I’ve read many stories over the years of deplorable treatment of active duty military, veterans and spouses, but none of that prepared me for a first hand experience. Let’s talk about Home Depot and how one very rude manager was “honoring veterans” on this lovely Veterans Day.
Our story starts the day before Veterans Day. We went to a nearby Home Depot to confirm some information we had read on multiple sources online. Home Depot always offers a 10% discount to active duty and veterans but it is capped at a $50 value. According to everything we read, that was expanded to $500 savings for select holidays, including Veterans Day. The super friendly staff at our local Home Depot store contacted the manager and was able to confirm for us that was the case but that it only applied on November 11th, not the entire weekend.
The following morning we got up and drove to another Home Depot. We had to go to a different store because the flooring we planned to purchase was not in stock at our nearest Home Depot. We got to the store, spoke with a flooring rep and confirmed they had what we needed. He said he wasn’t certain about the extended discount for the day but he didn’t see why the manager wouldn’t honor that especially given the other store manager had already confirmed it for us. He also thanked my husband for his service. We sorted out our order and headed up to the service desk to pay while he gathered our pallets of flooring.
At the service desk, another employee entered our order in the system and the discount did not apply as expected. Not a big deal, she just called the manager to request an override. The manager refused. At this point the flooring rep had made his way up to the front and was wondering what was taking so long. The two employees were determined to help us. They spoke with the manager and he was willing to give an additional discount but not the full 10%.
We politely pushed back and inquired why that wouldn’t be honored. We pulled up three different websites including a Home Depot Community Forum with a post by an official Home Depot rep. All of them verified the $500 maximum discount for Veterans Day. The manager reluctantly agreed to come up front and handle it.
We waited another 15 minutes, an embarrassingly long line now forming behind us. When the manager showed up, he immediately started to berate us for not accepting his “generous” offer to increase the discount. At this point, I explained again that we had stopped in another store. I explained in detail the entire conversation we had and even produced a handwritten note that the staff at the other store had given us with the details of the discount. I explained we had driven thirty minutes across town because that is what we were instructed to do and we were simply asking for them to honor the discount as it had been explained to us.
This is where things really got bad. The manager looked at my husband and started talking to him like we were looking for some sort of ridiculous, undeserved handout. He scolded us for asking for a discount above and beyond $50. He then said “We already donate a lot to you people. We volunteer and give money to Wounded Warrior Project every year.” He said this like he felt whatever debt his store owed to military had been paid in full with interest. He spoke to us like we were beneath him and should shut up and be grateful for the donations given to veterans organization.
It was humiliating. It was completely unexpected. And I had absolutely no idea how to respond. I was in complete shock.
The two other employees looked very uncomfortable throughout this entire exchange. They offered multiple workarounds on how they could easily honor the 10% off. He repeatedly insisted that wasn’t the issue. He was said that we had no right to ask for an extended discount. He asked why we wouldn’t just go back to the other store. All I could think to do was explain again that we only made the half hour trip to his store because another store manager had told us the discount was valid only on November 11th and that we had to go to a store with the merchandise currently in stock to be able to buy it.
I asked if we could simply break our order into three smaller purchases and pay for those three $500 purchases separately to get the discount. This is something we could theoretically do on any day. There is no policy that I have seen that says a daily price limit, it simply says a $50 maximum savings per receipt.
In the end, one of the employees suggested entering the order in the system a different way to achieve the same discount. The manager finally conceded, but not without getting a few final jabs in about how grateful we should be for his generosity and how he didn’t need to do it. He stopped just short of telling us not to come back to his store again. The whole experience was absolutely abysmal.
After the manager left, the employees made a concerted effort to salvage the whole thing. They thanked us repeatedly for our service, apologized for the inconvenience, and thanked us some more. Not once did they speak poorly of their manager, which really speaks to their professionalism. Instead, they found other ways to make it crystal clear his words did not represent their views or opinions.
To be clear, we weren’t all that outraged about the confusion over the discount for Veterans Day. It was frustrating for sure, but I can completely understand policies that come out through corporate vs store policies can vary. I could completely understand if there was some confusion over the promotion. If he had politely explained that there was an issue with the system that would not allow them to apply the discount or give us some other polite explanation it wouldn’t have been a problem.
Instead, he spoke to us like we were asking for a handout. He chose to speak down to and belittle myself and my husband for his military service. On Veterans Day no less. Needless to say, we will not be returning to that store again.
I guess I’m trying to make two points here. The first is that all the crazy stories you hear about the way people talk to military service members are, shamefully, things that really happen. The second is there really is no reason or excuse to talk to another human being this way. Especially not about a deal or discount offered to thank them on a day intended to honor them.