How Ace Hardware Didn’t Ace My Transaction

After our walk yesterday, my wife and I went to the Libertyville Ace to purchase some paintbrushes and Benjamin Moore paint. I eventually have to paint my upstairs woodwork so purchasing the paint and brushes might give me the boost I need to begin. It’s serendipity as all store items are 20% off, however, the fine print on the ad flyer stated that all paint was excluded from the 20% sale as it was 10% off.


As I walked through the doors, I realized I need some Gorilla Glue to seal several of my hiking shoes. It worked well in the past and I figured getting at a 20% discount would be a good play. Next, the paint area where we decided to select the newest Benjamin Moore — not oil based but acts very much like oil based paint. In lieu of having to paint the entire upstairs’ woodwork, I decided to order two gallons. 300 square feet per gallon may seems like a lot, but with 15 doors to paint (40 square feet per door considering both sides), that gallon just won’t cover everything. In addition, I’m painting wood trim, which will consume a little more paint.

At checkout, a young female cashier looked unenthused as we needed to pay for our hardware merchandise. I casually mentioned to her that the Purdy paintbrushes and Gorilla Glue should be 20% discounted while the paint is 10%. She shook her head yes. The bill came to around $180.00 and I once again asked if the paint was discounted and she said, “Yes”, without batting an eye or glancing at the actual receipt. After glancing at how the receipt was designed and finding it difficult to read (as I was walking out of the store), I added that information to my back pocket in case I wanted to add it up later.

Finished Product

            Finished Product

Besides math, curiosity is one of my strong suits so I needed a quick way to determine if there were any errors on the bill. Putting aside the paint, I added up all the other items and subtracted the 20 percent. I then added this amount to the regular price of the paint to get the subtotal. I then compared my subtotal to Ace’s subtotal and saw the difference was 20 cents so I knew my paint purchase was not discounted. After have changing into my paint clothes once I got home, I was hoping to address this issue over the phone.

After my quick math, I called Ace and was put on hold a number of times while they searched for someone who could assist. While on hold, I was thinking this could have been avoided when I had asked the checkout person if the discount applied to the paint too. Because the receipt was difficult to read, the cashier could have validated I was charged the correct price before I left the store.



Eventually after about 5 minutes, Lisa helped me with this transaction. After she confirmed my math, she said she could credit my account. After taking my credit card information, she was able to process my transaction. As she was processing, I half-seriously asked her if I can get a 20% discount off the paint for my inconvenience. She merely laughed and said, “I’d get in trouble.” She certainly didn’t follow up by offering me something for my inconvenience. Does that mean the employee’s health is more important than the long-term businesses health? She did, however, ask me if I wanted the receipt mailed to me which she obliged.

Lisa was pleasant and easy to work with, however, I’m old school and it would have been encouraging if I was issued an apology…pardon me for our inconvenience. The discount was only $11.00 (for two gallons) but in my mind, principle often trumps cost. Was my experience customer centric? Not completely. One more question, would it be cynical to ask how many other paint buyers ended up paying full price today during their sale?