hey Home Depot, it’s 2009

Two weeks ago, I post a dozen tweets about purchasing products online and then returning them to your local store. All of the tweets were identical except for a couple of words. Here’s one:

buy a product online at Lowe’s site, you can return it to your local store; not so at @HomeDepot

A few family members and co-workers who I see on a regular basis have had the benefit of an explanation. But I’ve had a couple of other inquiries, one of which wondering why I slammed Home Depot on Twitter. Then CNBC aired a TV show tonight about The Home Depot and its history, so it’s fresh on my mind.

My beef is simple. If you buy a product on the Home Depot web site, you cannot return it to your local store.

So, what happened? Well, Tricia and I had been shopping for outdoor lights for our house for a few months. We prefer to buy home improvement products at local stores, and The Home Depot is always our favorite. But we had a tough time finding lights that we liked. I even drove 22 miles south to check Lowe’s in Appleton. We finally decided to order from www.homedepot.com since they had lights that looked great, and we’d still be doing business with a local store.

I bought 5 lights (driveway, front and back porches, lamp post, etc). Installation went well but one of the lights had a bad mount unit and broke. So I didn’t think twice. I got the receipt and drove to Home Depot, only to be surprised at their customer service desk. I was really baffled. I had never heard of a company that would sell you a product on their web site and then not take the return at their local store. So I had to go home, get out the shipping tape, put the label on there, take the box to UPS, etc. Just a bunch of inconvenient crap.

I then decided to check other retailers to see if I was wrong to assume that I could return the product to the local store. I found twelve other very popular retailers, all of whom allow you to return products purchased online to their local store. So my assumption was certainly not out-of-place. So I tweeted about it.

But the bottom line is, yes, I incorrectly made the assumption. But to me, it’s like assuming that when I buy a cup of coffee at McDonald’s they’ll give me the cream at no extra charge. So I was pissed.

I had been shopping at Home Depot since we lived in California. We had just put new floors in half of our house, a significant project all supplied by The Home Depot. I buy tools there. I go there for expert advice. But that day, they pissed me off. So I tweeted just to make sure all my followers know that when you buy from Home Depot’s web site, you can’t return your product to the local store. I never slammed them; I simply tweeted their own policy, a policy unheard of in the online purchasing industry.

To their credit, Stephanie, one of the people working Home Depot’s twitter account tried to help. But after exchanging a few direct messages, she concluded, “the team working to make ths possible says the systems are not in place yet but will be soon. sorry couldnt mk it work”.

So that’s it. Not really a big deal actually. But yeah, I’m still not happy about it all. But at some point, after things cool down, I’ll probably find myself back in The Home Depot. As for their web site, no way. With an unheard of policy like that, I’ll never shop at www.homedepot.com again.

Comments 1

  • Worked @ True Value for 8 years and we have a strict return policy: if it isn’t your bad, it’s ours. I’m surprised they couldn’t have just ordered you the product in-store and worked the transaction that way (perhaps next time?).

    I’ve heard HD horror stories all over – the shops up here must be well staffed. Can’t say I’ve heard the same about the True Values.

    Great Job using social media to point out the glaring error to HD. I hope thier CS Rep actually carries through.
    PR