Worst. Service. Ever: Home Depot & HOMExperts
I’ve written about great customer service in the past, and what it can mean to companies that pay attention. But today, I’m going to write about the worst customer service I’ve ever received. I’m hoping the power of the blogosphere can help The Home Depot and Owens Corning HOMExperts to sit up, take notice, and maybe even finish my kitchen. Please, please help by blogging about this story and digging it.
It was the summer of 2005, the end of August to be exact. My wife was pregnant with our twins, we’d just moved into a new house, and we desperately needed to get our kitchen remodeled. We headed over to the Home Depot Expo Design Center, met with a designer, and went to town. Everything sounded great – depending on materials, it would take roughly 6 months, they had a great selection of appliances and materials, and best of all, they held all of our money in escrow until milestones were reached with the contractors.
You see, we’d heard all sorts of horror stories about kitchen remodels from our friends. The contractors would often take the money in advance, and then had no incentive to finish their jobs. (I know all contractors aren’t like this, and it paints the good ones in a bad light, but unfortunately, it happens far too often). Home Depot’s approach sounded much better – they’d keep all of our money in escrow, trickling it out to the contractors as they finished parts of the job. They assured me, being a large corporation, they would have lots of control and organization around the project, and the contractors would be incentivized to finish the job quickly and thoroughly, lest they lose Expo’s business in the future.
How wrong that all was! I’m sitting here, December 5th, 2006 – a full 15 months after we began this 6-month project – in an unfinished $130,000 kitchen. Yes, you read that right. $130,000, 9 months overdue, and I can’t even get anyone on the phone to help us out. About once a month, if I’m very lucky, some contractor from Owens Corning HOMExperts comes over for an hour or two and screws a few things together. They came yesterday, for example, and tried to finish a few projects. Of course, what they ended up accomplishing was zero, and actually managed to damage some stuff, so we’re less finished today than we were two days ago. Lucky me.
The kicker? I paid for most of the kitchen on a 12-month, no-interest Expo credit card. You know the ones – they drool in anticipation of you defaulting and this mountain of interest landing on your account in a blink of an eye. Never in a million years did I dream I’d have paid the entire thing off (no interest!) before the kitchen was actually finished. But that’s exactly what happened.
The whole project is like something out of a Hollywood comedy, full of tragic moments. My twins were born seriously pre-mature, but of course our house was unlivable for far longer than the projected timeframe. We scrambled to find a place to live until June 2006, raising pre-mature infants outside of our own home, before finally moving in after the worst of the construction was finished. People left the company, like our project manager, and Expo didn’t feel compelled to replace them. Parts of the kitchen started breaking weeks after they were installed, and had to be replaced. The list goes on and on … many of the lights still don’t work.
As the CEO of a company that strives to provide top-notch customer service, this has been incredible to watch. At no time during the process, other than the design and purchasing phase, have we felt taken care of, or even like our satisfaction was even a consideration. I wish I could say that the experience has been highly educational, like my visit to the Ritz-Carlton, but I have to imagine that any human being would realize that this is ludicrously bad customer service. The two companies involved, The Home Depot and their contractors, HOMExperts, must have some serious problems internally. Steer clear of both of them, whether you’re an investor or a consumer. If they can’t take care of me, how many other homes are they destroying?
Please, help me spread the word and make some noise at Home Depot HQ. I’ve opened a BBB case, but I think the blogosphere is far more powerful. Help me get my kitchen finished!
UPDATE: Looks like Joel Grover at NBC4 in LA has done a report on Home Depot. Guess I’m not the only one.
UPDATE: We made the digg homepage in less than two hours. Awesome! Then someone buried us as ‘lame’ and we disappeared forever. D’oh! Guess I’d better call the lawyers and see if they can help, because I think the blogosphere failed. :(