Mass local retailer failure

I would like to continue my post about what is wrong with business in this country (started in my post about Andersen Storm Doors).

I simply don’t understand the thought process behind many businesses.

For example, furniture stores. Jaime and I went to four different furniture stores this weekend because we want new couches. We’ve had hand-me-downs for years, and it is time to buy real couches. We went to several local stores, and left feeling dirty after each.

Here are a couple of tips for local furniture stores that I am sure apply nationwide:

1. Clean your store. If your demo furniture doesn’t invite me to sit on it, there is a zero percent chance I will buy it. If the only people in the store are employees, and those employees are literally sitting on the furniture listening to music, your store better be clean from top to bottom. If it is not, maybe that is why the employees are sitting on the furniture in the middle of a weekend day instead of selling furniture.

2. Fix your leaky roof. What kind of idiot would purchase furniture from a store that has, as a separator between showrooms, a series of garbage cans strategically placed to catch water as it drips through the hole in he roof– the day after it rained? Oh yes, I’ll take that green couch– unless, of course, that green is caused by leak-induced mold or mildew.

3. If you post an ad on Craigslist with photos of furniture, post that ad in your store, even if you don’t have the furniture in your showroom. That way, your employees are clued in to what management has decided to advertise, and customers don’t have to wander around furniture that is out of their price range and does not interest them in the slightest.

We ordered online from a California company, for delivery by semi in about three weeks. Same furniture we saw locally about two years ago, but didn’t buy due to inflexible sales practices. That’s $1,000 that should have gone into the local economy that instead goes to a different state.

Now onto home improvement stores, particularly Home Depot. I am so sick of Home Depot. I am now avoiding it as much as possible, only stopping there when there are no other options for what I need. That means that I now drive 10+ miles to get to Lowe’s for most of my materials, instead of 2 miles to get to Home Depot.

I have one pet peeve and one major problem with Home Depot. The pet peeve is simple. If I cut a piece of trim using your equipment, I can only be as accurate as the equipment you provide. Today I attempted to purchase an 8-foot piece of trim. I tried to cut it. The first saw was too dull for even a 1/4″ x 1.5″ piece of lattice trim. The second one was sharp enough, but was extremely aggressive. If there was a miter box, I could have gotten a nice cut on an 8-foot piece of trim. Because there is no miter box, and the saw was so aggressive, I aimed for a quarter inch over what I needed. I ended up an eighth inch over.

The annoyance? The 5-foot-something girl held the trim up, and was able to gauge the height of my cut, almost 3 feet over her head. They charged me for 8.08 feet. This is after I was told quite emphatically just last week that they give a small amount of tolerance for making the cut. Apparently 1/8-inch on a 96-inch piece is beyond their tolerance. That’s right– my cut was long by 0.13%. Pretty damn good considering the rip saw and no miter box. But why should I be charged for it? I am fully competent at making an exact cut, but I can’t do it without a miter box or an appropriate saw. Other customers must have agreed, since it appears they opened up some miter boxes off the shelf. You can’t count on Home Depot to cut it for you, either. Their employees are reckless with the saw, careless with the work piece, and too busy to be bothered making an accurate cut.

The problem? Dogs. They have no place in Home Depot unless they are certified and trained to be helper dogs. Here are the reasons:

1. Home Depot is a working warehouse. There are fork lifts moving heavy stuff around. There are stacks and stacks of product that could tumble over. In fact, I witnessed a fork truck load of plywood fall from over ten feet in the air just a few years back. Heck, sometimes there are even birds in there, and anyone who has ever owned a dog knows that dogs love to chase other animals. Caring and responsible dog owners know that Home Depot is no place for dogs, and as a result, the only people who take their dogs to Home Depot must be careless and/or irresponsible dog owners.

2. Dogs are intimidating predators. If a customer brings in a dog, and that dog makes other customers uncomfortable while attempting to shop, Home Depot needs to refuse service to the dog owner until the dog is off the premises. In the most recent example, my 5-foot 100-pound wife refused to go into the garden center to shop– the main reason we were there– because an inconsiderate lady had her pug and her 3-plus foot tall, 65+ pound dog on six or seven foot leashes. That means there is a 12 to 14 foot diameter occupied by an irresponsible pet owner (see number one) where we couldn’t shop. Why should my wife have to focus on her own safety from a predator that is two-thirds her size when she should be looking for Lorapetalum for the yard? The answer is that she shouldn’t. We were in a publicly accessible store, and the public has a reasonable expectation to be free from domesticated predators while shopping.

3. Home Depot is not a place to socialize your dog. I have not volunteered for your social experiment. If you want to socialize your dog, go to a friend’s house. Or, better yet, go to one of the many parks specifically created with MY tax dollars for YOUR dog. They’re called dog parks. That is where responsible dog owners socialize their dogs, not in home improvement warehouses.

4. Home Depot employees are not properly trained on how to manage dogs within their stores. According to the Home Depot employee with whom I spoke, he was given no training on how to escort animals from the premises. He was given no training on how to notify management of dogs in the store. He was given no training on how to break up a fight between dogs. He was given no training on how to stop an animal engaged in an attack on a customer. He was given no training on how to protect himself from dogs. He was given no training on how to properly dispose of merchandise that may have been urinated on or walked on by a dog.

One employee found it funny that my wife was scared of a dog that was two-thirds her size. The store manager flat-out lied and told me that corporate policy is that tethered animals are allowed, which is not what I have been told (or what the stickers on the door indicate). I have been told that safety is a primary concern, and that dogs that are reported to management are to be removed from the store. This one particular manager was either willing to sacrifice our purchases for a random person with two dogs in the store, or willing to allow my wife to shop in an environment that was potentially unsafe.

5. Dogs are of unknown medical condition. If Home Depot lets a dog in the store, am I to assume that they are guaranteeing that that dog is properly vaccinated? Is Home Depot guaranteeing that the animal has an appropriate temperament to be exposed to the general public? Is Home Depot guaranteeing that the animal is not tracking around feces that can make someone sick, or end up on a product that is meant for food use? Actually, Home Depot sells food, so the next time you grab that candy bar at the register, consider that the candy bar you are holding in your bare hand and bringing to your mouth might have had a dog mark it as its territory, or may have been given a nice fecal residue tail dusting. Or is Home Depot guaranteeing that the animal is not marking the merchandise in the store as its territory, leaving me to purchase unusable products that stink like dog urine? Home Depot is in no position to guarantee any of these, and the reason is simple: they are a home improvement store, not a veterinarian’s office!

I readily admit I am not a dog person. I make exceptions for people I like, and there are even some dogs that I like. Still, I don’t like dogs. I have been chased and attacked, and I have family members who have been bitten. My wife is five feet tall, 100lbs. She has a justifiable fear of dogs. Almost every nature show about predators demonstrates that wild animals attack the weakest, and at her size, she is not a towering giant. Yes, I get it. Your dog is nice. It is not a wild animal. You are a good owner. Unfortunately for dog owners, there is no readily observable, sure-fire sign that your dog is nice, and you are a good owner. The fact that you have your dog in Home Depot tends to indicate the opposite. Self-preservation dictates that I view your dog as a threat until it is demonstrated otherwise, and there is no way you can prove that your dog is not a threat while simultaneously shopping at Home Depot.

Just to be clear, I am all for helper animals. They provide a valuable service, and are well-trained. They are easy to spot– their owners have them harnessed at their side, and they usually wear vests that warn people not to interrupt the dog while it works. They are vaccinated and clean, and my hunch is that they are insured as well.

OK, last gripe and then I’m done. I went to the gas station the other day, and they needed to confirm my age for my purchase. Fine. The lady at the gas station takes my license and scans it. What?!?! I had a major problem with that, and asked her why she scanned my license. Her response, I kid you not, was, “Because we can.” I asked when that started, and she said a year ago, which was a lie. I have shopped at this store twice a week for the past 8+ years. Never once has my license been scanned. I asked for the privacy policy that allows me to opt out of marketing or sharing of my data. “We don’t have one.”

Well, guess what. Since you grabbed my address, my drivers license number, a limited amount of medical information, and my age/height/weight, you will be getting a certified letter that demands that you provide a copy of the privacy policy that dictates the use of that data. If you can’t provide a privacy policy, or if that privacy policy has no provision to opt out of your data retention and/or marketing programs, we have a problem.

My license now has a piece of electrical tape over the PDF417 barcode. I will no longer give my license to anyone except law enforcement (and the odd occasion that I rent a car, since it makes sense). If someone needs my age, they can read it while I hold the license. If anyone tries to peel it off, they lose my business.

That is all… for now.

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