I don’t really think Home Depot sucks. I have no problem with them at all, but last night, I was shopping in a Home Depot store when I encountered their self-checkout for the first time. I left pissed with a head-ache.
Note: I have successfully self-checked out at other stores with no problem.
The problem was that their self-checkout not only didn’t work well but also had a severe attitude. That’s right. They managed to record friendly messages onto the checkout kiosk with the added realistic touch of pissiness.
The premise was simple. Customers scan their items and then place them in the “Bagging Area.” The problem arises when you consider the type of items you may be buying from Home Depot (I had a shovel for example) and the size of the bagging area, about 2 feet by 2 feet. A shovel or a microwave or even wrapping paper doesn’t exactly fit in that area. Plus, if you buy more that one of two items, the area fills up pretty fast. They did have an area for over-sized items but it wasn’t much bigger and certainly didn’t help.
When you moved items after scanning them outside the special “Bagging Area”, the machine became quite rude. The kiosk started off politely stating, “An items has left the bagging area.” That didn’t last long before it demanded in a snippy tone, “Please return the item to the bagging area,” over and over again, usually even after you returned the item to the bagging area. To make matters worse, sometimes the whole bag full of wrapping paper would fall off the area, and you were left wondering which move will most quickly restore the machine to a normal mode.
I did the only thing that felt natural. I kicked the machine everytime it used that tone. My reasoning was that at the very least someone would come over and check us out for us. They didn’t, but everytime I kicked it, the machine returned to normal. It turns out there was a cashier remotely reseting the machine. We did eventually check out all by ourselves, but it was a horrible expereince and took forever.
Here’s some free Quality Assurance advice for Home Depot. If your self-checkout kiosk makes the customer want to kick it, you have a problem.
I’m not the only one who feels this way either:
- .Net Hobbyist Programmer had the follwoing to say:
Actually, it was an implementation of technology that just got me extremely irate. I was so upset that I just left my purchases there and went over to the nearby Lowe’s …
- Jim Carson has a similar problem:
I’ve gone through this register abyss enough times that I just immediately go ballistic until someone opens another register or manually rings up whatever it is I’m trying to get through.
The store employees know the self-serve registers are a problem. I’ve also called the Home Depot corporate headquarters in Atlanta. The customer relations person did the deer in headlights routine, but when pressed, conceded the system was still new.
Home Depot is very conveniently located to my house, but because of the difficulty in paying for things, I’ve been channeling more of my home improvement business at Lowe’s.
Too bad, Home Depot executives don’t get how horrible these systems are. I found a slew of articles praising them for increased customer satifsfaction and sales.
- According to Baseline:
The retailer is attributing at least some of its recent gains to self-checkout systems, which now reside in 1,029 stores.
- Motley Fool tells a similar story:
To improve efficiency, Home Depot installed self-checkout stations in 760 of its 1,643 stores by the end of the quarter. As a result, customer transactions grew 9.4% to 313 million, with more than 40 million of those transactions done through self-checkout. At the same time, the average ticket grew 4.9% to $52.10 — the highest in history.
I find it hard to believe that anyone could like these self-checkout kiosks. They suck.