Bunnings job cuts: Customers complain about poor service, lack of floor staff

Home Economy Bunnings job cuts: Customers complain about poor service, lack of floor staff
Bunnings job cuts: Customers complain about poor service, lack of floor staff

What happened to Bunnings’ famed customer service?

News that the hardware giant is planning to cut up to 300 jobs just before Christmas has been met with a common complaint online.

“Can’t see how they could employ any less, there’s basically nobody there now,” one reader wrote on Facebook.

A second man commented he had “never seen an overstaffed Bunnings”. “I have however struggled to find staff,” he said.

Another joked that “I have — they always congregate at the door talking, behind the main desk talking, out in the carpark talking”. “If there’s so much time to chat, they are overstaffed,” he wrote.

One woman said she and her husband “vowed never to go back” to their local Bunnings after a bad experience recently.

“We went to spend money coming up to Christmas!” she said. “We were in the power tool section … four staff, yes that’s right four staff in that area and not one of them assisted … the old blind eye blinker trick.”

Another agreed that “one of the things that I always liked about Bunnings was that I could always find a staff member in my aisle or the next one over”.

“They know their stuff and where to find everything,” she said. “I’ve noticed there’s been less of that lately and I was hoping that things would go back to normal soon. It would be a shame to lose more staff. I know nothing about drill bits and wheelbarrows so it’s nice to have the advice and muscle to carry heavy things.”

One man added, “Most of the staff are as useful as chocolate teapots. Last bloke I asked where something was said, ‘Sorry I only work in aisle 12.’”

One customer claimed he had “asked a young guy for help in Bunnings and he asked me who I thought I was demanding something and walked away from me”.

“There was no demanding at all,” he insisted. “I found an older guy who couldn’t have been more helpful.”

Another woman shared a similar story, saying they “asked two staff chatting near the paint counter if they could help us with a paint order, and were told we would have to wait until they finished talking”.

“Buy all our paint at Mitre 10 now,” she said.

A third chimed in, “Yeap, had some big attitude at a couple of stores’ paint counters.”

Another customer sparked a debate after complaining about seeing a large group of Bunnings staff “congregating around the cafe the other morning including the manager”.

“Not a good look, Bunnings,” he said. “I actually rang head office and put in a complaint and told them to have a look at their CCTV.”

One bemused person replied, “It’s called a team meeting.”

But the man insisted “it wasn’t an effing team meeting”. “They were all congregated around three tables in the cafe carrying on more like it was a Christmas party,” he said.

“Surely they have a staffroom, and more to the point the young girl behind the counter made me wait 15 minutes to serve me because she was busy making staff coffees. What you need to understand is that customers actually pay your wages by shopping there.”

Not everyone had complaints, however.

“I have found all staff at Bunnings happy and helpful,” one woman said. ”Their customer service is something other retail stores need to look at and follow.”

Another agreed, “We love shopping at Bunnings. Always friendly helpful staff. We have never had any hassle finding someone to help us out.”

Bunnings managing director Mike Schneider said in a statement, “We are still actively recruiting for team in our store network to ensure we continue to offer customers the best experience.”

Over the weekend, The Australian reported up to 300 jobs in training, communications and support services could be on the chopping block with a round of redundancies forecast for Bunnings’ head office and national support centre.

However, it is understood Bunnings disputes the reported figure.

Sources told The Australian the cuts could come through “attrition and not filling vacant roles” in the coming weeks and months.

News.com.au understands “frontline” store workers will not be impacted.

It comes amid a post-Covid review into its structure and support centre resourcing.

The hardware chain recently restructured its communications and learning and development teams in a move towards digitising training, human resources and skills development programs.

Several readers suggested this was what had led to a decline in customer service standards.

“Digitising training and taking people out of training and communications is always a downfall for any company,” one woman said.

“Once training is digitised — the stuff-ups at work will become abundant! How sad they think digital training is best.”

A second agreed, “Yep, you’re totally right. I used to work at Bunnings and honestly, their training is sub-par at the best of times. It’s really going to be up the putt now. They never give sufficient time to complete online training as it is, so it’s really not going to work!”

Australian retailers across the board are preparing for significant economic headwinds in the coming months as rising interest rates, cost of living pressure and stresses on household budgets impact consumers’ spending power.

Economists predict consumer spending to slow significantly as early as January.

Bunnings, owned by Wesfarmers, is one of the nation’s largest retailers and employs roughly 53,000 Australians — with about 1600 working at its Melbourne head office.

The company is expected to first try to redeploy those impacted across the group, keeping the proportion of staff leaving the business low.

According to The Australian, Bunnings is also facing ballooning warehouse costs, after pre-ordering too much stock expecting strong sales over spring and Christmas only to see demand hit by poor weather.

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