Coffee heat rising

Competitive Shopping at the Home Depot

What on earth IS it with people? Is there a reason to believe you’re in a my-loot-or-my-life competition when you’re wandering around a Home Depot in the middle of a weekday and there’s hardly anybody there? No kidding. Get this amazing Shopping Adventure…

So I finish a project and to reward myself for chugging through writing a difficult proposal by midday (!), I decide to run up to Home Depot. Needed are the following:

Citrus fertilizer
Miracle-Gro (I know, I know! it’s NOT organic!!!!)
Trees: consider what if anything might replace the remaining Devil-Pod Tree on the west side of the house, which makes an unholy mess even though it doesn’t drop its mess into the pool
Sample of the darkest burnt-umber brown paint I can find
Quart of glaze in which to dilute the above paint
Swimming pool acid
Sprinkler gadget for irrigation system, to replace the ones Charlie has eaten
One common pine or fir board, 77.25 inches x 12 inches

At the front door, they’ve parked their special of the day: desert willows (fragrant with blooms) in giant boxes,  just $89. Oooooh! Very nice.

Get a flatbed cart. Order up the paint. Pick up a can of glaze and a sponge to use for my ingenious craft project (more about which someday).

Roll the cart toward the lumber department, where I need to buy a board to extend a shelf in the storage-room closet. Start to search for an employee.

The lumber dept has three aisles. Search all three aisles. Go back and search again. No sign of life. Nowhere. No how.

Disgusted, give up. Go back to retrieve my flatbed cart.

Uhmmmmm…. Where IS the flatbed cart??? Search around, again hiking through all three aisles. Finally I spot it: two fat people, male and female—apparently a matched set—have snabbed it and are loading pieces of baseboard moulding onto it. They haven’t even bothered to throw my goods onto the floor!

Guess they figured when they got to the check-out they’d just tell the cashier they’d changed their collective mind, eh?

Figuring I’m never going to find a guy to help wrangle a giant board and saw it to size, I walk over to these clowns and collect my paint, sponge, and glaze off my former cart. The two don’t even bother to say “oh! is that YOURS?” They just stand there and look smug.

I am effing furious. As I’m marching toward the front of the store in an obvious rage, I’m accosted by not one, not two, but THREE salespeople. Ohh, what could be the matter? What might I want to buy? How can we help?

Grrrrrrrrrrrr.  “All I want is to find a checkout that doesn’t require me to jump through the self-service hoops and does not require me to hike halfway to Timbuktu to pay and then halfway back from Timbuktu to get to my car!”

“Right this way, ma’am” (don’t you hate it when they call you “ma’am,” in recognition of your advanced and much disdained age?). He directs me to the returns desk.

“She’s not gonna take my money,” I say. “She’s the returns lady!”

“Oh, I promise you, ma’am [arrhgh! KILLLLLL], she’ll check you out.”

“I’m sure she will. Thanks very much.”

I remember that I also need pool acid and tree fertilizer, and so march past this obsequious soul, headed for the outdoor department.

Nab a grocery cart; throw the armful of junk into it. Study the tree fertilizers. Citrus? Ordinary tree? Which is cheaper? Which is better? Decide that the made-for-Arizona citrus fertilizer is the best choice, because it will make the orange and lemon trees happy and probably will not annoy the other trees much. Plus at $19 for 40 pounds, it’s a pretty good buy.

A guy is standing there with me, also perusing the tree fertilizers. He grabs a 40-pound bag of the fertilizer. And then another. And then another. And then another.

He loads the ENTIRE INVENTORY of 40-pound citrus fertilizer bags onto his rolling flatbed cart!

Well. At least this one hasn’t stolen my cart.

Not one bag of the almost reasonably priced fertilizer is left. The choice is 20-pound bags of wildly overpriced fertilizer or nothing. I opt for nothing.

I pick up the pool acid and roll my grocery cart toward the garden department checkout stand. As I’m rolling up to the cashier, only one of whom is on duty, some guy comes racing up and CUTS ME OFF!

YES. He charges in front of me. He’s gotta get there FIRST!

God forfend that he not win in the Great Competition That Is Shopping at Home Depot.

Usually I hate shopping at HD because of the sometimes shoddy goods, the occasionally flakey staff, or (as in the lumber department today) the utter absence of any staff, competent or not. It’s a rare day that I hate shopping at Home Depot because of its clientele. But today, it must be said, truly took the cake.

About two of every three visits to Home Depot, I come away asking myself why do I shop in this place? The answer is obvious, of course: they’ve forced all the local merchants, who used to provide consistently quality goods and consistently excellent service, out of business. HD is now the only game in town, except for a sad Lowe’s some miles away or the occasional Ace Hardware that may or may not carry what I need. That notwithstanding: I do hate shopping at Home Depot.

Et vous? Ever wish those fine old locally owned hardware and lumber stores were still with us? What do you miss most about the good old pre-Box days?

11 thoughts on “Competitive Shopping at the Home Depot”

  1. That’s why I always liked Ace, but ours was put out of business by Home Depot.
    At Ace you could always find an expert. At HD you are lucky if you can find some flunky to help you load something or to identify some object that you have in a ziplock bag that needs to be replaced.

  2. Wow, after all that I’m one of those souls who seriously would have placed her items on the ground and walked away with nothing. And should someone ask I would be more than happy to explain every detail of my unpleasant shopping experience. And no matter the efforts of the salespeople, should they even *try* to appease me, would insist on walking away with nothing and go home to order online or – if God be especially great that day – find a local small business or two I could patron for my items, individually if must be. My theory is this: If the management never hears what horrible things happen to customers, they will continue in ignorance. It might be bliss for them, but not for us!

  3. Here in Dublin, Ireland I still have a local hardware that delivers (free of charge), cuts wood etc to size if needed and on occasion has helped me replace a tricky fitting in my house. There are hundreds of these in Ireland. They’re also very good for advice. On the downside they are probably more expensive than Hope Depot and the like.

  4. @ George: We still have Ace, and the guys are pretty nice here. They don’t carry lumber, though. Phoenix used to have a fantastic, dream hardware store called Entz-White that carried top-of-the-line paint, first-rate everything, and sold lumber, AND hired guys who knew what they (and you) were doing. One of the partners was killed in a plane crash. The other held on for a while, but when he retired he left the company to his son, who rode it direct to Hell on a skateboard.

    Home Depot has pretty much driven every other building and handyman supply store here out of business except for a few corner hardware stores. There seem to be enough people to resist shopping at HD to keep those going.

    @ Ash: Interestingly, the Ace here sometimes underprices Home Depot. Not by much, but often their goods are competitively priced. Most of the stuff from either store, though, is junk — shoddy stuff imported from China and waypoints. Delivery! Wow! That really is something!

    @ Liz: I’ve been known to do the same. 😉 But it really wasn’t HD’s fault — it was their rude and self-centered customers. And, remember, this was the third store I’d been to in search of a small sample jar of paint. Lowe’s informed me they didn’t have the “base” to make the color I wanted. The clerk at the paint counter at another HD sneered at me when my turn came up (after I’d been standing there for quite a while), snarled that he’d be back, and walked away. I did walk out of that branch (for some reason the employees at the Home Depot at Thunderbird and the I-17 are often rude; the ones at the Thunderbird & Cave Creek store seem less unhappy in their jobs). So I needed the paint and the sponge and stuff for my little project. The stuff Ace sells as pool acid is sulfuric acid, not muriatic acid, which I’m sure is OK but I’m not comfortable putting it in my pool. This would have meant I would have to drive WAY out of my way to go to Leslie’s for the acid, Dunn-Edwards for the paint, a nursery on the east side of town for the fertilizer, and a builder’s lumber yard on the west side for the wood.

    Will probably end up driving from pillar to post to get the fertilizer and the board, anyway. It’s sure a nuisance!

  5. I can’t imagine why you let those people get away with stealing your cart. Under no conditions would I have let them have it.

    Bad behaviour should never be rewarded if it is at all possible.

    • @ E. Murphy–

      With no way to buy a board, I had no need for a gigantic clumsy flatbed cart. They’re hard to navigate, I only had three small items, & I meant to go straight through the checkout…until I remembered the pool acid. It just wasn’t worth a confrontation.

  6. In the early days of Home Depot, they only hired knowledgeable sales people. That’s how they were able to run the local mom and pop hardware stores out of business. Apparently, though, over time they realized most of their customers would rather save a few pennies on any given product then have the benefit of sales people who actually know what they are talking about, so that’s the direction the company took – cheap products accompanied by crappy service. For what it’s worth, I have found that that you can still get pretty good service if you’re willing to shop on weekends. They seem to deploy their best people to work on Saturdays and Sundays, at least in this part of the country.

  7. There’s plenty of lumber yards where I live. The only problem is you can’t walk around in them. They are for commercial contractors or people that really know what lumber they are looking for. I do not always know exactly what I need in what dimensions, so I like being able to walk around Home Depot until I find what I need.

  8. I pretty much have switched over to Lowes simply because I have one of their credit cards that gives you an instant 5% off your purchase at the register. Purchase, go home, pay the bill. Save 5%. Works.

    It sounds like the customers were the biggest problem. Sorry it was such a painful experience.

  9. @ Money Beagle: Yeah, I used to shop at the Lowe’s, too, because it seemed to have the same goods and the atmosphere was a little nicer (though that’s a relative term in one of those big box stores! 🙂 ). But lately the Lowe’s seems to have gone downhill. Can’t put my finger on it, but they don’t seem to have the things you want and they have even fewer hired help on the floor than HD does. They must have laid off a ton of staff during the worst of the Recession.

  10. Lowes is every bit as bad. I have stormed out of mine for rde employees. I bought a storm door there last week and I spend a lot there, and they told my contractor later they couldnt find me in the system. Also once he got it they told him i took the hardware with me, then gave him the wrong color, i had to take it back and raise tee total hell because the manager was so indifferent about it.

    Im sorry those customers were such jerks.

Comments are closed.