My kitchen cabinets are peeling! Can Home Depot customer service help?

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By Christopher Elliott

Joslin Leasca’s kitchen cabinets are peeling, and she wants Home Depot customer service to refund the $17,822 she paid for them.

The company sold her the cabinets in 2020 and has tried fixing them several times. It wants to keep trying, and her warranty may allow it to do that indefinitely.

Leasca has run out of patience.

“This is a product failure,” she says. “The doors, the laminate, and apparently the glue — all failed.” 

This isn’t an easy case. For starters, I’ve never advocated a full refund for kitchen cabinets. The installation was done by a third party, adding an extra layer of complexity. Also, the Home Depot five-year warranty says the company can “repair, replace or refund” and that it gets to choose. 

One thing is certain: Leasca’s kitchen is falling apart (not as badly as in the illustration above this story, but you get the idea). She needs someone to fix it.  

It’s time to open the door to the world of kitchen cabinets. I’ll run through the costs for installing cabinets and their refundability. We’ll explore Leasca’s case and find out what her rights are and what she could have done to resolve this problem. And I’ll tell you the surprising thing Home Depot did when I asked about her complaint.

What does Home Depot charge to install cabinets?

It depends on the size of the job. Home Depot estimates that installing cabinets is $69 to $119 per linear foot. Leasca spent $4,762 on cabinet installation out of her $17,822 order. 

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Are cabinets from Home Depot refundable?

Under most of its warranties, Home Depot can refund a cabinet purchase if it can’t repair the damage. However, most of the time the company will try to repair or replace a defective cabinet.

What went wrong with these Home Depot cabinets?

Leasca says the problems started about a year after Home Depot’s contractor installed her cabinets. 

“There are several areas where the laminate separated from the underlying cabinet,” she said in an email to Home Depot. “In one area, the separation is interfering with a door closing.”

Home Depot’s initial response? This is no big deal.

“I reached out to the installer asking him to schedule an inspection and service appointment with you,” a representative said. “The protective coating leaves behind a residue that can be removed with mineral spirits. He will take care of what he can, and speak to our manager about your other concerns.”

But the “other” concerns were considerable. Leasca says Home Depot tried to replace the cabinet doors, but they started to peel again. 

“The problems have continued,” she says.

She’s been back and forth with Home Depot, trying to negotiate a refund. But Home Depot wants to continue to work with her to repair the kitchen. Further complicating the issue: She’s been in touch with the third party that installed the cabinets, hoping to file a claim on its insurance.

“The installation company refuses to provide the contractor’s registration number and insurance company,” she says.

So there she is with kitchen cabinets that are apart and an installer that won’t give her the time of day. And Home Depot wants to keep trying to repair what is clearly an irreparable kitchen. 

What are your rights when your Home Depot cabinets start to peel?

Home Depot offers several warranties on kitchen cabinets. They range from a limited five-year warranty on selected cabinets to a limited lifetime warranty on kitchen remodelings. 

The terms of Leasca’s warranty were not immediately clear. Nor was it obvious who should take responsibility for her cabinets. Was it Home Depot, the manufacturer or the installation company, which may have also had a service guarantee? (Related: I ordered a Christmas tree from Home Depot but it never arrived.)

Peeling cabinets are not a new problem for Home Depot. In 2004, another Home Depot customer, J. Brit Miller, sued the company after some of the door and drawer fronts began to delaminate. That warranty was also unclear. An employee had written “10-year warranty” on his sales receipt, but there was no copy of the warranty. Miller won, but his case was overturned on appeal because the court ruled there was no evidence of the terms of the warranty

Cabinet warranties are filled with exclusions. Even a lifetime warranty comes with a cabinet full of exceptions:

“Lifetime” doesn’t apply to everything

Some “unlimited” warranties have a one-year limit for all finished cabinetry. They cover materials and workmanship from the original date of purchase under “normal home use.” 

They give the manufacturer all the options 

During the warranty period, the manufacturer chooses whether it will repair or replace any defective part or product. It may also offer an equivalent replacement product. 

They can change your kitchen design 

Some warranties also give the manufacturer the right to change specifications in design and materials without notice and with no obligation to retrofit products it previously made. So you could end up with a completely different kitchen if you call in a warranty problem.

Bottom line: When your Home Depot cabinets start to peel, look at the warranty on your kitchen to find out what they will — and won’t — cover. Chances are, the manufacturer or retailer can do almost anything it wants under your warranty, and you have to accept it.

How to reach Home Depot customer service

To fix a warranty problem with Home Depot, you’ll want to contact the store that sold you the cabinets. If you can get in touch with the representative who sold you the kitchen, that’s even better. The rep will want to know if the product is defective and may be able to offer the quickest solution.

Home Depot is one of the more responsive companies, when it comes to customer service. You can reach out to the company by phone at (800) 466-3337 or through its website. 

We also publish executive contacts for Home Depot, in case the company fails to respond to your request.

Here are a few strategies for contacting Home Depot customer service:

Keep a careful paper trail

When three parties are involved in a transaction, you must keep good records. You’ll need copies of all your warranties, receipts and any correspondence between you and the companies.

Document the problem

Don’t just describe the problem — take pictures or videos of the problem. This will help you make the strongest case possible. 

Be nice

Unfortunately, losing $17,822 in cabinets can bring out the worst in anyone. My advice: Be extra nice to everyone on the phone and when you’re corresponding with the company. If you’re not sure if you’re being nice enough, ask a friend to review your email before you hit “send.”

I have more information on how to fix a consumer problem like this in my ultimate guide to fixing any consumer problem. Also, here’s a guide to warranties that will help you make sense of the guarantees your manufacturer offers.

Why I decided to take this Home Depot customer service case

After spending $17,822 on a new kitchen, Leasca deserved to have cabinets that were not peeling. True, Home Depot had made several efforts to repair the cabinets, but had come up short. 

But what made me take a keen interest in her case was the installation company’s behavior. Refusing to give her even the most basic information on its insurance company was not a shining example of customer service. It seemed as if everyone was slowly backing away from Leasca’s kitchen cabinet problem, leaving her to clean up the mess herself.

You probably know what that feels like. Having someone turn their back on you when you need them the most is the worst. And when a company does it to you and starts sending you meaningless form responses and nonapologies — well, that really gets my blood boiling.

Still, I wasn’t sure what Leasca did deserve. At a minimum, her kitchen cabinets should look normal instead of peeling. But a full refund? I wasn’t sure, and I wasn’t about to tell Home Depot how to resolve this problem.

Can you return kitchen cabinets to Home Depot?

You can return most merchandise purchased from Home Depot within 90 days, according to the company’s refund policy. There are exceptions for furniture, which must be returned within 30 days.

So the time for Leasca to return her cabinets is long past. Ideally, she would have initiated a refund within less than a month (if I’m reading Home Depot’s return policy correctly) and at the most, 90 days.

Here’s the solution from Home Depot 

I contacted Home Depot on Lescea’s behalf. But as I already mentioned, I didn’t push for a particular resolution. I just asked the company to review her case.

A few days later, I heard back from her.

“I can’t thank you enough for whatever you said to Home Depot,” Lescea said. “After almost two years and extensive damages to our home, our case settled and we were refunded.”

It wasn’t a perfect resolution — she compromised with Home Depot over interest charges that had accrued during the dispute. 

“You solved in just a few weeks what we couldn’t even get a response on for almost two years,” she added.

Home Depot also required that she sign a confidentiality agreement. After doing that, she would only say that the case was resolved to everyone’s satisfaction.

That works for me.

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Christopher Elliott

Christopher Elliott is the founder of Elliott Advocacy, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that empowers consumers to solve their problems and helps those who can't. He's the author of numerous books on consumer advocacy and writes three nationally syndicated columns. He also publishes the Elliott Report, a news site for consumers, and Elliott Confidential, a critically acclaimed newsletter about customer service. If you have a consumer problem you can't solve, contact him directly through his advocacy website. You can also follow him on X, Facebook, and LinkedIn, or sign up for his daily newsletter. He is based in Panamá City.

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