The other day I went to Home Depot to buy some party supplies
(incidentally, check out the party invitation
and the bonus Web site
here. It’s some of my better work.).
One of the things
I wanted was a set of rope lights. I eventually picked up
three sets of 48′ lights for $36.48. However, when I went to ring them up (you know
Home Depot is almost all self-check, right?) two rang up at
Looking closely, what happened is that the lights were packaged
in clear plastic clamshell packaging with two paper labels, one in
the front and one in the back. The paper label in the front showed
the 48′ lights listed above. The back label (the one with the bar code)
showed 27′ LED lights
(LEDs are cooler and cool == expensive).
It took a while for Home Depot to sort the problem out. Customer
service’s initial reaction was that someone had returned a set
of the cheap lights but swapped the back labels so that they
could get a larger refund. But then they had some more
lights pulled off the shelf and they were mismatched as well,
so things started to look a bit confused. Eventually, they
just pulled the back pages out of the package (I guess to make
it hard for me to do a return) and sent me
on my way.
Here’s the screwed up thing: nobody in this entire transaction was
sure which set of actual lights I had in my hand. The matching
package (the one which had rung up as expected) looked a lot like
the other two packages, but really these things look pretty similar
and after all we didn’t know that any of the packages was right.
I offered to take them out and measure them for length, but nobody
seemed interested. So, at the time I walked out the door it seemed
quite possible that Home Depot had sold me $188 worth of lights for
$109. Of course, I assured them that I would bring them back
if they turned out to be the LED lights, but they had no way
of knowing I actually would (or of verifying if I did or not).
I actually tried to explain this several times, but nobody
seemed to care and eventually I gave up and left.
Turns out that they were the right lights after all, though.