Some military retirees have expressed their dissatisfaction with Home Depot’s recently changed discount policy, saying those who aren’t “tech savvy” may be left out.

The national home improvement chain opened up its everyday discount to 16 million more veterans, but that comes with more requirements for verifying military service. Previously, military retirees and currently serving military could simply show their military ID at the cash register and get a 10% discount. Veterans who left the military before retirement could get a discount, but only on certain holidays.

Now, all veterans who haven’t been dishonorably discharged are eligible for the discount every day, and both active duty members and veterans are required to be verified through SheerID. During that one-time process, you create an account that will allow the discount to be automatically applied when shopping online, and a QR code to be scanned from your mobile phone in-store at checkout.

There’s the rub, say some retirees.

“Older veterans who are not as tech savvy generally, used to be able to present a valid military ID to get the 10% discount. That no longer works,” said James Fender, a retired Army lieutenant colonel, in an email to Military Times.

“Do you see the problem this will cause older non-tech-savvy vets? They DO have a valid military ID in their pockets, but they MAY NOT have a smartphone,” he said. “According to the manager at my local Home Depot … they’re just out of luck.”

But a spokeswoman for Home Depot said customer service departments in stores or online are ready to work with them.

If someone is having trouble registering, they can seek help online through customer service representatives who can walk them through it, said Home Depot spokeswoman Yanique Woodall.

Those in the store having a challenge because of the verification requirement should speak to an employee, she said.

“They will direct them appropriately and make sure they’re taken care of,” she said.

Asked specifically if someone who isn’t tech savvy can go to a Home Depot store and get the discount, she said, “they should speak with our frontline associates, and they have the ability to take care of the customer.”

“Our job at the end of the day is to take care of the customer.”

Although Home Depot has opened the discount to potentially 16 million more veterans on a daily basis, the amount of the discount is now limited to $400 per year, per person. Spouses of those registered can also register for their own account, and the spouse and veteran would be eligible for a combined $800 discount each year, on a total of $8,000 in purchases. The change in policy also means the discounts can be used online, where more items are available.

Woodall declined to specify how many people have signed up for the military and veteran discount, citing proprietary reasons.

“However, with the recent program expansion to now include all veterans, active service members and spouses, it can be utilized by more of our customers,” she said.

“It’s a much more robust program,” Woodall said. “We have customers who are very pleased with the ease and convenience of the one-time registration,” Woodall said. “I’m glad we have the opportunity to offer them a discount, and even more delighted to expand it,” she said.

The changes to the Home Depot military discount program are similar to those that another national home improvement chain, Lowe’s, made to their military discount program in 2017, using a third-party online verification system. The Lowe’s program doesn’t have a yearly maximum discount cap.

A number of commercial retailers have begun using verification services to provide discounts to those in the military community, which makes it easier to provide discounts to veterans who don’t always have identification. According to the SheerID website, the verification process helps businesses make sure they’re giving discounts to customers they’re trying to reach, and not to those who don’t qualify for the discounts.

Commercial retailers aren’t required to offer discounts to veterans or anyone.

Karen has covered military families, quality of life and consumer issues for Military Times for more than 30 years, and is co-author of a chapter on media coverage of military families in the book "A Battle Plan for Supporting Military Families." She previously worked for newspapers in Guam, Norfolk, Jacksonville, Fla., and Athens, Ga.

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