Home Depot Caught Refusing To Issue "Rain Checks"

A Home Depot store has been fined $1500 for refusing to issue rain checks for items that were advertised on sale, but were not available for purchase. Many communities have regulations that state that if an item is advertised as being on sale without mentioning a specific limited quantity, the retailer has a legal obligation to issue a rain check that will allow the customer to purchase the item later for the sale price.

A Home Depot in Westchester County, NY was refusing to issue the rain checks, so undercover investigators posed as consumers caught them in the act and fined them $1500. You may say to yourself, “$1500 is nothing to Home Depot.” Tell that to the manager who had to tell her boss that she just got fined $1500 for not following a simple local law.

Anyway, if you see something on sale and out of stock, don’t be too shy to ask for a rain check!—MEGHANN MARCO

Home Depot settles “rain check’ inquiry [MidHudson News]
(Photo: Neubie)

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  1. Matthew says:

    But it IS nothing to Home Depot. Even after you factor in that very modest fine, I’m sure this policy saved them money overall.

  2. Abusiveelusive says:

    I got refused a raincheck a few months back.

    I wonder if my local law requires they issue one.

  3. FLConsumer says:

    Does “limited quantities available” qualify or do they have to issue rain checks in those cases as well? If they have to be more specific, Best Buy is screwed.

  4. DashTheHand says:

    Is there a guide or some sort of reference material on which localities require rain checks by law? That way we just don’t go guessing if there is or isn’t, and that the store is actually going to be truthful.

  5. Beerad says:

    Well, one $1500 fine may not be much to a megacorp, but hopefully those investigators will be back, and other consumer protection agencies (you listening, assorted State AG offices?) can get in on the act across the country. If enough fines get imposed, companies might actually decide to follow the law.

  6. I live really close to this Home Depot, and I have to say, I hate it. I actually pay the $4 to drive across the Tappen Zee Bridge and go to that home depot, even though it adds 10 minutes to the trip.

    The home depot in White Plains is terrible – bad sales people, messy floors, untrained staff, lines on ALL the registers no matter what time it is, and when you really need someone to help you, there’s no one around. I’m not surprised at all that they would be hit with this one.

  7. fredperry2 says:

    A long time ago at a popular electronics store I went in to buy a computer on sale. The store didn’t have any in stock so I asked for a raincheck. They gave me the raincheck, but when I actually READ the raincheck slip, I found out that it expired on the same day that the sale expired. It wasn’t really a raincheck after all.

  8. John Stracke says:

    @FLConsumer: I’m pretty sure “limited quantities available” lets them off the hook. (For one thing, why else would they print it?)

  9. TPK says:

    I would also like to see a list of the laws by state. Can’t press the issue if you don’t know you have standing.

  10. synergy says:

    I also don’t think it means any to Home Depot. It will to the person refusing to make the rain check when they get in trouble or get fired, but it’s not even lint money to the corporation.

  11. Trick says:

    This is assuming that the local manager wasn’t told by her boss in the first place not to issue rain checks…

    $1500 won’t even cover the 1st contractor who came in that day and made his daily purchase of wood and cement…

  12. ducksauce says:

    Dragontologist, I’m surprised. The one time I went to the one in Hawthorne I found it to be the nicest Home Depot experience I’d ever had. Which isn’t to say that they other stores exactly set the bar high, but I was actually able to easily get someone to answer multiple questions (2) without getting angry (I was asking where something was).

    In the one in Yonkers if they talk to you at all they usually give out misinformation. My girlfriend once insisted that we ask the guy at the help counter if they had a certain item in stock (brackets for holding blinds). After 5 minutes of him telling us that the store doesn’t carry them and that it would be highly unlikely that they’d be getting any in (“they usually only come when you purchase the blinds themselves. We only have the larger ones”), I was able to find them immediately hanging on a shelf 5 feet away from him.

  13. swalve says:

    Remember that $1500 comes out of the profit bucket, not the gross sales bucket. I’m sure a couple of those a month would piss plenty of people off.

  14. ConsumptionJunkie says:

    Excellent article, Meghann!

    In MA, Ch. 93A 940 Code of Mass. Regulations 6.06 protects consumers against false advertsing. If a product is out of stock, the retailer must issue a raincheck and honor it within 60 days.

    The law, however is vague because it does not specify a minimum quantity or expiration date for the raincheck. Also, what if a store has a sale on produce (bananas: three pounds for $1)? Almost all stores in Boston will refuse to issue a raincheck for produce items such as oranges, cherries, or bananas.

  15. Red_Eye says:

    It is something to Home Depot, a reason to terminate an “at will” employee (the manager) and hire a new one with a lower pay rate.

  16. Monster Rain says:

    @ducksauce: I agree on all counts.. I just went to the Home Depot in Hawthorne for the first time last week and had a pleasant experience. I also needed help from an associate, and they helped gladly.

    At the New Rochelle, Yonkers and Port Chester stores, the people there get really pissed off if you try and ask them anything (when you can FIND someone). Same thing with the Lowes in Rockland right over the bridge. What is it with these people (and retailers in general in our area) that we as consumers warrant such abuse? I just don’t get it.

    I guess that’s why I shop online as much as possible. If my purchasing of electronics from Buy.com, Amazon or Newegg is going to hurt the business of the Best Buy within a 5-minute walk from my home, so be it. I hope it puts as many of those people out of business as possible.

    This is also the same reason that I buy movie tickets online or from an electronic kiosk whenever possible. I’m tired of being disrespected as a customer and if some asshats lose their jobs because of my choice to exclude them from the process, good riddance.