The Home Depot sales associate U-Turn

This is a phenomenon I’ve noticed only at Home Depot, though it may very well exist elsewhere. My SIL mentioned it to me once and I thought it was just a fluke, until it happened to me as well:

 I go down the aisle and find the associate I need (I was looking for a type of lightbulb and could not find it on my own).   I greet him, show him the box from the old bulb.
  He says nothing but makes an abrupt U-turn and goes back down the aisle.  I stand there like a schmoe for a moment, wondering if I should stay put or follow.  I finally follow him and he's found the item I need.

This has happened with other associates in the same store. Is this a Home Depot thing, or is it more widespread than I think?
In other types of stores, the associates usually say something first, like “Oh, yes, I can help you find that” and then they take you where you need to go.

Home Depot has had an affirmative action program for the Undead for some time. They pass the good word on so you rarely see them working elsewhere except for graveyard shifts and used book stores.

It happens at other stores as well. It is the result of a poorly implemented training program for new associates. A lot of emphases is placed on greeting customers and walking them to the products they need and closing the sale. Many of my sales associates lacked the ability to navigate to the product and talk to the customer at the same time.

Hmmm… Well, it hasn’t happened to me yet at Best Buy or Staples, where I spend more time than at HD.

Given that they love to remodel and carry on at all hours, I think Shagnasty may be on to something…

That was surprisingly helpful for a Home Depot employee. In every single HD I’ve been into (many), almost all of the floor employees make a point of avoiding customers at all costs, and certainly making every effort to avoid helping them. I had a friend who worked in one for awhile, and he confirmed that it is indeed a conscious practice.

Yes… I have noticed this too.


At most large stores, this is SOP. Another move is to direct you to an aisle or another associate. In the end, this is just an attempt to distract you and get a few seconds head start in getting to safe ground. What they really want to do when you approach them is screw up their face in despair and anguish and say, “Aw, Christ, look, whatever it is you need or want to do, I can’t help you. I don’t need your problems. My day isn’t shitty enough as it is already? Can’t you just bloody leave me alone for Chrissake?”

You’ve actually *seen * HD employees? In the aisles?!
The last several times I was there, not only were there no associates on the sales floor, but I had no choice but to either check myself out with the “handy” self checker machines or stand in a line six deep for the only human-operated register.

The only way I’ve managed to get service in a big box home improvement store is to go in there after church dressed to the nines. For some reason, people assume women in skirts and knee-high boots can’t select power tools. And don’t get me started on last week’s adventure titled, “Woman Tries to Rent Floor Sander.” I had no idea a penis was required to refinish hardwood. (obvious joke(s) notwithstanding)

Former Home Depot associate and supervisor (2 1/2 years) checking in here.

Yeah, it’s an ingrained part of the culture, unfortunately. Employees just get tired of helping stupid customers find light bulbs and furnace filters that anyone could see are on aisle 18 if they’d just look for two minutes instead of homing in on anything in an orange smock and whining at it. When you see two associates standing together and you ask, “Could one of you tell me where the garden shears are?”, the standard practice is for them to make brief eye contact, both roll their eyes at your obvious cluelessness and rudeness at interrupting their conversation, then by means of a game of telepathic rock-paper-scissors, decide who has to go help you. Excuse them if they’re a little too tired to talk to you after all that mental effort.

Not saying it’s a good business model, just saying that’s the mindset. :dubious:

The last time I was at HD, we wanted a push mower, which was on the top shelf 20’ up. We asked the guys who were driving the forklift through the aisle if they could get one down for us. They said they would after they finished their current task. Which seemed to be nothing more than parking the forklift in the back. When we asked them again about getting the mower down they started to complain that they had put the fork lift away already.

I walked out and purchased from their competitor. I may shop there again, but not if I can help it. I am also not going to contact a manager about it. Why should I help them correct their flaws? Fuck them.

Thanks, fellow Dopers, for adding one more reason to the long, long list of reasons why living in a small town is better than living in a major metroplex. We have a Home Depot here in my little town of 15,000, and I know almost every person who works there by name. For one thing, I’ve worked with most of them at the call center here in town; many others, I’ve known all my life. It’s impossible to walk into that store and not spot at least two “punkins” within hailing distance, and after that it’s impossible to not chat with them while they find what I need, suggest alternatives, and ask how the project du jour is going.

Just wanted to add that, from what I’ve seen, there is an emphasis placed at Home Depot (and other places too, I’m sure) that employees should not just point and say, “Aisle 7, on the right” or whatever when a customer asks for help finding something. The employee is supposed to lead the customer to the product and make sure they get exactly what they need.

Now, I imagine that gets old after a while and eventually they start just immediately walking off to get the product without much conversation. I’m not saying that’s the way it should be, I’m just saying that could be what’s up.

And the best way to get help is to start climbing the shelves. Makes ‘em nervous and they come a-runnin’.

Sometimes you annoy me, and sometimes…
you are really fucking funny.