Home Depot’s top executive apologized online for his company’s poor customer service after a column appearing on MSN.com’s Money site lamenting the company’s one-time stellar service drew a record 3,000 posts on the site’s message board and more than 10,000 e-mails to the editors with similar complaints.

“There’s no way I can express how sorry I am for all of the stories you shared,” wrote Frank Blake, the company’s chief financial officer, in his post. “I recognize that many of you were loyal and dedicated shoppers of The Home Depot and we let you down. That’s unacceptable.”

In a syndicated business column, Scott Burns related how he had once been one of those loyal and dedicated shoppers only to take his business elsewhere.

“Back in 1990 … the stores were staffed with well-trained, knowledgeable and helpful people,” Burns wrote. “If you had a question, even a silly one, it was easy to find someone who knew the answer. Today, it is difficult to find a staff person at a Home Depot.”

Since taking over in January, Blake has vowed to restore the retail stores to their former glory - one big reason that he also announced that Home Depot might sell off Home Depot Supply.

In his post, Blake reiterated that change was on the way. He said the company was in the early stages of launching a nationwide program to recruit and hire skilled master trades people to staff the stores. He also invited disgruntled shoppers to e-mail their complaints to wehearyou@homedepot.com.

“You have my personal assurance that every effort will be made to address your concerns,” he wrote.

Blake has talked elsewhere about plans to regain retail momentum. During a February investor conference, he said the company planned to add 15,000 retail workers and invest $2.2 billion in capital spending and other expenses this year to improve customer service at its more than 2,100 stores.