Home Depot doesn't do exchanges. I wonder if Lowes and Walmart is the same?

Note I said Exchanges. Home Depot has a generous return policy.

This just cracks me up. I love bureaucracy. It’s so easy to laugh at.

Thursday, I bought some galvanized pipe fittings. Including a 8 inch nipple. Got home and realized I needed at least a 12 inch nipple to reach.

Pipe Nipple for those that are curious.
http://i1.quinbyhardware.com/6337281.jpg

No problem. Returned to Home Depot Friday with the receipt.

“Need a longer nipple. Can I run back there and get the correct length?”, I said. She starts fiddling with her computer. I said, “Wait, I only need to swap this with a longer one. Prices are identical.”

“Inventory, got to do a refund”, she says.

I even offered to personally bring the incorrect item back to the shelf and then get the correct size (they are in side by side bins). Nope.

So this lady does a refund for $4 and change. She makes me sign the computer pad acknowledging my refund.

I took great pleasure in pocketing that money and change. Then giving the same money and change back when I checked out six and half minutes later. :stuck_out_tongue:

Makes me yearn even more for the old Mom & Pop hardware stores. Places where people aren’t mindless automatons trapped forever in their hopeless maze of rules and store policy.

Anyway, my spirits were lifted considerably by this little adventure in corporate policy. I just find it incredible that these employees are utterly incapable of any self thought or initiative. Common Sense?? WTF is that they ask. :smiley:

I’ve often read that one huge advantage we had in WWII and Korea was that our soliders were capable of self thought and initiative at the Platoon level. The Sargent’s running those Platoons were encouraged to think and improvise as necessary when the battle plan went to shit. When the shit hits the fan thats when you get creative and find a way to win the battle anyway.

Our German and Russian counterparts were terrified of their military leaders (even at the battalion level) and would just freeze waiting for orders from on high. That would fit right in working at Home Depot.

It’s about the inventory. They all do it now. Their inventories aren’t correct. Plenty of times they don’t have things that are supposed to be in store (or they can’t find them). But they’re trying to keep account of all stock going in and out.

I think computers are more of a problem than employees being automata. The store wants to have correct inventory numbers for all of their stock for obvious reasons. The computer system, due to what’s probably a stupid oversight, probably doesn’t have an exchange function and MUST process inventory either by Return or Sale functions. Thus to keep your inventory correct you have to do it in the stupid manner you described, rather than just hitting the exchange key and entering the two items to be exchanged.

I normally try my very best to support the local hardware stores. We have some stores called Fuller & Sons. I think there’s at least 4 in my metro area. Each store does have more of a mom and pop feel. One of them even has a lumber yard. I went by there the other day and they custom cut & threaded a 14 ft piece of galvanized pipe. Try getting that service at Home Depot. :smiley:

I always feel just a little bad about going to Home Depot. I much rather give my money to a local merchant. Even if it costs me 5% more in price. Sometimes, I need parts after 6pm and Home Depot is the only place open.

My contractor friend convinced me how much better their method is today. It seems silly at first, but you can show up pretty much any time with stuff that they sell and no receipt, and they will hand you one of their gift cards for the amount.

If you buy far more building supplies than you need on a job, it’s really convenient to just bring the materials back and get the little card. They don’t care. No need to shuffle through all the receipts you kept when purchasing tile, grout, plumbing fittings, and other stuff for a big project.

I guess that if you returned items daily without receipts they might eventually grumble, but he said he does it all the time in his work and never gets the stinkeye.

If you walk in with a direct exchange, they can’t do it easily, but I imagine that their current process speeds things up for 90% of the customers they see.

I was at Home Depot today. I got some packaging tape, took it up to the self checkout, and then noticed there was no barcode on it. But there’s a button on the touchscreen that says “no barcode”, so I pressed it. The woman who was riding herd on the self checkout lanes came over, looked at the tape, saw there was no barcode, and said I could just take it.

OMG you are the MAN! high fives

Don’t know for the Russians, but I always heard, at the contrary, that one of German army’s strenght during WWII was the latitude given to NCOs.

I used to work at Home Depot, as long as you have both items to scan it’s possible to just process the return of the 1st item as a cash refund, then process the sale of the 2nd item, all without the cash ever leaving the register. You need to do this at the service desk itself, not dedicated return register right inside the door though.

Spoken like someone who has never worked big box retail. I’ve worked both big-box and mom-and-pop stores, and the big places always have a lot of strict rules they expect employees to follow. There isn’t much leeway at some places. You gotta do it their way or you risk your job, and I’m guessing this girl didn’t want to risk her job for you.

The mom-and-pop place I worked allowed the employee to make a lot more ‘common sense’ type decisions. Which was nice, but you can see why that’s more feasible with 6 employees than it is with 100. We also had no inventory system, so we had to keep an eye on the stuff on the shelf and order new things at the right rate. It doesn’t sound hard, but it takes a lot more time than the automatic inventory control done at big stores, and I’m guessing it’s part of why things are more expensive at the mom-and-pop.

Big box stores also have to develop procedures that are robust against abuse. Immoral employees exist and they can be a significant drain on the business. When an employee scams a Mom & Pop store, that store just goes out of business and life goes on. When an employee scams a Big Box store, the store is forced to cover it out of it’s profits so it’s motivated to figure out how best to prevent it.

It’s a sidetrack but one started by the OP. But I was going to say the same thing. The German doctrine was that you told your subordinates what the goal of the mission was and then let them figure out the best way to accomplish it.

I was once out of town (but within driving distance–considerable driving distance) and visited an Ikea while I was there. I happened to see a shelving unit I wanted and it came in two different boxes. When I got home, I realized I’d picked up two different boxes–same shelving unit, but two different colors. I tried to take back the one I didn’t want to the closest Ikea and exchange/refund. (No, it wasn’t the exact same store where I purchased it, althought it was an Ikea.)

They wouldn’t let me exchange or refund it (even though I had the reciept.)

So, I went to the next closest Ikea. Same thing.

I ended up having to drive back to the way the f*ck out of town Ikea to exchange the damn thing.

And, if anyone is familar with the distances betweeen Ikea, they’re considerable. It’s not like driving to the next town.

At each place, it was all about the inventory.

Yeah, I don’t see any fault with the way the employee handled the OP’s situation. Most likely it was a limitation of the the tools the employee was using (the computer inventory and checkout system) rather than a limitation with the employee’s sense of initiative.

And I can especially understand why they wouldn’t want you to just go into the store and switch your wrong item for the item you actually needed. Assuming the OP is perfectly trustworthy, the employee still has no idea if you are qualified to put the original item back in the right place and not in a wrong but similar looking item’s spot. I used to work in a library, and one of my biggest pet peeves was helpful patrons trying to reshelve the books when they were done with them, and invariably putting them in the wrong places. This typically meant that two or three times a day I’d have to take the books off of a particularly popular shelf and redo the whole thing (in a smaller college library, you can make solid guesses on which classes are having exams soon based on which shelves are getting messed up).

And of course, as others have said, she has rules she has to follow, and she can get disciplined severely for not following them. If she gets fired, her sense of personal initiative will not put money in the bank account.

Inventory accuracy is particularly important at retailers (like Home Depot) that allow things like buying on the internet and picking up in-store. The website is going to base availability on the particular store’s inventory; if somebody goes on and buys, say, 10 12-inch nipples and the site says “sure” because the inventory allows it, but the inventory is off because somebody traded in an 8 for a 12 and the store is unable to fulfill the order, then the customer is unhappy, which is bad for business.

Yes, the cashier can inform whoever controls the inventory of what happened, but that takes time, and the inventory needs to be as accurate as possible in real time.

When I worked in retail, and a customer wanted to exchange an item for one of equal value, I would apologise for them having to come back and let them take the exchanged item away straightaway. After the customer had left I would then make the inventory system correct.

So… if I just cut the barcodes off, everything at Home Depot is free? Woo-hoo!

I just exchanged a shirt (wrong size) for an identical one at Target. The clerk rang up the transaction on a single receipt as “returned: 1 @ $9.95” then “sold: 1 @ $9.95”. The net was zero. Worked perfectly and their inventory is just fine.

Not a problem at Target. In fact, I can’t think of a faster way and the computer takes care of the notification. Counting out money and signing a receipt takes time, and handing over the same money again takes more time.

The point is, it went through the computer. What we’re talking about is bringing in an item at an identical price and then simply swapping them out without ringing it. If someone brings in a defective item that they want to swap with another of the same thing, I simply point them where they need to go and wave them out the door. If it’s a different item at the same price, I ring it all in at the same time.

Now, I agree that returning an item, then going and picking up an item, then ringing the new item takes time, but generally I encourage customers to do the whole thing at once.

Wait a sec. Didn’t you complain about Home Depot closing at 5pm on New Year’s Eve and then promise never to darken their door again? Wait, here it is: