Home Depot employees share 10 insider facts many shoppers don't know

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home depot employeeJoe Raedle / Getty ImagesHome Depot associates don't get an employee discount - but they can help snag you savings.

  • Home Depot store associates know all about how the home improvement retailer operates.
  • Home Depot currently employees over 400,000 associates at 2,284 stores in the US, Canada, and Mexico.
  • Associates have taken to the web to share more about the employee experience and opportunities for savings at the chain.

Home Depot store associates have firsthand knowledge about what it's like to work at the home improvement store - and they have plenty of suggestions for shoppers.

A Home Depot associate who's worked at the store for almost a year told Business Insider that their best advice for shoppers was to check to see that you really need what you're buying.

"Measure, count, and be realistic of what your needs are," the associate told Business Insider. "Ask an associate if you need to. We are there to help, and have backgrounds in many fields."

According to the company's website, Home Depot currently employees over 400,000 associates at 2,284 stores in North America.

Here are other tips and insights from Home Depot associates:

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You can't just show up with your driver's license if you want to rent a truck from the store

You can't just show up with your driver's license if you want to rent a truck from the store

Home Depot garden associate and Quora user Darnice Pinckney wrote that, in order to rent a truck from Home Depot, "You need to have a valid drivers license, proof of auto insurance, and a valid credit card, and be sure you bring it back with the gas filled to the level you rented it at. Please do not show up without auto insurance. They will not rent to you if you don't have it."

Home Depot associates don't get an in-store employee discount...

Home Depot associates don't get an in-store employee discount...

"Home Depot employees don't receive discounts," Home Depot head cashier Toni Rosewrote on Quora. "Instead, all employees that work an average of 20 hours a week are eligible for benefits like dental insurance."

Home Depot lumber associate and Quora user Tim Hoofward wrote that associates do get access to a site called OrangeLife that provides discounts through different organizations, "but employees do not receive any discounts at the store itself because it would be considered a conflict of interest."

... but they can surprise shoppers with unexpected discounts

... but they can surprise shoppers with unexpected discounts

"Home Depot empowers their employees and allows them to discount specific items up to $50," Rose also wrote on Quora.

Associates don't even have to check with their supervisors before handing out such a discount.

A report from QuickTapSurvey noted that, "Employees are trained to use discretion when offering a discount and won't grant you one unless there is a legitimate reason."

"You can use this to your advantage, if you don't abuse it," Rose said.

Associates also don't get commission

Associates also don't get commission

According to a Quora post from former Home Depot associate Orion A. Bennett, while there are bonuses offered based on store performance, store employees do not receive a commission on sales.

Home Depot associate Jonathan Jeffries wrote that the lack of commission ensures a more equitable environment at the store, saying, "Thank goodness. You'd never get waited on if you only wanted some screws and anchors while some other customers wanted $149,00 drills."

Associates can be fired for confronting shoplifters

Associates can be fired for confronting shoplifters

Home Depot has a strict policy against confronting shoplifters.

Four associates were fired from a Palm Coast, Florida, store in 2016 after helping to catch a suspected shoplifter who was subsequently charged with theft, The Daytona Beach News-Journal reported.

In a similar situation, uproar ensued after a Home Depot associate in Portland was terminated after interfering in a domestic dispute in the warehouse's parking lot in 2017, Snopes reported. The associate was ultimately offered his job back, and he accepted.

The New York Daily News reported that, in the same year, an Army veteran was fired from his role at a Home Depot in Texas after throwing a paint roller extension at three alleged shoplifters.

The chain has defended its policy, citing safety concerns. A Home Depot spokesperson told the Daily News that "only trained security personnel are allowed to confront shoplifters for the safety of customers and employees."

Some Home Depot locations may accept competitors' coupons

Some Home Depot locations may accept competitors' coupons

Some local Home Depots will accept coupons for competitors like Lowe's.

A 2017 article from MyDomaine reported that the policy "seems to vary from store to store, depending on the leniency of the store manager, but some Home Depot locations will actually accept coupons for competitor stores."

And a Reddit user who said they worked at Home Depot in 2017 confirmed that their store still accepted Lowe's coupons during an AMA.

Price-matching is the law of the land at Home Depot, after all. It won't hurt to give this strategy a shot at your neighborhood Home Depot.

Associates will sometimes rig up a project for you in the store

Associates will sometimes rig up a project for you in the store

"I've put together things on the spot for customers," a Reddit user who said they worked at Home Depot wrote. "They'll come to me with something unique or just bouncing ideas off each other, and we'll rig up something in store."

Home Depot has a pretty generous 90-day return policy — so hold onto your receipts

Home Depot has a pretty generous 90-day return policy — so hold onto your receipts

Don't toss out your Home Depot receipts just yet.

"Anything — with a few exceptions — can be returned within 90 days with a receipt," former Home Depot associate Steven Sevek wrote on Quora.

But don't fret too much if you happen to lose your receipt. Sevek added that, if you paid for the purchase with a credit card, the store can look up the receipt.

"This look-up feature should work for 90 days from date of purchase," he wrote. "Returns within 90 days of purchase will be in cash if you paid with cash or credit to your credit card, etc."

If you come in after 90 days or without a receipt, you'll need to bring in an ID to receive store credit, he added.

Home Depot gets much of its wood from the same mills as Lowe's and Ace Hardware

Home Depot gets much of its wood from the same mills as Lowe's and Ace Hardware

Former Home Depot lumber associate Jack McCleary wrote on Quora that the chain's "wood comes from wherever they can get the best price."

He added that, "Pressure-treated lumber comes from different vendors depending on area, but all vendors compete to buy from mills in the Pacific Northwest and Canada."

So Ace Hardware and Lowe's end up getting their lumber from the same mills.

McCleary wrote that whitewood typically comes from Canada, sheathing and plywood is typically from "nearby lumber mills," common boards are usually from Sweden, and hardwood plywood generally comes from South America.

If you're looking to just buy scrap wood, that's an option, too. Damaged "cull lumber" is up for sale, and it's usually located near the lumber saws, according to former Home Depot department supervisor Kristina Cornett's Quora post.

"The cut pieces usually have a spray-painted dot in different colors depending on their price point," Cornett wrote. "I can't remember the actual pricing, but I'd say it ranges from $2 to $10. Ask the store associates for pricing in lumber and building materials. Otherwise the cashiers can look it up on the registers."

Home Depot associates spend much of the day on their feet — so proper footwear is a must

Home Depot associates spend much of the day on their feet — so proper footwear is a must

"Buy lightweight, steel-toed shoes," Home Depot tool rental associate Raymond Wheaton wrote on Quora, as a top tip for new Home Depot hires. "Walking and standing for eight hour shifts on the concrete floor is hell on your knees."

"I refuse to wear anything but boots, no matter where I'm scheduled," wrote a member of r/HomeDepot on Reddit. "Flooring? Boots. Cashiering with anti-fatigue mats? Still boots. Lot? You'll have to pry my boots off my cold, dead feet."

Are you a current or former Home Depot employee with a story to share? Email acain@businessinsider.com.

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