I don’t know his name, so I will call him Twerp. Because he’s a twerp. He’s a runty little bantam rooster with a clear case of Small Man Syndrome, and he works at the Home Depot in my city.
Let’s start from the beginning. My mothers are redoing their home office, so they decided to buy a set of those large steel storage shelves to hold their file boxes, some books, their printer, etc. They’re going for a utilitarian look, and decided these shelves are the way to go. Whenever they need to buy something big and heavy, I am drafted, because a strong back is a terrible thing to waste.
So we went to Home Depot yesterday and bought the shelves. This is what they look like, taken from the Home Depot website. They come unassembled, in a big flat box. We bought it, I carried it into their house, and returned today to assemble it. Oh, also, I went back to Home Depot this morning to buy a bunch of other stuff for our kitchen renovation, too. So that’s two trips so far.
It didn’t take long to put the shelves together, but as I finished up I discovered that one of the steel crossbeams was too short. It was from the next size down in this shelving series, about three inches shy of what I needed. I remembered that the box had been partially open at one end, and realized that at some point, someone in the Home Depot organization had placed the wrong component in the box.
Back to Home Depot I went, with the offending steel beam and the receipt. First stop: the service counter. A very friendly young lady told me to take the piece back to the department and a staffer there would help me. This sounded like a fine idea.
Except there were no staffers in that department. None anywhere, that I could see. After a while, I found a guy in an orange apron. This would be Twerp. Here is our conversation:
- “Hi, can you help me?”
- “Nope, with someone.” He didn’t even look at me.
- “Is there anyone else working in this section?”
- “Mary and Amy.” And he walked away.
I looked for Mary and/or Amy, but saw nobody. So I waited. About 10 minutes went by before I gave up and went back to the service counter. I told the helpful woman there that I couldn’t find anyone to help me. She told me she couldn’t do anything about that. So I headed to the back of the store again. After a few more minutes, I saw a woman in an orange apron. Mary? Amy? I’m not sure. This is our conversation.
- “Hi, do you work in this department?”
- “I sure do!”
- “Great. I bought these shelves yesterday and the wrong piece was included in the box. I want to swap it for the right one.”
- “Sorry, I work in kitchens, not in flooring.” Flooring?
- “But I just asked you …”
- “I thought you meant my department.”
Anyway, she took me over to see a woman I hadn’t noticed before. She was sitting behind a counter in the flooring department, typing on a computer. Here is our conversation:
- Woman 1: “Can you help this gentleman?”
- Woman 2: “He has to wait.”
- Me: “Is anyone else working here that can help me over in the shelving section? I just need someone for a moment.”
- Woman 2: “Chris is working in that section but I haven’t seen him all day.”
- Me: “Look, this is ridiculous. I’ve been here half an hour. Can someone just open this box for me so I can get out of here? I shouldn’t even be here. This is your store’s mistake, not mine.”
- Woman 1: “I haven’t seen Chris either.”
Woman 2 then kept on typing and Woman 1 wandered away, leaving me to stand in the storage section, waiting for this mythical Chris. Another 15 minutes went by. I could see Woman 2. She was still playing on the computer. I could see Woman 1. She was helping someone in a department that was not the kitchen section. I started to get the impression that because I wasn’t spending, nobody wanted to help me.
After a while, I wandered out of my aisle and saw Twerp again. He was just standing there, looking up at something. “Hi,” I said. “Any chance –”
And this is where Home Depot lost me as a customer.
- Twerp: “I’m with a customer! A customer!” He raised his voice and shouted at me. “I can’t help you if you keep taking off. I’ve helped three customers since I talked to you! You can’t just go walking around like that.”
- Me: “I’ve been waiting in that section for close to an hour.”
- Twerp: “You gotta wait where I can see you!”
- Me: “So this is my fault?”
- Twerp: “It is your fault! You have to stay where I tell you!”
I am not accustomed to being chastised by store clerks, and I think he could tell. His rodenty little face got red and he might have peed a little. Or maybe that’s wishful thinking.
At this point, Woman 2 looked up from her computer and realized something was wrong. She scurried over and asked me what I needed. I explained it to her (again). I showed her what I needed. She opened a box and looked for the right part. For some reason, Twerp decided now he was going to pitch in, and walked over. This is what I said (and I probably sounded pretty mad): ”Get lost, bud. I don’t need your help.” I know it sounds tame. But I was spitting fire and teeth when I said it. I get angry, really angry, about once every five years, and this was one of those times.
He backed away. Woman 2 looked at me, well aware that I was not happy. “That little bald bastard is the reason I will never shop in your store again,” I said. She just stared, and maybe drooled a little. I might be imagining that part.
Anyway, I had to stand in line again at the service counter, and the situation kept going south. I was helped by a different clerk (a blonde woman) than the first one, but as I was explaining yet again the first clerk spotted me, dashed over and barked “You didn’t take that out of a box, did you?”
“No,” I said. “One of your staff did.”
“You need to bring the whole box up here, and bring your original box, so we can …”
I cut her off. “I’ve had enough of this. I’ve spent almost an hour looking for anyone who will admit to working in this department. This whole stupid store is a comedy of errors. A guy back there insulted me. I’m fed up. This was your mistake. All I want is this damned piece of metal that I already paid for.”
The blonde clerk shrugged. “It’s all yours,” she said.
I left. And I won’t be back.
I’ve had bad service before. But never at this level, and never at Home Depot, which has taken a lot of my money over 10 years, three houses, two major renovations, a couple of decks and a lot of painting. Every single one of the people I dealt with today was stupid, uninformed, unmotivated, rude, stupid and lazy. That’s unacceptable to me.
And it occurred to me on the way home that the clerk who finally helped me, Woman 2, just took a piece out of another box. This is what caused this problem in the first place, I think. So this will happen to the next person who buys one of these shelving units. Unbelievable.
There’s a Rona just down the street. I’ll see you there.
P.S. When I got home, I discovered my fly was down. Great day, eh?