Home Expo Complaint - Public Humiliation - Products For Bathroom

Review by OldSchoolGirl on 2008-08-07
EMERYVILLE, CALIFORNIA -- I am writing to make a formal complaint regarding your Oakland, CA store. The is event occurred I believe in mid December 2007. I went to your store to make a purchase for my bathroom and had no problem. When I went back about a week later to make a return this is when my shopping experience became a nightmare - for me.

This was a Saturday as I walked through the doors the alarm went off. It startled me and I threw up my hands with my bag in the other hand making it clear I didn't steal anything; I had my package with me coming into the store. The clerk, which I later found out was the Assistant or Dept Manager smiled and assured me this happens sometimes and asked how she could assist me. I told her I was looking for towel bars and other things for my bathroom. She paged a lady to assist me. I made an exchange and purchase that evening.

The next visit was on Sunday. I had decided what was to be returned and brought the items to the store. As I walked through the doors the alarm went off. A woman at the register started questioning me about my package and insisted on taking them from me. She kept asking me - did I want to make a return and I told her not now. There were not that many people walking in the store but nevertheless a couple walked passed me and the man nudged the woman and said, "looks like they caught one" (which I found very deeply humiliating). She made it clear I couldn't go any further unless I gave her my bag;I had nothing to hide - so I did reluctantly. This woman never asked me for a receipt (which I still have today).

After I was allowed to go into the store, I asked for a manager to make a complaint. The person I spoke to was the same clerk from Saturday evening. I told her what happened and she clearly wasn't interested. I came back later in the afternoon and spoke to the general manager. This meeting was more demeaning. The general manager was displaying tolerance when I told her what happened to me. She said, "I have never had any complaints about this employee; this is the first time I have ever had a complaint about her."

The general manager cut me off mid sentence and also made it VERY CLEAR she will review the videotape and then will determine if I was telling the truth.

First of all, I have NEVER stolen anything in my life. When I spoke to another supervisor she seemed very aware of the employee's behavior, and so were two other salesclerks. The general manager seems to be unaware of the activity and treatment of the customers in her store. She also handled my return and gave me the DISTINCT impression I was just being tolerated and to leave. I have not completed my bathroom and don't feel comfortable to come back in the store knowing a clerk can treat me as she pleases and get away with it.

I've contacted and written to the customer complaint department of Home Depot parent of Home Expo and was told the district manager would contact me. He Did Not Contact Me.

Their (customer service)disposition doesn't seem any better than the general manager and the salesclerk involved. I thought I take a chance and write just the same. I hope someone will look into this matter. I have been reluctant to go back into the store. It's too late to return the items. I've never been in trouble and don't feel comfortable to go back and return the items.
Comments:12 Replies - Latest reply on 2009-09-11
Posted by madconsumer on 2008-08-08:
20 months later and you are still complaining?
Posted by Anonymous on 2008-08-08:
Dec 2007 to Aug 2008 does not equal 20 months. But still why complain now many months after the fact?
Posted by cherpep on 2008-08-08:
Why not? The fact that it has been months and the store still hasn't offered an apology speaks volumes of their position in the matter. The cashier was just doing her job when asking to see your bag when the alarm went off. I'm sure her manner had everything to do with you feeling humiliated. It seems like the store is doing themselves a disservice by not giving you a call to say - I'm sorry you felt you were treated unfairly, our cashier was doing her job in protecting our store, it is unfortunate that the situation left you humiliated. We have spoken with the cashier. Thank you for your business, we would be happy to do business with you in the future if you choose to visit our store.
Posted by Anonymous on 2008-08-08:
So let me get this straight...you walk in the door with merchandise that triggers the alarm. You refuse to give the bag for examination, and you decline to do your returns at that time. You just want to walk around the store and look suspicious? I think they treated you better than your behavior warranted.
Posted by RJ on 2008-08-08:
other than unknowledgeable clerks, Home Depot has always been great to me. For some reason, my key fob sets off store alarms... its weird. Anyway, I made a LEGITIMATE complaint to HD corporate office and was reimbursed for time and materials (I was sold the wrong ceramic tiling adhesive and had to tear up and redo a marble floor)
Posted by Anonymous on 2008-08-08:
BA, cherpep!!! Despite the fact that most retail losses are employee thefts, many retailers persist in treating their customers according to the model established by the thugs and felons screening air passengers for TSA..."guilty until proven innocent". The person monitoring the door was out of line. "How can I help you with your (return, exchange, etc.)" goes much further than oblique accusations of theft. BTW...'suspicious' actions do not convey a right to treat someone like a criminal. Good comment about the key fob, hubbard!! Very helpful review.
Posted by TGT101 on 2008-08-08:
Most retail losses are employee thefts? Where do you get you data?
Posted by Anonymous on 2008-08-08:
"Stop Thief!" a publication distributed by our local law enforcement agency directed toward retailers. I suggest that you Google 'retail theft'. I did...in a few seconds I came up with a basket load of things like "The biggest threat facing storeowners is employee theft, which accounts for nearly half of inventory shrinkage--more than shoplifters, more than administrative error and more than vendor fraud." (Entrepreneur.com July 17, 2007). Some retailers, (Waldenbooks and Border's Books) also publish the data in their employee training manuals to explain the need for their loss prevention techniques directed toward employees. Thanks for your interest!
Posted by DigitalCommando on 2008-08-08:
The store employee acted properly under these circumstances (maybe she could have been nicer) because anybody could walk in, set off the alarm with a 3 dollar product, go into the store and switch it with an expensive item. The store would have no way of proving that the item which triggering the EXIT alarm is the same as the item that triggered the entrance alarm, unless it was caught on camera. As most RFID tagged items are deactivated at the time of purchase, something that triggers the alarm on entry SHOULD be a concern to the store and nobody should be offended by it. As Ken stated, this person wanted to walk around the store with a returned item. To avoid scrutiny, returned items need to be returned the second you walk in the door.
Posted by Anonymous on 2008-08-08:
"anybody could walk in, set off the alarm with a 3 dollar product, go into the store and switch it with an expensive item"

Respectfully, DC, how would that work...since the receipt for the original item would be for $3...how would they simply walk out with one for $100? (BTW...it's just as easy to walk in with an empty store bag in your pocket...insert merchandise and walk out with your 'purchases'.) Old trick...still works especially where there are no electronic monitors...without the bother of having to bring in a 'return'.
Posted by Anonymous on 2009-09-08:
If you accidentally set the alarm off when you walked in, why not stop right then and try to figure out what set it off so it doesn't happen to you again? I agree with another poster. You acted suspicious, therefore they treated you so.

By the way...my shoes have set the alarm off at work. It happens.
Posted by OldSchoolGirl on 2009-09-11:
Thank you all for your comments. I just received a notification of the posts 9-08-09 - strange? I have not heard anything in all this time until a year later - beats me.

To clarify a few things, I exhausted all forms of communication for customer service issues long before this site. I tried to contact the district manager when the incident happened. He never contacted me. I called the customer complaint number (I believe) in Georgia - the rept took my info - no response. I tried looking into other channels for consumer issues to no avail.

Sometimes there is justice and sometime just none.

I guess unless you walk in that person's shoes - it's hard to comprehend.

Best to All.

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