owned by Wanamaker's in 1950, but its location is
In 1910, Wanamaker replaced his famous Grand Depot in stages, and
constructed a brand-new, purpose-built structure on the same site in
Center City Philadelphia. The new store, lavishly built in the
Florentine style with granite walls by Chicago architect Daniel H.
Burnham, had 12 floors (9 for retail), numerous galleries and two
lower levels totaling nearly two-million square feet. The palatial
emporium featured the Wanamaker Organ, the former St. Louis World's
Fair pipe organ, at the time one of the world's largest organs. The
organ was installed in the store's marble-clad central atrium known as
the Grand Court. Another item from the St. Louis Fair in the Grand
Court is the large bronze eagle, which quickly became the symbol of
the store and a favorite meeting place for shoppers. The store was
dedicated by President William Howard Taft on December 30, 1911.
Despite its size, the organ was deemed insufficient to fill the Grand
Court with its music. Wanamaker's responded by assembling its own
staff of organ builders and expanding the organ several times over a
period of years. The organ still stands in place in the store today,
and is the largest operational pipe organ in the world, with some
28,000 pipes. It is famed for the delicate, orchestra-like beauty of
its tone as well as its incredible power. News of the Titanic's
sinking was transmitted to Wanamaker's wireless station in New York
City, and given to anxious crowds waiting outside—yet another first
for an American retail store. Public Christmas Caroling in the store's
Grand Court began in 1918.
Other innovations included employing buyers to travel overseas to
Europe each year for the latest fashions, the first White sale (1878)
and other themed sales such as the February "Opportunity Sales" to
keep prices as low as possible while keeping volume high. The store
also broadcast its organ concerts on the Wanamaker-owned radio station
WOO-AM beginning in 1922. Under the leadership of James Bayard
Woodford, Wanamaker's opened piano stores in Philadelphia and New York
that did a huge business with an innovative fixed-price system of
sales. Salons in period decor were used to sell the higher-price
items. Wanamaker also tried selling small organs built by the Austin
Organ Company for a time.
The famous advertising axiom "Half the money I spend on advertising is
wasted; the trouble is, I don't know which half" is credited to John
Although disputed in some circles, John Wanamaker is credited as the
first to coin the "Retailer's Rule"…"The customer is always right."
--Of course some people seem to think this is literally true, when
it's only a policy of some stores, which even they suspend when the
customer makes ridiculous demands.
I disagree - I always buy a little more than I need for a project or
multiple sizes so that I can see which fits best on the job. This
saves me making multiple trips (I already seem to go to HD about once
a day as it is). I once asked the regular guy at the returns desk and
he said they ENCOURAGE customers to err on the side of buying too much
and returning it. After all, it makes for more sales for them. And if
it is in resellable condition, they are only out the extra labor for
returns & reshelving while at the same time increasing customer
satisfaction and maximizing purchases.
In fact, even though I can often get better quality and cheaper
pricing at some of the pro supply houses that I have an account with,
I often will go to Home Depot because I can browse the shelves and
return the excess. The pro supply houses frown on too many returns and
I don't want to look to "lay" to them ;)
Also, I end up going to HD over Lowes even though the local Lowes is
bigger and has a nicer atmosphere specifically because HD has an easy
return policy without a receipt as long as you have your credit card.
So, as someone who spends several thousand dollars a year at HD, I
would say that there flexible return policy is a good investment for
them in customer satisfaction and increased purchases.
re: "they ENCOURAGE customers to err on the side of buying too much
and returning it. After all, it makes for more sales for them"
What kind of accounting process do they use where returns don't offset
If they sell a million bucks worth of wood in a week and $500K worth
gets returned, do their records still show $1MM in sales?
I want a job like that, especially if it's commissioned!
On Thu, 8 Oct 2009 09:59:54 -0700 (PDT), DerbyDad03
Maybe his example of, so to speak, buying an extra box or two of
ceramic tile, wasn't the best one, but it makes more sales, because
people buy things they aren't sure they want, and usually decide to
keep what they've bought. Even if it's not usually, even if it's only
a quarter of the time, that's still more stuff they've bought and
At least at some companies, salemen lose their commission for things
that are returned, but if the policy causes greater total non-returned
purchases, they are ahead of the game.
Exactly. I don't think I've ever returned something to a contractor's
supply store, because afaik, they don't want it back. Maybe I
misjudge them, but I get this impression somewhere.
And LOwe's doesn't have the same poliicy. I though they did.
HD here doesn't require a credit card. If you have no receipt, they
note your drivers license number, I assume to keep track conceivably
if someone is returning too much stuff he bought, but more likely if
one person is shoplifting and returning for cash. I can certainly see
that. But I return two or three things, maybe 30 dollars worth a
year without a receipt and they say nothing. I don't think the cashier
or anyone thinks I've stolen anything, and I haven't. (although once
I may have unintentionally returned something from Lowes at HD. A few
things have the same wrapper and bar code.)
Interesting. Is that just for a pure refund, or also applies for a store
credit / return when also buying something of equal or more value? Does it
apply to faulty items, or just ones bought by mistake?
I've just checked my latest HD receipt from last Sunday and there's no
refund value stated - just says there's a 90 day return policy and that
HD has the right to limit/deny returns. Maybe it's not in all stores yet,
or they're trying it out at a few stores to see how the public take it...
I think thats pretty normal... The local lumber yard here does the
Imagine a couple of 2x4 studs sitting out all summer long before
finally warping to the point of no return and then being brought back
for full price.. Whats HD or any lumber yard to do with them?
and what are you doing buying wood at HD anyway? A lumberyard will
have better stock, more knowledgeable people, and get you out the door
for a fair price.
On Tue, 06 Oct 2009 15:41:40 -0400, Steve Stone wrote:
I've not had a problem with the treated stuff, TBH. The untreated's a bit
of a nightmare though, half of what they have in the stack is junk - but
then I suppose at least they let you sort through it to get the good
ones. I think if I was buying untreated in any quantity I would just go
to a proper lumber yard.
One of the HDs here does the opposite - you can't get out of the store
without a dozen clueless "associates" trying to "help" you.
Whatever happened to asking for help when you need it, otherwise expecting
to be left alone?
On Tue, 6 Oct 2009 20:54:19 -0400, "Stormin Mormon"
The closest HD to my home seems to be staffed by folks who know their
stuff, and act as if they own the place. If they spot you scanning
shelves, they stop and ask if they can help you find something. If you
turn them down, they don't hover, but wait somewhere down the isle in
case you change your mind. I have often been literally chased across
the parking lot by employees who insist on helping me load stuff on
the roof of my SUV.
I never have to go looking for assistance, they come looking for me.
Pretty much the same at the Homedepot I go to......I have found the guy in
the plumbing dept especially helpfull to me several times....Being open when
I need something is one of the best things I like about HD....
Connecticut. I've been to other HD's in Connecticut and they weren't
all like this, although none have been exactly bad. I'm guessing that
the manager of the store who does the hiring and makes decisions about
how things should be done makes all the difference. They apparently
got a great manager for this store. There is a lot of variation in
HD's. They all individually select the product mix that seems best for
their local customers. Stores also become better stocked as they age.
They start out with half empty shelves, and gradually build inventory
and selection as they make money to support it.
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