Home Depot keeps cooking

William Leeper hauled his new $404 GE kitchen range home himself from the local Home Depot only to find some of the external metal damaged right out of the box.

Returning or exchanging the range was no trivial task, even if Home Depot took responsibility. How would he be compensated for the aggravation and time?

Before Leeper could consider the answer, Home Depot made it right — and then some.

Leeper has a knack for happy endings when things go awry with a new product purchase, and was the subject of a similar previous story about Kiwi polish.

Now, moving from polish to hardware is something I can really relate to. While I am a guy not prone to polishing shoes, I love hardware stores and know what every single thing in every aisle is for. But I have not really considered Home Depot for an appliance purchase. Maybe I should. Apparently, some deals can be had, especially by saving on the delivery and store-provided installation.

“We purchased a new GE kitchen range and picked it up from the store after it arrived,” began Leeper. “When we unpacked the unit we discovered that the rear of the range metal had been pushed in about three to four inches, the lower front right corner dented, and the bottom drawer twisted.”

Ouch. Sounds like a bad day for the forklift operator.

Leeper wasn’t worried about getting it replaced, but now he had to haul it back. Today, our schedules have never seemed busier, and while most companies usually replace a defective product without a hassle, that alone does not always keep the customer coming back after the aggravation.

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“I immediately called Home Depot, where the assistant manager, Gina, took charge of the problem,” continued Leeper. “Without any evidence of the damage, she offered to reorder a new range for me, this time with free delivery. And we could go ahead and use the current stove until the replacement arrived.”

Now we’re cooking.

Although Home Depot threw in the extra delivery cost and interim usage of the dented stove by way of making it up to Leeper, they were not done.

“She said if we were inclined to try to fix the damage ourselves, they would refund $100 cash,” he added.

What inner Tim Taylor of “Tool Time” would not rush to this throwdown challenge of not only using his or her tools to fix something, but for an additional $100 to boot, when the problem was just misaligned sheet metal? With a myriad of tools pacing back and forth on my workbench, restless for action, I almost wish I had that problem.

(Insert “Tool Time” baboon grunts here.)

Leeper is a guy after my own home repair heart, and straightened out the metal himself. “With a bit of muscle and some proper resistance, I managed to get most of the range straightened out,” he triumphantly exclaimed. “You can hardly tell it was damaged, and I accepted the $100 – plus the tax.”

Both the good news guy and home repair guy are impressed.

The bigger message here is not just that Home Depot acted promptly to exchange the merchandise, but that they also recognized the true cost to the buyer when something goes awry — the time and effort involved. And, they really were sorry.

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In the end, Leeper was not only made whole but was given a choice — something we simply do not see that often today. Anyone can sell an appliance, but not everyone can keep a loyal customer.

We can take some responsibility and do our part to encourage this sort of thing. (Leeper is a good-natured guy who was very polite, which never hurts.) And rather than gird our loins for battle while prematurely affixing blame, accept that mistakes happen and let those able to do so show their ability to correct them. We just might be pleasantly surprised.

“Even in the store, they never asked for photos or any other proof of the damage,” Leeper concluded. “They took us at our word — and they took ownership of the issue. I am so pleased with how Home Depot handled our problem.”

Smiles and baboon grunts all around!

Andrew Der

Der is an environmental consultant and travel journalist specializing in water science, nature, eco-travel, and cultural destinations

  • Joe_D_Messina

    ““When we unpacked the unit we discovered that the rear of the range metal had been pushed in about three to four inches, the lower front right corner dented, and the bottom drawer twisted.”

    As long as the customer is happy this is a win. But that sounds like pretty significant damage so I would have skipped the $100 and taken a new unit. Even if the unit works perfectly at the moment, who is to say some circuitry didn’t get jarred to the point it might fail far earlier than normal? That stove clearly took a pretty major impact.

    Great example here, too, of how good business and good customer service can go hand-in-hand. The store manager was faced with the situation of having to bring back in the range and try to resell it in its damaged state with either an employee spending time on the clock to try and make it more presentable or just hoping some bargain-minded customer would look past the damage. $100 to the OP to keep the unit was a bargain for the store in this case. Quite likely they’d have had to of reduced it more than $100 to move it in a timely fashion.

  • sirwired

    Moral of the story: if hauling massive things home from the store, unbox the thing and leave the crate right there in the store. For the short (and one would presume, careful) trip home from the store, sturdy loading straps and some moving blankets should suffice.

    This could very well have gone badly if HD chose to blame the customer for the damage.

  • Joe_D_Messina

    I’d never take an appliance out of the box to move it myself. You’d just be inviting scrapes on the brand new item. And those would clearly be your fault so you’d be stuck with them or looking for ways to fix them.

  • sirwired

    That’s what the moving blankets are for.

  • Joe_D_Messina

    No, that is what factory packing is for! They’d ship stuff in moving blankets if they were as effective as the packing, LOL.

  • sirwired

    Loading onto appliances en masse with a forklift into shipping containers packed with packed with them and then stacking many-high in a warehouse is very different than moving a single appliance home from the store using an appliance dolly. (For starters, you of course cannot stack something wrapped in blankets.)

    If moving blankets were ineffective, there’d be a market for some sturdier method of moving appliances when people hire movers.

  • Joe_D_Messina

    Look, I can’t be the first to tell you it’s not necessary to totally unbox appliances at the store. You must have been told that at every store you have done it. And then they rolled their eyes and watched you try and wrestle the appliance into your vehicle and secure blankets around it when it could have been safely loaded in two seconds if you’d just left it in the box until you got home.

    If you think there’s a real risk of being blamed for damages, then I guess it’s worth the extra hassle to you. But you rarely get blamed for damages. I was given 5 full days to report any damages on the last appliance I had delivered which seemed like total overkill but suggests quite well how they were going to be incredibly liberal on that point. And the story here also demonstrates how Home Depot certainly wasn’t out to get the customer in this case.

  • sirwired

    I rent the $20 HD truck. It’s no different from unboxing it in my garage or driveway, except now I don’t have to get rid of the giant mass of cardboard.

    It needs to be safely secured in the truck with or without the box, except now it’s wrapped in a couple of well-used moving blankets (left behind from one of my moves in the past) instead of cardboard. You are making it out to be much more of a hassle than it is.

  • Jason Honingford

    I’m surprised there was no free shipping in the first place. Appliances are almost always shipped free with free haul away of the old appliances.

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