Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Keystone Cops at Home Depot

Keystone Cops at Home Depot

Ten years ago I paid a neighbor $100 dollars for an extra lawnmower that was taking up room in his garage. It was an old fashioned "push" mower and until the last year or so it worked pretty just fine. Well, recently when I went to get started with Spring mowing it became quickly apparent that the old boy was dead. For what it's worth, the brand was a Lawn Boy and it cost me $10 per year plus gas, oil and new spark plug to run. Not bad!

After doing some quick research online I cruised some of the area stores and settled on a Toro model at Home Depot (the only reason being I couldn't find a Lawn Boy with the features I was seeking). Prior to wrestling the box with some help from one of the store clerks I asked at the customer service desk if there were any special financing options, deferred payment plans, etc. I was told rather bluntly there was not. With the box now on a dolly I made my way to the check-out register and as I did I was approached by a very friendly store greeter who wanted to make sure I took advantage of both the financing and deferred payment options. I must have had a very puzzled look on my face because she stopped dead in her tracks. I told her I had just inquired about this and told there were no special programs. She proceeded to tell me that was not the case. The greeter escorted me to the check-out and as the check-out clerk told her (right in front of me) there were no special programs, the greeter took over and facilitated the transaction. As a result, I received 12 months same as cash--with zero financing--great deal! However what about the customer satisfaction/loyalty ramifications?

I came away with mixed feelings. The good news is obvious. I got a great deal and now have the option to pay in a year and with no interest until the end of the 12th month. The bad news is that Home Depot was like the Keystone Cops--where one person doesn't know what the other is doing. I think their financing program is a good one--and facilitates loyalty...but they have to get their act together for the customer experience to be more positive and seamless. Also, if they are going to offer it--shouldn't they actively promote it? I supposed on some level Toro gains some negative and positive halo from the experience but not much as the primary transaction was with Home Depot and not the manufacturer.

What do you think...? Share YOUR experiences!

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