Customer Service Fail: The Home Depot Chainsaw Massacre

There are a few basic elements of customer service that make all the difference in the world. First of all, customers want answers, or solutions to the problem they’ve presented to your customer service team. Preferably, these solutions will be easy to obtain, the experience will be kind and courteous, and the customer will come feeling as though they’ve been heard.

Also of importance in establishing long-lasting customer relationships is whether or not a company actually trusts its customers. On the receiving end of a customer experience interaction, there are few things worse than being treated with distrust, as though you’re trying to get over on the company you’re giving your business to.

In recognition of companies missing the mark on these basic elements of exceptional customer service, I’ve previously written about my own dissatisfying experiences with Home Depot. Last week, The Consumerist’s Chris Morran reported another unfortunate story about Home Depot, this one involving a store in New Jersey and an allegedly new chainsaw.

In this cautionary tale of how not to treat your customers, a patron of this particular New Jersey location of Home Depot purchased a new chainsaw. Upon opening the package, the customer discovered a case filled the anticipated chainsaw as well as a bunch of saw dust and a puddle of oil. Apparently, the saw had been previously purchased, used, and returned in something less than “like new” condition.

When the customer attempted to return the saw, Home Depot refused to take it back because the saw had been used. Yikes!

What makes this story especially poignant is the fact that the customer in question was a secret shopper for Consumer Reports. You know, the extremely well-known consumer watchdog organization that keeps tabs on things like product safety, fair business practices, and customer service.

It would appear that Consumer Reports had tabbed this particular chainsaw for review in its print and digital publications, which ironically do a great job in boosting consumer confidence when purchasing products reviewed favorably by Consumer Reports.

At another location in New York, the same secret shopper found additional “new” chainsaws in similarly used condition priced as new items. While not every state requires returned items to be marked as previously owned, Home Depot’s own policy calls for gas-powered items such as chainsaws to be marked as reconditioned and sold at a lower price.

With this particular tale, Home Depot fell short of its own expectations while utterly failing to meet even the most basic requirements of good customer service. No word on whether or not Consumer Reports went ahead with its review, and no review currently appears on the organization’s web site. 

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