Failure to Deliver: A Story in Progress

Last week I placed a lumber order with The Home Depot. I elected to place the order with them because they had the items in stock and they were able to deliver on Monday. Lowes had better pricing and a cheaper deliver fee, but they were not able to deliver the items until late this week.

So the delivery was scheduled for Monday morning. My plan was to wrap up my Canaan fir screening field work in the morning, then start my construction for the next experiment with the newly arrived lumber in the afternoon. But at 2:30pm on Monday (hours after I expected to have the lumber) I got a call telling me I would not receive my order. No apology. No remorse. A matter of fact call informing me it would have to wait until the next day. An inconvenience, but I elected to extend some grace and be happy with a Tuesday morning delivery.

This morning I went to the experiment site first thing in the morning. I had about an hour of small tasks to accomplish, the real work would start when the order arrived. After waiting around for 6 hours I called to confirm the delivery. After being transferred I was told I’d “get a call right back” with details on the delivery status. After waiting 32 minutes for that call I called back again. I was told it had been moved to tomorrow (the decision to move it to Wednesday had been made at the start of the day, but I was not informed). Once again the change in plans was handled in an unapologetic fashion. It would be accurate to say I was less than thrilled when I hung up the phone.

Take it away Casey Kasem: This next song is a Long Distance Dedication from a listener named Ben from State College, Pennsylvania. Here’s what he writes: “Dear Casey, I’d like to send a message to a big box store. I’m getting the feeling they’re not listening to me, for every conversation we have ends with them promising me something they promptly forget about. Would you please play One Repulic’s song Apologize? Every time I call them to ask why my order has not arrived this song runs through my head.” Thanks for writing Ben. Big box store, you’re on notice, here’s your song.

As this situation has unfolded I have observed where the problems occurred–communication between departments. All the failed promises are a result of poor communication between departments and workers. The sales person spoke for the lumber department manager and the delivery coordinator, while the delivery coordinator failed to coordinate with the fleet manager. No one was trying to deceive me or delay my order, they just made promises for other departments or inherited promises that did not fit their schedule.

But that is no excuse. A company may be composed of many departments, but it should be united. The sales team should know (or be able to determine) the status of the lumber department and plans of the delivery coordinator, and the delivery coordinator should know that the fleet operations manager is going to have all the trucks serviced (leaving no trucks for deliveries).

And that makes me appreciate Lowes all the more. They did not make promises they could not keep.

When it comes to delivery, The Home Depot has completely lost my trust. Tomorrow morning marks the third consecutive day I am supposed to receive the same order. This is the final day. If my lumber does not arrive on Wednesday there will be a reckoning.


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