Volume 45, Issue 7 - September  2006

Secret Shopper

A Sense of Honor
Two Secret Shopper Experiences at Home Depot
by Samantha Carpenter and Sarah Batcheler

Editor’s Note: The following has two experiences, in which SHELTER staff shopped Home Depot secretly during the 4th of July weekend. From June 29-July 4, 2006, Home Depot offered a 10-percent discount to active-duty personnel, reservists, retired military, veterans and their families.

The First Experience

I recently received an e-mail alert telling me about Home Depot’s 10-percent discount for military personnel. This isn’t a new promotion for Home Depot; they often provide such a discount during Memorial Day and Veteran’s Days. My husband, Jeff (a veteran) and I used Home Depot’s military discount last year during the company’s Veteran’s Day sale in Memphis. The last time we used the discount, we didn’t have a good experience. I won’t elaborate on all the details, but the salesperson didn’t know about the discount, wouldn’t get a manager for us, reluctantly figured out about the discount and was just plain rude.

So this year, I decided to give Home Depot another chance on the military discount, and I asked SHELTER’s assistant editor Sarah Batcheler and her husband, David (a First Lieutenant, United States Marine Corp.), to do the same. 

Home Depot Redeemed
I headed over to Home Depot in Conway, Ark., at 4 p.m. on July the 4th. Right inside the automatic doors was a sign about Home Depot’s 10-percent discount honoring America’s military personnel.

My husband asked me to get some pens for a welder, and since, I had not the slightest clue where to look, I found a Home Depot associate. I just looked for the orange apron. After I found an associate, I asked him where I could find some pens for a welder.

“We don’t have those here,” he said. “You’ll have to go to a welding supply store.” 

Ready to move on to my next item, I asked, “Where do I find the bathroom fixtures?”

“Go down this aisle and take a left, and you will find the bath tubs and sinks, and you’ll be in the right place,” he said.

Knowing about Store Promotions
I was after a new toilet seat, since the house we just purchased is 13 years old and we’ve been going down a list of things that need to be replaced. I figured with the military discount, this was as good a time as ever to purchase a new one.

I went straight to the toilet seats, compared prices with looks, pulled out a boxed toilet seat and to the checkout I went, picking up some double-A batteries on the way.

I placed my items on the counter and said to the salesperson, “I need the veteran’s discount.” 

Then I proceeded to rummage through my wallet to find my military identification card. 

“I know it’s in here,” I said.

“That’s okay. I believe you,” said the salesperson.

However, I insisted on finding the card, and after looking in every pocket, I finally found it.

“Are your managers good about telling you about the different discounts going on?” I asked.

“They are, but after you have worked here for a while, you typically know what kinds of promotions they are going to run,” he said.

This was truly a different experience than the one in Memphis, where the salesperson asked what it was when my husband handed him his military identification card.

Home Depot has been redeemed in my eyes. 

Home Improvement Retailer 
Conway, Ark.


Store was Easy to Find 

Parking Lot was Clean A
Windows were Clean A
Greeted Upon Entering D
Store Aisles were Clear of Debris B
Neatness of Displays B
Employee Politeness A
Employee Appearance A
Employee Product Knowledge A
Store Experience Satisfaction A
Overall Grade B+

The Second Experience

As my husband, David, and I approached the Home Depot in Pace, Fla., on July 2, we were joined by the many other patrons taking advantage of the extra time afforded them on the holiday weekend. We went into the store to buy ratchet straps, which were to be used as tie-downs for a trailer.

Although we frequent this store all the time, we didn’t know exactly where to go in the store for this item, so we started walking through the store and spotted a sign that led us to the right aisle.

We saw employees helping other shoppers, but we didn’t ask for help because we weren’t in a hurry.

After finding the correct item, we approached the counter. 

Always clean-shaven in appearance and standing upright, my husband asked the young man at the counter, “You guys doing the military discount this week?” 

“Yes sir,” he replied and quickly scanned a barcode he had behind the counter to produce the 10-percent discount.

As my husband reached into his pocket to grab his military identification card to show proof, the man at the counter was already printing out the receipt.

It was evident that this employee was well aware of the discount. He had probably seen a swarm of veterans and active-duty military in the establishment over the course of the weekend. With a navel aviation school just down the road from the store, the area is swarming with military flight students and instructors. 

Our experience at Home Depot was positive on the busy 4th of July weekend. We appreciate Home Depot’s discount to veterans, reservists, active- duty military and their families.


FACILITY TYPE: Home Improvement Retailer 
LOCATION: Pace, Fla.


Store was Easy to Find 

Parking Lot was Clean A
Windows were Clean B
Greeted Upon Entering C
Store Aisles were Clear of Debris A
Neatness of Displays A
Employee Politeness A
Employee Appearance B
Employee Product Knowledge N/A
Store Experience Satisfaction A
Overall Grade A-

A Excellent 
B Above Average
C Average
D Below Average
F Unsatisfactory

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No reproduction of any type without expressed written permission.