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Home Depot: Major Appliances, Misrepresentation and refusing to follow the Law

Note: Home Depot refuses to follow CA Law and instead follows company policy. The actual law is noted below. I talked to a manager at the local Home Depot and even had a copy of the law, but he said that he did not care what the law was and that they would instead follow company policy. Is this the type of business you want to give your money to? Personally I will no longer spend my money there and will drive further to other stores which follow the law.

Before I begin with this story I want to ask you a question. I think that most reasonable, rational people would know what the answer should be, but unfortunately that is NOT the answer under which Home Depot operates under. The question: You go into Home Depot and order a major appliance, using a Home Depot credit card, but due to misrepresentation on the part of Home Depot you cancel the order the next day as it is going to cost you $50 more than you agreed to. What do you think it means when you "cancel" the order? Sounds simple, doesn't it? Most people would think that it means that the order is cancelled and the amount would be credited to your account. That is where the great business sense of Home Depot comes into play. Cancelling an order is completely separate from requesting a refund. Of course they don't tell you that until you ask because you got the bill and there is no credit on it. You are supposed to know that, so they don't need to tell you.

Recently I had the opportunity to help a family member buy some appliances. Well, in the end it was just one appliance due to the problems with Home Depot. The main thing was the dryer since the old one died and due to the cost of getting things repaired, it was decided that it was not worth getting it fixed as it has a couple of things wrong with it.

After looking around a bit, it was found that Home Depot had the best price for what was being looked for, namely a low end dryer. Nothing fancy was needed and Home Depot had a Maytag dryer on sale for $399. They also had "free delevery and removal of the old appliance", which is really $50, which there is sales tax on, then you mail in a rebate. The real joke in this is that you have no choice with regards to delivery since the stores don't stock the appliances.

Well, a dishwasher was also needed. The old one had some issues, although it was working. So we checked to see what Home Depot had and decided on a Maytag for $299. It had a better wash system than the others, although it was slight more expensive. This is where the first problem started. Since the dryer was needed as it was not working, if we purchased both then the delivery date would be pushed back until both could be delivered and this was not acceptable. It seems that they don't have any way to deliver what is available, it is all or nothing. So, it was written up as two separate orders, which seems to confuse them. It seems that when you attempt to checkout, only one item can be entered at a time. This would not have been a problem, except that after all the paperwork had be done, the sales person mentioned that if you filled out an application for a credit card that you would get 10% off all purchases. This meant that both had to be done together. They did manage to do it,

One issue with the dryer was that they have "free" installation. The problem is that they will only install it if you buy a new vent hose and a new gas line kit. Now, in case of the gas line kit it is more expensive than what is sold in the store. The dryer vent was in good condition and did not need to be replaced for $10, so I decided to install it myself and save the money. In removing the gas line, I ended up deciding to replace that since it was not in a condition I wanted to reuse it, so I bought a new one which cost $12 before tax, saving $8 from the "free" installation.

The next day it was realized that there might be a problem. The requirement to get the delivery fee back was that the appliance had to be $299 or higher. Instead of listing the appliance at $299, the discount was taken and that price was shown instead. The rebate center said that it would not count, yet the sales person said that he thought that it included the delivery fee, which it seems one version of the form shows, but others do not. The sales person also said to just send it in and if there was a problem that they "should" take care of it. Instead, it seemed that the best thing to do was to cancel the order as it was not worth it to take a chance. The funny thing is that no one said anything about that when originally doing the paperwork or checking out. It seems that getting a 10% discount, saving $30, can cost you the $50 rebate and therefore ending up costing you $20 more. Part of the slightly humorous part of this is that I talked to a manager there about this. What was funny was that he said that you needed to get everything in writing from the sales person, but when he agreed to give the same day if we came back in to redo the sale he did not want to put that in writing. He also said that the rebate on delivery was not valid with any other offer, which means that getting the discount with the credit card means that you are not entitled to the rebate. That is something to be determined in the future and will be fought if they deny it. It seems that at every turn things are not what Home Depot claims. You should not have to figure these things out for them, yet otherwise it will be your problem.

Now, the dryer was delivered and the crew that delivered it was really good and helpful, a big difference than from some of the people in the store. One problem was that the dryer rack was not in the dryer. I asked about it and they did not know anything about it and said that everything was there. So, I checked the owner's manual and it said that the dryer rack was an optional extra. The problem is that the display model at Home Depot had it and nothing was mentioned that it was an option. In talking to another manager, he did not know anything about it and did not know why nothing mentioned it. He did say that he would correct the problem and mark the dryer rack as being optional, but nothing was offered in terms of the purchase. It seems like false advertising to me, but since I have never use my dryer rack and in this case it was not expected to ever be used, I did not push the issue. It was far better to just get out of the store. Part of the reason for this is that I got a new gas line for the dryer, the one marked "dryer", but it turned out to be the wrong one and the delivery people had the correct one and installed it. I returned the unopened gas line, which is when I talked to the manager about the dryer rack. It was also interesting to find that Home Depot is not aware of the law in CA which requires them to cash in gift cards. It was not worth it to fight that, especially with out the law in hand. The specific law in this case is: CALIFORNIA CODES CIVIL CODE SECTION 1749.5. (b) Any gift certificate sold after January 1, 1997, is redeemable in cash for its cash value, or subject to replacement with a new gift certificate at no cost to the purchaser or holder. There are other limits listed, which don't apply in this case, such as no expiration date and no service fees (with limits). I went into the local Home Depot today as I needed to get a part and I brought a copy of the CA Law in with me regarding gift cards. A manager, one of many, by the name of Shawn (sp?), said that he did not care what the law was and that they just followed company policy. This shows that Home Depot is a company to be avoided at all costs since if they do not care about following the law, they don't care about the customer.

Unfortunately the story does not end there. The Home Depot credit card bill came and there was not credit on it. In calling Home Depot, they say that cancelling the order is not the same thing as asking for a refund. They claimed that in order to get a refund you had to go into the store and request it. When this was done, they said that they had to call the vendor to verify that the item was not delivered, but that the vendor was closed and could not call. They said that they would call the vendor the next day and mail a receipt. I talked to a manager and had to ask him numerous times to put that in writing, since I was told by another to get everything in writing, which is a very good idea with Home Depot. I also asked if Home Depot was going to call to confirm that the credit had been issued and the manager told the person to make a note of that. Of course no one called. I called and talked to yet another manager (they seem to have more managers than ants in the world). He said he could not check on it right then and that he would call me back. Since Home Depot had failed to call, I said that was not acceptable and asked to be transfered to the special order desk. He refused. He said my only options were to hold for 15 minutes or for him to call back in 15 minutes. I asked again to be transfered. He said that I did not understand my options, I told him that he did not understand the options. He put me on hold, so I hung up and called back. The person at the special order desk said that they had submitted the credit, but that there was no note to call. We shall see if it is over yet. I suspect it is like the horror movies which the bad guy keeps coming back again and again.

At first I thought that it might be an honest mistake or just incompetent, but after all this I have to seriously wonder if Home Depot operates the way that they do in order to defraud people. It would have been easy if many things had been ordered to overlook the charge, after all the order was cancelled and never delivered. When I went into the store right after this and talked to a manager, who was told by the salesperson that the order was cancelled over the phone, it was never mentioned that you had to go in person to get a refund. The fact is that they issued the credit without being there because they had to verify that the item was not delivered. This shows that they are harassing people and making it difficult to get refunds. Home Depot misrepresented that you could get the delivery rebate and even when it was brought to their attention, they said to just submit it and if it was rejected they "should" do something about it. All the way they are actively attempting push you in a direction which is false.

It is also false advertising when Home Depot claims to offer free delivery and pickup of the old appliance. When you look on the invoice you will see that they charge you $0.01. Now while this is not much, it is still not "free". This seems to be typical of the way that Home Depot works.

While the appliances are in the store like other items, based on what I have seen those are actually more like a special order. Especially considering that you have to go to the special order desk to check out. Originally I thought that it was because of the delivery, but now that seems to not be the case. Home Depot does not stock the appliances and does not seems to do anything except take the order.

Bottom line is that Home Depot does not seem to be ethical in my opinion and is best to avoid giving them any money and instead deal with more honest places.



Index for Insanity, Inc.

Written: 01-Feb-2005

Updated: 03-Mar-2005

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