Thursday, March 27, 2008

Home Depot: “You Can Do It. We Can Help.” Actually, make that just “You Can Do It.”

About a week ago, I went to the new Home Depot in Dripping Springs to purchase off-the-shelf blinds. When I can, I still shop at Ace in the Hills where the customer service is fantastic, but when, unfortunately, they don’t have a certain item I need, like these blinds, I must turn to the orange box. As I walked up and down the aisle looking for a particular blind, several Home Depot employees passed me. Not one offering a “can I help you find something?” Eventually, I found the blinds and checked out, after skipping by one cashier who was very busy chatting with her friend. Important stuff, I’m sure.

As it turned out, I purchased two too many blinds (I had purchased 43 blinds, when I only needed 41 blinds), so back up to Home Depot for returns. Since the store opened in early March, reports of poor customer service have already begun floating around Dripping Springs and my experience has been the typical level of ignore-the-customer found at the Sunset Valley store, so no big surprise. When I go to a Home Depot I consider it a necessary evil and expect to be ignored and agitated by the time I leave. Thusly, my standards are very low and this new location has certainly hovered right at those standards, but I think we all hoped that they would step up their customer service game in our “small town”. Dripping Springs is one of the friendliest places I’ve ever lived and I’ve lived East Coast, West Coast, and Europe. Even if you’re not outgoing and friendly by nature, Dripping gets into you and before you know it, you can’t help yourself, you’re doing the steering wheel “howdy”. And, in any event, I would think they would step up their customer service game in every location. Home Depot’s reputation for customer service (or lack thereof) has been tied to the miserable performance of their stock (even before the housing slump took its toll).

But I would think wrong, which brings me back to my return of two blinds.

As soon as I enter the new Dripping Springs Home Depot, I see there is a counter just for “Returns”. However, posted at the shiny new Returns counter is a handwritten sign that says “Go to Customer Service for Returns”. So, I round the corner and go to Customer Service where a woman, with a large, sweating Coke from Sonic sitting on the counter where the customer would presumably place their items, is acting very busy punching on a computer. Here is what transpired as I stood at the Customer Service counter:

Customer Service Lady (CSL): Oh, I don’t do returns.
Me: Okay…
CSL: Hmmm…let me get someone who does.
CSL (shouting to woman on a checkout lane): Brenda Sue (that’s what I’ll call her -- BS, for short), I need you to do this return.
BS (who had just been leaning against a checkout stand is suddenly busy with another project and dismissively waves her hand): I’ve got to handle something, I’ll be back.

BS walks by me and disappears down an aisle.

CSL (seeing another woman approaching, shouts out to her): Fannie Ursula (that’s what I’ll call her – FU, for short), I need you to do this return.

FU approaches, talking on a walkie-talkie. Very important stuff, no doubt.

FU (into walkie-talkie): I’ll have to call you back, I’ve got to do this return.

FU never actually looks or speaks to me. I hand her my receipt and place the blinds on the counter next to the sweating Coke. She and CSL speak to each. Certainly discussing very important things. FU, without actually looking in my general direction, does ask if there is anything wrong with blinds.

ME: No, just bought too many.

FU scans this and scans that and a receipt is printed, and, again, without ever actually looking at me or speaking to me, while still chatting with CSL, holds her arm out in my general direction. I grab my credit receipt dangling from her hand and depart.

As it turns out, a Dripping Springs Home Depot is still just a Home Depot.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

The New Big Drip

Our roving reporter popped in on work being done at the new Big Drip location, in the Super S shopping center.

She met with the plumber and asked when the ice cream shop would be open and the plumber said "as soon as the damn plumber finishes".

And that's why this plumber is our family plumber.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

What Does Green Mean?

With all the new construction happening in Dripping Springs, most of us have at least one war story. A house is being built on the lot next to me. The people having the house built could not be any nicer, but I have never encountered a more inconsiderate builder. Initially, the builder's contractors opted to use my driveway instead of their driveway so they could save approximatedly 15 yards of drive time. After complaining to the builder repeatedly (I have a gravel driveway and their repeated use by heavy trucks managed to dig out big holes where my driveway meets the road), they finally set up a barrier to keep the contractors from entering and exiting my property. After their pitifully constructed barrier promptly blew down at the first breeze, I constructed my own barrier with rebar and rope and it has managed to stay up through our many high-wind days.

But my barrier can't stop what bugs me most about this builder: a sign up near their place of business on 290 says they're a "green" builder. As I stare at the trash that has blown all over my property, and all the trash that is in multiple, uncontained piles all over their property, I wonder what do they think "green" means. Do they consider themselves green because they use energy-efficient windows? Environmentally-friendly flooring? It seems to me that if you use those products, and then leave the packaging they came in carelessly strewn about, that's called littering and that's not green.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Cha-cha-changes

Heard a radio commercial for "the new Home Depot in Dripping Springs...Visit our new Home Depot in Dripping Springs at 290 and Ranch Road 12."