Home Depot's Public Relations Backfire

by Randy Cassingham

A lot of public relations professionals are just that -- professional. Sometimes, though, an inept practititioner -- a "flack" as they're often known -- tries to intervene and ends up doing more harm than good.

In my column This is True, which reports on strange-but-true articles from newspapers (with a usually funny "tagline" added on after the story, as a comment), I wrote this item about a criminal's attempt to steal from Home Depot. It was in the 30 April 2000 issue:

Do It Yourself

Police in Albuquerque, N.M., say Edward Hall, 50, stole a utility trailer from a Home Depot store by hitching it to the back of his pickup truck and driving away. A few miles from the store, it came loose and crashed beside the road, so he went back to the store and stole a second one. The second also came loose and crashed just 75 yards from the first. As a Bernalillo County Sheriff's deputy investigated the crashes, Hall clipped the deputy's parked patrol car with, yes, a third trailer as he drove by. A chase ensued as Hall tried to get away -- at a mere 25 mph, "probably because he knows the trailers, at high speeds, don't stay on very well," a detective said. Hall was charged with possession of burglary tools, three counts of unlawful taking a motor vehicle, and leaving the scene of an accident. (AP) ...However, he's been signed to do a series of Home Depot commercials with their new slogan, "Take it From Us!"

Now any dolt can see where the story ends and the smart-assed comment begins, right?

Well, Home Depot's flack couldn't. A few days after the story went out in True's free online feed, I found the following message on my voice mail:

Yeah, this is Don, Home Depot's public relations manager. Randy, you did a piece about a guy who stole not one, not two, but three trailers from our Albuquerque, New Mexico, store before he got caught. All of that is true. The last line, however, in your story, however, "He's been signed to do a series of Home Depot commercials with the new slogan, 'Take it from us!'", uh, that's very humorous, Randy, but this is FALSE! You lost some credibility with me, big guy! < click >

Notice he didn't leave his phone number for me to call him back. Which just goes to show: when it comes to Home Depot, you can never find anyone who knows anything to help you.


Randy Cassingham is the publisher of This is True, the curator of the popular joke site, Jumbo Joke, and is the founder of Cranky Customer.

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Today I visited the Home Depot on Rt. 130 in Hamilton Township to return some items. While waiting in line at the one open return register, an employee at the customer service desk summoned the last person in the line (the person who had been waiting the least amount of time) to be waited on there. This seems to be regular practice at this store; it has happened to me at least ten times in the last year. As I always do, I loudly protested this employee not taking customers in order. When he was done waiting on that customer, he again called over the last person in line, neglecting another customer who had been in line longer (I was now being waited on at the return register). I then told the other customer that the same employee had just done the same thing to me, and that I had called him on it not 2 minutes earlier. The whole time, this employee simply ignored our comments.

About seven minutes later, the employee had finished waiting on the second customer since skipping over me, and I was still being waited on at the return register. As if this employee's ignorance and inconsideration were not enough, he then walked by me to place a return in the return baskets, and while doing so sarcastically said to me "I'm so sorry that you had to wait two minutes longer." I replied to him that he had no need to be making snide remarks to me. I then complained to the cashier that was waiting on me, Henry, about the other employee's attitude, and asked for his name so that I may write a complaint to the store manager. Henry stated to me that he did not know what was going on, and that he would not give me the other worker's name. I then informed Henry that if that were the case, my complaint to the manager would also include him. Henry then pointed to a lady working ten feet away, at the customer service desk, and informed me that she was the store manager, so there was no need to write a complaint. Whether or not she was the manager, I do not know, since the store receipt no longer lists the manager's name, but she surely did not possess the professionalism that would be expected of a store manager, and she did nothing to remedy the situation other than saying she was sorry for my wait. She had been working there throughout the entire incident, aware of what was going on, and never interceded on my behalf whatsoever.

I am not Home Depot's biggest customer, but as a home improvement contractor I have spent a considerable sum of money there over the last 16 years. This crap with not waiting on the next person in line has been going on for years, and while annoying, it was not enough to make me boycott their store. However, when you bring it to an employee's attention that he should wait on people in order, the least he could do is properly apologize. This employee (whose name I learned is Ron) not only did not apologize, he saw fit to make sarcastic remarks several minutes later. In the future I will avoid shopping at the Home Depot except when absolutely necessary. I will also be closing my Home Depot credit account, and I will be forwarding a complaint to the district manager. Home Depot today made it quite clear to me that they do not want my business!

In May of 2009 we bought windows for our house from HD. We were promised they would be installed by one of their contractors.What we didn't know was their contractors are subs and not hd employess. Two men were to come only one showed up.He installed the windows from the inside of the house and removed the window trim and broke the trim,then he reapplied the broken sticks of wood.He left debris everywhere as he did not use covers that he was suppose to
to cover the floors.It took 2 weeks for hd to come out to check the work.I just wanted new trim installed to replace what their installer had destroyed. Instead they relaced all the windows.It took until mid-september to return and install the new windows.The second installer was just as bad as the first.He spent 3 days removing and reinstalling the new window and relacing the trim that was destroyed in the first place. The 2nd man spent most of the time on the phone on his wife.It took him until 8PM on the 3rd day to finish the job. When he installed the metal trim around the exterior of the windows he left gaps that would slice a finger.It is now the end of September and the issue is still not resolved.
And the most serious result of this job poorly done is that my husband, who is handicapped, developed pnuemonia 2 days after the first windows were installed due to all the dust left behind. And he also went into cardiac arrest after being admitted to the hospital.
So before you walk into hd be careful it doesn't kill you.

I just had the utter displeasure of getting completely railroaded by the Home Depot located on Cortez road in Bradenton. The Bradenton Home Depot on Cortez road is a trap; they should just park the bus to Port Manatee directly in a garage behind their lot, hand the keys to his daughter & save our State Troopers the gas money. I first thought I had a wonderful 2 weeks with my job at Universl Window Tinting working part-time aquiring "leads" to send salesman to give direct estimates for the 3M Film & window sheild protection. In the short time that I was with Universal Window Solutions & Home Depot co-jointly, I achieved very many leads by simply handing out forms to their many returning consumers spending their money freely in their store (#442), filled out paper work completely together with Home Depot's customers & potentially new Universal Window Solution costomers, got several if not many 'would - be returners' as well. Well well, turns out their "top dawg" district regional manager had me wearing one of their Home Depot aprons for like 3 weeks try'n to sell an uncertified contract repair product of 3M window film sheild. How's this bloke got me in their store misleading customers? A. that I work for Home Depot to begin with (they all thought I was their happiest costomer!), Universal slacked and NEVER GAVE ME A NAME TAG B. actually SAVE future returning Home Depot customer's money by dramtically reducing interior fading, cooling costs & adding by security to their home along with getting the guarunted lifetime guarunted instalation. 1. Upon a product that is INFERIOR to a contract rapair certification? 2. leads to sign contracts installing such an inferior product? 3. Instead, he should gift his own daughter keys to the bus & selling tickets to the centre of Bradentuckyalamala's jail! Go to Lowes. Vote Mcullem,

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