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

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:

Busted. :smiley: :smiley: I had a pretty good rant going New Years eve. A combination of many, many factors. Tension at home with the wife, my boss had just assigned me to a crap two month project that I was dreading. Holiday traffic, crowded holiday shopping. Yeah, I was spoiling for a good rant that night and Home Depot set off the fuse.

However, they are only 2 miles from my house. They do have great stock, especially their garden center. Lowes is 15 miles away and I only shop there when I have other errands in that part of town.

Just wanted to say, I was not in the least upset about Home D not doing exchanges (they only do refunds). It simply struck my natural sense of irony. I quietly laugh at a lot of things that are regulated by Corporate or gov. rules. Usually I keep it to myself. My own little chuckle. Once in awhile I share it on the Dope.

As fachverwirrt pointed out, it does go through the computer then. But there is also a difference in the type of goods. I don’t know all the details, but I believe Target would purchase the shirts as a bundle containing multiple sizes, and they don’t keep track of the actual sizes, just the number of shirts. Eventually any left over shirts get moved on to more discounted outlets, and if they sell out, they aren’t restocked. At the Home Despot (sic) and similar stores items of different sizes are tracked individually and automatically re-ordered when the count gets low enough. The items would otherwise stay on the shelf until the line was discontinued. At that point they’ll put everything at clearance prices. I took advantage of that the other day and picked up a 14" diamond saw blade at Lowes for $17. I’m feeling sorry for **Darryl Lict **who’s just looking for a 10" plastic cutting blade for almost $80.

Of all the silly ideas… Why make it procedurally impossible to handle easy exchanges at the return register? It’s things like this that make it obvious that the people in charge have never actually worked the front lines.

I fully understand the idea of trying to keep inventory straight, but have you seen the pipe fittings aisle lately? I like how some stores have a bin every few feet so people can put things there for sorting after they’ve looked at them, but most people just toss things back wherever they please, leading to madness when you need three half-inch left-hand PVC to IBM elbows and that bin is filled with IBM to PVC reducers, or more commonly in my experience, a box of drywall screws and a light switch.

stores are very smart to do that for plumbing, hardware and electrical. they should put up better signage so it gets used more.

Each Ikea store chooses which items to stock. Possibly the first two stores where you tried to return this did not stock the color you were returning. In that case, they would not be able to sell the 1 odd unit that you were returning (except as a overstock or some other discounted price). So they wouldn’t want to take it as a return, when they can’t resell it.

I love Home Depot. I go there at least 3x a week… usually more. I frequently buy more than I need and return the rest. As has been pointed out you don’t even need a receipt.
For exchanges, I take the receipt (or show the customer service person I’m bringing in an item), go get the part I need and take them both back to CS. Or just present the credit card I bought it with and they take care of everything. Easy peasy. I do this a LOT.

The difference between a big box store and a mom and pop store is size. BBSs have a lot more inventory and they need computers to keep track of it all. It makes perfect sense to me.

While we’re ranting about people not being able to put things back where they belong…it is not cool to open every bulk bag of hardware in the goddamn hardware aisle. Some of us actually want to buy 25 fender washers and would appreciate if you assholes would take your 3 from the little bin of lose washers and not open the bulk bags! Use your eyes.

Working in retail in the past you wouldn’t believe how quickly a coustmer can turn their shopping into a complete clusterf*ck of receipts, returns, exchanges, etc. that it’s up to the store to keep straight.
Somebody buys their pc and monitor and with it they get a free printer. They also have mail in rebates with it. Then a couple days late they want to exchange the monitor for a biggger one. But two days earlier the bigger one was on sale so they want that price. But they also already sent in their rebate and removed the upc from the box. And somehow they messed up their printer and want a new one. But the store ran out of that one and now they want a substitute. And if they are getting a substitute they also want their money back on the ink cartridges they already opened but don’t fit in the new printer. A week later they have a virus on the pc. They scream and cry because they NEEEED the pc for their thesis which is due in few days and they just can’t wait… it just goes on, and on, and on.

Of course it goes through the computer. So would any other exchange. The point is that there’s no reason for returning the goods and getting the new goods to be a separate transaction. It’s just bureaucratic inefficiency. Even if it’s caused by inferior computer software.

As a former designer of inventory, shipping and light accounting software, I disagree, and here’s why.

Let’s say you have the sales figures, by product, for last week, on the CEO’s desk. The next day, someone brings in an item to exchange, and you want the old sales figures to be altered? Should the CEO toss the report and you reprint it? How about the next week, and the next?

Much better to enter a new, negative sale for Product A and a new, positive sale for Product B. Now your computer database bottom lines are correct, and old spreadsheets don’t have to be trashed and replaced.

It’s a classic software problem. Once data is entered, it tends to be “frozen”; other data is derived from it, and if the original must be changed, all derived data must be re-computed. Editing a previous entry is a software nightmare.

And then there’s the audit trail. If you replaced a previous sale with new data, how do you keep track of it? Believe me, you do NOT want to wipe out all evidence of the original transaction, which invites fraud. You want to keep track of each step, and a reverse entry followed by a new one cleanly satisfies that requirement. That’s pretty much established in standard bookkeeping procedure.

Ahhh, from time to time my accountant will send my some entries to put into my accounting software. We’ll then compare notes and if something doesn’t match, we’ll fix it. Sometimes, I entered something wrong, sometimes she sent me a wrong entry, usually it’s no big deal. A misplaced decimal, an entry into a wrong account, etc. I always wondered why instead of saying “Oh, there it is, just go back and change 12500.00 to 125.00” she’d email me two entries. One to back out the 12500.00 and one to re-enter the original 125.00. I never considered it from the transparency side of things.
I know all the entries are recorded in the audit trail and I suppose if someone were to look at it, they might question why 12500.00 was changed to 125.00, but I didn’t know that wasn’t a GAAP. I just figured I could say it was a mistake…see here’s the emails back and forth from the accountant (I save all of those).