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The Home Depot military discount puzzles veteran

Spokesperson says “confusion” has occurred in stores
By: Sara Seyydin/Journal Staff Writer
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At 6:35 a.m. Wednesday morning Don Fitch received a 10-percent-off military discount at The Home Depot in Roseville — a discount he said he was denied on another purchase just over an hour later at the The Home Depot in Auburn.

Fitch says the frustrating discrepancy is one he runs into often at the Auburn store, but has never faced at any other The Home Depot store across the state. As an owner of many rental properties sprinkled throughout California, the Indian Wells resident and Certified Public Accountant said he frequents the store often.

The Home Depot officials say Fitch only qualifies for the second-tier discount offered to veterans on the major patriotic holiday weekends, not the first-tier of military discounts available year-round. However, they added that there has been confusion about the policy since it changed two years ago, causing stores and individual employees to enforce it differently. They added that the home improvement specialty retailer has a long history of supporting and employing United States veterans.

Fitch said he uses his Vietnam Veterans of America card to receive the discount at other stores. Although this is not one of the accepted forms of military ID The Home Depot requires in its discount policy, he said stores from San Diego to Roseville, and even some employees in Auburn, have honored the discount on a daily basis when he shows the card.

“The issue is that I go to all these Home Depots and I am able to use this card at every Home Depot except for the one in Auburn,” Fitch said. “It’s inconsistent. It’s just maddening.”

Stephen Holmes, spokesperson for The Home Depot, said Fitch does not qualify for the everyday discount because he is not an active-duty, National Guard and reserve, retiree or disabled service member or a spouse of one of those categories. As a veteran, he can enjoy the discount on major patriotic holiday weekends, such as Veterans Day, Memorial Day and Independence Day.

A larger issue, Holmes added, is that Fitch should not be using the discount for repairs related to his rental properties because there are several discounts available for professionals.

“I have to admit there is some confusion of the stores. There is actually a bigger reason why he would not qualify on every one of these purchases from an everyday standpoint. It is not a business discount,” Holmes said. “It’s for your personal use and I will tell you one thing, too, it’s one of those deals where I wish I was standing there at the register. We have other programs for professional programs for business customers. We have countless property owners that use the professional discount in the professional program.”

Fitch said in 2010 The Home Depot expanded its discount from just patriotic holiday weekends to everyday for current and some types of former military members, which despite training on policies, has seemed to confuse employees since.

The Home Depot employs 35,000 veterans and at any given time 1,500 employees are deployed on military leave of absence, Holmes said. He added that last year the Home Depot Foundation launched a $30 million commitment to repairs on veterans’ homes in conjunction with Habitat for Humanity.

Fitch said when redeeming the military discount at checkout, he has never once been asked if the repairs were for his home residence or one of his rental properties. Managers at The Home Depot in Auburn have never given him an explanation for why they wouldn’t grant the discount, aside from the fact that the Vietnam Veterans Card of America is not one of the accepted forms of military ID. He said he has asked managers to add the card to the list several times. Fitch said while he loves The Home Depot, their discount policy is not consistent.

“I have never had the issue come up except for (at) the Auburn store. The issue as far as the rental properties, as far I don’t qualify, that argument has never been made to me before,” Fitch said. “That would mean that anytime that I am buying an item for my home and I qualify for my 10 percent they would ask me if it’s for my home or a rental property. They never do that. Their store policy, I think they are making it up.”

Reach Sara Seyydin at saras@goldcountrymedia.com, or follow her on Twitter @AJ_News.